Finding a home abroad

Once you know to where you’re going to relocate, one of the most important tasks you will have to accomplish is to find a new place to call ‘home’.  Whether you want to live in a house or an apartment, finding a new home abroad before you arrive can be a bit of a challenge.

You want to see the house or apartment and check out the neighborhood, meet the neighbors, and hang out in the area to see if it is a good fit for you and your family – all of which isn’t always possible when you are house hunting thousands of miles away. But with the right tools, connections and planning, it doesn’t need to be as daunting as it seems.

Perhaps the best possible idea (if you can arrange it) is to actually visit your proposed destination and plan to view a number of housing options (which will also help in terms of finding schools, local facilities, shopping centers, medical services etc.). Spend time in the area to which you are relocating, and get an idea of the location and atmosphere.

If you are unable to take such a pilot trip, here are six tips that can help you move along the path to finding your new abode abroad before you move:

1.    Ask your moving company

A professional moving company that is constantly working between your country of origin and destination country might have contact details of landlords and real estate companies that can be of service to you.

2.    Consult with your HR Department

If you are being relocated by your company, then your HR Department should be your first port of call. Assuming that they offer a full corporate relocation package that includes housing, they may be able to offer you a property.  But if housing is not included, at the very least they should be able to put you in touch with local experts who can help.

Check our one of our earlier blog posts for more tips about relocating abroad for work.

3.    Leverage your contacts abroad

If you have friends living in your new country, or colleagues who have preceded you in the relocation journey, use their knowledge and experience to gather the information you need. Also use social media, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to make enquiries in local groups and ask for advice.

4.    Real Estate Websites

Search online for local real estate companies and advisors. Try Zillow and Trulia. If your plan is to find short-term housing while you are looking for something more permanent, then use a platform like Airbnb or Homeaway or VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) as a temporary solution to get you through the early weeks.

5.    International Realtor Organizations

Most importantly, you will need to find reputable real estate companies or agents to work with. Search for international realtor organizations on the web that can help point you in the right direction.

Once you develop a short list, request a Skype/Facetime virtual walkthrough of the space with audio. Tour the entire property and ask for a panoramic of the street view. Make sure you can hear if there is street noise, or any other potential disturbances. Does the neighborhood look good? What about parking, traffic, nearby schools? If you can’t get a real-time walk-through, then most certainly demand good quality, high resolution photographs to give you a better idea of what you are looking at.

6.    Start checking local newspapers and online housing sites

Try Viviun, which gives you a wide choice of locations in many different countries. Alternatively, find the online editions of local newspapers and start searching through their housing pages.

The stress of finding a place to live and call “home” can be significantly reduced by taking these six tips into consideration. Relocating abroad doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think, and you can also refer to this checklist to help you prepare.

Written by Einat Mazafi