Probably one of the hardest parts of being a digital nomad is finding a place to call home for a few months, in a new city. I have spent the entire October last year in Italy, in a remote village in Tuscany. My first question when I took the decision to live in Italy for a month was where do I look for accommodation? A quick search on AirBnB discouraged me, the prices for renting a room in a house for 30 days were all over £1000, even for the most modest room in the countryside. Google didn’t really help either, as most of the renting websites are in Italian and not in English. I did find a room in the end, but it was due to my Facebook friends that I’ve made while traveling. You know, a friend of a friend of a friend…
But what if you decide to move in a new place for a few months and don’t have any friends in that city? How do you find a mid-term accommodation solution that won’t break the bank? And how can you trust that when you will arrive in a country where you don’t speak the language your accommodation process will go smooth? There are many scams out there, especially when you are unable to be present to see the apartment or house you will be moving into. Nobody wants bad surprises… especially with all the stress of the moving.
So how can you find mid-term accommodation as a digital nomad?
If you have plenty of time before you move to a new country, you can always start searching for a suitable room on AirBnB and find a host who is willing to rent on a mid-term basis. AirBnB has its own sublet section, where you can search for longer stays without committing to a long-term lease. However, when I used the service for my trip to Italy, it didn’t really work that well as the monthly prices were the same as the daily ones, multiplied by 30.
As I said though, if you have time you can start messaging hosts and see if they can offer you a discount for a longer stay. The advantage of using AirBnB is that you can choose a host based on real reviews. As it’s a very popular platform, you will have plenty of options to find your perfect room. Usually there is at least one room available in any given area of a city, as many digital nomads are searching for a central location.
The disadvantage of using AirBnB is that anytime the host can cancel and you don’t have the security that you will have the room, even if you’ve booked and paid for it in advance. I have heard many horror stories involving AirBnB, where guests were left without a reservation hours before their arrival in a city.
Recently I have learned about Spotahome, a website where you can virtually visit a property before renting it. How does it work and what makes it different from other websites, you might ask? All the properties are checked by the people from Spotahome who take real photos and upload a video tour of the house. This way you know exactly what to expect and don’t rely on the photoshop imagines a landlord might be posting online.
Finding a house in one of the 19 cities that Spotahome covers is easy, all you have to do is register and use to search button to find your perfect new home. Once you have decided on the area you want to live in, set the dates and budget up, you can start browsing through the properties shown in the results. Each property has detailed descriptions and photos from each angle. The advantage is that you can find many places that rent a room in a house, which means a lower cost per month and more flexibility regarding the dates. Plus, who wants to move in a new city not knowing anyone? By moving in a modern shared house, you will instantly meet new people who soon enough can become your friends.
Once you find the perfect property and decide that you want it to be your home for the next few months, you reserve it and wait for the landlord to reply to your request (maximum 12 hours). When they accept, you will be charged for the first month plus a small processing fee. However, your money is protected. The first payment is only transferred to the landlord 48 hours after you move in and not before. Spotahome will put you in contact with the landlord once the confirmation is received, to arrange the move-in times, the key collection and the signing of the contract.
Expat Facebook groups and Couchsurfing
Every time I move to a place for longer I try to join the expat and Couchsurfing Facebook groups. They are great for making friends in the area but also for finding help with renting a room or a flat. I have been living in Poole for almost 5 years now and almost every day I see people posting in the groups, searching for an apartment. Most of the times there will be someone who will have a spare room or who will know a friend looking for a roommate.
The advantage of searching for a mid-term accommodation solution in the expat groups is the lower cost. As there is no agency involved and you rent directly from the owner, the bills will always be included and your rent will be significantly lower than by renting “the official way”.
The disadvantage using this type of search is that you will never know how the room is going to look like until you actually move and that there is no contract, which makes it harder for your deposit to be protected.
Disclaimer: Please note that this post has been written in collaboration with Spotahome.
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