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Top 5 mistakes when choosing an apartment abroad

Too many students get scammed or end up getting a bad accommodation when going to study abroad. Let’s go through the most common mistakes students make, and what you can do to avoid them!

That cheap little shack might tempt you because it’s budget friendly, but how did you expect to get to school or have any social life?
1. Wiring money to a random personal account
This is probably the most common housing fraud out there. It’s particularly common on classified sites like Craigslist, or when getting in touch with self-proclaimed landlords or agents on sites like Facebook. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. The way it goes is that you will be asked to wire the first payment - but once you’ve done so, you can’t get in touch with the landlord! If you see a suspicious ad, Google the address and see if the same place is for rent on other sites for a higher price. That’s a sign that the ad has been hijacked and someone else is trying to scam you, so watch out! Our advice: never wire money to an individual unless you’ve sent a friend to visit the apartment, or go through a legitimate housing website - better safe than sorry!

2. Falling for the “I’m on vacation and will send the keys by mail”...Yeah right!
Some fraudsters will tell you that they have gone on vacation but that they will send you the keys by mail once you’ve wired them the payment. Big warning sign! Be wary of landlords that are unavailable to meet, or speak on the phone. So just move along if they insist that they’ll send you the keys.

3. Living too far from campus
 It’s tempting to trade in location for a lower rent when looking for the cheapest place. Most likely you’ll then spend the difference on transport to class and a taxi home at night, or just become a lazy couch potato. Ideally you’ll want to live less than half an hour from school and you should be able to get home safely by walking, biking or public transportation at night.

4. Choosing the wrong flatmates
The people you live with can make or break your experience abroad. If you’re a clean person living with messy slobs, or vice versa, it can be very disturbing for both you and your roomies. Make sure to set expectations before moving in together, and ideally divide tasks with a cleaning schedule. Make sure that you have compatible lifestyles, an agreed-upon policy on having visitors and ideally more or less the same hours. Nothing is worse than being kept up all night by rowdy roomies partying all night. Or well, maybe being told to be quiet and stop partying as early as 4 in the morning might be worse - depends on who you ask! ;-)


With the wrong flatmates your home sweet home might end up looking something like this.

5. Paying hefty agency booking fees
Many students end up finding housing agents through sites like Facebook or by visiting a local housing agency. They then end up having to a pay a full month’s rent in commission for finding the place. Also some online accommodation services will charge you commission, admin fee, booking fee or service fees. To avoid such fees, you can book your housing through student accommodation services such as Student Mundial, which lets you book your housing without paying any fees at all. Instead, save your money for the fun stuff like beer and travelling! They also escrow your first month’s payment for you until you’ve seen the place yourself and received the keys, thus securing your payment when you book student accommodation!
Do you have any additional tips on things to avoid when searching for housing abroad? Please share in the comments below!

9 comments:

  1. Great post. #2 has happened to me and looking for a hotel in a new place in the middle of the winter is really, really not fun.

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    1. Karen - wow! Thanks for sharing. Hopefully everything turned out ok in the end.

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  2. It's really helpful to see these common pitfalls. My son is going to college in the fall and we're looking for places for him to live. He's our first child going off to school, so we're not very experienced. I think you're right about living too far from campus. You might save a little bit of money, but it will turn out to be harder on the student. http://www.oxfordapartmentrentals.com/

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