Monday, 10 March 2014

Finding the perfect expat accommodation

Expats with employers who provide accommodation have it lucky because finding a new home in a foreign country can be a daunting task—especially if you’re moving to a country in which the language is completely new to you. This topic often leaves first-time expats in a state of panic, suffering from sleepless nights and worried about what will happen if they can’t find their perfect flat or house.

Firstly, be realistic. You may need to ensure that the cost of living in your new location is manageable. Some people prefer to pay more to be in a better location but remember that often, the price of entertainment and food will also be more expensive in areas where rent is more. Cities such as Paris are made up of mostly prime real estate and expats often have to look just outside the city to find accommodation that’s right for them.

Paris is encircled by a motorway called ‘le boulevard périphérique’ and within this motorway there isn’t much space to build any new housing. This means that the area within this motorway is much more popular to live in and so the rent prices keep going up. Of course, once you decide to move to the other side of this motorway it will be more difficult to get home later at night and you may not feel as though you truly live in Paris. 

Image source: Creative Commons / Jon Juan

For some, getting that typically Parisian bric-a-brac apartment with its Juliet balcony looking out over the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter is their top priority.
Secondly, test run a trip from your house or flat to work. Before you sign the agreement, check that your commute is something that you are happy with. In cities such as London and New York, it’s common to have to commute for 40 minutes (unless you live in Soho, London or on Manhattan, New York). In Hong Kong, however, this is unheard of (unless you live in the New Territories—be warned that relocating to the countryside in Hong Kong could involve a lengthy wait in the morning at a bus stop to take you to the nearest underground station).

Typically in Hong Kong, expats go to an English-speaking estates agent for help. These agents have their ears to the ground when it comes to real estate in Hong Kong. Within the city, Hong Kong doesn’t have any more space and that is why the skyscrapers are so notoriously tall. The Peak is where the glitterati live with views all over the Harbour but areas such as Quarry Bay and Causeway Way are becoming very popular with English teachers. Kowloon side is a cheaper alternative with a stronger Chinese influence—here, you may get more access to the local way of life.

Thirdly, take a tour. Whether you prefer boat, bus, walking trips—discover where in your new location best suits your personality. In London, you could find yourself a quaint townhouse in a district that has got a very distinct village feel—it’s the magic of London, it feels as though villages and towns have come together and as an afterthought it all became London. East Village in New York will ensure that you are in the heart of it all and if you search hard enough, you may be able to find that dream New York loft apartment. 

Image source: Creative Commons / La Citta Vita

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