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Category: Accommodation

How to Find Short-Term Rental Accommodation in New Zealand

One thing I’ve noticed with New Zealand is that it can be quite difficult finding cheap short-term rental accommodation (as it can also be in Australia).

By “short-term rental” I’m referring to stays of say, one or two weeks, to possibly several months (but less than the usual 6 to 12 months that most landlords require).

This is in contrast to countries like Thailand, where many (if not most) accommodation providers offer rates for daily, weekly, and monthly stays.

In New Zealand, your short-term rental options usually consist of the following:

  • Pay the nightly rate multiplied by the number of nights
  • Try to negotiate a lower rate with the accommodation provider
  • Go through a real estate agent and sign up for a 6 month (or 12 month!) lease

Pay the nightly rate multiplied by the number of nights

While this option can work well for shorter stays, it can become very expensive if you plan to stay more than a few weeks at the same location. Hotels/motels rarely charge less than $120 per night (more like $140 per night and higher) so multiplying that by say, 21 days, will cost you more than $2,500.

Of course, you can always save money by staying in a camping ground. A small cabin at a camping ground could be as low as $50 or $60 per night. And if you bring your own caravan, campervan, or even tent, your accommodation bills can be reduced quite considerably.

Try to to negotiate a lower rate with the accommodation provider

This is something you should probably always try to do when staying longer than a few nights at the same location. I always ask the accommodation provider if they offer discounts for longer stays. They usually ask “how long” and I reply with something like “maybe weeks, maybe months… depends on the discount”!

Some providers advertise lower rates for longer term stays but most don’t. If you plan on staying several months, ask if they offer a monthly rate.

The season can make a big difference on the price you pay and whether you can secure a large discount on your accommodation.

For example, I’m currently paying $350 per week for a fully furnished holiday cottage in Nelson, which usually goes for $240 per night. Mind you, I had to sign a 9-month lease, but the lease allows me to cancel at any time by giving 3 weeks notice. I found this place online before I arrived in New Zealand and emailed the owner asking if they offer discounts for longer term stays of several months or more. I was surprised when he provided me with a link to the TradeMe website advertising it for $350 per week (utilities extra).

In case you don’t know, the TradeMe website is one of New Zealand’s most popular websites. It’s a buy/sell website and also includes real estate rentals.

Go through a real estate agent and sign up for a 6 month (or 12 month!) lease

If you’re comfortable with this option, you could pay as little as a few hundred dollars per week for a two or three bedroom house in a good location. Perhaps less for an apartment.

However, there are several problems with going the real estate agent route.

First of all, you need to be able to commit to staying for the full 6 months (or 12) that you sign on the lease. If you’re only staying a few months, you’d best not go down this route – unless you can find a landlord who’s willing to allow you to sign a shorter lease (probably won’t be easy).

Also, most properties offered through real estate agents are non-furnished. This means you’ll need to buy a bed, fridge, lounge suite, kitchen table, washing machine, etc etc. This is just not feasible if you’re only here on holiday. OK, some rental properties are offered fully furnished, but then you’ll run into the next issue.

You’ll need to complete an application form (once you’ve inspected the place).  This application is then presented to the landlord (along with any other applications) and the landlord will choose whichever he/she thinks is the best fit. If you’re only in NZ on holiday, this could cause some problems. If you have no rental track record in NZ this could cause problems.

One way around this issue could be to offer to pre-pay the full 6 months in advance. But then that’s a risk you’d need to be willing to take…

Conclusion

While finding short-term rental accommodation in New Zealand can be quite difficult, a little bit of effort can achieve positive results. Just be prepared to spend some time researching the market before you arrive at your destination. And don’t be afraid to fire off those emails asking for discounts!

Accommodation in Australia

Photo of Rae’s on Watego’s at Byron Bay

Rae’s on Watego’s at Byron Bay is one example of luxury accommodation in Australia - definitely not for the budget conscious traveller

There are many options for accommodation in Australia. Which option you choose will probably depend on your budget, and how long you intend to stay in Australia. While the price of accommodation in Australia can be different, depending on which part of Australia you stay, I hope to give you a general idea of what to expect.

Here are some of the main options for accommodation in Australia:

Share House

Share house is not a bad idea if you are staying in a place for a longer term. Share houses usually cost much less than other types of accommodation. The cost for a share house can be $70-$160 per week, per person depend where you like to stay. If you stay a long way from the city, it will usually cost less.

One advantage of staying in a share house is that you can meet many friends and be exposed to different languages. You can also save a lot of money, and learn to live by yourself. Many people learn to cook from staying in a share house.

To find a share house, look for advertisements in the local newspaper. And make sure you inspect the share house before making any agreement with the owner/landlord. Try to look at as many as you can before making a decision on where to stay.

Homestay

A homestay is a form of tourism and/or study abroad program that allows the visitor to rent a room from a local family to better learn the local lifestyle as well as improve their language ability.

Students generally arrange a homestay with their school or educational institution, but they can also find a home through their own friend network if they prefer. Homestays allow the host family to earn extra income.

Homestays can cost around $250-$300/week/person or more.

Rent a Unit or Apartment

This kind of accommodation is more suited for people who have a permanent job or a higher income than most students or backpackers.

The cost depends on location and how luxurious the apartment is. Starting price would be around $150/week/person for a one bedroom apartment. It’s not uncommon to pay over $1,000 per week for a two or three bedroom apartment with a view in a good location.

To rent a unit or apartment, you usually need to sign a long term contract for at least 6 months, so it’s only for those who want to base themselves in one location.

Getting this type of accommodation is quite difficult because you usually have to send an application to the landlord, then wait for as long as 1 or 2 weeks to see if your application has been approved. To make things even more difficult, you usually need to provide contact details for your past two or three landlords so that they can find out what sort of tenant you are.

Hotel Accommodation

With hotel accommodation, you can just book in where ever you feel like staying. There are many hotel options all over Australia and it’s a matter of choosing one that satisfies your preferences. Hotels in Australia can be quite expensive. They can be anywhere from $80 per night to $400 or more.

Caravan parks

A cheaper alternative to hotel accommodation is to stay at a caravan park. When we think of a caravan park, we often think of tents and caravans. But most caravan parks also offer cabins, so you don’t have to bring your own tent or caravan.

This style of accommodation is much cheaper than staying at a hotel, but you do need to accept the condition of the caravan park. You shouldn’t expect luxury while staying at a caravan park, but having said that, some caravan parks in Australia do offer hotel-style accommodation for quite a reasonable price. Also, some caravan parks provide heavy discounts for long term stays.

Caravan parks usually provide you with a shared kitchen and a shared bathroom and toilet. But if you pay extra for a fully self contained cabin, you’ll get your own kitchen and bathroom.

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Photo of Lake Tekapo in New Zealand

View of Lake Tekapo from our balcony at Peppers Bluewater Resort

Lake Tekapo is located in the South Island of New Zealand. It’s quite a popular place with the tourists. There are many hotel accommodations near the lake.

We stayed at Peppers Bluewater Resort which has a spectacular view over Lake Tekapo and the surrounding mountains. When the sun is shining, the lake is a beautiful turquoise colour and is stunning to look at.

In the morning we went for walk and went looking for an internet cafe. We couldn’t find an internet cafe, but we did find a cafe with a computer that was connected to the internet. The shops are situated in the same area, which is near the lake. Most of them sell local product such as woollen cardigans, scarves, lotions, and souvenirs.

The next day we drove up to the Mt John Observatory and looked over Lake Tekapo. Up there is a restaurant/coffee shop called Astro Cafe. The view makes this is a spectacular place to have with a cup of coffee. Even the Lonely Planet Guide describes it as “possibly the best place on the planet for a coffee”. From here, you can see the whole town of Tekapo from along the side of the lake.

Pancake Rocks in New Zealand

Photo of Pancake Rocks in New Zealand

Pancake Rocks look like giant pancakes beside the ocean

Pancake Rocks is located on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. They are located at Dolomite Point, near the small village of Punakaiki which is located in between Greymouth and Westport.

Not 100% sure why they’re called Pancake Rocks, but maybe it’s because they look like giant pancakes coming out of the ocean! This incredible effect to the rocks was made by the ocean, wind, and acidic rain.

Looking out to the large, wild ocean, I feel like I’m standing at the edge of the world. I feel so lucky to see this beautiful part of the earth.

Not far from the Pancake Rocks is the Punakaiki Resort. As far I can see, here is the best place to stay. Lucky we get the table for dinner, because everyone has to book early. We even saw someone being turned away not long after we booked, because they were fully booked. They had good food, good accommodation and good views.

I like the idea of the tunnel underneath the road for connections to some parts of the hotel (as the hotel is located on both sides of the highway). This accommodation was quite busy, maybe because the tour companies book it.

On the way to Pancake Rocks we drove past Greymouth, which is also beautiful. The spectacular beach was made by black and white rock, which is a change from the usual sand beaches.

Accommodation Prices in Thailand

What should you expect for your money in Thailand for accommodation?

Well, that depends on which season you are visiting in. During the high season, prices can be more than double that of the low season. Also, prices can vary depending on which part of Thailand you’re staying.

Typical Low Season Prices

To give you an idea, here are prices that you could expect throughout most of Thailand during the low season.

  • Under 100-200 baht: Gets you a dorm room with a fan or single room with a smelly mattress, dirty bed sheets, noisy fan and share bathroom.
  • 200-500 baht: At this price you may can get all the basic needs. Such as own bath room, clean sheet, and fan or air conditioner if you are lucky.
  • 500-900 baht: This room might be quite big and will probably have an air conditioner. The room would be well kept, with a clean bath room.
  • 900-1,500 baht: This kind of room has some extra things, like a fridge and mini bar.
  • 1,500 baht +: You could have many extra things in a room at this price. This would be a hotel or resort with facilities such as a gym, pool with swim up bar, spa/massage area, and more. All resorts (and most hotels) have 24 hour security too. The room should be well cleaned and have a daily housekeeping service.

Remember, the above prices are just a guide, and are reflective of typical low season rates. During peak times like school holidays, prices can be more than double those listed above.

In Thailand the most of people tend to wake up very early. If possible, just book your accommodation away from noise, such as the market, the high way, pub, bars, etc. Otherwise you could end up having a nightmare. For example, I wrote about some of my own nightmares in When Good Accommodation Goes Bad.

When Good Accommodation Goes Bad

When booking accommodation, don’t always know what you’re going to get. What might seem perfect at first, can turn into a nightmare very quickly. Here are some examples from my own experience.

The first time I booked into a guest house. I thought it was gonna be great, but suddenly the dog started barking. It kept barking all night. Then the neighbors had an argument in the middle of the night.

Second time I book into a guest house. When I inspected the room, everything was very well done. But I forgot there is a restaurant downstairs, with the kitchen directly under our room. It was so noisy. People kept talking underneath the room. I ended up falling asleep at a midnight. I thought the noise was finished but then at around  5 am in the morning, the workers start to get stuff for breakfast. That was really annoying, and I think I got about four hours sleep that night.

Third time. About 2pm. Checked in to a lovely little hotel/guesthouse in Krabi, Thailand. Everything was great. Breakfast was included in the (cheap) price of the room. Free wifi too. And the best part, was that this hotel was located in a very quite street, and we were looking forward to a peaceful night’s sleep. The place seemed almost perfect, so we booked it for a whole week.

We went to bed at 9pm and thought wow, this place is really quiet, and I fall asleep. Suddenly we were awoken at 10pm. The heavy sound of music was blaring from across the road. The music continued playing all night until early in the morning. It turned out that we were staying one street away from the main entertainment district! Every night at 10pm, the whole street comes alive with bars competing with each other to see who can play the loudest music!

Lucky we brought our ear plugs!

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