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I will be in Baltimore, U.S.A. for a month and a half from late April. At the moment I live abroad and I would love to find a private room to be rented there. I will be coming from Italy and would like to have everything set for the date I arrive rather than waiting until that day to sign the paperwork, in case something were to fall through.

I know there are sites like Roomster, Craigslist, Airnb but my main fear is that the day I arrive I don't find what I paid for.

What's my safest bet here?

  • Airbnb should be fine. – Michael Hampton Mar 19 '16 at 15:09
  • You always don't know exactly what you paid for until you first see it. And, if you're travelling long-distance, that almost always means that the first time you see it is the time you check in. – David Richerby Mar 19 '16 at 16:47
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    You should book a hotel room for, say, a week, allowing you to look for rooms on site. – Count Iblis Mar 20 '16 at 19:39
  • Or a (cheaper) hostel or AirBNB for enough days to look further. – WGroleau Mar 21 '16 at 7:32
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You can never eliminate all risk of a foreign rental, of course, other than by staying home.

You can reduce risk by dealing with a large and trusted middleman (such as Airbnb) and with a provider that has a lot of positive feedback (whether literally internet-style feedback or reputation with a traditional rental agency). You see where I'm going here- reputation is what will reduce the risk.

You can usually ensure you won't lose any significant money directly to a crook (say by using Airbnb and a credit card, which provides two levels of protection), but there is a bit higher risk that what you expected won't be there. I have never dealt with 'Roomster' but I did have a terrible experience with another website (which I won't name) which left me in a strange city at midnight with no accommodation- and they added insult to injury by refusing to refund their booking fee- they did an e-mail apology, big deal).

I would suggest you might want to avoid Craigslist if you're risk-averse. There have been a few cases recently of people renting legitimately on Airbnb and then advertising the space at an attractive rent- showing the place and taking deposits from people, and then when the poor folks arrive with their belongings (sometimes a truckload) they find the place is occupied and unavailable (and, probably the least of their worries, their deposit of a few thousand dollars or whatever is long gone). It would be even easier to pull such a scam with an overseas renter.

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