Moving abroad can be the biggest adventure of your life. The excitement is mixed with some fear, joy, concern and few other feelings. Whether you are moving because of the exchange, internship, job, or something else you would probably need to find a place to stay. If you are one of the lucky ones that do not need to worry about it, because you will get an accommodation, you can stop reading now. For everyone else, here are some clues on how to detect when someone is trying to scam you when searching for a room/apartment to rent online.
Too good to be true
Modern, big, very nice apartment in great or even amazing location for a very low rent? It is too good to be true, which means that it is a scam almost for sure.
In my experience the people who were trying to scam me were all foreigners in that country. It doesn’t mean it will happen to you, but you should definitely be more careful. Even if they send you the copy of their passport or ID do not trust them right away.
Transferring the money to other person
You are talking to person A and you are very interested in renting his/her room/apartment. You agreed on everything from deposit, rent and all these stuff and then you come to the part where you need details for transferring the money. It turns out that you will have to transfer the money to person B (who should be a very close relative to person A), who sometimes even lives in another country. Sounds odd? It is.
You cannot see the place before you move in
When you search for a room online from your home country you cannot really see the place before you get there. The easiest way is to send someone else instead of you. International friends come very handy in these kind of situations. If your “future” landlord/lady refuses to show you the room, because they are somewhere abroad or some other excuses.
In my case online search wasn’t very productive – a lot of scams, people are not answering, everything was already rented out and so on. In the end I just decided to search on site, so that I can personally see the place, meet the owner and other tenants. For a first few days/weeks there are many options – Airbnb, Couchsurfing, hostels, crashing at your friends home, in summer time maybe also camping.
Few extra tips when you get there and start to search on site
- Do some research on rental market in the city (rents, expenses, deposits, address registrations, etc.)
- Always check the name on the mailbox and door phone.
- If possible check who owns the apartment.
- Read the contract or had someone translate it to you if you do not speak the language before you sign it
- Ask for help. Maybe your hosting university can help you out, or your employer, colleagues, international friends, etc. They might not find you the place to stay but can guide you through rough rental markets in big cities.