How to find an apartment in the Czech Republic without going gray
The idea of renting an apartment in the Czech Republic may not seem like a good idea at first glance. It is believed that the prices for such services are very high and the rental period is minimal. But if you look into the situation, it turns out that having your own place in the Czech Republic is actually beneficial.
The explanation is quite simple. Tourists most often choose the option of a hotel or hostel, as there is really no point in searching for a suitable apartment for a short period of time. But if the term of stay in the Czech Republic goes beyond a few days, the hotel can afford only very wealthy people. In other words, the option to rent an apartment in the Czech Republic becomes not just one of the possible options, but practically the only one.
Before moving to the Czech Republic, I had no experience with renting an apartment or a room. All my knowledge was taken from Hollywood movies. And if you, like me, use movies as your only source of information, you should know that you and I have been cruelly lied to all this time.
It took me months to become a certified expert in Prague apartment rentals. And it will take you only fifteen minutes if you read my manual on how to find a place to live in the Czech Republic and not to get screwed over.
Lesson 1: It's hard to find a place to live in the fall
Wake me up when September is over! Because in September, newly minted university and preparatory course students are literally pouring out of Prague airport in droves. And they don't want to stay in hotels or hostels, they all want long term accommodation at reasonable prices.
Students of preparatory courses are not very scary for you - they will most likely live in a hostel, and if they start looking for an apartment, then only after a couple of months. But the students who returned from summer vacation back to study, housing is just the same very much needed. They literally have until October to give the Czech Migration Police the missing documents for a visa, namely, confirmation of residence not at the Main Station.
How to beat them? And you already have an advantage: you know about them, but they don't know about you. The best housing options are taken by the one who responds quickly to the ads. In addition, to profitably rent an apartment in the Czech Republic, you will need knowledge of the language. To argue with this fact is silly. A foreigner whose linguistic talents are limited to English within the school program, will overpay at least twice.
The problems of popularity of housing in the fall applies mainly to room rentals.
Lesson 2: Avoid Passing Rooms
This option is especially popular with students who are traveling to Prague for higher education. You can rent a private room in an apartment with a host or find several other students who are looking for a place to live and rent a whole apartment together.
A common situation is when a group of friends move into a multi-room apartment and live there for a while. One friend decides to move out - moves in with his girlfriend, to another city or to his own place. His friends can no longer afford to rent a large apartment without his share, but they do not want to lose a comfortable place of residence. And they decide that it is necessary to find a stranger who is in search of housing, and in a separate apartment can not live or does not want to. Such a communal apartment is formed, but more soulful and with a decent repair.
I probably would not have considered this housing option in my hometown, but in the Czech Republic it was easy to decide on it. First of all, Russian-speakers are looking for Russian-speakers. And in a foreign country, somehow you are automatically drawn to "your own". Secondly, the neighbor is usually looking for a neighbor like me (or you) not particularly rich students, which means there is nothing to fear.
But a dormitory is still a dormitory. It's hard enough to let strangers into your personal space. You will vitally need a private corner where you can hide from the world.
Renting a pass-through room is usually much lower than renting a non-pass-through room. But having new roommates constantly scurrying back and forth at night isn't worth it.
Lesson 3: Use social media
VKontakte has several home search groups where subletting offers are posted, the most credible being Neighbors in Prague. There are also groups about other quite large Czech cities, but since there are fewer Russian speakers living there, the groups are small and rarely updated.
You can also try to find accommodation on Facebook, but there will be more international offers. There are many foreigners of different nationalities in Prague, so there are more offers in such groups than in "Russian" ones. You should not give up the experience of communicating with people from other countries - it can be interesting and very useful.
I started looking for a room in the fall. I realized that it would be difficult, but I didn't have much choice. I didn't want to go to Prague in the summer, and it wasn't very convenient to look for an apartment and sign a contract in absentia.
I found the apartment very quickly, thanks to pure luck. The night before my flight, I got a message from a girl whose friend was looking for a roommate and had not yet had time to post an ad in the group. The apartment was good, with new renovation and near the university, so I agreed. A couple of days after arriving in the city I moved into my first rented apartment.
It was a very interesting experience. My new roommate and I sometimes spent hours talking in the kitchen. I got to know the new culture he lived in. But after a few months, I realized that the apartment was not suitable for me and decided to move.
This is where a new adventure begins. Finding an apartment.
Lesson 4: It's harder to find an apartment
Today in the capital city there are daily actual offers to rent apartments of different sizes, located in different buildings and different neighborhoods. Among the huge selection, you will surely be able to find an option that interests you.
Frankly speaking, the degree of difficulty in finding housing depends on your financial capabilities. The more expensive the apartment, the less demand for it, and therefore it is easier to rent. If you can afford it, the ideal solution would be to hire a realtor to help you in your search for housing and in negotiations with the landlord. Very often a realtor is the only way to be the first to see the perfect apartment.
There are two types of realtors - your side and the landlord's side. You hire the first one yourself by contacting an agency, so you pay him yourself. The second helps the owner to find a tenant, and the landlord pays him.
If you decide to dive into the sea of searching for an apartment on your own, make a template of a letter that you will send to all landlords in response to their advertisements. Don't be too demanding and picky in your choice of accommodation, don't send letters to just a few - only one landlord out of ten will reply to you anyway. So, the more letters you send, the more options you can look at.
Lesson 5: Free cheese only comes with a mousetrap
Sometimes you'll see pictures of awesome apartments on websites, renting them out for a very low price. Don't think that the landlord is simply unfamiliar with the prices on the market or has decided to do charity work. These are just ads from scammers catching simpletons in their nets.
In the best case you will be told that the apartment is rented, but offer other options (more modest and more expensive). At worst, you will be robbed.
In response to your e-mail, the landlord will offer you a date and time when you can come to see the apartment. Most landlords prefer to let everyone see the apartment first, and then choose the best applicant from all the applicants. Therefore, try to make as good an impression on the landlord as possible.
Lesson 6: Living in the center does not mean living well
I don't know how it is in other CIS cities, but in my city the most prestigious housing is considered to be the one in the city center. But in Prague it works the other way around - it's better to live in the outskirts.
Mainly because of the tourists. They are on vacation, so they can walk all night long, and they can walk loudly.
I lived in one of the central districts of Prague. And there were some advantages in it - it was close to the university and the historical center. But it was very difficult to sleep at night because of the constant loud parties that were going on, judging by the noise level, right under my window.
Czechs are quiet and peaceful people. Most of the time you will find almost no one on the streets of the bedroom neighborhoods as early as 9pm. Since most stores, banks, cafeterias and other customer-oriented places open at seven in the morning, everyone goes to bed early in the evening.
Try to find accommodation near a metro station, because this automatically equals living twenty minutes away from the city center itself. A streetcar stop nearby is also a big plus.
Lesson 7: Avoid renting an apartment in an old building
This is where I, like Alice in Wonderland, can give you some very good advice, but I can't follow it myself.
Tired of the gray "panels", which are full of our native countries, in Europe we are looking for housing in a classic old house with a bas-relief of a lion on the facade under the window and huge oak doors. At least for me, that's all I need to live in. I'm crazy about bay windows, cute balconies, narrow old streets under the windows and ancient parquet.
But when we look at beautiful old houses, we sometimes forget how much more comfortable our lives have become compared to when that house was first built. An old house almost always means no elevator. Old houses can be quite cold in the winter. It can also have high humidity.
There are many new and cozy houses in Prague, better give preference to them. And by new houses, I mean everything younger than Elizabeth II.
Finally, I would like to say that the easiest way to rent an apartment is through your acquaintances. For example, your friends are moving out of the apartment and their apartment is vacant. Ask them to put in a good word for you with the landlord. It will be morally easier for the landlord to let someone who has been vouched for by people he trusts. Plus, he won't have to go through the hassle of writing an ad.
Approach the search for future housing with all the responsibility and care, and you will definitely succeed!
Prepare for admission to Czech universities with the Prague Education Center! The programs include 680 academic hours of Czech language and allow you to prepare for a year of study at the university of your choice.