Before I left the US, I posted an advert on Gumtree (like Craigslist, but British), looking for someone with a spare room I could sublet until I found more permanent accommodation. To be fair, I didn’t think anyone would respond to my ad, so I was quite happy when I had two different responses. Both looked tempting, but I decided to stay with a girl who lived closer to the center of London. I thought staying in the center would be fun for a few weeks, and it would give me a great base for checking out various areas for my permanent accommodation.
I had some sensibility when planning, and made sure I planned my first few days in a hotel near to where my new roommate lived. And I’m so happy I did this. Once I arrived in London and acquired a SIM card for my phone, I tried calling my new roommate. She didn’t answer the first, second, fourth, seventh, or tenth time I called. I started to get the feeling I. was. S C R E W E D.
Before panic completely set in, I tried calling the other woman who had offered a room in her flat. It was in Notting Hill, an area I was completely unfamiliar with, and I figured it was going to be a long shot that her room was still available. But I lucked out, and she said the room was free until the end of the month, giving me three full weeks to find my own rented accommodation. The three weeks of rent wasn’t cheap, but she was nice and helpful, and Notting Hill is a beautiful area–it was worth every pound in the end.
Gumtree Can Be Just as Dodgy as Craigslist’s Personals Section
If you’re looking for temporary accommodation abroad, but don’t have the cash to spend on a hotel, try AirBnB or a similar site. AirBnB didn’t exist as widely back in 2009 as it does now, but if it had, I would have definitely preferred it over Gumtree. Darren and I recently used AirBnB for accommodation on our trip to California last month, and we had nothing but a brilliant experience. What I love about the site is that you can read reviews, and get a better sense of what your hosts will be like. Not only that, but there is so much choice in different types of accommodation! You can chose from single rooms in a shared house, in-law units (granny annexes), entire apartments or even entire houses! I can assure you I will be using Air BnB when planning my move back to America.
Always Have a Plan B (Especially If You’re Moving to a New Country/State/Etc.)
If you’re still a bit leary about AirBnB, look into nearby hostels and hotels as a Plan B. I actually had a Plan B when I moved here (c’mon, guys, I’m not that naiive). That’s why I stayed in a hotel the first few days. Before I set off for London, I’d looked into pricing and availability for a few hostels in case my room share arrangements completely fell through. Have a Plan B. Even if you don’t end up using it, it should give you peace of mind in case something should go wrong.
Temporary Accommodation is Most Definitely Worth the Effort
When I move back to California in a few month’s time, I’m definitely going to book a few weeks of temporary accommodation. Why? Because it will give me an affordable base which will allow me to find a neighborhood and permanent accommodation I love. If your research is leading you to a specific neighborhood, but you’re not too sure about it, why not book an AirBnB room there for a few weeks? Have no idea where to live? Temporary accommodation allows you to take your time and do your research. You can also make sure you find a apartment/flat that suits your needs without feeling pressured to check out of a hotel in a set amount of time. Room shares, or flat shares can also be a great way to meet new people–you never know, you might meet your new BFF!
When it comes to finding permanent accommodation in the UK, Gumtree is actually a great starting point (hey, it’s a different story when you can actually check things out before committing). Letting agencies are also a good option. They generally have a good selection of properties, and will typically drive you around during viewings–saving you time and the hassle of navigating areas alone.
I hope this guide to finding accommodation abroad has been helpful. I’d like to think it would also be useful if you’re moving within the US (I’ll keep you posted on how it works for me). If you have any tips of your own, or questions about your move abroad, please get in touch using the comments below!