Here’s a few handy tips on short and long term accommodation options in New Zealand.
New Zealand homes
Accommodation in New Zealand is varied from standalone suburban houses, inner city apartments, shared flats and rural and lifestyle blocks. Many houses are stand alone, detached and single story made of timber or brick with their own gardens. Most homes in New Zealand don’t have central heating and run on electric or gas for heating.
When you first arrive in New Zealand it pays to have some temporary accommodation organised. There are many hotels, motels and hostels in New Zealand to choose from. Check out www.tourism.net.nz/accommodation for an extensive range of tourist accommodation.
There’s a vast range of options, from 5 star hotels through to backpackers and campgrounds. Alternatives such as Homestays and Farmstays are also catered for.
Once you have your bearings, renting or flatting are good first options. Fixed term rental contracts are usually short to medium term, 3 to 6 months or 6 months to 1 year. Most rental properties are advertised online and through letting agents such as real estate agents. Rents vary regionally and depend on quality, location and size of the property.
Leases and tenancy
Before you leave to come to New Zealand ask your landlord in your home country for a written reference. When you find a place, you will probably need to pay a few weeks’ rent in advance and if you rent from an agent a letting fee is charged as well. You will also need to pay a bond which is usually equivalent of up to four weeks’ rent. If you have left the place in a good condition the bond will be refunded to you at the end of your tenancy. Bonds are held by MBIE (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment), not the landlord and you will be asked to sign a tenancy agreement, if not make sure you ask for one. This is in case of a dispute, for more information and advice check out www.dbh.govt.nz and look for tenancy information.
Many leases are non-furnished and do not include white ware such as fridge and washing machine, however there should be an oven. Some leases are partially furnished, which will include the white ware and fully furnished will include beds, tables and chairs, couches and white ware.
If you lease an apartment make sure you ask about the body corporate rules they all vary and some can be very strict, particularly around access, common areas and parking.
Flatting or house-sharing is a living arrangement where people share the rented accommodation and is common in New Zealand. Household costs such as groceries, utilities and internet access are often shared among flatmates.
You will probably need to pay a bond and an agreed amount of rent in advance. Usually one person will have signed a tenancy agreement with the landlord or agency and they are designated as the ‘leaseholder’ (or tenant). They are responsible for the upkeep of the tenancy, for making sure the rent is paid, including your portion and for remedying any damage done.
Flatmates do not have as many rights as the leaseholder, so it pays to sign a contract with the leaseholder regarding how long you are staying, flat responsibilities and the required notice period for moving out. Most flats advertise online when looking for new flatmates and treat the interview process like a job interview. Remember you are going to be spending a lot of time with these strangers, so choose wisely and ask a lot of questions about the flat dynamic, cooking, cleaning and general house rules.
And finally we recommend buying Visiting New Zealand travel insurance so that if the unexpected happens we can help.