Updated: Jun 21
Figuring out where you will live once you move abroad is tricky, especially when you're searching through the internet from another continent.
No doubt finding a flat when you are hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles away can be difficult and a bit dodgy. Obviously, you want to live somewhere you'll be comfortable, but making a major investment in a flat you've never seen is risky, to say the least. To make matters even more complicated, in order to get a visa, you must have housing arranged for a full year.
It's not easy to navigate this obstacle, but here's what I did and what I recommend to those moving abroad for the first time.
So, you need proof of accommodation for your visa. You can't move to your new home without your visa so this is your priority. The first thing you should do is book a dorm room in the city for the length of the visa you're applying for. Make sure it's reliable with good reviews, better yet, is a dorm affiliated with or recommended by your university. But you want to make sure you are able to back out of your contract at any time with one month's notice. If you're moving to Prague, I recommend Zietraum Residence. I personally didn't stay here, but I had a few friends that did and it was the nicest dorm I saw in the city by far.
Now you can relax a bit because you have a place booked for the next few months and you know you can't end up homeless in a foreign city. But living in a dorm isn't for everyone. f you're someone who would rather live in a flat or a house, once you've arrived in the city you can start searching for your dream home, without the pressure of a time limit. What I did was live in a dorm for one semester while I made friends at school and once we had gotten to know each other, we decided to go in on a flat together.
Once you've found a new place you'd rather be staying, submit your letter to terminate the dorm contract and proceed with all the adulting that goes into getting a flat!
Other options to consider:
Flatshare: Flatsharring is a great option if you're not sure you want to move in with any friends or if your friends are already situated in their housing for the year (or if you don't want to risk your friendship over roommate disagreements). Most cities have a few different Facebook groups for flat-sharing, you can join and go see a few until you find the perfect flat and housemates. I only don't recommend this as where you will stay first for a few reasons. First, since flat-sharing is mostly among students, it's not always planned far in advance when they will be leaving so it may be hard to find a place that will be available for the dates you need far enough in advance to get your visa. Secondly, since you can't view the flat or meet your flatmates in person in advance, you can't be 100% sure what you're getting.
Purchasing a flat: this is not realistic for most people but if you or your parents want to make an investment in foreign property, this could be an option. I know one girl whose family did this for her and she lived comfortably there for her whole degree.
Good luck house hunting!
Edited by Sophia Pedigo
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