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!
With teaching contract in hand and air tickets tucked firmly into my pocket the Schneider family made its way to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport for the first time in three years and boarded a plane for Tel Aviv. We took a jitney to Jerusalem and booked a room at a local hotel until we found a place to live—the immediate task at hand.
Housing arrangements will usually be made by your hosts, as was the case in London. However, if it is left up to you how do you find accommodations in an unfamiliar city? How do you look for an apartment in a place that you have never been and in a country where you do not speak the language (Hebrew)? This is the type of agonizing question that can stop people in their tracks and keep professionals, myself included, from taking full advantage of attractive offers. During the long twenty hour flight I worried incessantly about finding a place to live. My fitful sleep was filled with visions of homeless shelters and cardboard boxes. Well let me reassure you that finding housing overseas is really not that difficult and more often than not you will find extremely pleasant accommodations.
Scuba Diving In The Red Sea Near Elath. One of the Many Wonderful Side Trips We Took While Working In Israel For Three Months
Sometimes your hosts will arrange with a local realtor to come to your hotel on the first or second day in town, drive you around, and show you what is available. If this service has not been proffered, then simply make those arrangements yourself. Send email to your host asking them to contact a local real estate agent, one fluent in English, to arrange showings on your behalf. Then send email to the agent with rental dates, desired price range, and type of unit needed–which is exactly what we did. On our second day we found a lovely, and reasonably priced, two-bedroom apartment not far from campus for exactly the dates we needed–not a coincidence since the owners were Israeli faculty making the reverse commute—traveling to the U.S. for a three-month summer working vacation.
This phenomena–believing something will be difficult, time-consuming, and stressful only to discover that it was actually quite simple, has repeated itself over and over during our travels. Those nagging doubts about being able to “pull off” this kind of working vacation usually turn out to be totally unfounded. Just as it was easy for our family to find a lovely place to live, those deep-seated fears about your house, paying bills, finding accommodations, leasing a car, or finding a school for your children often turn out to be far less onerous than imagined.
A little bit of helpful advice (such as this blog) and a good deal of common sense will usually turn what appears to be a daunting task into a simple errand. Just as my unpleasant dreams about homeless shelters turned out to be foolish and baseless, don’t let your own specious nightmares stop you from enjoying that trip of a lifetime.