A Guide to Renting a Home Abroad

If you’re renting a home for a traditional short-term vacation somewhere other than the U.S., it’s not an overly complex process. You can go on VRBO, Airbnb or any of the other countless vacation rental sites and find something pretty quickly. You can probably also pay through these sites, and you know your transaction is secure.

What about if you want something more than a short-term rental abroad, however? Some of the reasons you might be thinking about renting a home abroad can be for temporary work, a long-term vacation or travel experience, or maybe you’re retiring. It can be overwhelming to know where to start. 

You want to find a home that’s going to meet your standards, although you may have to adjust your standards from what you’re used to in the U.S. You’ll also have to think about your budget and technical and logistical considerations such as securely sending money overseas to pay for things like a deposit. 

Overall, if you’re going to be somewhere for a substantial period of time, it’s not feasible to think you’re going to be paying by the night. That’s inefficient and inexpensive. 

The following are some of the main things to know if you’re going to be renting a home abroad for a longer time period that just a week or two of vacation. 

Where To Look?

Depending on where you’re going, there are different sites that specialize in long-term rentals. You can also go with an option like Airbnb because some homeowners and hosts will provide discounts for long-term stays. However, this is probably going to be your most expensive option.

Instead of relying only on an online rental website, you might want to find a professional or agency that specializes in helping people find long-term rentals from overseas. Then, you have one point person you can contact when you have questions or concerns. They can also help you find good deals.

Look for someone who lives in the area where you’re going to be renting. This is important because they’ll know things about living locally there that can be helpful to you, and they can visit any properties you’re considering and make sure they are what they appear to be. A professional who lives in the area might even know about some rentals that aren’t online anywhere else. 

Be Careful About Sending Money

You need to be very careful about sending money for an overseas rental property before you see it. It may be okay to send a small deposit beforehand to secure a property, but if a landlord is asking for anything beyond that you should be somewhat suspicious. What’s typical in most countries is a deposit that’s the equivalent of one month’s rent. 

If you were renting a home here in the U.S., you wouldn’t be asked to pay all the rent upfront or anything like that, so don’t do it for a rental abroad.

Also, when it comes to the cost of a long-term rental abroad, don’t be afraid to try and negotiate on price. Many owners are going to be flexible, and they’d rather have the space rented at a lower price than the list price, as opposed to having it sit empty. 

Get a Translator for the Lease

In many cases, if someone sends you a lease and they live abroad, it’s going to be in their native language. You should hire a professional translator—don’t try to use an automated or online translator. 

You want to know the ins and outs of the lease before you sign it, and that’s something you’re only going to get with a human translation. 

What Are the Costs Outside of the Rent?

Finally, as is the case when you’re renting in the U.S., the cost of rent is just a starting point as far as living costs. Before you agree to anything or sign a lease, you’ll need to think about what these extra costs are going to be and how much they’ll be. 

Utilities in hot areas or on islands can be very expensive, for example. Then there are deposits that you’ll have to make on utilities before service is even up and running, such as your water and Internet deposits. 

Sometimes you have to pay commissions to a real estate agent which may be as much as the cost of a month’s rent. Maybe you’re going to be paying for something similar to HOA fees as well. All are important to calculate into your monthly budget before you make a long-term rental decision because they can significantly affect costs. 

Victoria Brewood
victoria@pommietravels.com

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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