If a place to rest your head and plug in your laptop is all you need, finding an ideal place to spend a few months will be a matter of picking a good hotel or surf hostel. If you’re looking for a furnished private apartment in a safe neighbourhood that is in walking distance to surf – you’ll need to do a bit more homework.
Here’s how to find the pad you want before you go:
Step 1 - Figure out the neighbourhood characteristics you want and the apartment amenities you need to live comfortably.
Do you need a kitchen? A fully equipped bathroom? Do you want to live within walking distance to surf, a market, a cafe and a few restaurants? Is good public transit important to you? Think about what you can live with and without, as it will help you narrow down your search.
It's great to be near a market.
Step 2 - Determine the areas you’d like to live.
You can learn a lot about the best places to live in your chosen surf-destination by talking to friends who have been to the area, posting questions on local surf-related Facebook groups or by searching discussion forums about surfing and living there. You can start this process by pinpointing where the choice waves are via Magic Seaweed, Wanna Surf or local Facebook forums. Then take note of the neighbourhoods within walking distance (or public transit/driving distance) to surf and use google maps to see if those areas have the kind of services you want. I usually look for a local market, a couple of cafes, bars, pizza joint, surf shop and a place to get a post-surf massage.
Step 3 - Find out the kind of apartments that are available.
Airbnb, always a great source for accommodations.
Peruse Airbnb, VRBO, Home Away and similar sites to get an idea of what is in the area and the price ranges during the time of year you will be there. Airbnb allows you to get pretty specific about the amenities you require so it is a great tool to get an idea of what it will cost for the kinds of comforts.
If you want your money to stretch, don’t commit to an Airbnb just yet. For some landlords there are language, cost or technology barriers to listing their rentals on international sites. Often the best value apartment rentals are only advertised on local noticeboards, on the window of an apartment, on Facebook or on local classified websites. Try to find out what the locals use for apartment searches. I’ve found the best remote-working apartments in South America by searching on Facebook for name of the town/neighbourhood + apartment rental or vacation rental and then doing the same search but with the words in Spanish. Keep in mind that settling on an rental without a service like Airbnb as an intermediary, might mean you don’t get a reliable contract with your new landlord, which can be a pain if issues with the rental arise.
Step 4 - Once you’ve found a few apartments you like, contact the prospective landlords and confirm the amenities available.
I always check on the hot water situation, kitchen appliances (fridge, minimum two-burner stove), outdoor shower, board storage, desk or table, nearby pets and if they’re friendly to temporary residents, noise from adjoining streets or bars, locks and security features, type of rental contract, cleaning service (if any) and internet speed in the apartment.
Step 5 - If the landlord answers your questions professionally and the place looks like it will meet your needs then try to secure it.
If you aren’t using Airbnb or a similar service where you can see reviews and have confidence in the landlord’s booking system, I wouldn’t recommend making a deposit until you have seen the apartment and have met the landlord. Cross-border landlord-tenant disputes are not easy to resolve, so it is always a good idea to take precautions before you fork over money.
I’ve always found the places with the best internet and conveniences for a remote-working lifestyle are small surf-towns within a 20 minute to 1 hour public transit ride to a nearby city. These types of towns tend to have solid internet, lots of vacation-rental options and, if you need something that you can’t find in your surf-town, you can hop on a bus to the city.
If it isn’t high-season for surfers and tourists, the best way to find the perfect place is to simply show up, stay in a hotel or airbnb for the first week and talk to locals or scan notice boards for an apartment to rent and view places in person.
Let us know if you have any other tips by commenting on our Facebook page.