The Internet is a great way for landlords, rental agencies, realtors, and short term housing companies to advertise available housing to prospective tenants around the world. But sales customs and tactics in housing markets vary around the globe. The perfect apartment you see online may not be available when you arrive. Determine if you are moving to a destination where it is easier to get an accurate sense of housing options in person. It may be worth finding temporary housing on arrival, and then learning more about local neighborhoods and amenities for making a long term choice.
Visit prospective housing and locations at different times of day. A place that can seem quiet in the morning might be quite busy — or seem more dangerous — in the evening. If you aren’t able or willing to knock on neighbors’ doors to ask about life in the neighborhood, consider introducing yourself at nearby stores, restaurants, schools, and other establishments. Even brief conversations may give you a better sense of what to expect as a resident.
Use them not only on living spaces, but on doorways and hallways. A familiar object in a photo can also offer a sense of scale that might otherwise be difficult to recall later. Your favorite sofa might fit in the living room…but will it fit through the door? Will it make walking to the kitchen awkward? Another set of photos and measurements that can be important: countertop length and height. Will small appliances that can be tall, such as blenders, microwaves, and coffeemakers, fit where they need to?
Learn before the lease.
Expectations of landlords and tenants can vary dramatically from location to location. Who is responsible for paying involved parties such as rental agencies, attorneys, or document translators? What furniture and appliances are included in the lease? How are they logged and inspected? Who is responsible for arranging utility and telecommunications hookups, and who pays those bills? How much notice will a tenant need to give if he or she must return home? Knowing what is customary can provide peace of mind, and can also offer ideas of where there might be room to negotiate terms.
Know where there’s help.
When there are repairs to be made, help can take the form of a landlord’s contact information, an on-site superintendent, a building management company, calling a preferred serviceperson, or doing the work yourself. Learn what should be done in the event of likely situations. In the event of a landlord/tenant dispute, some cities offer a range of rental housing support and services. You may never need any of these services. But if you do, knowing in advance who to ask for what can reduce the stress considerably.
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