Relocating to a foreign country presents its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to finding the ideal place to call home. If you're about to get tangled in the spider web of all those nuances related to housing, utilities, renting, and handling documents, this edition of the "Guide to Lithuania" is perfect for you. This time, we are sharing tips on renting, buying, moving your belongings, and much more.
First step is to decide on your preferred location and budget. What neighborhood would you most like to live in - vibrant Old Town, next to a peaceful forest, right by your new faculty or work place perhaps? Then head to online hubs to start your search – check the most popular portals such as Aruodas, Domoplius, Rebaltic, or Homerental.
Next, learn about costs and utilities, dealing directly with the owner or agent. If you have a pet, be sure to request more information, as some owners may be more open than others. Oftentimes, renting happens through agents, as with buying, who then later charge the new tenant a fee. And likewise, the rent deposit can typically be between 1-3 months - so have these funds available at the ready.
Once a contract is drawn, be sure to sign the contract in two languages - Lithuanian and another that you understand - agreeing clearly on terms, from deposit size to rent period. And importantly, make your first payment after the contract is signed, not before! Keep in mind that August and September can be tricky months to rent, as the prices are the highest and the city fills with students.
Let’s talk about buying! More good news: buying a flat or home in Lithuania is similarly straightforward, although foreigners from some countries may have a harder time buying land. First off, know that buying property in Lithuania does not grant you residency in Lithuania. With that understanding, a property can be sold directly by its owner or via a trusted real estate agency. Once you have a property in mind and a sales contract drawn up, ensure you understand it completely before signing - getting a translation, if necessary. The sales contract will need to be notarised; we recommend registering ownership at the Centre of Registers.
What about mortgage loans? Some banks are more flexible than others when approaching loans for foreigners, so shop around for the best terms. When taking out a loan, banks will look into a few factors before moving forward. You’ll want to have at least a 6-12 month work contract in Lithuania, showing your commitment and reliability. Loans are typically given for up to 30 years, and insurance will be required. Lastly, loan conditions depend greatly on your income, current property value, and more. As a foreigner, you may also receive individualised downpayment terms. Don’t be discouraged in this step - foreigners do succeed in buying great homes or flats for themselves!
Rent-to-buy is another fantastic opportunity, especially for foreigners, as it offers a creative alternative to buying outright.
Moving your belongings
No matter if you’re moving from another country or to another part of town, this part of the process can be stressful. Lithuania has a number of reliable moving companies to assist you with the big move. Check out Movers, Kraustymo Komanda, Adrem, and Kraustina, as they all provide excellent information in English. Or, use the popular Discontract app to find a private trusted mover. You have options!
If you’ve already settled into Vilnius and are moving from one part of town to another, look into renting a CityBee van for a few hours or a day. This will make your moving process much smoother!
Can I bring my pet?
We touched on this above, but yes, your pet will be well-loved in Vilnius! Some owners may be more open than others, but a few standard rules apply. Be sure to have a pet passport for your furry friend, a form of identification (such as a microchip), and rabies vaccination. These three things will smooth the way to a yes from an owner - and they’ll make it easier for you to succeed as a property owner. Overall, communication is key: talking with a potential landlord will go a long way to get clarity on their willingness to rent to a pet owner.
Utilities, utilities, utilities
Utilities - we’ve all got them, and conditions may differ from your home country! Homeowners typically pay utilities once monthly, from hot water and cold water to electricity meters. At the end of the monthly cycle, they typically read the meter and pay the pertinent amount. Homeowners may also receive bills for common services, whether that’s building maintenance, trash collection, or more. Keep in mind these utilities may go up in the winter months, as common areas may be heated for comfort. As a renter, you will likely have to pay for all utilities rather than the owner, but you’ll want to go over this in your agreement.
To pay for utilities, you have a few options: pay online via your bank or via creating an account with the service provider; pay at the post office; or pay at the conveniently located Perlas terminals in supermarkets.
Do I need to register my address?
It depends! Foreigners with a visa do not need to declare their place of residence. However, if you do need to declare, foreigners can declare their place of residence at the Migration Department or immediately in their eldership when picking up their residence permit. If you have specific questions on this step of the process, International House Vilnius is happy to assist!
Keep in mind: when declaring residence at another person’s property, the owner’s consent is clearly needed. The owner can consent in a number of ways: providing a signed rent agreement, providing a notarised copy of their consent, or visiting the Migration Department or eldership together.
If you’re a foreign student, the rules are a little different. Students declare their place of residence with the clear consent of the dormitory’s administrative team. Then, the declaration should be delivered to the eldership representing the place of residence. It’s easy!
If students rent apartments rather than living in a dormitory, they declare their place of residency the same as everyone else - provided they have a residence permit.
Moving to a new country can feel daunting, and finding housing adds another element to the mix of the unknown. We hope this guide has helped you see that the process can be done smoothly - whether you’re a student looking for housing or starting over in Vilnius thanks to a brand new job.