Finding the perfect location for your new life is stressful, time consuming and very, very personal. It requires thought, planning and preferably professional help, and over the next seven steps, we’ll give you the best possible start. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ll be covering.
The Cheat Sheet
- Define your needs
- Research online before you go – tourist guides, real estate websites, expat forums (see links section for starting points) to define possible areas to live
- Arrange a fact-finding visit
- Arrange temporary accommodation for the first 4-6 weeks
- Find a reliable real estate professional who understands your needs
- Visit the neighborhoods at various times of day, test commute, visit local amenities, schools, stores, parks, etc
- Get professional advice before you sign legal documents
Don’t (as we did), commit to anything that ties you in for more than a month, before you have seen the area. We got lucky, but I shudder to think what could have gone wrong with buying a property online.. Yes, I know, you don’t need to say it. So, if you really can’t get to your new location for a look around before the big move, just use on of the many chains of corporate short stay accommodation, or look online on sites like Craigslist for a short term, month-to-month rental. And even if you do get a preliminary visit included in your relocation package, it’s still a good idea to give yourself a month or so to find out where you really want to be – moving once is tough enough, twice is just madness..
Use online resources, and look at the areas that seem possible – everything from type, size and price of housing, to the demographics, crime rates and local amenities are all there at the end of a mouse click. Not only do you get a picture of what is available, doing it in the comfort of your own home means you get the time to adapt emotionally to your move. Sobbing inconsolably on a realtors shoulder in a public street is never a good way to introduce yourself to your new neighbors, so get the therapy out of the way now. This goes double if you have children – they will follow your lead in terms of response to the move, so your preview is the time to filter out the nasties and focus on the good.
Once you’ve done the legwork sitting comfortably in your own home, set some dates for home hunting, and contact local agents in advance. This gives them time to scout around for any properties that might be upcoming, or tenancies that are about to end. And don’t neglect private landlords – you often find that you get a better deal for the money, so it’s worth checking out Craigslist, Gumtree, or the local papers and message boards. It’s also a good time to mention to your new work colleagues that you will be needing accommodation – while it’s never a good idea to mix business and personal life, providing you have a legal contract drawn up that make clear the rights and responsibilities of both parties, it can often be a great way to access a home that you might not have found.
Get trustworthy legal advice before you sign anything. In some areas, this can be done by real estate agents, by your relocation counselor or by your HR department, in others, you may need to see a lawyer. Just don’t sign anything until someone in the know has had a look at it first.