The cost of renting is astronomical in the UK, but is New York any better than London? Do the Germans really have it easier than the Brits? We talk to tenants around the world..

Renting property: living overseas is no easier than life in the UK!

London, UK

Rent: £2,940 a month shared with three others (equal to £735 a month a head)

Deposit: £1,060 each (plus £45 reference fees each and £250 contract fee between four)

Property: Four-bed house in Balham, south London

Tenancy length: 12 months

Jake Dipple

Graduate Jake Dipple, 22, moved to London this summer for a job as a marketing and sales manager with construction company City Axis.

He spent a couple of months living on other people’s sofas while he and three friends looked for a house to rent.

“Finding somewhere to live in London has been the most stressful experience of my life. We looked at about five or six properties before we found one we liked. It was £600 per month each for the four of us. Our offer was accepted and the references went through with no problems.

“But three weeks before we were due to move in the landlord changed his mind and said he didn’t want to let the property. We had to start looking again and it turned out another agent we went to had let it. The landlord had got a counter offer of £100 a month higher, so he’d accepted that, instead.

“Properties on sites such as Zoopla and Rightmove went so fast, within four or five days of listing. You’ve got to move quickly.

“Eventually we found a place in Balham, through Kinleigh, Folkard & Hayward and offered the asking price. The property was unoccupied and the landlord was keen to get tenants in so he accepted. We also paid six weeks deposit of £1,060 each, which is protected.

“On top of that there was £45 per person for references and £250 for the contract between the four of us. We didn’t realise there would be so many extra fees. We signed a year’s contract, which I think is attractive to the landlord as he has 12 months guaranteed rent – although six months might have benefitted us.

“I’d say to people looking to rent in London to be realistic about their budget – even in zone 3 it’s hard to get anywhere for the £650 a month we expected to pay.”

New York, US

Rent: $1,700 (£1,040)

Deposit: Two months rent

Property: One-bed apartment converted into a two-bed in Midtown East

Tenancy length: 12 months

Lauren Fogarty

Lauren Fogarty spent three years living in New York and working for Google. She lived with a relative when she arrived, then looked for a place to share. She moved back to the UK in 2011. “I found renting in New York to be a nightmare – as far as I could see it is completely unregulated. Most of the properties in Manhattan seem to be owned by big property companies rather than inpiduals – and they’re ruthless. Some of my friends had their rent doubled in the space of a year.

“I saw about 15 properties and some were completely uninhabitable. One had a shower next to the kitchen sink while another was described as three-bed but it was actually a curtain piding the living room in two, then one extra bedroom. Fake walls are common in New York. Typically, people rent a one-bed apartment then install a temporary wall to pide a room into two. This means inhabiting small, often windowless and unsafe, rooms.

“Eventually I got lucky, and found a one-bed conversion with a fake wall, but quite big, in Midtown East. It was a ‘rent-stabilised’ apartment, which means the rent can’t go up more than inflation. But there aren’t many of these apartments, so people tend to stay in them for 30 or 40 years. This pushes up prices for everyone else.

“We (me and a flatmate) had to sign a year-long lease and, when 12 months was up, sign up again for another year. Although we were generally safe from short-notice eviction, this caused problems when we wanted to leave before the end of the term.

“In the worst-case scenario, we’d have to pay out the contract – another eight months rent, in my case – but in the end we only had to pay a month’s rent as well as finding new tenants to take over the apartment.”

Sydney, Australia

Rent: AU$2,842 (£1,545) shared between two

Deposit: One month’s rent (but three months rent paid in advance)

Property: Two-bed apartment with private courtyard and communal roof terrace, 30m from the beach

Tenancy length: 12 months

Angela Faherty

English journalist Angela Faherty lives with her boyfriend in a two-bed art deco apartment in Coogee, a beachside suburb in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

“The rental market in Sydney is fiercely competitive, more so than in London. Looking for an apartment is exhausting and full of dirty tricks. Typically, an open inspection in a popular suburb can draw well over 50 to 60 people to a viewing at one time, so you spend your time fighting the crowds during the 15-minute time slot before hurrying off to the next viewing.

“Seasoned apartment hunters turn up with pre-completed application forms so they waste no more time than is necessary. For those less prepared, you have to complete and submit the application form there and then to be considered for the property.

“But we learned that dirty tricks do work, and when we saw the place we are living in now, we submitted our pre-filled form and called the agent immediately after the viewing to ask if paying three months rent in advance, as well as the deposit, would help secure the property. It did – we moved in two months later.

“While we pay no fees to the agent directly, their costs are factored into our rent and their job is to prevent us from requesting anything from the landlord. They stress that if any repairs or requests made are deemed ‘unnecessary’, we will be forced to foot the cost.

“Most people tend to stay put for quite some time when they do finally find a place to live as the thought of going through the apartment-hunting phase again is just too much to bear.”

Oslo, Norway

Rent: £850 a month

Deposit: Three months rent

Property: 40 sq m, one-bed flat in an expensive part of Oslo

Tenancy length: 12 months

Marcus Borley

Marcus Borley, 42, a senior adviser for Ethical Trading Initiative, moved into an unfurnished one-bed flat in Oslo in August.

“I dealt directly with the landlord after finding the property in the local press. There are a lot of rental properties on the market, but also a big demand.

“Moving in August meant I was competing against students but being a professional helped. It was relatively easy.

“I had to put down three months rent as a deposit – almost £2,500 but that’s standard here.

“Luckily I had some savings. The deposit is protected and can only be taken out with both the landlord and tenant’s signatures.

“The minimum contract is for a year and I would lose my deposit if I left early. After a year the contract carries on or I can renew for another year.

“One big thing is that you need to give three months notice here, which can make things really tricky when you move.

“The contract has a lot of rules but they are mostly in the tenant’s favour. Tenants are quite protected and it’s difficult for the landlord to chuck you out.”

Hong Kong

Rent: HK$40,000 (£3,160) shared between two

Deposit: Three months rent

Property: Two-bedroom, 84 sq m apartment with pool, gym, sauna, playground, shuttle-bus, concierge, gardens, car park and clubhouse

Tenancy length: Two years

Adrian Warr

Adrian Warr, 35, moved to Hong Kong for a new job in PR earlier this year. He and his wife used a relocation agent to find an apartment.

“Whether your company helps you relocate, or you’re going it alone, it’s easy to find a flat here. But it can be hard to find a good one. In our first four days my wife and I saw 26. We signed for one on the fifth day. We moved in just less than a month later.

“Assessing value for money is hard. In simple terms, compared with London, we have halved our space and doubled our rent; we have 900 sq ft [84 sq m].

“But it’s apples and oranges, the tax rate here is very low (15%) so we don’t feel out of pocket. You can go for older buildings and pay a lot less for much more space, but these don’t usually have any facilities so, for some, it’s a false economy.

“We feel secure and our landlord is incredibly helpful. I’ve heard that the letter of the law puts you at risk of immediate eviction for any infringements, although I’ve never heard of it happening. But landlords often put your rent up massively at the end of your lease, meaning you have to move every two years.”

Munich, Germany

Rent: €1900 (£1,590) including heating, split between five, equal to £320 each

Deposit: Three months rent

Property: Nine-room, three-bathroom house

Tenancy length: Unlimited

Lawrence Ireton

British ex-pat Lawrence Ireton moved to Munich last year to work as managing director of the Nathalie Veys Group. He shares a house with four other people on the outskirts of the city, one of Germany’s most expensive.

“When you rent in Germany the tenant pays the agent a fee, normally 3% of the annual rent plus tax and that’s on top of perhaps three months’ rent as a deposit – so you have to put quite a lot of money down.

“Rents are advertised as ‘cold’ and ‘warm’. The cold amount is just rent and the warm amount includes a contribution to the bills. Our house is €1,600 cold and €1,900 warm. The €300 difference goes towards electricity and water bills. Meter readings are taken at the end of the year and you then either get some money back or have to pay more.

“Most properties are unfurnished and tenants normally have to pay for a kitchen. When you move in, the previous tenant will ask for ‘key money’ for the cash they’ve invested in the kitchen – this can be a lot.

“One good thing about renting in Germany is the laws around rent control. Rents are set for at least a year and then landlords can only increase them by 15% over three years and have to give a reason for the rise. Most tenancy contracts are unlimited, with landlords needing a good reason to evict a tenant. If we wanted to move the normal notice is three months.

“There’s certainly not the same expectation in Germany to own property as there is in the UK and most people rent. And people buy with cash here, not credit. A key difference to the UK is the professionalism of the landlords.

“In the UK many are inexperienced and unprofessional and don’t always treat tenants well. In Germany they are much more professional and landlords don’t own just one or two properties, they own hundreds and run it as a business.”

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