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Finding housing while abroad? (Heidelberg)

Hello,
I will be moving to Heidelberg in September to give myself some time to get accommodated before starting classes in October. I have been wondering
for quite a number of months now whether it is possible to get an apartment
through e-mail exchange/online while still abroad, so that upon arriving, one has a place already? Or does one absolutely have to go apartment hunting on location
while in Heidelberg and stay in hostels during that search period?
Also, whereabouts would you recommend searching which is not located
too far from the university (though my campus is further, across the river)?
When I've looked up apartments online, I find it confusing figuring out the locations and what their proximity is to everything. I would ideally like to be in walking distance to a grocery/drug store, clinic, etc...I do Protected content of public transit where I live now and want to avoid having to do lengthy bus trips while studying in Heidelberg.
Thanks for any tips!

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