Finding Accommodation in Europe

slh21
Tuesday 16 June 2020

Are you planning on studying or working abroad in Europe in the next academic year? Here you can find some top tips and useful websites on finding accommodation across Europe.

N.B. For students studying at one of our partner institutions, you can find the most up-to-date and detailed information about halls and university residences on the host university’s webpages for exchange students. These links can be found on our “Where can I go?” pages in the ‘Living there’ sections of each university profile. Make note of accommodation application deadlines and please be aware that the University of St Andrews cannot guarantee accommodation at any of our partner institutions. These webpages are designed to assist with the search for private accommodation.

Email our Global Office Intern to get in touch with past Saints Abroad students to hear their experience of finding accommodation at globaloff-intern@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Before you start searching, read our blog post for top tips on how to find accommodation and how to avoid scams! 

The following companies listed are independent, private businesses and are not owned or operated by the University of St Andrews.

It is your responsibility to make sure your private accommodation suits your needs. Any rental agreement or arrangement you enter into is strictly between you and the private accommodation provider. Ensure you know your tenancy rights in that country before signing a rental agreement and any services to help settle disputes. Prepare your paperwork well in advance, including visas, resident permits, national identity cards and numbers and make sure to register your accommodation with the local government and the University of St Andrews (via MySaint) when settled.

 European General Sites

Read below for useful tips and links on the following countries:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • UK

Austria

Although the average living cost in Austria isn’t necessarily low, renting an apartment can still be affordable especially if you search the many sites aimed at helping students find accommodation and flat shares for young professionals.

For more guidance on how to rent in Austria and definitions of renting jargon, click here.

Useful Links

Belgium

Brussels, capital of the EU, offers lots of opportunities to young people from all over the world, whether it is for studying or working. With its international environment, the city is welcoming and full of exciting events. As Belgium is a compact country with great public transport links, even those working in Brussels day to day can choose to live outside the city, such as in Genval or Leuvan. City life can also be found in the fabulous centres of Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges. These cities also offer a unique Belgian experience with masses of culture and history, but on a more wallet-friendly budget. Rental prices in Antwerp, for example, are 25% lower than in the capital. The Chambre D’Arbitrage & De Mediation can help sort out any rental disagreements. The rental market across Belgium is well-stocked with a lot of options but it is still recommended to start looking early.

Check out this Renting in Belgium Guide for more information.

Useful Links

Czech Republic

It is not difficult to find private accommodation in most cities in the Czech Republic. For example, a small flat (two rooms and a kitchen) in Prague will charge about 15.000 CZK. It can be twice as cheap in Pilsen and Hradec Králové. Keep in mind that the rental prices in the historical centres of cities will be more expensive and can be even double the price stated above.

Check out this useful Guide to Renting in the Czech Republic for more information.

Useful Links

Denmark

Rents in Denmark vary widely, depending on the region, location, size, fixtures etc. Generally, renting a home is more expensive in Copenhagen and Aarhus, while smaller towns and rural areas are considerably less expensive. Also, whether you live in the centre or outskirts of the city makes a great difference in the price.

Even without a car, it is common to live 10-20 km from campus and travel on public buses/trains to/from work. In the bigger cities, buses and trains run frequently and fast and you can normally reach work within 30-45 minutes even when you live 10-20 km from campus or your place of work. Finding a place to live is key to obtaining a CPR and starting your life in Denmark.

  • Get advice on finding short stay accommodation in Aarhus here.
  • Find advice on lease agreements, Danish rental law & deposits here. 
  • Read how to avoid scams here.
  • Get to know the Danish Rental Law. 

Useful Links

Finland

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a very safe city, apartments are well maintained, and the public transport network is excellent. However, there is great demand for housing as Helsinki is Finland’s only metropole and there are not enough apartments for everyone wanting to move in. So, make sure you start looking for apartments as soon as you receive confirmation for your work placement or study exchange. Apply for an apartment simultaneously through various channels to increase your chances of getting an apartment. The further you live from the centre of Helsinki, the cheaper the rents and the bigger the selection of apartments on offer are. Also, the public transport network is vast, and connections are frequent and punctual, so living further away is not a problem!

See the University of Helsinki’s page for general advice about finding accommodation in Finland and top tips on how to cheaply furnish apartments.

For translations of renting jargon from Finnish to English, read here.

Useful Links

France

Accommodation varies throughout France. Whether you are in a city or in the countryside, consider your housing options based on location, price and transport. If your work placement is in a small town or village, consider living in a town further away with transport links for a good work/life balance. Students are often eligible to reclaim some of their rent from the CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales).

Please note that to open a French bank account, students often need proof of accommodation so get this arranged with your landlord or letting agency as soon as possible.

Check out Sciences Po’s glossary of French accommodation jargon to help you navigate your way.

Renting a large apartment with several people is an interesting and economical formula, especially in large cities, like Paris where the supply of small accommodation is insufficient. Read about colocation here.

Financial Help

CAF 

Students are often eligible to reclaim some of their rent from the CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales). Depending on your personal situation and the type of accommodation you occupy, you may be entitled to housing assistance managed by the Family Allowance Fund (CAF). These aids are paid whether you live in a home, in a university residence, in furnished or unfurnished accommodation.

Loca Pass

The Loca-Pass advance is a loan granted to the tenant to finance the security deposit claimed by the lessor. This loan will be reimbursed without loan interest or administration fees.

To benefit from it, you must prove:

  • a fixed-term contract (CDD) of at least three months in progress at the time of the request for assistance;
  • one or more fixed-term contracts for a cumulative duration of at least three months during the six months preceding the request for assistance;
  • or an internship agreement of at least three months in progress at the time of the request;
  • or a French State scholarship student status.

The amount of the aid amounts to a maximum of 1,200 euros.

Aide Mobili Jeune 

The Mobili Jeune assistance is personalized assistance reserved for young people under 30 years of work-linked training in a private, non-agricultural company which is used to reduce the amount of rent.

To benefit from it, you must:

  • be under 30 years of age;
  • be in work-study training via an apprenticeship contract or professionalization contract;
  • be employed in a private sector and non-agricultural company;
  • be a tenant or roommate during your training;
  • not hold a MOBILI-JEUNE file in progress at Action Logement
  • receive a gross monthly salary less than or equal to 100% of the minimum wage
  • submit your request 3 months before the start date of your training

Visale 

If you’re struggling to find a French guarantor, Visale acts as a valid replacement and offers financial support and advice whilst renting. Visale facilitates rental for young student tenants since it compensates the owner in the event of unpaid rents up to a limit of 36 monthly payments.

Crous

The CLLAJ is a reception, information and orientation structure for young people between the ages of 18 and 29 who are enrolled in a housing search process. CLLAJ builds with them a project adapted to their financial, social and professional situation. It is part of a broad partnership with all social workers such as the Family Allowance Fund, young workers’ homes and local Missions.

Useful Links

  • Au Pair World: If you’re interested in working whilst studying abroad then many families offer free accommodation and food in return for work as an au pair.
  • Foyers pour les jeunes : By living in a foyer, you already have a group of people, normally mostly French, with whom to make friends and practice your spoken language. They probably already know the city very well too. Foyers may fill up quickly so you should begin looking as soon as possible.
  • FNAIM 
  • FUSAC: Adverts that offer English speakers resources and adverts
  • PAP
  • The American Church in Paris: The American Church in Paris has a noticeboard with accommodation and casual employment ads. (You don’t have to be American or a churchgoer to consult this.)
  • Appartager 
  • Icade Immobilier : private student residences
  • Arpej: privately rented accommodation especially for young people
  • Studelites: private student residences
  • Club Etudiant: website aimed at making the lives of students easier finding accommodation and work
  • Le Bon Coin
  • Cohebergement
  • Sciences Po: Sciences Po offers a wealth of information on finding accommodation across Paris and France, with discounts for their students.
  • Unistra: useful links and tip for finding accommodation in Strasbourg
  • Lokaviz: This student housing site is recommended by the University of Perpignan
  • Studapart: This platform collates accommodation offers in Toulouse, whether in private student residences or in private homes verified by Studapart. It can also act as a guarantor for students who do not have one and who cannot benefit from the Visale system.
  • Toul’Box: The Toul’Box offers advice for young people settling in the region and finding accommodation in Toulouse. They offer two different types of packs ranging from 100 euros to 200 euros, including help with opening a bank account, French lessons, meet and greet at the airport, assistance with utilities and a guided tour of Toulouse.

Germany

Germany is a hotspot in central Europe for business, academia and travel and has many large and popular student cities. As with most student cities, accommodation in Germany can be hard to find if you are not prepared but affordable student accommodation is available if you get creative when looking for location and on student networks. Germany has a very active student population who provide networks and support to international students and young professionals looking for housing. This is called the Studierendenwerk, a state-run non-profit organisation for student affairs in Germany. Each Studentenwerk is organized at the local level so that it covers one or more universities.

Useful Links

Berlin

  • ASTA (Allgemeiner Studierenden Ausschuss) : student executive committee across Germany advocating for student well-being and rights and can offer advice and assistance with renting
  • Morgen Post: Berlin newspaper ads
  • Zweitehand
  • Berlin Portal

Tuebingen

Jena

Bonn

Heidelberg

Hamburg

Iceland

If studying at the University of Iceland, the International Office will send you a list with names and contact details for guesthouses, university accommodation and private apartments. It is advised to be quick and contact the respective landlord soon after the list has been published (normally in early June). The city is small, and most things are within walking distance, however it is advisable to stay around the ‘101’ postcode so that you will be close to the university and the centre of town. Rent tends to be lower outside the capital region and in smaller towns but not necessarily. For students doing a work placement in Iceland, check out links to well-reviewed letting agencies below.

Useful Links

Ireland

Finding accommodation in Dublin can prove to be a tricky task. However, if you start to do your homework early enough you will be able to find a decent room for a reasonable price to meet all of your needs. Make sure you see as many properties in person as you can to avoid scams and low-quality rentals. Transport in Dublin is very good so pay attention to maps in order to be flexible with location.

For elsewhere in Ireland, see the links below.

Useful Links

Italy

Italy has gained a reputation for being slightly on the expensive side but that doesn’t have to be the case. Large cities, such as Rome, Milan and Naples, can offer a range of affordable accommodation if you’re savvy enough to find it. Pay special attention to short-term contracts in Italy designed specially for students and interns as most contracts are fixed at 1-year. There is a lot of paperwork involved in renting in Italy so make sure you have photocopies of all of your documents, including visa and residence permits.

Italian key rental terms:

  •  Appartamento in affitto- apartment for rent
  • Contratto di affitto- rental contract
  • Arredato-  furnished
  • Bilocale- one-bedroom
  • Due camere da letto- two-bedroom
  • Monolocale- studio apartment
  • Servizi- amenities
  • Utilità- utilities
  • Edificio moderno- modern building

Useful Links

Padua

Rome

Verona

Venice

Milan

Turin

Malta

Although a small island, there are a lot of options for renting. Monthly letting rates range between EUR 700 and EUR 1000, depending on locality, size and furnishings of the apartment. If you find an apartment through an agent, you will be expected to pay a one-time fee known as a commission: this is usually about half the monthly rent. Consider which towns are nearby or within travel distance of the University or workplace. The University of Malta is located in a residential town called Msida. Other residential towns within walking distance from University campus are Gzira, Swatar and San Gwann (15 to 20 minutes on foot).

Click here for a guide to private renting in Malta.

Useful Links

The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a very popular place for students, whether you’re in Amsterdam, the Hague or Leiden. The best advice is to start your search early for accommodation, especially in university cities. And don’t restrict your search to the main cities! Take a look in the surrounding villages and towns, where you can often get better value for money.

If you require a visa and/or residence permit, arrange your accommodation well in advance. The immigration department will check that you have registered at a Dutch address with your local town hall soon after arrival and may cancel your residence permit if you have not done so.

But there is help for international students! The Dutch Student Union, in cooperation with the European Students Network, have launched a Housing Hotline. The Housing Hotline provides a place for international students to ask questions regarding housing and voice their complaints.

How to Avoid Scams Advice

The Dutch Student Union also offer a rent check service to see whether the price you are being offered for the area and type of accommodation is reasonable and realistic.

The Dutch government recommends that you check that your agency is listed on the Dutch Chamber of Commerce website (in Dutch, but simply enter the company name in the search bar to look for listings).

Click here for the Dutch Scammers Exposed Facebook Group.

Check out Housing Check where you pay a small fee to validate your lease and letting agent.

Read this blog on how to recognise a scammer in the Netherlands.

Useful Dutch terminology  

Some housing websites and search engines are only available in Dutch. However, by learning a few standard Dutch terms, you should be able to find your way online.

  • aanbieden – to offer
  • hospiteren – to interview
  • huur – rent
  • kaart – map
  • kamer – room
  • n.o.t.k. – price is negotiable
  • plaats – place (city/town)
  • prijs – price
  • vind – to find
  • zoeken – to search

 

Useful Links

Norway

Norway is a beautiful country but can be pricey. It is popular with students and young professionals for its international outlook as well as excellent quality of life it offers. The two most popular cities for students are Oslo and Bergen. The private rental market in Bergen is expensive compared to student housing. On the private market the price is usually between NOK 4000-6000 a month. If you are planning to stay in Norway for a limited period, sublease at a shared flat is common where one tenant hold responsibility for the apartment and collect rent from the others.

The Study Bergen website offers helpful advice on finding accommodation as an international student.

Read this page for top tips for renting as an international student in Norway.  Did you know that deposits had to be paid into a joint account in Norway?

Useful Links

Portugal

Portugal is popular for many students as it is the cheapest country to live in Western Europe with lots to offer any individual, including beaches, vibrant cities and picturesque mountain scenery. Accommodation can be very reasonable in good locations as long as you do your research beforehand.

Check out this cost of living blog for advice on finances.

Useful Links

Russia

Moscow and St. Petersburg are well known for having the most expensive apartments, as any major cities would. The smaller the city is and the further it is from major cities, the lower the rent is. For example, as of 2020 in Moscow, depending on the location and facilities available, a bedsit will cost you around 30-35 thousand roubles (461-538$) a month, and a room around 15-20 thousand roubles (230-307$) a month. In Novosibirsk, the same options would be 50% cheaper. Make sure that you receive your contract in English as well as Russian and register your contract with the state to avoid fines and deportation. Homestays with host families are a popular option in Russia for students and young professionals so ask your employer or university if they have any recommendations. Consider all of your options for the best decision for you.

Useful Links

Spain

Spain offers the student everything from an immersive experience of spoken language learning to culture to cuisine and history. Unsurprisingly, cities like Barcelona and Madrid are more expensive than other Spanish cities and significantly more so than smaller towns and rural areas. Don’t worry if you haven’t organised your accommodation before arriving; book short-term accommodation in a hostel or AirBnB to search whilst in the country. Remember, a lot of apartments in Spain are part of a ‘comunidad’ so watch out for a payment included in your rent to cover cleaning of staircases and upkeep of roof terraces etc.

To finalise a rental agreement you’ll have to prove your residency status, identity (usually with your NIE number), and that you’ll be earning enough to cover your costs and any outstanding debt. Register for your NIE number as soon as possible; prepare all of your paperwork in advance when attending the Foreign Office including the X-15 form. Note that the procedure for each region may differ from walk-ins to scheduled appointments. Non-EU residents will need a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) along with their NIE so make sure to bring passport photos as well. For more information and a download link to the X-15 form, please visit this website.

Once you have a rental agreement, remember to visit the town hall in order to sign the ‘empadronamiento’ (residents’ register) to avoid fines. You will need a photocopy of your tenancy agreement and passport to be added to the system.

Useful Links

Sweden

Accommodation for students can be in high demand in Sweden so the best advice is to start looking early and consider looking outside of cities with good transport links for lower rent prices. In most cities in Sweden, most rental flats are managed by central housing services that operate queue systems for so-called ‘first-hand’ rental contracts, or contracts directly between the tenant and the owner of the property. Residents sign up for a queue in their city and are then able to apply for flats, which are allocated based on queue time. In large and medium-sized cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Uppsala or Lund, queue times for a flat can be several years. As such, on the private market the most common solution for students is finding a sublet or “second-hand” contract. For an example of a sample contract as well as lots of general advice on finding a flat, have a look at Studentboet.se.

Check out this blog on how to rent in Sweden for more information.

Useful Links

Switzerland

An attractive country for students and young professionals, Switzerland is a great place to live. The private rental market may cost you slightly more than university accommodation (typically CHF 800 to CHF 1500) but sharing an apartment can lower your costs significantly. Geneva, Zurich and Bern are the most expensive cities in Switzerland, but also have more options for housing. Living with roommates, especially other international students can expose you to new cultures, languages and traditions, further enhancing your study abroad experience!

Remember to report your arrival to the Contrôle des habitants et Bureau des étrangers in the administrative district where you are living, in person, within 14 days. You can submit an application for a residence permit at the same time, by bringing at least two passport-size photos and your passport or identity card with you. The fees for this process range between CHF 15 and CHF 30, depending on the district, for the registration fee and CHF 65 for the residence permit fee. If you are on exchange, you may subject to a residence tax of between CHF 30 and CHF 37 per month (based on where you live).

Useful Links

UK

You may be doing a work placement as part of your degree and moving to another part of the UK outside of St Andrews. Beware that there are slight changes between Scottish and English and Welsh tenancy laws and rights which can be found on the Government’s website.

When searching for accommodation, many of the processes will be the same as renting in St Andrews; you will need a guarantor, proof of identity, references from previous landlords etc.

Research local letting agencies and make sure to read reviews. Use Facebook groups and advert sites but be wary of scammers and don’t ever transfer money without seeing the property. Look out for location with regards to travel time to your work and surrounding transport links. For example, living in Greater London is a lot cheaper than living in Central London if you commute.

Useful Links

 

The Global Office hopes that you find this guide useful in your search for accommodation in Europe. If you have any feedback, sites you found helpful on your year abroad or sites where you fell victim to scams, please let us know by emailing globaloff-intern@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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