Advantages advantageous in the short term, less capital outlay is necessary
Disadvantages long-term you are throwing away money, no return on your "investment"
Having lived and worked in several countries in Europe over the last seven years, not to mention having rented student flats – although they were generally fairly palatial – nothing like the usual hovels that tend to be let to students by landlords without any scruples, seemingly no sense of obligation to fix anything or to maintain the safety of a place, and which usually seemed to have been modified to ensure the highest possible level of income for the landlord.I’ve seen it all in my time – from living in a luxury penthouse, to a squalid cellar in Brussels, where the first thing I had to do was to evict all sorts of wildlife growing out of nearly every corner of the “flat”. And now that I have seen it all and can guarantee my extended stay in Vienna, I am about to hang up my shoes as a rent boy and take the plunge and buy a place. Renting is obviously the best short-term solution, with a house share often making it an affordable option after say graduation, when you have a mountain of debts, and need a roof over your head, and similarly don’t know how fixed you are going to be location-wise. The initial outgoings are traditionally lower with renting – average deposits seem to be 2-3 months rent, although some can be as much as six months rent. Obviously getting the kind of money together to pay your deposit can be a challenge in the first place – at least try and see if you can stagger your deposit – meaning that you won’t be leaving off bread and water, or even worse, fresh air, for the first few months.
If possible I would encourage placing the deposit in a building society account with a passbook to it, and giving your landlord the passbook. That way the money has been set aside, and you can’t do a runner with the deposit, but at the same time he also can’t get at your deposit. In Austria, this is particularly common practice, and it works very well – quite simply at the end of the rent period you are given your passbook back, with the landlord requesting the necessary part of the deposit back. This means that it makes it very difficult for him/her to pocket the deposit. Ultimately some landlords use your deposit ultimately as a way of quickly making money – some will suddenly claim things are missing of the inventory – have the inventory gone through with you when you arrive to prevent the landlord from claiming that a dinner service is missing. Of course if you are renting an unfurnished flat, then this is more simple – probably the only thing that will be in the flat will be the fixed kitchen units and fixed bathroom – you may also be able to use the unfurnished nature of the flat/house as a bargaining chip for haggling over the deposit.Before signing your rent contract, check that the rent you are paying is fair, namely that for the size of the flat that it is about the normal level, and also what the rent contract covers – in Austria you generally have the maintenance of the building e.g. lighting bills for the landings, lift maintenance, cleaning of entrance foyers and water bills and rubbish collection included, whilst you are expected to pay the electricity and gas bills, although in short term lets, you may find you can get something all-inclusive.
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