You learn quite a bit about the country or city you are visiting by the number of rental apartments available. It tells us it is a highly visited area if many listings exist. High foreign ownership is often seen in the quality of finishes. Higher in our experience due to apartments being bought as income properties and managed professionally. Also reflected in better pricing due to competition.
If the owner is British, then bank transfers as payment will dominate. We have found it to be the case when rentals are aimed to their own market vs the world. Bank transfers are not popular in Canada. You have to go and speak to a Teller to get it done. And each transaction will cost around $35, half an hour (because they don't have a lot of experience with it) and 2 weeks for money to show up at the other end. So it will be an extra $70 if you are to send a deposit and final payment. I am not a fan of this method but in the early days of our rental experience, we bit the bullet.
PayPal really changed everything. Some owners will have you pay an extra 3 - 4% to cover their charges for refundable deposits. Others will build it into the price. Either way, it's worth it for the convenience. Anymore, I tend to avoid rentals that won't accept it. I like to know I have the apartment now, not 2 weeks later. But in lessor popular rental markets I realize I may still have no choice.
In large city Europe, apartments are the norm due to how people live, cost of real estate etc. Size will probably be the biggest shocker to us North Americans as most of us are used to having a lot of space. A one bedroom apartment that is 45 m2 is considered a good size in a place like Nice. The same price will get you a 25 - 35 (if you are lucky) m2 place in Paris or London.
When visiting an old city (buildings 1800 and earlier vintage), do not expect elevators in buildings nor hallways that always look beautiful or any outside space. Individual apartments can be very well decorated but the rest of the common areas may make you cringe. That's just the way it is sometimes and then you find out those places cost 450K - 600K...A paradox!
More to come. Below are photos of one of the first apartments we rented in Nice.