9 - Find house in big cities

Authors: Stefano Ivancich

Some companies will give you the accommodation for your internship or for the first months of your full time job, some others don’t.

Prestigious and Big Tech companies have their offices in the main cities around the globe.
Currently (2024), there is a housing crisis in those cities.

This article gives mostly an overview of the problems that our mentees had when finding an apartment while they live in a different country to the one of the company and some tricks.


  • Many listings are the same between different platforms, so if you see 50 homes per site, actually half or more are the same.
  • When you do the search by move-in date - move-out date, many sites show you apartments that have vacant days between those dates and not the entire vacant duration
  • I have been rejected by several people because the landlord forgot to take down the ad.
  • Many prefer at least 6 months (although they write at least 1 month).
  • Landlords prefer that you book exactly when the previous tenant leaves, they don’t accept that you book 2-3 weeks later because they have a hard time finding someone to stay only 2-3 weeks and they are left with an empty house.
  • Almost all the houses are 50 min away from the center where all the tech companies are.
  • When you make an application, on some sites it tells you how many other people have applied and it’s a lot, even 500+.
  • The landlord accepts you, but then you get rejected because another person who was accepted, confirmed before you (a matter of minutes), so you have to refresh the page of applications made to see which ones you were accepted on.
  • On the ad it says the date but then when you contact the landlord it says it is free from a later date or you are obligated to take the whole month.
  • Many apartments do not allow registration of address which is necessary to receive a salary.
  • Many apartments do not have washing machines, air conditioning, and other fairly essential things.
  • Usually under 1500€/month apartments are ugly and very small 25sqm max.
  • Usually you have to pay 1st month rent + deposit (rent x3) in advance, so about 4 months rent in advance, money you have to have in your account.
  • Single rooms in apartments are almost always with at least 2 other people.
  • They require several documents: credit check, bank statement, employer’s letter and contract. Possibly in German or English.
  • On facebook they are mostly scams
  • On German ad sites, if you don’t speak German they ignore you. And the main problem is trusting to send money to a random person. Housinganywhere and others at least give some guarantees.
  • Airbnb has absurd prices 2-3 times the normal price
  • Rentals are being booked up with viewings often in the same day
  • In Amsterdam, they put up the ad, within minutes they get hundreds of applications, do the viewing 2 days later and by the end of the week they have already chosen. So listings older than 3-4 days are pretty much to be discarded.
  • In some cities like Amsterdam, the price you see is just the starting price. People overbid 100-200€ more (10-20% more).


  • Be prepared to have at least 4 months of life before going to the city Many landlords require the first rent in advance and 1-3 months as a deposit.
    • If you start working at the middle of the month it is possible that your first salary will arrive at the end of the next month. So you probably need to have to pay 1 more rent without having received any.
    • There can be a problem with the payslips, for example if you are not able to get your taxId in time you will be taxed at maximum rate for the first month.
  • There are specific websites of the city (e.g., allaboutberlin) that have guides on everything, what are the best areas to live, how to get ta
  • Check the sub-reddit of the city (e.g., Berlin, Amsterdam) they have guides on how to find a house and also look at previous questions by users.
  • Start looking months before, as soon as you sign the contract start looking for an apartment.
  • Spam a lot
  • Hire real estate agent:
    • Cost is usually 1 month rent
    • Do not limit yourself to what they suggest. Keep looking yourself on platforms and share it with them asap to schedule a viewing or make an offer.
    • They make you look wealthy, some landlords only respond to real estate agents because they know that if you can afford to pay for one you probably can afford to live in the apartment.
  • Since you have a good salary by working in big tech, try to overbid. Offer somewhere around 50 to 150 eur / month more than is listed. But make it look nice: like “apartment is so nice, beautiful, we love it. The market is crazy right now, so to make sure we’ll claim the place we’d like to offer X+100 instead of X listed price
  • Make a Google doc of introduction WITH YOUR NICE PHOTO(S). Make a nice friendly photo of you / you and your friend / your family together, and write a nice story where you mention that you work for “BIG TECH NAME” full-time, that BIG TECH NAME will give you a permanent contract and it’s not just a 1 year contractor job, how much you’re making, your little nice back-story, etc.
  • Check if the contract is legit: some cities like Amsteram offer some service like wooninfo.nl where you can send your contract and questions via email.

Other things to look for:

  • Cost of living: Rent, Utilities, Energy/gas, Water, Garbage, Internet, health insurance, grocery
  • How far you are walking/cycling/bus: (example) usually walk: 1km/10min, bike: 2km/10min considering traffic. Left turns are very slow.