When you’re a genuine lover of travel, it’s often the case that you snatch relatively short experiences of living elsewhere, as frequently as you can. While this is fine insofar as it gives you the chance to enjoy ‘taster sessions’ of different countries, eventually you might find you have developed a hankering for a deeper, more meaningful period of contact with people and places within a different culture or society. This is the moment when one of your best options is to consider renting a property abroad.
With all the benefits of spending more time in one location, renting has none of the disadvantages of selling up at home and moving to somewhere you don’t know, only to find it may have been a mistake. Take a few moments to consider how to go about finding your first rental abroad and what it may mean.
Finding your ideal property
You can either use a local agent who specialises in property in your chosen location or search for a reputable agent in the place you wish to visit. In either case, if you are planning a long-term let, you should be offered an opportunity to visit the property before making a final decision.
Read as much as you can about your chosen destination and use reliable websites to gather useful information. Make sure you know the language if you’re planning a long-term stay somewhere that doesn’t have English as a first language, and learn about any local or national cultural variations and customs that you may encounter. Check visa requirements and any other necessary paperwork in good time before setting off.
Different countries have different systems when it comes to arranging rentals. In the UK, solicitors are often used to handle any legal requirements, such as checking over a lease before you sign it. When renting a property you would normally have your own solicitor, if you use one, as would the person who is letting to you.
Across Europe, a different system is generally in place, where a notary supervises the written agreements between owner and tenant. A notary is therefore independent of both parties. Make sure you understand the law relating to renting property wherever you plan to live and that you have sound, independent advice.
In Australia, rental agencies generally look after house and flat letting and the market turns over very quickly. Always view a property before you sign a lease – it’s illegal for an agent to let out a property unless the tenant has seen it.
Tax implications and finance
Make sure you are clear about tax implications if you are renting out a property at home during your absence. In the UK, you will be liable for income tax on any rental income you receive on property and there may also be implications for capital gains tax.
Budgeting for your trip should take account of the likely level of rent you will be paying, and utilities, as all rental properties do not necessarily include these. Factor in allowances for transport as well as food and do lots of research beforehand on the neighbourhood where you plan to live.
Repairs and maintenance
As with the legal side of renting a property, there are variations in terms of responsibility for repairs and maintenance, depending on where you are going. In Australia, private property owners have to effect repairs reported to them by tenants within a reasonable timeframe. These include, for example, replacing spent water filters or light bulbs that have blown. Tenants are charged with keeping apartments and houses clean and in good order, including cleaning the filters on air conditioners, as long as instructions have been provided by the owner.
Property alterations are the responsibility of the owner, although if, for example, you wanted permission to add full height louvered shutters to improve control of daylight, keep cool in hot weather and warm in colder weather, the property owner would most likely look favourably on anything that improves the security, privacy and soundproofing of their property.
Making new friends
Often when you’ve settled into a longer-term tenancy, you find you have stayed long enough to make new friends. This is a fantastic bonus if you have been renting abroad. Not only does it mean you’ll have great contacts should you want to return in the future, but you’ll have the opportunity to play host in your own home should you wish to do so. Truly, renting abroad can be life changing, and offers you a wealth of experiences that might not otherwise come your way.