Strathclyde Telegraph

Room in the Moon: New Website Helping you Move Abroad

By Chris Park, Features Editor

Thinking of spending time abroad next year or over summer? RoomintheMoon.com is a new social travel network that connects people moving or living abroad. Launched in March this year, Rafael dos Santos, founder and CEO, describes the site as the opposite of Facebook – where Facebook connects you with your friends, Room in the Moon connects you with strangers with a common interest: moving to each other’s countries, or moving to the same country. Soon members will be able to book rooms in flatshares around the world, starting with bookings in London. The Strathclyde Telegraph chatted with Mr Santos to find out more about the site and how it can help students going abroad.

Room in the Moon is a fantastic concept, where did the idea for the website come from?  What was the impetus behind it?

The idea came when I was writing my book, ‘Moving abroad, one step at a time’. I was looking for a website like this to add to the book and couldn’t find one, so I thought ‘there is a gap in the market here’.

What are the goals of the site?  How successful have you been so far?  Are there any particular milestones or achievements?

The goals of the site are: introduce people who are moving to the same country, or to locals in the new country and online bookings of flatshares. We focus on flatshares because it’s a community too. You move in with other people so you don’t feel lonely. We launched in March and we already have 150 members. We were awarded a place at Ravensbourne incubator in London, where we have free office space and we are part of the Growth Accelerator Programme from the UK Government – Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

What challenges did you face when trying to set up the site and how did you overcome these?

The first challenge was to understand which technologies would be needed to be able to develop the network. Once we understood that, we then needed to see how we would connect people, so we decided to choose the cities where people were moving to. We chose the language to develop and then used Google APIs to make the connection.

What features does the site have to help people who are moving abroad?  Which one has been most popular?

The main feature is the introduction: the site works like an ice-breaker for people moving to the same city. Almost everyone that we spoke to never replies to a request from a stranger on Facebook, for example. At Room in the Moon, people know immediately why a stranger is requesting to connect: because they are moving to the same city, or they live in the city where you are planning to move to. Once the ‘why are you talking to me’ is established, people share information. This is for sure the main feature, a simple but clear feature that really works.

 Are there any student-specific features?

At this stage we are trying to grow the numbers of users in order to create filters and choices. We will release features where people can choose to connect only with users of a certain age, gender, location, language, etc.Students will be able to choose if they are on a certain programme (Leonardo da Vinci, for example), when moving abroad to study.

Are there any new features due to be coming to the site in the future?

Yes, as well as the one above, the online booking of rooms in flatshares and flights, but we are also working on a travel time line. It will be a great feature that will help people to organise their trip well in advance, before moving to another country.

How does the site continue to help people once they have moved?

We are already doing off line meet ups and workshops. For example, we are working in partnership with two other companies on a workshop called ‘Get a job’, where international students and graduates will learn techniques to help them get a job when they are invited for an interview. It will be held at Google Campus in London.

We are also negotiating with a bank so when people move to London, we will help them to open a bank account. We will go beyond the online introduction. We will help people to settle down in their new chosen city.

How would you describe the website in three words?

Social travel network.

What advice would you give to a student who is due to study abroad next year?

First thing is to create a profile at roominthemoon.com, of course! 🙂 Then make sure you know where you can find food from your own country and see if there is someone from your country living there already. I know people move abroad to discover new things, but having someone that is already living there and understands your culture too makes life much easier once you move. They will explain the differences between the cultures which will help a lot with culture shock at the beginning.

What message would you give to these students to encourage them to use Room on the Moon?

Moving abroad is no longer a ‘lonely’ journey. Room in the Moon was created to help you make new friends even before you boarded the plane and find the perfect like-minded flatmates to live with. Join our community, share the knowledge about your city and meet people moving to the same country where you are!

Rafael, is there anything else that you’d like to add?

We have a web app on Android and in Apple stores.

You can visit the site for more information or to sign up: http://www.roominthemoon.com/LandingPage.aspx if (document.currentScript) {