My last post described a simple strategy for finding overseas housing–contact a realtor and arrange for them to show you rental accommodations when you arrive. Sounds reasonable, right?
Well Cara sent a comment in response to that post saying “I had a similar experience trying to find housing when I arrived in Germany. I had a reservation at a hostel for 3 nights and planned to find more permanent housing within that time, although I had no idea how it would work out. After I got there, some locals pointed me to a couple of housing sites on the Internet and with a few emails and phone calls, then visits, I found a place to live.”
My Israel working vacation took place in 1983, well before the explosion of that vast sea of information called the Web. Today, in addition to recommending that you call or email realtors to make arrangements, it would have been far more “current” and “up-to-date” for me to say that you should also check out rental Web sites for the destination city where you will be working. Certainly the best known is craigslist.org which contains rental listings for hundreds of international cities from Amsterdam to Zürich, and everything in between. Another possibility is sabbaticalhomes.com which helps professionals find rental homes and apartments worldwide, set up housing swaps, or list their own home for rent or exchange. There are other sites specific to particular cities and countries, just as Cara found one for Germany. Today you can make housing arrangements and finalize details before ever setting foot on the airplane. It’s even easier than I had described!
However, one word of advice: Be wary of scammers and con artists who troll these sites for easy pickings. A few years ago, when I put an ad on craigslist looking for a place in New York, I had dozens of offers of “free” rentals if I would just send a bank account number where they could remit the balance of my security deposit! Before placing or responding to any blind ad first read http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams which provides helpful, common sense information about both personal safety and avoiding scams.
O well, my bad. Just chalk it up to having evolved my working vacation strategies well before the advent of the Internet. I guess that also explains why I still don’t have an IPhone!