There are two routes you can choose from when you are looking for an apartment in Europe. You can use a direct booking website or you can go through a rental agency.
Direct Booking Websites
homeaway.com | VBRO.com|
greatrentals.com | roomorama.com|
Direct booking websites such as the ones listed above partner directly with European property owners and managers. The owners of these apartments and homes pay a fee to the website to list their place and include details about the residency such as photos, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms as well as any other amenities included in the rental. VRBO organizes it's available properties in a long list that may seem tedious and overwhelming to some users while HomeAway is more user friendly. Roomorama and Airbnb have lots of listings from houses, to apartments to single rooms. Airbnb tends to post more budget friendly listings while Roomorama posts more upscale options. Take note that when using Airbnb and Roomorama both websites charge a booking fee and collect payment right away but waits until you and your party check into the place before relinquishing the money to the property owner.
Using a rental agency is convenient and easy. To find a rental agency in the city you are living in just google "Florence Rental Agency" or "London Rental Agency" or the city you are living in followed by Rental Agency. Tons of options will show up that you can explore. The benefit of using an agency is that they pre-screen all listings to make sure they are up to par with your standards. Although this is hassle free many if not most of these agencies charge a fee for their services so be prepared to spend the extra money to find a place.
Going it on your own
Booking directly takes more effort but when you cut out the middleman (a rental agency) it decreases costs. You may also get a better deal working directly with the owner than if you go through an agency. Keep in mind going direct will have you scrolling through tons of listings and going back and forth with property owners and managers about their availability and policies.
No matter which option you go with be clear on the details such as when you are checking in, how long you are staying, what policies the homeowner has and double check the cost of your stay. You will most likely never see this place in real life until you get to your destination. Check out the address and see what destinations are close by and what neighborhood the place is located in. A lot of European flats are not located on the bottom floor. Confirm what floor the apartment is on and if there is an elevator. Your deposit on your booking will be 10%-50% of your rental cost. Websites such as VBRO and Homeaway offer a rental guarantee for a fee. They will protect you for up to $10,000 if you are the victim of fraud or if the owner misrepresented the place. Remember to arrange a time and place to meet with the property owner to do a walk through of the residency and to understand what is expected of the living agreement. At the end of your time follow the check-out procedures. Clean the apartment and leave it in good condition.