What is the most challenging thing you have to deal with when moving abroad? It’s not the moving, the culture shock, the being alone. The one thing I find particularly difficult is finding a place to stay. Maybe even more so if you are searching for a room in a shared apartment.
I actually went through this hassle for the third time just now: Finding a place to stay from abroad. And at least I’ve learned one thing from my previous experiences: It is tough, almost anyone will even take the time to consider you, you will at times believe you’ll never find a place – BUT: In the end it’s gonna be alright.
When I first moved to Sweden I had guaranteed housing through Jönköping University which was super convenient. Besides the fact that I didn’t learn where I would live until the very day I arrived there – which by the time stressed me out quite a bit. I’d be grateful for that today. Then I had to find a room in Stuttgart once I moved back. Without luck and a great friend (shout out to you Krissy ❤ ) that would have been almost impossible. But I found a nice place to stay in the most beautiful and cool part of the town.
Then I had to find a place to live in Göteborg once I moved back for my Masters – which again, excuse my words, was a pain in the ass. Especially thanks to the special Swedish housing market where you actually have to queue for years before being able to find a tiny little over priced place somewhat close to the city. I guess this is worth a separat article. If you ever consider moving to Sweden or are interested in the most unique procedure to find accomodation that I know, check out my post on the Swedish housing market. Anyhow – I found a place. A beautiful place that really became my home with a girl that became my sister (hugs go to Malin ❤ ).
I wrote countless answers to housing ads both in Stuttgart and Göteborg, probably 50-100 in each city. Turnout: 1 Skype interview in Stuttgart (sadly the landlord decided to kick her out 2 days after we had agreed that I would move in – yay emotional rollercoaster) and 2 answers + 1 Skype interview in Göteborg.
And it makes sense. Put yourself in their position. Would you consider a flatmate that you can’t meet in person if you have the alternative to take somebody who already lives in the same city? Somebody that might have an accent or maybe isn’t even able to speak your language? How many would want a flatmate you can only speak English to (if you’re not a native speaker). You´d have to be a person very curious about how it would be to live with somebody from another country or they’d have to be really, really cool people – like they have an exciting job or hobby. For sure they’d have to send an outstandingly cool mail that makes you want to get to know them. Or maybe you just feel pity for them because you have been in the same situation before 😉
For DC I wrote at least 3 E-Mails a day for more than 4 weeks – at least 100 in total. I got like 7 responses out of which 2 finally led to Facetime interview offers. I ended up cancelling the second interview – because I was lucky enough to get the first room. Again. It works. Let’s not talk about housing costs in DC though or I’ll start crying. Let’s just say if you thought Sweden was expensive: Multiply it. With 4 or 3 rather than with 2. But well, it is really really close to work which will save public transportation cost and is in a very nice area, too.
Take away lessons:
- Stay calm. It’s gonna work out somehow.
- Don’t procrastinate. Start looking for accomodation asap. Really. Now.
- Be aware that there are very different ways to organize a housing market. Think ahead – sign up to queue for housing in Sweden today 😉
- Use your network. Find people who know people who know people if that’s what it takes. They know where you should start searching, and maybe they even know about a concrete place that is about to become your new home – at least it’ll give you some comfort, a feeling you’re not alone in this (yay to Claire, Cirian, Denis and Michelle!). Plus it’s great to know people in the town you’re moving to already. Don’t be shy. Kick that comfort zone’s butt.
Less than 4 weeks left until I move to my new home. Also a good point to reflect upon a very interesting question that will have a different answer for everyone: What is home?