Finding housing in a foreign country can be daunting, but it is essential. Here are a few tips for how to find a place to stay for the short, medium or long term!

1. Book temporary accommodation for the first few days or weeks

Before embarking on your international flight, we suggest that you book accommodation for at least the first few nights or even weeks. You can do so via platforms like Booking, Airbnb, or Hostelworld. Subleasing from someone can also be a good solution.

Committing to a rental before actually seeing it in person is risky for several reasons:

  • Scams are common. You can check out our article on Common scams to avoid during your working holiday abroad.
  • It is always best to see the home in person and meet the people face to face. It’s very hard to get the whole picture from just photos or video calls (e.g. signs of noise, poor cleanliness, insulation issues, etc.).
  • You don’t get to see the surrounding neighbourhood. It’s possible that you will end up liking a different part of the city once you get there!

2. Define your needs

Do you want to live by yourself or with other people? Do you plan on being sedentary or nomadic on your working holiday? Or maybe you don’t fully know yet?

Depending on your answers to these questions, your housing options will look different, and you will probably need to adapt your search accordingly.

Here are the different types of accommodation available:

Youth hostels

You can book a bed or a room for yourself. Common spaces (kitchen, bathroom, living room) are shared with others.

The pros:

  • Easy to book for foreigners (no paperwork required, flexible check in hours)
  • No minimum stay duration
  • There are many hostels to choose from
  • Furniture and utilities are included
  • Easy to meet new people
  • Economic

The cons:

  • Communal living isn’t for everyone
  • It’s hard or impossible to have friends or family visit
  • Some properties are not always reliable (Wi-Fi, cleanliness, noise, etc.)

Hotels and Airbnb

The pros:

  • Easy to book for foreigners (no paperwork required)
  • No minimum stay duration (except certain Airbnb listings)
  • There are many to choose from
  • Furniture and utilities are included
  • Comfortable and private

The cons:

  • More expensive than hostels or rentals
  • Less conducive to meeting new people

Co-leasing with flatmates

The pros:

  • You can decorate and personalise your personal space
  • You can host friends and family
  • Potentially befriend your flatmates
  • Economic

The cons:

  • Depending on local rules of your destination, you may be committed to a fixed duration
  • Living with others can have its challenges if lifestyles and habits differ
  • There is paperwork associated with application

Renting by yourself

The pros:

  • Freedom to decorate and personalise your home
  • Comfort and privacy
  • You can host friends and family

The cons:

  • Depending on local rules of your destination, you may be committed to a fixed duration
  • There is paperwork associated with application
  • More expensive than having flatmates or roommates

Living with the owner-occupant

The pros:

  • Easy to secure for foreigners (usually no formal paperwork required)
  • No minimum duration
  • Cultural immersion with a local
  • Economic, even free (if couchsurfing)

The cons:

  • It’s hard or impossible to have friends or family stay
  • You may not feel fully at home

Converted van

The pros:

  • Great freedom and flexibility
  • No minimum duration
  • Easy resell later on (if in good condition)
  • An unforgettable and unique experience

The cons:

  • Big upfront cost
  • Requires extensive paperwork (purchase, registration, insurance, etc.)
  • Space and amenities are limited

3. Calculate your budget

Now that you know what you are looking for, what is your budget? Are your preferences feasible with your means?

Once you figure this out, you can finally start your search. It will also help you narrow down which cities and neighbourhoods are in your budget.

4. Choose a neighbourhood

It is important to research different neighbourhoods to see which correspond to your criteria. Is it walkable? Does it have street parking? Is it well connected by public transportation? Is it quiet and calm or a nightlife hotspot?

Sometimes it may be worth paying for a slightly more expensive but central location to avoid excessive transportation costs. Safety of the area is also an important consideration, especially for women.

5. Search on platforms that are used in your destination country

Announcements might not be posted on the sites that you are used to back home. Ask around and do some research to see what websites have the most options.

Also check out these country-specific articles:

6. Know your rights as a renter

Check the norms and rules for your destination country. For example, can landlords charge a security deposit? If so, what is the limit and what are the conditions for getting it back? If you decide to move out, how much notice do you have to give and is there a penalty? Read your lease carefully and ask questions to the landlord.

Educating yourself on this can help you to avoid unwanted surprises and even scams.

7. If things don’t go according to plan, change plans!

If ever you don’t feel comfortable in your place, or you want to change cities, give yourself permission to change plans. Stay flexible. This is your working holiday adventure, and you are the author of your own story.


En PVT au Canada de novembre 2021 à 2023, je répondrai à vos questions avec plaisir. Pour le premier trimestre 2024, direction l'Amérique latine !

I moved from France to Canada on a WHV from November 2021 to 2023, followed then by spending the first quarter of 2024 in Latin America! Happy to answer all your questions.

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