Best Rental Dates
Anytime of the year that’s best for you is a good time to travel. But for optimal apartment rental discount flexibility, target your arrival for the first of the month and departure for the last day of the month. This strategy allows owners to remove 1/12th of their year’s planning; and other renters to better use your selected home for their needs. (This strategy may or may not impact flight costs.) Also, best to avoid July and August as these are months most Europeans go on holiday.
Unless your apartment provides parking, you can spend 20€ or more per day in a public parking lot – that’s 600€ for the month.
It may be possible to get a monthly rate, but still expensive.
It’s critical to have a parking strategy, as some popular cities (like Barcelona and Paris) or even 2nd-tier cities, have limited private/apartment parking.
How High is High Enough?
Your ideal apartment location allows walking to the popular city areas (although metro services can offset your apartment’s location to the city center). In a city apartment, most streets have some traffic 24×7, as well as pedestrian noise.
Personal experience: Car and people traffic can be heard during early AM hours on the first and second floor of many apartments. You get used to the noise after a few nights, but it’s something to think about when renting.
Apartments facing a courtyard vs. street may not have a great view but can offer benefits too.
Items to bring from Home
When you rent an apartment in Europe, it’s likely some of the items you take for granted at home aren’t provided in your rental. Here are some of the things my wife and I bring (some not provided; some because we’re creatures of habit):
- Hangers – Although there are a few hangers in the apartment, you definitely need more.
- Wine bottle accessories – There is a wine bottle opener in your kitchen, but it may not be to your liking. So bring your opener. (Ensure it’s small.) Also, bringing wine bottle stoppers and an air pump can save those last glasses in the bottle.
- Ziploc Baggies – These can preserve your cheese, bread, leftovers, etc. They are difficult to find in Europe.
- Soap – Sure you can get soap at the grocery store, but maybe not the kind you prefer. We use ~five bars over a month. At least bring a single bar for the first shower in your apartment.
- Flavored coffee creamers – If you like Vanilla, Hazelnut or Baileys, you won’t easily find these in Europe. Take small, liquid, non-refrigerated bottles or powdered dispensers to give you that extra flavor. Or simply buy some Baileys.
- Washcloths – Typically only bath and hand towels are provided. Bring your own washcloths if you or your partner also prefers a smaller towel.
- Country maps – Barnes and Noble maps are great. AAA maps are also good. City maps are best acquired from a city tour office or at the airport.
- DVDs/Movies – You’ll be hard pressed to find more than a few English-speaking TV stations. Bonanza and Walker, Texas Ranger get old after a few days. Your apartment may offer a DVR. But if you want to use your computer, also bring an external interface cable with an HDMI connection for TV.
- Streaming Capability – Netflix, etc. services are blocked in several European countries and the Internet bandwidth in your apartment may not adequately support Amazon Prime, etc. But bring your Amazon Prime, Roku, etc. interfaces, just in case.
- Music on your cell phone – Like TV, music on your car radio is local (that is, not in English – even songs). Also bring a cable to connect your mobile phone to the car’s AUX input jack (same cable as used in the USA, but difficult to find in many European cities).
- Power adapters for your electrical devices – There are many power outlet configurations across Europe. Identify which you need and source it on Amazon. Get a six-pack; it offers the best unit price and a sufficient number of simultaneous plug options.
In Europe, city-dwelling families shop for groceries every few days. They walk to the grocery store; so will you. For ~1.25€, grocery stores sell strong, reusable bags with handles to carry your groceries, but the bags are limited in size and can get heavy. Think bottles of water, maybe some soda and bottle(s) of wine or beer, not to mention food.
A pull cart is a necessary 30€ investment over a month’s use. Shop around, as it’s possible (but not necessary) to spend twice this amount. Carrefour or 7-Eleven-type stores typically have sturdy, entry-level pull carts.