Guide to finding a place to live as an expat

September 24, 2019
Are you moving abroad to work for your current employer? Speak to your people management or HR department as they often have support in place for new expats. Accommodation may be provided initially, or they may have relationships with realtors in your destination who can help you find a home.

Begin initial research as soon as you make the decision to go on assignment. Research:

  •  real estate market
  • cost of living
  • short term rentals

All of this will provide you with the information you need for the next step.  

This will be influenced by the cost of accommodation in your destination. This in turn will influence the location you may be able to live in. If you are moving to an expensive city like London, Paris or Singapore, you may have to live further from the office in order to afford rent.

Top tip: don’t forget to factor in transport costs when deciding on where you want to live.

Use online forums or join an expatriate online community before you get to your destination to connect with other expats. Let them know you are looking for accommodation and see if anyone has suggestions.
When looking for accommodation, you may be tempted by expensive city centre locations but also consider areas that are up and coming. You may get many of the amenities in the city centre at less cost. For example, Woodlands in Singapore is more affordable than the city centre locations but is still popular with expats and has great transport links.
Ensure you have factored in a security deposit when planning your initial outgoings when you move abroad. Depending on where you’re going to live you may be asked to pay up to three month’s rent in advance.

Before you leave home, collect all the documentation you may need to rent a property including:

  •  references from a previous landlord
  • references from your employer
  • photo ID
  • proof of residency

When looking at specific properties keep the following in mind:

  • is the property fully furnished?
  • how many people live there?
  • is it close to public transport?
  • what amenities are nearby?
  • is it pet friendly? (if relevant to yo

If you can avoid it, don’t rush into a rental agreement until you know the property will suit expat living.

We have outlined some tips that apply no matter where you are hoping to rent, however there will be individual requirements by country. Examples include:

  • security of tenure
  • limits on rent increases
  • landlord responsibilities
Amongst all your preparation to move abroad and work as an expat, don’t forget your health. Ordinary travel insurance may not cover your healthcare costs if you are living and working abroad. As an expat, you need a specialist product called international health insurance to ensure you get the treatment you may need when you need it.