Below are five tips that I’ve learned from personal experience, which may help your transition to move to Southeast Asia a little easier.
1. Rent Don’t Buy, at Least for the First Year
Rent in the area you think you want to settle in and see what it’s like living there, then go ahead and buy if it makes sense. Don’t rush into buying in a place where, until now, you’ve probably only vacationed. You just might not love that neighborhood.
Our first year we found the perfect condo, loved everything about it, but it turned out miserably because we had a dog shelter a few steps from our building, something we couldn’t have known until we lived there. All we heard, day and night, was incessant barking from dozens of dogs. Thankfully we were only renting there so we could move—we would have been in trouble had we bought.
2. Do Not Rent Until You Get There
Find an Airbnb or hotel, where you can hang your hat for a couple of weeks or a month when you first arrive. Then tell everyone you meet—cab drivers, locals, expats, bartenders—that you are looking for a place to rent and your requirements. Drive around the area you like and call the number on every rental sign you see. Check out local newspapers and get online, too.
By waiting until you get there, not only will you save money, you can see each room up close and get a feel for the neighborhood. It’s also much easier to negotiate the terms of the rent face-to-face—people find it harder to say no in person than through the computer. And before you sign on the dotted line, go to the property at different times of the day—sometimes strange things/people come out at night!
3. Get to Know the Locals & Expats Before You Arrive
4. Don’t be Afraid to Shop Locally
5. Negotiate…and Then Negotiate Some More
It’s almost expected that you haggle a bit, but just remember not to be insulting. If you are buying a couch priced at $500, don’t tell them you’ll only pay $200, be reasonable and ask for $100 off and free delivery.
Unfortunately, when moving to another country, people will assume you are a tourist and will likely give you raised tourist prices. But, if you tell them that you just moved there and plan to buy all your furniture, fruit, scooters from them, they will usually give you a better price. We even negotiated directly with our landlord and got a few hundred dollars off of our rent. That would never happen in Chicago.