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How to Find a Home Abroad

Explore Your Destination in Advance, Seek Local Guidance, Decide to Rent or Buy

A home abroad in Italy in the hills.
From fully furnished city apartments to picturesque countryside escapes, the world is full of home rentals as well as properties to purchase to help you make your travel or relocaton dreams come true.

For the seasoned traveler with a thirst for adventure and a desire to immerse themselves in foreign lands, the prospect of living abroad is an alluring one. However, beneath the surface of this exciting opportunity lies a challenge of equal importance: finding your ideal place to call home in a new country. Whether you're considering a temporary move or pondering the possibility of a permanent residence overseas, this guide is a basis for navigating your international housing process.

Preparing for Your Overseas Journey:

Before you take that leap abroad, meticulous planning and thorough research are your best friends. Here's how to embark on your quest for your ideal home abroad:

Pre-Visit Planning:

If your overseas adventure is may last a year or more, an initial reconnaissance mission to your chosen destination is invaluable. Spend as much time as possible there to become acquainted with the local culture and to gain a deeper understanding of the city or town where you might eventually reside.

This is also the opportune moment to decide whether to ship your household belongings or opt for a furnished rental and procure essential items locally.

Tap Into In-Country Connections:

If you're fortunate enough to have an in-country connection, like an employer or volunteer program director, don't hesitate to seek their guidance. They may be able to direct you to reputable landlords or rental agencies.

Certain exchange organizations and language programs even arrange room and board with host families for their participants. While this eliminates the need to search for housing, it can be an adventure in itself. Host family arrangements are often best suited for shorter stays, such as summer volunteer programs or language courses.

Online Rental Resources:

In case housing arrangements aren't arranged for you, and time is limited for on-site rental searches, prepare in advance. Many expatriate websites list rental agencies worldwide, and dedicated global home rental databases may cater to your needs.

Most agencies that specialize in international or short-term rentals offer furnished apartments with utilities included. Some even have local English-speaking agents. Their websites provide comprehensive rental information, including photos, maps, and online booking options.

Find an Apartment on Arrival:

If you prefer to hunt for your ideal overseas home after you've landed in your host country, it's commendable but can be a more nerve-wracking choice. Here's how to navigate this exciting journey.

Set Aside Exploration Time:

Allocate enough time to explore your new host city, ideally ranging from two to four weeks depending on its size. Rushing this process might lead to decisions you later regret.

Alongside classified ads in local newspapers, many tourist information offices supply listings of seasonal rentals or reputable rental agencies.

Evaluate Rental Options:

Don't rush into decisions. Take the time to examine several apartments before committing. Look into neighborhood safety, utility costs, deposits, fees, and potential penalties in the event of early cancellation.

A sound understanding of local rental laws and regulations is crucial for a successful transition.

Currency and Budgeting:

Organize your finances to pay in the local currency, which can be conveniently withdrawn from ATMs. Establish a budget and determine the size of the housing that suits your needs.

Consider your transportation needs, whether it's a bike, car, or reliance on public transit. Additionally, factor in proximity to recreational, cultural facilities, and commercial areas.

The Power of Local Contacts:

Having a local contact can be immensely beneficial when navigating local bureaucracy and optimizing your housing search. If personal connections are scarce, consider reaching out to expatriate clubs or organizations.

A growing number of expatriate websites host free discussion forums, where you can post questions and glean advice from fellow travelers.

Renting vs. Buying Abroad: A Comprehensive Comparison

Is renting abroad the right choice for you, or should you consider making a more permanent investment? Let's dive into the details and explore the pros and cons of both options.

Renting Abroad:


  • Flexibility: Renting provides the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances or explore various regions within your host country.
  • Lower Upfront Costs: Generally, renting involves lower upfront costs than buying property abroad.
  • Reduced Maintenance Responsibility: Property maintenance is typically the responsibility of the landlord.


  • Limited Control: As a tenant, you have limited control over the property, including the ability to make structural changes.
  • Rent Increases: Depending on your rental agreement, rent increases can occur periodically.
  • Lack of Equity Building: Renting doesn't contribute to building equity or property ownership.

Buying Abroad:


  • Investment Potential: Purchasing property abroad can be a valuable long-term investment.
  • Stability: Property ownership provides a sense of stability and belonging in your host country.
  • Personalization: You have the freedom to make modifications and personalize your home.


  • Upfront Costs: Buying property involves significant upfront costs, including down payments, taxes, and fees.
  • Commitment: Property ownership is a long-term commitment that may limit flexibility.
  • Maintenance Responsibility: As a property owner, you're responsible for property maintenance and repairs.

Navigating the Process of Buying Property Abroad:

Should you decide that buying property abroad aligns with your long-term goals, here's a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process.

Research and Location:

Begin by conducting extensive research on the property market in your chosen destination. Consider factors like property values, market trends, and legal requirements for foreign buyers.

Evaluate different neighborhoods or regions within your host country to find the ideal location for your new home.

Legal Considerations:

Familiarize yourself with the legal requirements for property ownership in your host country. Seek legal counsel if necessary to ensure compliance with local regulations.


Explore financing options for foreign property buyers. This may include securing a mortgage from a local or international lender.

Property Inspection:

Prior to purchasing, arrange for a thorough property inspection to identify any structural issues or necessary repairs.

Property Purchase Agreement:

Work with a local real estate agent or legal expert to draft a property purchase agreement. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the sale.

Closing the Deal:

The closing process involves finalizing the sale, transferring ownership, and completing all necessary legal and financial transactions.

Ongoing Management:

Once you've acquired the property, consider how it will be managed in your absence. Options include self-management, hiring a local property management company, or enlisting the help of a trusted friend or contact.

Your Overseas Journey Now Begins!

Finding a home abroad is undoubtedly a challenge, but with the right resources, meticulous planning, and local support, it becomes a manageable and rewarding adventure. Whether you choose to rent or buy, your overseas journey marks the first step toward embracing the new culture you have chosen, creating lasting personal connections, and discovering the world from a unique perspective. So, go ahead and open the literal door to your international dreams — if you are respectful of the host country and local people you will likely be happy you did and feel right at home in your new home.

Related Topics
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Finding Work Overseas
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