No matter where in the world you decide to relaunch your life, I recommend that you rent first, rather than buying a new home of your own. Renting for at least six to twelve months keeps you mobile and flexible. It allows you to try a place on for size before committing to home ownership. And it saves you the carrying costs of being a homeowner.
Renting a home or apartment overseas comes with important advantages. However, renting a place to live is not as straightforward a process everywhere in the world as it is in the United States.
What’s included in the monthly rent?
Make sure the lease establishes clearly what is included in your rent and what is not, such as building or homeowners’ association fees, water, utilities, phone, and Internet services.
Figure out the utilities.
If you’re liable for utilities, find out the previous renter’s average costs.
Sometimes these can be a shock. We’ve just moved into new office space in Panama City that is the same number of square meters as our house, yet the monthly electric bill for our office has been three times as much as that for the house thanks to the cathedral ceiling in the great room.
Also understand who’s responsible for setting up the utilities.
Will they remain in the landlord’s name or will they be switched to your name? There are pluses and minuses either way. For example, what is your liability if the electric bill is transferred into your name?
Understand what furnished and unfurnished apartments actually include.
In some places, unfurnished means no refrigerator, no stove, and maybe even no lighting fixtures. Does a furnished apartment include air-conditioning units?
When we were shopping for a house to rent in Waterford, Ireland, I was confused by ads that indicated that the space included “all modern conveniences.”
Finally, I came to understand that this meant the house had central heating, which many people in Ireland didn’t have at the time.