Raggedly Rich

Canadian Finances, Musings, and Art

Questions to Ask When Finding a Place to Stay Abroad, Part 2

Didn’t think there’d be any more stuff? Guess again!!

I went over a few things previously, but there’s so much to take into consideration. Some of this is getting into super nitty-gritty detail, and it really depends on whether or not these things would affect you. Everyone’s got their own style of what can be raggedly rich, and what can’t, and only you know what that is.

Closet Space / Drawers

Are you going to be living out of a suitcase for a few days? Or do you need some closet space to hang everything up, and empty drawers to tuck away all your nicknacks? Make sure there’ll be some room for you when you arrive.


trusty backpack to the rescue

What are you going to pack your stuff in? I know from experience that packing everything, completely, into suitcases, or suitcase-like things, is the easiest way of transporting things from A to B. I used to travel with a lot of stuff, and I would have two large suitcases, a smaller suitcase, two backpacks, and about five or six different individual reusable bags of various sizes, filled with STUFF. The stuff isn’t as big of a problem, as the fact that making multiple trips from your car to your room, and fudging about with a whole bunch of bags with crap stuffed into them – AFTER a long day in the car / road trip. It’s not fun. All you wanna do is get in there, and finally relax, and the more stuff you have, and the more pieces you have for that stuff, the worse it’s going to be.

I’ve packed down to a backpack, two suitcases, one small suitcase, and one or two reusable bags. I could have just one suitcase, but I dedicate most of the second suitcase to my water pillow and work clothes.

Off-limit Items / Spaces

I always ask this about guitars (since I rarely travel with mine), and things like electronics. I also like asking if there’s specific mugs or plates I should stay away from, either for sentimental value, or because they’re expensive and delicate. I really don’t need to drink from a crystal wine glass, I’ll stick with my coffee cup and avoid any potential upset. I also ask if it’s okay to read any books lying around that look interesting – but I’m extremely careful with my paperbacks. If I’m worried I might damage it, I just won’t touch it.


If there are pets, what are the expectations regarding them? Did you score a sweet deal with the understanding you’d take Lulu for a walk when Joe’s working late? Or is the pet something you are there despite; I had a friend who’s roommate had a dog, and the poor thing was so neglected. When my friend pointed out that the owner was never home, and when she was, didn’t take the pooch for walks, HE was then accused of being the problem even though it wasn’t his dog, he never agreed to co-care for it, and he was out of the house all day, most days.

you’d wanna know if they had a sloth…

Utilities / Fees / Internet

Is this included with the price you’re quoted? Is there a cleaning fee? Are utilities variable or a set cost? Are you going to be covering a portion of the internet bill, or is it covered? And if you find it too slow, or need a faster connection for work, will they be able to accommodate that if you pay the difference?

Payment Dates

When do they need the money? How do they want it transferred? What’s the cancellation policy like, for both the one with the house and the one taking the house? If it’s an arrangement made on faith, do you know enough about this person / trust them to hold up their end of the bargain?

Heating / Cooling

Is your room connected to the central heating and cooling? Are there baseboard heaters you can use if you get too cold? If you’re worried about heat, ask about fans. I don’t know how practical it is, but giant blocks of ice in front of fans are actually really effective at mimicking an AC.

Arrival / Departure Times

There’s no point in leaving at 6am to get to a place for 3pm, when the person with the keys is only around after 6pm. Make sure you’ve arranged a time to meet beforehand, so you can adjust your travel plans accordingly. Sometimes there’s no choice, like if you’re catching a plane, but even then, hanging out in a cafe is 10x better than sitting on someone’s door stoop. And what’s the plan for giving the keys back, when you leave?

Related to this, is what do you expect when you arrive? I had someone who took about a week to finally get all her stuff out of the apartment I was subletting from her (she was using the time as a test-run with her boyfriend). I arrived and it was chaos – and theoretically, I don’t care, but a heads up would have been nice.

Local Food Haunts

I don’t eat out, and make sure to bring enough to tie me over to the next morning (usually); but if you like eating out, it’s good to ask about places nearby that are cheap and delicious. Or even expensive and delicious. You never know what hole-in-the-wall is going to blow your mind!

I do usually ask where the best / cheapest place to get groceries is. Usually I find somewhere better ( I haven’t had the pleasure of staying with any raggedly rich, like-minded folk ), but it’s a good jumping off point.

There you have it! Another post about questions to ask when you’re trying to find a place to stay abroad. Hopefully it helps, or at least puts some ideas in your head about the things that you find important when you’re looking for a place to stay.

Anything I missed? I asked for horror stories last time – what’re some FANTASTIC times you’ve had with places abroad?


  1. There are so many things to consider! It makes me dread traveling sometimes because there’s so much planning involved. But when I’m out and about, the stimulation is hard to replace. The foreign supermarkets are the most exciting. It’s an entire store filled with “what’s this?” and you can buy it all! The arrival/departure times are annoying, I’m rushing to finish cleaning for a pesky guest right now who booked their flight early.

    Hubby and I are more cruise people, just put us on a boat filled with food+excess and we’re good.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      September 13, 2017 at 8:04 pm

      I recently went camping and got asked NUMEROUS times, “Is there anything you /didn’t/ bring?” And the answer was yes. It was a spatula. I thought about it the night before and forgot to write it down. Alas.

      I love foreign supermarkets. When I was in Europe I put my crutches in the shopping cart and one-foot pushed myself through all the aisle, looking at the food. And the candy was so good!! And (comparatively) cheap!

  2. I haven’t been overseas but you seem to cover the bases here! Hopefully I’ll be looking up this article as I pack for an overseas trip in the near future (aka- hopefully I can find a time to go overseas!) 😉

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      September 14, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      I hope it helps when that happens! And I’m sure it will, eventually : ) It’s a huge trip too, even if you’re just going for a few weeks. Definitely hit up some free walking tours when you head over! They run on a tip-based system, so it’s pay-what-you-can. There’s a few different ones, but I used Sandemans European tours for a couple of the cities.

  3. We lived in an apartment in Chile that was located right above the worst neighbor ever. She came up multiple times to complain about our footsteps over our head, and demand we buy rugs for our floor. We ended up tiptoeing across the floor most of the time. So that might be something to ask, too: who are the neighbors in the building? 🙂

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      September 16, 2017 at 6:08 am

      Oooo, good call! There’s this hilarious video I’ve shared with a lot of roommates precisely because of the crazy weird noises I’ve been subjected to… thankfully, I’ve had good luck with ear plugs, and mostly well-made buildings.

  4. I love planning for trips, I find that this is half the fun. I like making lists and making sure i have everything. Sometimes when I am finished a trip (e.g. returning home from being abroad) I feel a sense of sadness, not simply because the trip ended, but because I had nothing to look forward to and no planning to do..

    I do have to catch myself though, sometimes I plan things so much that I don’t allow for much spontaneity, which is half the fun of travel!

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      September 17, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      It’s mostly fun for me – and the other half of it is challenging, and the anticipation, which is nice too. I’m a big fan of to-do lists!

      I find that even if you have everything planned down to the T, there’s always stuff that happens which ends up throwing those plans upside down. As long as you’ve got enough flexibility, and a mindset that won’t panic when something goes differently, there’s never such thing as too much planning!!

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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