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This Latvian real estate web site has daily postings come up for recently vacated apartments, but the more affordable ones in a good location are claimed rapidly (by some accounts, typically no more than a half hour). It is a very competetive market, and aside from hiring a web-sitter to respond to any new listings that match my terms (or writing some software to do it), how can I increase my chances of getting a deal? Does anyone have any good alternative approaches to securing housing in other big cities that might apply here?

As a background note: I am planning on living and studying in Latvia with my girlfriend's family in several months. I suppose staying with them while we look for a place is an option, but then again that doesn't really solve my problem. Being in Latvia wouldn't increase my odds any, would it?

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closed as off topic by Ankur Banerjee Feb 7 '12 at 10:16

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Hi Droogans, unfortunately, this is a question that falls outside the scope of Travel.SE. For questions like these, please commit to the Immigration.SE proposal on Area51 which will be a better fit for a question like this. –  Ankur Banerjee Feb 7 '12 at 10:15
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Being there certainly would increase your chances - as you can go and see the places, meet the estate agents, and call people during day hours. Example: place comes on the market at 9am, calls start at 10am, they could show someone through at lunch and by the time you wake up in the US, it's gone.

I was in Riga in May sorting out my Uzbekistan visa, which took six days. There was a British woman in the hostel looking at places to live in. It was really hard, but with the help of locals (including the hostel staff) she was finding more sources, friends of friends who knew of places, and the like. Definitely easier when you're in a city than from afar.

You could also consider CouchSurfing a bit when you arrive, or do what I'll be doing for Vancouver when I head there soon, and stay in a hostel for a bit. There are some hostels in Riga (Central Hostel was really nice and good value) which aren't party hostels, but are very well located, and you'll make a lot of connections if you talk to the staff. Even going to a Couchsurfing meetup in town could net you some more connections or offers of a place to stay.

My recommendation - try from where you are, but accept that it'll be easier on the ground, and make back-up plans to make connections on your arrival.

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Either way I pretty much have to wait until last minute..."yes, I'd like to move into your new apartment...yes? 4 months from now? Oh....alright then, have a good day" <click> –  Droogans Feb 7 '12 at 11:43
    
@Droogans how did it go? Did you go to Latvia? –  Mark Mayo Jun 20 '13 at 12:00
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I just went bungee jumping in Sigulda a couple of days ago ;). I'm just here visiting my wife's family. –  Droogans Jun 20 '13 at 14:48
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