Apartment Hunting

We’ve been apartment hunting for the last few weeks… actually since even before we left India to come here. We heard the options tend to be limited here since it’s a small place, It’s quite an interesting process and I noticed some BIG differences in how this happens here VS India:

Firstly, we were told usually you look at a few places in the day and ideally pick one the same evening or the next day. This is very different from how it happens in India where one usually has time between looking at an apartment and actually applying. There is usually an agency involved, which also happens in India but it’s much more common here since in India people rent directly often enough. Home owners here prefer not to try to rent out their homes directly and the agency is pretty much always involved and leading the process.

There is really no concept of negotiating here which is again common practice in India. Here the prices (not just for apartments but pretty much everything else) are fixed and you either take it or leave it.

When picking an aprtment, some of the things we felt turned out to be most important to consider were:

  1. bus connectivity – since the bus transportation network is so good in the city, it makes sense to check how well connected a neighborhood is by bus. This would mean checking how many buses visit it and how often plus the travel time of course
  2. Green areas and cycling/running options – to my mind this is pretty much a given no matter where you live in Luxembourg and everything is pretty accessible. Still, depending on what kind of green area you prefer (organised park or wild woody areas) I would suggest checking for running and cycling tracks nearby. They can be very different and having this kind of place next door is fabulous. We for instance, have a beautiful basketball court next door which is my fav corner nearby
  3. Supermarkets– this is very very important, especially since the different supermarket options here all have different prices and some ars generally cheaper than others. So, it makes sense to check what is nearby and at walking distance (carrying shopping bags and walking can be pretty tough in this cold weather)

This is by no means a complete list but just the top 2-3 things that really mattered to us.

One of the most interesting things is that there is an actual formal ‘application’ that you have sent to the landlord/lady asking them to live in their house. This is supported by work documentation proving you can afford the rent etc. What’s more, there is no guarantee that the landlord/lady will accept your application and its as common to be rejected as accepted to live in an apartment. This makes the entire process a little bit more stressful since once you have applied it’s almost understood that you will not look at other options and will wait for the landlord/lady to confirm either way.

Once the you have picked an option and the landlord has picked you (praise the lord!), the next steps involve the contract being drawn up. These are usually for a year (like in India) and its extremely expensive to exit the contract before time. You have to pay as much as the total of the rent for the remaining months!! Trust me this is too expensive and a very solid deterrent.

On that note let me tell you about the security deposit – this is again common practice even in India but in Luxembourg, instead of paying the landlord/lady the tenant block the amount in his/her own bank account and provide a ‘bank guarantee’. This is considered common practice and while banks charge for this, sometimes depending on the kind of account you have with your bank, they also do this for free. We bank with ING and they are not charging us for this service.

So, where were we? yes, the contract… so the contract is drawn up with all specifications – rent+utilities is the usual format and these include things like the heating for the building and maintenance of common areas. The contract also specifies what kind of repair work is whose responsibility, the rights of the tenant and the landlord/landlady as well as the kind of support the tenant can expect. This contract is also followed up with an ‘inventory’ visit , before the keys are handed over, where the tenant and landlord agree on the condition of the house, the contents, the level of damage (if any) and this becomes the main base of challenges at the end of the contract so is very important.

Once the inventory visit is done and the money is transferred (first month’s rent+utilities, agency fees which are normally equal to one month rent + VAT and securiy deposit which is between 2-3 months rent) the tenant can take posession of the keys if everything is in order.

One important requirement before you can take posession is the home insurance. The house needs to be completely insured before the landlord/lady will hand over the keys and he/she will need proof of this insurance. This is also something the tenant needs to do directly with one of many insurance companies in th city. P.S: a small tip we recieved from the people helping us with the relocation is that if you are also buying car insurance, its normally cheaper to get it from the same provider since they often provide discounts.

Well this what I know so far folks! I’m still learning though so in case someone has any useful experience to add which could help other people, please do in the comments below! There are also loads of other websites with more information on this like Expatica.

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