How To Rent an Apartment in a Foreign Country (Without Getting Ripped Off)

Life Style


 

How To Rent an Apartment in a Foreign Country Without Getting Ripped Off

Getting ripped off sucks. Having traveled for the better part of the last three or four years, it’s happened plenty of times. There was the time I got pickpocketed. The time our taxi driver drove off with Di’s phone in the car and never returned. But the worst of them all was getting ripped off by our American landlord in Colombia (around $700 if you’re wondering). However, with that said, I feel like this situation was essentially our fault. If you follow some of these simple tips to rent an apartment in a foreign country, you can avoid that experience.

 

Stay on AirBnB

You want the best deal possible when you’re traveling, and looking to rent an apartment in a foreign country is no different. I get it. Although Airbnb apartments are generally overpriced, the service provides you with a lot of protection that you don’t get if you decide to track down an apartment once you’re in the city.

For example, we had an apartment through AirBnb for our first month in Colombia. Despite the guy’s good reviews, the apartment ended up being a disappointment in several ways. The location wasn’t great, the quality of the apartment wasn’t great, and there were cockroaches.

Upon leaving, the owner of the apartment had a complete meltdown after a small dispute about how many of the Cokes we drank from his fridge. During his existential crisis, he made several outlandish claims and told us that white people weren’t welcome in his country (despite being an immigrant from Colombia to America himself).

Luckily, Airbnb helped us out with the problem. They removed his asinine review from our profile and allowed our review to remain on his profile. In short, that situation probably wouldn’t have been resolved as easily otherwise.

Which takes us to our next mistake.

When we went to rent our nest apartment in the country, we decided that we were going to save some money and get a better deal on a nicer apartment. We found a fellow American (thought we could trust someone from our own country a bit more), paid a hefty deposit, and moved into an apartment that wasn’t furnished nearly to what he said it would be.

Needless to say, the experience was suboptimal. We never saw that deposit money again, and we later found out that our landlord was doing this to several other people who rented from him as well.

From now on, we’ll stay on Airbnb and pay a bit more to save money in the long run.

 

If You Go Off of Airbnb

With that said, I don’t expect that everyone will want to rent an apartment in a foreign country through Airbnb. Sometimes you’re short on money, staying long-term, or just want something a little bit nicer. While you can’t ever be sure of who you can trust in a foreign country, there are a few different things that you can do to minimize your risk.

1. Avoid Paying a Deposit at All Cost.

Although many apartment owners will say that they require you to pay a deposit on the apartment, there are also several owners who are desperate to rent their place out. Find them, and rent from them.

Our landlord promised us several times that he was going to return our deposit to us in cash. He even set up a day and time to meet with us to review the apartment. However, when that day came, he was nowhere to be found.

When it comes down to it, and your visa is about to run out, there’s essentially nothing you can do to recover your money when you rent an apartment in a foreign country if the landlord isn’t paying it out.

2. Research, Research, Research

Going back to our Colombia example, we thought that we were renting from a legitimate company from the United States. Only later on did I find the review on the Better Business Bureau website from a guy saying that our landlord had essentially stolen $23,000 from him.

What’s more is that, when I filed my own claim with the BBB, they emailed me back saying that the company couldn’t even be located in the United States. They lied to us (and on their Facebook page) about having a company in the US. We could have avoided falling for the scam if only we had done this research before we signed the lease.

Lesson learned.

3. Join Expat Groups

One of the best resources that we’ve found while traveling in the past year is the expat group. No matter where you’re traveling in the world, there are always several Facebook groups for expats in the city. Sometimes it’s classifieds, sometimes it’s apartments, and sometimes it’s just general discussion.

Once you find a group, you can ask people anything that you need to know about finding an apartment (what it should cost, the quality of the neighborhood, etc). People are generally very helpful in the groups, and someone can likely point you to a reputable company that doesn’t rip people off. Definitely seek them out and join a few before you rent an apartment in a foreign country.

 

Although we’ve had a few unfortunate experiences with our apartment rentals in the past year, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is out to rip you off. However, in foreign countries, it’s more common than you may think. Be wary of the landlords, no matter how legitimate they may seem at first. Do your research before you rent an apartment in a foreign country. As long as you do your due diligence and are as careful as possible, you’ll be fine.

Do you have any tips to add for renting apartments in a foreign country? Comment below!

 

by Aug 4, 2017

5 Cheap Travel Destinations You Don’t Have to be Rich to Visit!

Travel

Traveling the world is a dream that many people have from a young age. However, they grow older, and the realities of the world hit them. Bills. Time. Money. No matter what it is, traveling abroad becomes seemingly out of reach for many people.

However, it doesn’t have to be.

Although many people dream about visiting London, Paris, or Rome on their trips abroad, there are plenty of incredible countries and destinations out there that are much more accessible for someone on a budget.

Over the last three years, we’ve had the opportunity to travel to some pretty amazing places (11 countries) while on a budget. In fact, we paid off around $57,000 of student debt while traveling for the first two of those years. Of those 11 countries that we visited, here are our five favorite budget-friendly places.

Thailand

The Land of a Thousand Smiles. Of the places that I’ve visited in the world, Thailand remains one of my favorites. Between the natural beauty, history, temples, food, markets, and low cost of living, there are few places in the world that can match it for a budget destination.

Whether you’re a backpacker, a young professional, or an older couple looking for adventure, there is something for everyone.

For a couple traveling together, you can easily spend a month traveling around the country without worrying about too much for around $1,500-$2,000. If you’re a backpacker willing to eat street food and stay in dorm rooms, you can cut that cost in half.

Our Open Water Diver course (three days of diving and accommodation) cost less than $300 at Big Blue Diving on Koh Tao.

Sri Lanka

Although not at the top of many people’s must-see destinations, Sri Lanka is prospering after decades of civil war and relatively recent tsunami damage. For those who are looking for an adventure on a budget, there is plenty to do in Ceylon.

The highlight of the trip, for me, was hiking to the top of Adam’s Peak (no cost other than accommodation), a fairly intense 3-4 hour walk at 2 am to see one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life.

However, drinking beer on the beach in Hikkaduwa at noon wasn’t the worst thing either. You can get a room directly on the beach for anywhere from $5-$30 USD per night.

Nepal

I mention Nepal with hesitation for a few reasons.

The first reason is that, while the country itself is very cheap, the things that you’ll likely want to do aren’t necessarily that cheap. For example, most people want to trek in the Himalayan Mountains to see Mount Everest while in Nepal.

Between the gear that you’ll need, the flight to the start of the trek, the guide, the porter, your food, and the accommodation on the trek, the costs add up quickly. Our trek for seven days cost around $800-$1,000 in total per person.

If the trek is a bit out of your budget, there are still plenty of other things to see and do while in Nepal. It’s filled with rich history, old temples, the Buddhist religion, and amazing nature all throughout the country.

With that said, Nepal is not for the faint of heart. Kathmandu is one of the most hectic cities in the world, and you’ll likely see things in Nepal that you’ve never before seen anywhere else in the world.

Peru

Although known primarily for Machu Picchu, Peru is so much more than just one tourist site. While you certainly shouldn’t miss Machu Picchu if possible (the price tag on it can be quite steep for someone on a budget), there is still plenty to see and do throughout the country that won’t break the bank.

For example, a ten-day boleto touristico (tourist ticket) costs just $45 USD and gets you entrance into 16 different ruins and museums throughout the Cusco region. Even a day trip to somewhere like the beautiful Rainbow Mountain will only set you back around $20 USD for an entire day that includes transportation, a 4-6 hour hike, breakfast, and lunch.

Colombia

Ah, Colombia. One of the most dangerous countries in the entire world, right? Not anymore. Tourism has expanded significantly over the last ten years, and it’s slowly becoming one of the hottest tourist destinations in South America. It’s also cheap (check out our six-month budget).

No matter what type of traveler you are, there’s something for everyone in Colombia. It’s the second most biodiverse country in the entire world, and you can go from laying on beautiful beaches in Cartagena to touring coffee farms in Salento to wearing a jacket in chilly Bogota all in one trip (round trip flights within the country start at around $40 USD).

 

With the rise of budget airlines, traveling abroad is no longer only for the wealthy. If you’re willing to put in the time to research and budget your money accordingly, there’s likely a country close to where you live that you can afford to visit. All that you need is some time off (that’s a whole different story).

What is your favorite budget travel destination? Comment below!

by Jul 31, 2017

Craft Beer in Medellin: It’s Better Than You Think

Colombia

A wall of beer bottles showing craft beer in Medellin

Photo credit: La Toma Cervecera

Craft Beer in Medellin: It’s Better Than You Think

Pablo Escobar. Cocaine. Drug cartels. The next big craft brew scene? Colombia is a country of several faces, and its world reputation suffered significantly during the drug wars. Unfortunately, many people know it to be a dangerous place.

However, the Medellin, Colombia that I came to know during my six-month stay couldn’t be further from that perception.

Finally able to breathe again after years of suffering, Colombia is experiencing a wave a foreign visitors as it has never before seen. In fact, tourism in Colombia has exploded by 250% since 2006. And those visitors have helped to bring something beautiful to the country.

Craft beer.

I’m talking IPAs, chocolate stouts, coffee stouts, cannabis pale ales, amber ales, and several other incredibly delicious brews. Although it may not be the first thing that you think about when you think Colombia, it should certainly be on your radar. Let’s take a look at what I found in Medellin.

 

A Scene in its Infancy

 

Since I wasn’t old enough to experience the craft beer boom in the United States in the late 1990’s, being in Medellin gave me a taste of what it must have been like when the scene was in its early stages.

For example, we checked out the La Toma Cervecera craft beer festival in Medellin. Although we were only expecting a few different beer booths and some people hanging out, we showed up to a fifteen-minute long line just to get in the warehouse/brewery.

Once we paid for our tickets and got our mug/requisite palate cleanser (sliced chorizo), we walked into a surprisingly poppin beer festival. It was complete with multiple different independent beer companies, small booths serving artisanal food, a guy giving beer tattoos in the middle of the party, and the classic industrial layout (think exposed beams, open roof, beer tanks, and everyone sitting at wooden pallet tables).

With all of the different options to try, it was difficult to decide where to start (luckily we had time for several). The difference that stood out to me the most about many of the companies is that several of them were clearly just some friends that got together to brew some craft beer. 

For example, we stopped at one booth, and the poor guy’s bottles were just exploding and overflowing one after another (we finally got a decent kiwi IPA off of him). Although not every beer that we tried was excellent (in fact, most were not anywhere close to what you might find in the US), it was pretty awesome to witness the beginning of the craft beer boom in Medellin.

With all of the different companies that showed up, you might think that it’s easy to find craft beer in Medellin.

Unfortunately, that leads me to my next point.

 

A guide for glasses for craft beer in Medellin

Photo Credit: La Toma Cervecera

Hard to find in Stores

 

If you’re from a craft beer-loving country such as the United States (sorry Europeans/Aussies, the beer in the US is the best), you’re going to find it quite difficult to track down a good brew in the city. In the supermarkets (yes, even in Carulla), the best that you can find is Club Colombia (not a bad beer in its own right), a few iffy imports, and some Bogota Beer Company (pretty solid, actually).

For the good stuff, you’ll have to track down the few places in the city that stock craft beer in the bar. Luckily, if you’re a tourist, that shouldn’t be that hard to do. Some of the best places for craft beer in Medellin that we found were the following places:

  • The Brew House in Poblado: Carries a decent selection of their own craft beers and several other local beers. Plus, the owner is a nice guy and great to drink with. He’s always there and will probably have a drink with you if you strike up a conversation.
  • La Cerveceria Libre in Poblado: About a 5-7 walk from Parque Lleras. It’s a bit away from the more touristy stuff, but the beer selection here is good.
  • Ragazzi Pizza and Pastas in Envigado: Although not everyone has enough time in the city to make it out to the suburbs, this is one of the best restaurants in Envigado. Their prices are excellent, their food is great, they always have several craft beers available, and the owners are super friendly.
  • The Beer Store in Poblado: This one ‘s hard to miss. It’s directly in the center of Parque Lleras, but they have a pretty good selection of beer. It’s the only place that I could find the BBC IPA in Medellin.

Although there are certainly a few other places to get craft beer in Medellin (in Poblado and elsewhere), these are just a few of the better places that I found during our stay in the city.

As Colombia continues to prosper and experience influence from people all over the world, I imagine that the craft beer in Medellin is only going to get better. Whether you have two days or two months in the city, be sure to experience the scene for yourself.

by Jul 26, 2017

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