I get so many emails from people asking how to find an apartment to rent in Saranda (mostly 3-6 months) so I decided to write this article to hopefully give you some insight on how to get a good/affordable one.
Don’t book online
It seems strange to say that since I work online and usually refer you to book online but in Albania, this is not the case. Usually, when you book online (Airbnb/booking) you will be paying a nightly fee, not a monthly fee. And even if on Airbnb they give you a monthly rate it is always more expensive. I have been astounded by the number of people who are paying through the roof for an apartment here, because they should be affordable but when tourists book online it definitely is not. It is similar to the price you would pay elsewhere in Europe.
So, if you shouldn’t book online how should you book? I highly suggest you book somewhere for a week before you come and network to find an apartment. Ask any locals you get talking to if they know of an apartment to rent. They will almost always know someone or even have one themselves. There are more apartments than there are people in Saranda specifically (sometimes it feels like 1:4).
If you want somewhere affordable then don’t stay where the tourists are
In Saranda there is the center, then two sides of the city – the local and the tourist side. I live on the local side and don’t often bump into tourists in my elevator at all. You are always going to be paying a lot more by living where the tourists live. It’s okay if you are wanting a short-term rental but if you want to stay a bit longer and really experience Saranda from a local perspective, then I recommended staying on the other side where I am currently based. For example, for my apartment, I pay 150 euro and on the other side, I know someone who paid 700+ euro. That’s a HUGE difference.
Expect to pay double in July and August
During the summer season, you are really going to struggle to find someone who is willing to give you a good monthly rate. I find even if their apartment is empty they would rather wait for someone to book a per night rate than you give them a month’s rent. Expect to pay double for these two months and to find it a little harder to find an available one for a long length of time.
Albanians are very good at negotiating, so you should be too. The first price they usually give you is inflated. Last year I looked at multiple apartments and the prices were too high for what everyone told me. I waited and got an Albanian to negotiate with them for an apartment and managed to get it for half the price of what he was first quoting me.
Don’t expect to lock in an apartment months before you rent it. The Albanian culture is very relaxed and most things happen last minute. You have to be patient when it comes to finding and looking for an apartment. You can almost always find an apartment to rent within 1-2 weeks of arriving here (depending on when you come and who you meet of course!).
Rent longer for cheaper prices
If you say you want to rent for over 2 months you will always get a cheaper price than if you say you want to book for a month and see what happens. Last year I paid 2 months rent upfront then I paid monthly. Now I have a different apartment, but I just pay monthly (as I rent off a friend of a friend).
Research is key to not getting ripped off! Talk with multiple locals who live here. They will be able to tell you prices you can expect. Don’t just talk with one person, talk with many. Hopefully, this post on the cost of living will also give you an idea of the prices here in Saranda.
When looking for an apartment:
Ask lots of questions like:
-Does this place come with Wi-Fi? If not, is it okay if I set it up myself?
-Is this apartment furnished? (most come with furniture, but some don’t so be aware of that)
-Is the rental price including water, power, Wi-Fi?
-Do I have to pay more than one month’s rent in advance?
-Is the price you have given me the same in July/August (if you’re renting before the season and want to stay through those summer months).
Its all about who you know! Here in Albania it really is about networking. Therefore, I advise to book somewhere for a week and spend the week talking with people in restaurants, on the beach, wherever – just talk with local people.
If you have any other questions, then let me know by commenting below and I will try and answer them for you.
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