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The hassle-free housing solution for international residents in Europe

Few things are more exciting than embarking on a new life abroad. But if you’re worldly enough to take the leap, you probably also realise how many practical challenges you’ll face.

The hassle-free housing solution for international residents in Europe
Photo: LifeX

In many European cities, housing is one of the biggest headaches for international residents. Half of all property rental ads in Paris are illegal, according to one study, while many German cities have seen protest marches against “rental insanity”.

It’s hardly what new arrivals want to hear. But how about moving into a large, fully furnished apartment, with cleaning provided and flexible arrangements to match your life?

You could get all this with LifeX co-living if you need a place in Copenhagen, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Munich or London. With the opportunity to share with a diverse set of international professionals, residents say the apartments also offer a great way to make new friends.

Hassle-free housing: find out more about what you get when you move in with Life X

Clean, classy and always convenient

“Everyone knows these days that time is the only thing you can’t buy more of,” says Paul Sephton, a 30-year-old South African who lives in a LifeX apartment in Copenhagen. “LifeX is a ‘plug-and-play’ model to move into a new city and feel like you’ve had a home for years.” 

He describes the services he receives as “phenomenal”. In addition to a furnished room, you get pillows, sheets, and a weekly clean. If you enjoy cooking, you can expect mixers and modern appliances, as well as basics like pots and pans.

“Things like the cleaning really save you time on a daily basis to focus on the things you want to do,” says Paul.

Ivana Jelic, 32, from Serbia, moved from Paris to Munich, where she works in venture capital, in June 2019. “If you’re coming as a foreigner, it’s complicated and the search for a flat is a nightmare,” she says. After first moving into a private rental on her own, she moved into a LifeX apartment four months ago.

“I just came in with one suitcase,” she says. “It was so easy. There were pillows, a duvet, towels, the whole kitchen is equipped – you even have coffee. You have modern furniture and it’s light and clean. It’s like a serviced apartment with everything provided but a lot more personalised.”

She also praises the administrative approach, including digital contract signing. “All this paper is removed from the picture,” she says.

Photos: LifeX

Your very own friend finder

Between four and eight people live in a typical LifeX apartment. That means around 40-50m2 of space per person on average – a far cry from a cramped studio flat. But having plenty of personal space doesn’t mean you’ll be short of potential friends.

Paul shares his apartment in the elegant and green Østerbro district with six people from six countries: Brazil, Finland, France, India, Iran, and Zimbabwe. While their origins are diverse, Paul says they all have a similar mindset about co-living that he finds “uplifting”.

“You’re sharing with people who have the common point of coming far from home and are interested in meeting and engaging with other people,” he says. 

Social events that the company facilitates encourage “organic” connections whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, he adds.

“I have colleagues who pay huge subscriptions for expat events with buffet table brunches,” says Paul, a brand communications manager. “It’s a very forced social facilitation where you try to walk away with friends.”

Ivana shares her apartment in Haidhausen, a trendy area of Munich by the Isar River, with two flat-mates from Switzerland and Lithuania. “I was in Munich for nine months before coming to this flat. I didn’t really like it and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay,” she says. “My job, which I love, together with this flat, my flat-mates and the neighbourhood actually sided in favour of staying.” 

Around one in five people living in LifeX properties are locals – so you might even find a friend who can show you around your new city.

Community and convenience: view all LifeX’s available apartments now

A home from home

Many international residents worry about a lack of flexibility in rental contracts. You may be asked to commit to a lengthy minimum period – or worry that a landlord could force you out when you have nowhere to go.

With LifeX, the minimum stay in most cities is three months – and you can stay as long as you want. Paul, who has been in his apartment for more than two years, says the experience has helped him develop a wide network that makes him feel at home in Copenhagen.

“There are lots of familiar faces,” he says. “You never really feel like you're alone in a new city.”

The size of the home and the inclusive atmosphere also helped him avoid the “strong sense of isolation” that friends who live alone experienced due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
 
Video: Ivana Jelic and Paul Sephton talk about LifeX

Ivana, who moved into her apartment near the height of the pandemic, says she had initially planned to stay for just a few months before going back to living alone.

“I moved in with LifeX during a very hard period but it was the biggest help to lift me up,” she says. “A different Munich started to exist. I no longer need to go and live on my own.” 

Moving to a new city or looking for a better home? Find out more about LifeX and its range of apartments in six major European cities: Copenhagen, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Munich and London.

For members

RENTING

Tenant or landlord: Who pays which costs in Austria?

Renters in Austria are eligible for some operating costs and certain bills associated with renting a property. Here’s what you need to know.

Tenant or landlord: Who pays which costs in Austria?

When renting an apartment or a house in Austria it’s important to know your rights when it comes to expenses.

Operating costs, also known as the “second rent”, cover things like insurance, management fees and rubbish removal. Then there are utility bills, such as gas, electricity and internet, all of which can add up to significant monthly outgoings on top of the rent payment.

But when renting a property in Austria, who is responsible for which costs? The tenant or the landlord?

As with most things in life, it depends. Here’s why.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Which documents do you need to rent a flat in Austria?

What are operating costs? 

Operating costs (Betriebskosten) are financial expenses that landlords can pass onto tenants in Austria. It’s to ensure tenants pay their share of the running costs of a property.

However, the type of operating costs that a tenant is liable for will depend on the type of property they live in. Thankfully this is laid out in the Tenancy Act (MRG).

For example, in Vienna if you live in a new building that is subsidised with public funds, or an Altbau (old building built before 1945), then the law specifies which costs can be charged by a landlord.

These include water, garbage collection, electricity for lighting staircases and common areas, insurance for fire and water damage, management fees and running costs of communal facilities.

Whereas in a privately owned building, the rental contract should specify the operating costs that have to be paid by the tenant and which costs are covered by the landlord.

This can be negotiated before signing a contract.

READ MORE: ENERGY COSTS: How to claim financial support in Vienna

How are operating costs calculated?

According to The Tenants Association, operating costs are typically billed monthly at a flat rate. Each tenant pays a share of the expenses for the building in relation to the size of their apartment. 

The monthly amount is calculated by the total expenses of the previous year, plus a maximum increase of 10 per cent. Operating costs can legally be increased once a year.

A landlord must submit the bill for operating costs for the previous calendar year by June 30th. The landlord then has until the end of the year to correct the amount (if necessary). Once this deadline has passed the landlord can no longer make any claims for operating costs for the previous year.

Tenants with concerns about their bill for operating costs should seek advice from professional rental associations like Tenants Assistance for Vienna or The Tenants Association.

Stadt Wien also has a useful operating costs calculator that is free to use. 

READ ALSO: How to navigate the Austrian rental market

Who pays for utilities?

Eligibility for the cost of utilities (gas, electricity, water) will be stated in the rental contract. 

Usually the tenant pays these bills unless the cost of utilities is included in the rent, with the exception of cold water which is covered by the Tenancy Act and can be included in operating costs.

If utilities are not included in the rent, the good news is that you can sign up with a provider of your choice. However, if the utilities are included, then the landlord will typically choose the provider.

Operating costs covered by the Tenancy Act

These are operating costs that can be passed on to the tenant by the landlord in accordance with the law.

  • Cold water costs
  • Insurance for fire, liability and water
  • Operational costs for communal facilities, such as electricity for lifts or maintenance of a shared garden
  • Housekeeping and management fees
  • Taxes, including property tax
  • Pest control
  • Chimney sweeping
  • Rubbish removal
  • Sewer clearing

Operating costs not covered by the Tenancy Act

The following costs are not covered by Austrian law, which means landlords can’t pass on these costs to tenants.

  • Electricity in apartments (this is usually paid for by the tenant unless stated otherwise in the contract)
  • Repair work for burst pipes, damaged chimneys, lighting in staircases or intercoms
  • Connection to the public water supply network
  • Bank charges, interest or telephone fees
  • Clearing rubbish, such as after renovations on the building

Additional costs for tenants

The following are typical monthly costs that must be paid by tenants unless otherwise stated in the rental contract. 

  • Heating and energy costs (e.g. gas and electricity)
  • Hot water
  • Contents insurance (if stated in the rental agreement)
  • Internet
  • Phone 
  • Laundry charges (e.g. if shared facilities)
  • TV fees

Useful links

Mieterhilfe – Tenants Assistance for Vienna

Die Mieter Vereinigung – The Tenants Association

Arbitration Board Vienna – operated by the City of Vienna

ÖMB – Austrian Tenants and Apartment Owners Association

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