Renting Overseas



If your overseas assignment is for the short-term, or you are not sure how long are you are staying in your foreign location, then purchasing a house may not be in your best interest, unless you do so for investment purposes. Renting is therefore popular with expatriates but the fact that renting is less of a commitment than a home purchase doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest time to make sure you rent the right house first time round.

Know What to Expect

Before you start the physical search for your new family home, get a good grasp of the rental market in your local area so you know whether there is an abundance of properties to choose from, or that you will need to act quickly as properties come up for rent. Gauge what you can expect to get for your money when you rent a house in your host country.

A 2009 survey carried out by Mercer determined that Moscow is the most expensive city for expats to rent in, with New York, Geneva and London close behind and in the top ten. Many Asian cities are also getting pricier for expat rentals and currency fluctuations have significant impact on the relative costs of renting across the globe. Managing your expectations is an important element of preparing for your house search.

Know What to Consider

Consider what you want in and from your temporary home and make a list of your needs:

  • Do you want a furnished or unfurnished house?
  • What amenities do you want close by: shops and leisure facilities?
  • Do you want a house near to school or work?
  • Is the price the deciding factor?
  • Do you need to be near public transport facilities or want a parking space?
  • Are you bringing pets with you?
  • Do you want a town or rural setting?

Once you establish an approximation of what you are looking you are better equipped to find a property as close to your requirements as possible. If you know the property you are looking for will cost you more than you initially planned you are better placed to plan budget cuts elsewhere to allow for a higher rent, or revise your list of requirements.

Know Where to Look

There are a number of ways to source rental properties. Many expats find a home through a relocation company. Word of mouth is also an effective and trusted route or you can use your employer’s intranet and message boards. Pick up copies of local expat magazines too for a list of places to look for rentals.

Ask how ‘to rent’ is written in the local language so that you can recognise it on boards outside of houses, in shops and in local newspapers as you travel around prospective neighbourhoods.

Know What You Need

Some rental markets are so competitive that landlords can be choosy about who they rent to in order to maximise the chances of ‘model’ tenants living in their properties. The paperwork requirements in such cases can be overwhelming and time-consuming to assemble. Finding out exactly what landlords will want to see in your host country early on in the process will save you time once you have found the property you want to live in. In most cases, ID and recent bank statements will be a compulsory part of the reference check.

In addition, you will most likely be required to produce references from former landlords and your employer, so collate all the necessary contact details in advance to hand over to a prospective landlord.

Landlords will also check your credit rating, so make sure there are no nasty surprises which can cause a barrier to renting a property.

Know Your Rights

Finally, know what your legal rights are as a tenant and what you can expect in terms of health and safety and contract terms. Check the rental contract thoroughly and have it checked over by a local legal professional so that you know exactly what you are signing.


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