Guest post written by Educations.com
According to an educations.com survey of over 20,000 students, concern over finding suitable housing accommodations is rising with students. For students who are looking for housing when securing internships and study abroad programs, this could be even more. This rise in apprehension varies, depending on region.
Concern among North American students looking for housing is up 50%; but this trend also appears in all regions, including Western Europe.
It can be really difficult to secure student accommodations, especially when left to rely on virtual tours or online images of a place, when searching from afar. Housing can also be wildly expensive, depending on the city. It can be difficult to communicate with foreign landlords, due to language barriers.
So what should students do when looking for housing to study abroad or secure an internship? Here are some tips to help be worry-free!
1. Search online or join location-specific Facebook groups
While free-for-landlord websites can provide a good starting point for searching apartments for rent, they’re also not vetted—meaning you often RUN INTO SCAMS.
Places4Students.com is highly recommended because it partners with colleges and universities, previews all content within rental property listings before posting them online, and provides housing options specifically for students. The site also offers many resources to help students!
While you should be cautious searching apartments-for-rent on free websites, Facebook can be an option to consider. See if there are Facebook groups specifically for apartment hunters or subletters in the city you want to move to. Because people aren’t posting listings anonymously, they tend to be legitimate. As well, you can look up each property or community’s website online, to verify if it’s authentic. These groups can also offer a good sense of what’s out there by casually perusing posts and then figuring out places other people your age are looking to live.
2. Try to get local information
Google can only tell you so much. It’s recommended to get an insider’s perspective or advice when evaluating a housing unit. If you have any friends (close or distant) who might be able to provide insight on areas to avoid in your new city or what typical rental units are best, definitely hit them up for help. If you don’t know anyone in the area, try searching online message boards (like Reddit) where people are talking about the location.
Another great way to gather information is to reach out to the school you will be attending (if you’re studying abroad) or your future place of work (if you’ve already gotten an internship), as co-workers will undoubtedly have wisdom to share. This can also be an opportunity to get first interactions with others out of the way! It’s entirely possible that these people will have been through a similar situation as you are now in, and they’re bound to have some helpful suggestions.
Be sure to research the local rental rates and ranges, so that you will know what is considered reasonalbe or expensive. Don’t fall prey to an extremely overpriced or wary location! Be sure to educate yourself by using serveral online resources and speaking to as many people as possible!
3. Make safety a top priority
Cheap rent is ideal for many, but feeling like you can walk around your apartment complex and neighborhood at night without an escort is better. It’s easy to be tempted by a location that is slightly further from city center, with cheaper rent—but SAFETY SHOULD BE YOUR MAIN PRIORITY. If that means paying slightly more in rent, it’s worth it. While there might be plenty of cheaper options that require daily transit to school or work, be sure that you are in a secure and safe area (your friends and family will have more peace of mind too).
4. Write down questions you have - then ask them!
When you start contacting landlords, be sure not to hold back any questions. Especially in a country you’re not familiar with, it’s crucial you be prepared. Ask about utilities—what’s included in the rent and what’s not? Ask about safety deposits and most importantly, lease requirements. Make sure you sign a lease—a verbal agreement isn’t legally binding and could cause you trouble later. Always get everything in writing!
Moving somewhere new is an exciting experience, but it can definitely bring up considerations and concerns. Don’t let housing be one of them! There are plenty of great apartments and dorms out there. By using these tips, we hope you can find the perfect home away from home.
Educations.com is an education search engine used by over 3 million students per year to help them find and compare study abroad programs.
SEE ALSO: How Tenants Can Screen & Research Prospective Landlords