Friday, August 10, 2012

Live Like a Native on Vacation: Rent an Apartment


In a recent episode of Househunters International, a woman was hunting for a Paris flat that she and her husband could rent to tourists after using it for a long-term business stay. If you were wondering who would ever rent a property in another country and why, I will be glad to tell you.

View of pedestrian street and
Place Masséna from Ajoupa
apartment in Nice, France. 
I have rented four apartments in Paris when my stays lasted a week or more. For the same standard of living in hotels, I would have spent a lot more. My apartments offered amenities that a hotel did not, most notably a kitchen, which was a huge convenience at breakfast time or when I was too tired to eat out or just trying to save some money. It also gave me the opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite aspects of French life: wandering through the markets in search of fresh vegetables, cheese, baguettes and other goodies for meals. I didn’t even miss the maid service.

How to Find a Flat
You’re probably wondering where to find a list of apartments and how to avoid getting ripped off. I found my on the following websites:
  • HomeAway is a reputable site recommended by several travel magazines. Renters can search the site based on all sorts or criteria, even whether the property has Internet access. If you register, you can create a list of favorites, and the site records which properties you have contacted. Best of all, the site provides protection against Internet fraud.
  • HomeAway has some sister sites, including vrbo.com and Homelidays.com. While most of the properties are the same, it’s worth looking on them because you can sometimes find some additional ones.
  • New York Habitat offers properties in New York, Paris, London and the South of France. Unlike HomeAway, which is not involved in agreements between renters and property owners, New York Habitat is a leasing service, so you will deal with an English-speaking agent who can provide a list of apartments based on your criteria or simply facilitate a rental agreement for an apartment you find on the website. This company also handles long-term rentals.
How to Choose the Perfect Property
A reliable website will provide an ample amount of information about the property as well as plenty of pictures. Following are some of the most important factors to consider when making your choice:
  • Location: If you’re staying in a city, you don’t need to pay high rates to be in the tourist area. As long as you are close to public transportation, and it looks like a decent neighborhood, you should be fine. Beware that some listings show the center of town on the map rather than the property’s actual address. Be sure to verify the address and look it up on Google maps. You can also research the neighborhood on tripadvisor.com or other travel forums.
  • Language spoken by the owner: If you are not using an agent, check the listing for languages spoken by the owner. Many of them speak English, but you could run into problems if you don’t speak the local language and the owner doesn't speak English. If the owner speaks English, the contract could still be in his native language. In that case, use Google or a free translation website to translate to English.
  • Floor: Since many old buildings in Europe do not have elevators, I learned the hard way that you should always ask which floor the apartment is located on if the listing doesn't mention an elevator or indicates that it’s unsuitable for the elderly or infirm. Dragging a heavy suitcase to the fifth floor is one thing I will never do again. Also, what Europeans call the first floor, we call the second, so add one to the number you’re given.
  • Floor area: Space is limited in other countries, especially in the cities, so it’s important to check photos and floor area to make sure you’ll have enough space.
  • Beds: This is an important issue, especially if you are traveling with other people or a person who is not your significant other. If you’re looking at a studio, the bed may be a sofa bed. Again, check the photos closely.
  • Noise level: If you’re staying in the city, it’s convenient to be close to a lot of commercial activity, but it could also make for some sleepless nights. Find out if the double glazed windows (double vitrage in French). It could make or break your trip. I always bring ear plugs just in case. 
  • Air conditioning: While most American buildings are air-conditioned, this is not the case in other countries. Check the average temperatures for your destination and decide whether this amenity is necessary.
  • Payment form: Most rentals require a deposit of 25 to 50 percent. Before signing a contract, make sure you can pay in the form requested, typically PayPal or a bank wire. Some apartments accept credit cards. Note that some banks don’t offer wire services. If they do, they usually charge a fee of $30 to $45 and a currency conversion fee of one to three percent of the amount wired. Owners may charge an additional fee for PayPal or credit cards.
  • Security deposit. Most owners require a security deposit when you sign the lease. The amount will be mentioned in the listing. Be sure to find out how you will recover the deposit at the end of the trip. Typically the owner will give you cash when you leave. You’ll probably return to the United States after renting the apartment, and if you’re splitting the deposit among several people, it shouldn't be a big deal to spend the foreign currency on cab fare to the airport and last-minute souvenirs or to save it for a future trip. However, if you are footing the bill on your own, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to hang on to the cash or lose a bit of it when trading it for greenbacks.  Note that owners sometimes send a check to the renter a week after the rental, which is not convenient for foreigners.
  • Additional fees: Is there a cleaning fee? Are utilities included? Are sheets and towels included?
A Few Tips on Contacting the Owner
  • The best places go quickly, so find a place well in advance, especially if you are going during peak travel times, like summer, Christmas and local holidays.
  • Contact several owners because some places may have been recently booked for your preferred time although the schedule says they’re available. Also, some owners don’t respond if they are busy, or if  they have booked the property.
  • Don’t book with the first owner who responds if you’re not absolutely sure you want the property. It sometimes takes a few days for owners to respond. Allow at least a week for a response on a property you really want.
Another Option: Apart’hotels
If dealing with the foreign language, security deposit and payment to a stranger is too much for you, but you still want the apartment experience, try an apart’hotel, which is basically a hotel room with a kitchenette. Apart’hotels don’t offer the local charm of most privately owned apartments, but they usually accept credit card deposits, they don’t require a security deposit and there is usually someone on staff who speaks English. In addition, you can stay at most of them for a few days.

To find an apart’hotel, just do a Google search for apartment hotel in whatever city you want to visit.  If you are visiting Nice, I can recommend two:
  • StudiosFloreal: located next to the tram by the main train station in the middle of the main shopping area of Jean Médecin. It’s a very lively area, but double-glazed windows block the noise. 
  • Ajoupa Baie des Anglais: in an ideal location on a pedestrian street just off the beautiful Place Méssina. It’s very clean and reasonably priced, so book early because rooms go quickly.
Renting an apartment isn't for everyone. If you want to live like a native, though, it’s the best way to go. 

Where would you like to immerse yourself? 

32 comments:

  1. I like to visit this blog. That's give well explanation to know about the rental apartment benefits. It's show little process and sharing some important point to get your preferable rental Apartment.

    Panama furnished apartment rental

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you want to find an apartment on rent then he should hire an experienced and trusted property agent to get a best deal. Here I get such useful tips about finding apartments on rent. Thanks for sharing.


    شقق تمليك الرياض

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Renting an apartment or a home really is incomparable! You'll be able to spend a very soothing and unforgettable vacation in either of the two. However, it really is important to do your research and get a quote in renting a place on your vacation spot. This way, you'll save time trying to figure out which is the best place to rent, and it will save you from all the trouble of getting cheated.
    - Katy Desroches

    ReplyDelete
  5. Search destinations for your perfect holiday home or villa, make reservation enquiry and book a holiday rental from owners direct and save money. We don't take any extra fees. Europe holiday homes

    ReplyDelete
  6. That's give well explanation to know about the rental apartment benefits.........its truly amazing...

    sitges holiday & real estate Barcelona

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your way to enlighten everything on this blog is actually pleasant, everyone manage to efficiently be familiar with it, Thanks a great deal...long term rentals in panama

    ReplyDelete
  8. Vacation rentals are sometimes called holiday rentals, villa rentals, self-catering rentals, holiday villas, agriturism, gites, etc... In certain countries, including Spain, List Your Vacation Rental France, Ireland, and England, the government sponsors its own vacation rental programs. Other governments certify rental locations or promote properties to attract tourists.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Vacations-Abroad. Tropical Beach Vacations in Asia & Oceania, Cultural Holiday Accommodations in Europe & the Americas, Exotic Holiday Rentals in Africa
    Budget self catering apartment rentals by owner

    ReplyDelete
  10. I liked your post. the article is presented in a interesting manner.
    Holidays in Sitges & Sitges Holiday

    ReplyDelete
  11. I appreciate all of the information that you have shared. Thank you for the hard work!




    Sitges Real Estate & Sitges Apartments For Sale

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This blog is very good . I get lots of information to ready your blog . You share very knowledgeable tips with us. Me and my friends read your blog regular to update our self. For free rental listing and other property management this like
    free rental listings online rent collection etc.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If you want to find an apartment on rent then he should hire an experienced and trusted property agent to get a best deal. Here I get such useful tips about finding apartments on rent. Thanks for sharing.

    Student accommodation close to De Montford University | Student accommodation close to Leicester University

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

    North Georgia cabin rentals & Blue Ridge cabin rentals

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great post. It is very useful for vacations planning. Thanks for sharing its inspire me a lot.
    London Guest Suites

    ReplyDelete
  17. Renting an apartment or a home really is incomparable! You'll be able to spend a very soothing and unforgettable vacation in either of the two. However, it really is important to do your research and get a quote in renting a place on your vacation spot....


    Student accommodation close to Manchester University | Student accommodation close to Manchester Met

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Here is my one piece of advice I give people. Know what you want your business (VR) to be, set your standards and stick to it and do it well. If you try to be the “Walmart” of Vacation Rentals and cater to everyone with the lowest prices on the block, it gets cloudy and difficult to manage. And your business or VR loses its identity.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Another tip...Getting a good look at reviews and customer reactions is one of the best ways to evaluate a Vacation Rental. Even looking at the building on Google maps doesn’t reveal the interior. It’s likely many renters pass through, so if the owners don’t have it maintained somehow, you never know what you’ll encounter when you get there.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Speaking directly with the owners will make a good relationship and good rapport that would help you understand from whom you are renting the vacation homes. Vacation Rental owners are always ready to spend some time with you and will always be enthusiastic to give some necessary information about the place and share many aspects of the home.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I don’t think many of websites provide this type of information. Tim & Reuben

    ReplyDelete
  23. I feel awful, for not discovering this blog sooner. This blog is a bit of magnificence, nothing else.poconohouse

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow! Such an amazing and helpful post this is. I really really love it. It's so good and so awesome. I am just amazed. I hope that you continue to do your work like this in the future also cheap vacation packages

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great write-up, I am a big believer in commenting on blogs to inform the blog writers know that they’ve added something worthwhile to the world wide web!..
    studentenkamers leuven

    ReplyDelete
  26. With a huge population and housing crisis in NYC, it is difficult to find affordable and suitable apartments. However, APT212 has a list of many apartments from which you can search the one according to the location needed and other conditions. To find cheap apartments in NYC, you can go to www.apt212.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. There are a variety dissertation online sites from the internet simply because develop apparently documented on the websites. las colinas property for sale

    ReplyDelete
  28. Living like a native on vacation is possible when you really know the owners well or you have a lot of goodwill, after spending time earlier at the location or by being referred from someone who holds good value with the set of owners, employees, and middlemen involved in organizing your itinerary for your vacation.

    The perfect flat will be yours when you extensively search for the right:

    1) Location: It is necessary to utilize your funds properly and find what’s the best option in that price range. Stay safe of fake addressed properties and fraudulent sellers!
    2) Language: Most agents will find you homes that are located in a safe and secure surrounding, but sometimes you might end up residing in a locality where there are no native speakers of the English language or with a different primary tongue altogether.
    3) Noise, Area, Conditioning and more - to be sure of the living standards, hygiene, etc.

    APT212 helps you find the brightest and best properties in NYC neighbourhood.

    ReplyDelete
  29. While choosing the Manuel Antonio Hotels on rent just look at the some details like rent, room size, and the main priority is the location of the apartment really matters a lot in selecting the apartment.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Broker is a good option to find the Costa Rica beach rentals of your desire if you are new in the city but keep in mind that brokers are also expensive and sometimes they con you more so while choosing a broker do a complete research on its history and companies feedback.

    ReplyDelete