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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.

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PROPERTY

Where to find property in Austria for under €100k

Austria is not known for being a cheap country and property prices are higher than in some other European countries, but it's still possible to find property bargains, some for even under €100k.

Where to find property in Austria for under €100k

Property prices are rising in much of Europe, and Austria is no exception.

The graph below from the European Union’s statistical agency Eurostat shows the sharp upwards trajectory over the past few years with property price increases in Austria outpacing those in the European Union  as a whole.

And a new survey found that the average price per square metre for new apartments in Austria rose by 11 percent last year, making the country Europe’s second-most expensive market.

It’s no surprise, then, that property ownership in Austria remains low.

According to Eurostat, 55.2 percent of people owned their home in Austria in 2021 – well below the 70 percent European average. That’s the third lowest percentage in Europe after Switzerland (41.6 percent) and Germany (51.1 percent).

READ ALSO: Why do so few Austrians own their home?

So, where can we find cheap(er) homes in Austria – either properties that are move-in ready or those that could be excellent investments for those who enjoy fixer-uppers (or huge DIY projects)?

To find these gems, we used a property website that allowed us to search for real estate in the whole of Austria (instead of just a few main cities) and showed us homes with at least three rooms.

The price limit was set at €100,000 (while our colleagues in even-more-expensive Switzerland had theirs set at a much heftier CHF 500k, around €515k).

As of August 2022, we found 25 houses and 34 apartments meeting these criteria on sale.

As you might expect, many of these need (a lot of) work, but the good news is you can definitely still nab a home for under €100,000 with gorgeous views, small plots of land or lake access.

austria map
Houses below €100k are mainly in the south and east of the country. Property map from Wlllhaben.at.

What types of properties are there?
Looking at houses first (see the map above, which also shows the average purchase price across Austria’s different regions), a few things stand out:

The vast majority of the immediately liveable properties are on the tiny side – most are around the 40 square metres mark and billed as holiday homes – but many come fully furnished, a bonus if you’re working to a tight budget.

You will find bigger ones (the largest we saw was 124 square metres), but then they are likely to be complete renovation projects.

If you head for the border, you’ll get more house for your euro in southern and eastern Austria. Many of the properties we saw were in peaceful Burgenland, Austria’s least populous state.

And if you’re happy to buy just over the border in Hungary, Slovakia or even cross into Croatia, you’ll get more space – and less work – for your money.

You might think cities would be a complete no-no for snapping up bargain properties, but when we looked, we actually found a few properties a short drive from Vienna that were below our top price.

House or apartment?
When it comes to apartments, you’ll get more square metres  – we found flats within this price bracket were around 70 square metres on average – and a slightly greater choice of location for your money

READ ALSO: ‘Concrete gold’: Austria ranks as Europe’s second most expensive property market

Plus, the apartments we found were generally in much better condition – some are even newly renovated and fabulous – so you wouldn’t have so much, if any, work to do.

But there is, inevitably, a compromise: you might get a terrace or a balcony, but most won’t have a proper garden, and certainly no land or outbuildings, which many of the houses we found did have.

If you opt for an apartment over a house, you’ll usually have a slightly greater choice of location. Property map from Willhaben.at.

Even when you do find cheap properties, though, they are sometimes quite literally too good to be true. Some may require completely gutting, others may not be connected to the grid or might need costly lease renegotiations.

So, whether you go for a house or an apartment, you need to make sure you do your homework and carry out a thorough inspection first.

While renovation projects can be great investments, they’re time-consuming and can be very costly.

Before you take the huge step of purchasing, be honest with yourself about your own skill levels and how much time you have for a project – it’s easy to get caught up in the romantic idea of the end result of a gorgeous renovation – and get estimates for any work that needs to be done.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why Austria’s rising property prices are causing alarm

If you’re looking at buying somewhere to rent out, check average monthly rents for that area to be sure it’s worth you putting all the hard work in and that you’ll get a good return on your investment.

Whatever your reason for buying, check the property’s location carefully – some have poor access or no connection to basic services.

And it’s important to be mindful of extra costs, too: besides renovation costs, you’ll also have to fork out for property taxes, monthly charges, as well as any lease renewal costs and other living expenses.

These can all vary depending on the type of property and where it is.

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