Written by Meghan Zuvelek,
9th November 2017

If you’re nervous about buying abroad – the culture shock, the weather, Brexit! – you could try before you buy and rent for a while. But what style of renting suits you? Whether on a shoe-string budget or looking for luxury, these are your options.

If you’ve got the readies to buy a home abroad, you’ve probably not rented for a while. (Trust me, you’re better off as a homeowner!). But if you’re nervous about committing all your money straight off, why not try renting first? Many British house-hunters choose to rent until they are settled and find a property they would really like to buy. If you rent over the winter you can get a great deal on a rental and be ready to buy in the spring

You can get a great deal on an all-winter rental and be ready to buy in the spring

Renting norms differ from country to country, but there are some renting models that transcend time zones and borders. Here are a few ways of renting abroad, from models that are completely free to those that will have you living in luxury.

Long-term unfurnished rentals

This is usually the most economical way of renting a home or apartment abroad, but if you’re just renting over the winter it might be unsuitable. You have to factor in the expense of shipping your furniture from the UK or buying it locally. The process for renting an unfurnished home and what constitutes “long-term” depends on the country or region. In the city it might be anything over one year, but on a Spanish costa long term might just be the months from October to May, at which point the homeowner will be looking to get more lucrative holiday lets.
You will have to sign a legally binding contract or tenancy agreement, and often a substantial security deposit is required to secure the home against damage and incidentals.


Now you’ve got a base, you can start looking for a permanent home


Long-term furnished rentals

Those wanting the convenience of having a turn-key rental with furniture included will need to pay more. Long-term furnished rentals typically involve renting a furnished home or apartment for a year or more, and landlords usually target business people or executives, although they can be found across all budgets. This is a great option if you are looking for somewhere to rent and settle before buying a home and shipping all your belongings.

Many long-term furnished rentals target business people or executives although they can be found across all budgets.

Short-term furnished rentals (including Airbnb)

Short-term furnished rentals can be found online including on the popular website Airbnb which is a network of furnished homes, apartments, and rooms available for travellers. Even on Airbnb you can get rentals on a monthly or weekly basis with savings the longer you stay. In many places there are all sorts of furnished short-term rental options. This type of rental is ideal for the winter, and you should be able to get a great deal, paying as little as €300 per month for a nice little seaside apartment over the winter months.

Holiday apartments and hotels

In the usual property buying hotpots there are thousands of empty holiday apartments and hotel rooms over the winter that any hotelier will be thrilled to fill, even at a low price. It’s a great option if you want the flexibility of a shorter-term stay but with added comforts and conveniences. Holiday apartments and hotels often have facilities and amenities such as free wi-fi, swimming pools, business centres and cleaning services.

Renting locally is a great way to improve your bargaining position when buying, as you can take or leave an overpriced property. These and other tips are in our new guide, How to Negotiate Abroad, written by me!


You might think this is just for teenage backpackers, but while they’re all at school or college, why shouldn’t the rest of us give it a go? Couchsurfing is a concept system where homeowners let you sleep on their couch (you normally get a spare bedroom!). There are barter systems where the price is free but you have to, in turn, let people sleep on your own couch back in the UK. Or there are paying models like Airbnb.

The duration of stay ranges from a day, to a few weeks or even months. This model does not work for all travellers, but is ideal for those on a shoestring budget or who want to fully integrate into a local culture.

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