Finding a Neighborhood when Living and Working Abroad

Finding a Neighborhood when Living and Working Abroad

Wellington neighborhood
View from Wellington apartment

If you’ve narrowed down your workation choice to a particular city (go here for ideas on narrowing your options), how to do you figure out where to stay in that city? Which neighborhood is best?

First, a note on city size: We’ve only workationed in large cities, and that’s by design. In Minnesota, we live in a rural area a mile off the road where we don’t see any traffic and our closest neighbor is 1/2 mile away. So the idea of flipping our living situation 180 degrees by living in a big, bustling city is exciting to us. You may think a smaller town or more remote area better fits your family.

However, size does matter. Here’s why I think large cities are easy for workationing:

  • No need for a car. Almost everything’s walkable or easily accessible by public transit
  • Multiple types of housing options (and pricing) are available (AirBnb, local management companies that rent furnished apartments, etc.)
  • Most large cities have at least one coworking company
  • Easier/more diverse access to nannies (if needed)
  • Lots of things to do without having to leave the city: Parks, museums, kids’ activities, etc.

Once we have our workationing city picked out, my next step – before deciding on a neighborhood and booking a place to stay – is to find coworking spaces and map those out. I figure out which 1-2 coworking spaces are my best options based on availability, location and price (I usually rent a hot desk rather than pay more for a dedicated space).

Then, I draw a mental 30-min commute radius around that coworking space on a Google map and start searching for apartments or housing in those neighborhoods. Ideally, I want to be able to walk my coworking space because that saves a lot of time and money as far as transit costs and logistics. But if I can’t walk to it, then I generally don’t want to spend more than 30 minutes commuting by bus or train.

For our London workation in spring 2017, we found an apartment on AirBnB that was within our price range and a good neighborhood, and the owner gave us a great deal for booking it for 6 weeks. However, when we workationed in New Zealand, we started our housing search too late (about 6 months in advance) and most of the great deals were taken. I literally just did a Google search for “Wellington furnished apartments” and found a management company that rented out furnished apartments and we booked a place through them. The country you are looking at may also have a local version of a well-regarded site that offers short-term rentals, so look for those.

I should mention that before I book a place, I first ask friends and acquaintances if they know anyone who rents out their home in the city we’re workationing in. That may make your search much faster and easier – and make new friends before you even arrive!

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