No matter what your accommodation tastes may be, one thing everyone has in common is that no one wants to pay a fortune for it. Since you have to stay somewhere every night, reducing this expense can save you a lot of money off the total cost of your trip.
If you have loads of money, it’s very simple. You pull up the vacation rental sites, pick a place, and you’re done. Most of them that are not a primary residence list a lower price for a monthly rental than they do for a weekly one. If you’re not loaded though, you have to invest some time to find the right rental place for one to three months.
Our executive apartments are not only contemporary, but also self contained and positioned in beautiful, scenic spots around the accommodation in Shepparton.
Stay in Hospitality Exchanges
One of the best ways to get free accommodation is by staying with someone who lives where you’re going. Stay with a local who will give you a free place to rest your head, local information, and someone to hang out with! This is one of my favourite ways to save money and one that nets a really awesome cultural experience too! There are a few websites that make this happen:
- Global Freeloaders
- Hospitality Club
Couchsurfing is my favourite of them all (it’s also the biggest and has the most active community). The goal of the site is to help travellers not only save money on accommodation but also learn about the local culture by being able to stay and interact with a local.
I use this site all the time, and I think it’s one of the greatest things to happen in travel. While I love the fact I can get out of hostels and hotels and save money, what draws me to the site over and over again is that I get to see the local side of a city. I get taken to parties and restaurants, and sites that aren’t in any guidebook.
A lot of times, people are scared to couchsurf because they wonder if it’s safe. I was nervous about it at first, too. There you are, in a new city, with all your stuff — in a stranger’s home. What if they try to murder you in your sleep? What if they steal your stuff? However, I’ve found that people who are willing to open their homes to strangers tend to be very open-minded people, and are also usually former travellers. They know what you are going through. They want to help. Couchsurfing is aware of this and takes many steps to provide security. It offers various levels of verification and allows users to rate and leave comments on people’s profiles.
When I am looking for a Couchsurfing host, I use the following criteria:
- There has to be a picture with the profile. This just shows me that it’s a real person.
- The profile has to be filled out. It shows they are interested and involved. Most people aren’t going to spend the time to fill this out if they aren’t going to be comfortable with strangers in their home. If someone hasn’t bothered to fill out the profile, they probably don’t use the site, and I simply move on.
- They should have reviews. If other people have stayed with or have at least travelled with the host and had a good experience, you and your stuff will probably be fine. You might not get along with the host, but at least you know they aren’t a creep. The more positive reviews, the better.
- Verification helps. Couchsurfing offers different levels of verification. People can be verified by other travellers, with a mailing address, or with a credit card. Knowing that a person has been verified reduces the likelihood that they are going to be a crazy psycho killer. However, if someone isn’t verified but has a lot of reviews, that’s O.K. with me.
- No matter what, you need to use your judgment, but I haven’t heard of any really bad couchsurfing experiences, besides the host being a jerk or a little anti-social. Usually, you end up talking with hosts over email to get a feel for them and what they expect. If it doesn’t seem right, don’t do it! But once you couchsurf for the first time, you see that it isn’t that bad. If you do it frequently, you’ll end up saving hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on accommodation and making friends around the world.
Stay in Hostels
Hostels are another option for budget travellers. In hostels, rooms are dormitory-style with all the facilities shared. Many people think of hostels as a “young thing” and are not interested in sleeping in a dormitory. Yet people do not often realize that many hostels offer small rooms, singles, and doubles designed for solo travellers or couples. I have met people in hostels in their 50s and 60s. The myth they are dirty, gross places to stay designed for young people is wrong. Many hostels offer more amenities than hotels and are clean as young people expect more comfort. These aren’t the hostels you see in movies or have the horror stories your parents talk about. They come with wifi, tour desks, bars, curtains, lockers for your stuff, big bathrooms, and lots more! I am constantly amazed at how hostels get better and better each year.
Stay in a Home Exchange
This probably works best for older travellers who already own a home. These programs have been around for a long time but are growing in popularity due to good marketing and word-of-mouth on the internet. Home exchanges are just like they sound — for a set amount of time, you swap homes with a family from another country. It’s a great way to live cheaply abroad.
Most people don’t do this because they worry about security — but remember that the other family is trusting you with their home, too. Sites that facilitate home exchanges usually have various levels of verification and security, similar to Couchsurfing. Families talk to each other over phone and email, and there’s no commitment if you find that it’s not right for you. Most people who do this are like-minded, so the chances of something going wrong are slim. Moreover, the family sends a few people to check up on you when you arrive. You can get all the comforts of home (hot water, laundry, etc.) while in another city, without paying for it.
For more information on home exchange, check out Home Exchange. This website was featured in the movie “The Holiday,” which did a lot to alleviate people’s fears over home exchange and bring this travel option into the mainstream. Some of the other home exchange websites are Seniors Home Exchange, IHEN, and Home for Exchange.
If swapping homes isn’t your thing, then consider house-sitting as an alternative. In exchange for watching and cleaning someone’s home while they are away, you’ll get a place to stay in the area you are visiting. Good house-sitting sites include:
- Mind My House
- House Carers
- Luxury House Sitting
One thing to remember about house sitting is that it’s also not meant for the casual tourist. While you can find short options for only a few days, most house sitting is for weeks or months. Remember you are watching a person’s home while they are on vacation and people like to go away for awhile. You are in charge of keeping someone’s house in order and will have to go through a verification process. The growing popularity has made it, so there are a lot of options.
Stay in Airbnb
Similar to home exchanges, rentals allow people to stay in furnished apartments while travelling. These apartments are cheaper than hotels and provide many more amenities. They are great if you plan to spend a week or more in one place. You’ll get all the comforts of home without spending a fortune.
These apartments are a nice bridge between a hostel and hotel, though they can get a bit expensive if you are a solo traveller. They are roughly double the cost (if not more) than a hostel dorm room. However, if you are part of a group or a couple and are looking for a respite from the dorms and hordes of travellers but don’t want a hotel room, this is your ideal accommodation option. Another reason to use this method? You get a kitchen, allowing you to cook and reduce your food costs.
Everyone uses websites now. Airbnb is a major thing and one of the primary ways people travel now. If you don’t want a hotel but don’t want a dorm, this is the perfect middle ground. I stay in Airbnb all the time. I love it. You meet people, and you get your own space, it’s quiet and clean. Honestly, it’s perfect.
Looking for comfortable long term accommodation? L’barza Services Apartments offers modern serviced apartment style accommodation.
Stay on a Farm
Want to live on a farm but not work like you would with WWOOFing? Try a farm stay. Farm stays allow you to stay on working farms, learn how a farm works, possibly get involved in the workings of the farm (milk that cow!), and enjoy a number of organized outdoor activities. Facilities range from basic camping to luxury rooms depending on the farm, but in general, it’s like you’re staying at bed and breakfast. Prices vary widely depending on where you are in the world but generally, expect to pay the price of a budget hotel (so at least $40 per night).
Stay in a Monastery
Want something totally off the beaten track? Stay in a monastery. Accommodation in these monasteries is often very spartan, containing no more than a bed and desk, with simple meals prepared by the monks and nuns. Monasteries are very family-friendly and quiet (most also have curfews). While many monasteries cost at least $50 a night per person (many have dorms for half that price), most simply ask for donations or are free, making them an amazing budget option too.
Resources for finding a monastery stay:
- Monastery Stays Locations
- How to Stay in a Monastery
- 15 great Monastery Stays
- Monastery Stays Around the World (CNN)
The best way to save on accommodation is to get it for free if you don’t want to couchsurf but like free accommodation, travel hack.
Collect hotel points through various programs and redeem them for free nights at hotels. I am writing this right now from the Waldorf Astoria in London. Cost for me? $0. Sign up for a hotel credit card, get lots of bonus points, put everything on the card, and redeem! It’s that easy.
And you don’t even need to spend a lot of money because there are lots of ways to earn points without spending money (you don’t have)!
Apartment rental sites allow locals to rent out an individual room, shared space (such as a couch in a living room), or entire home/apartment. The host lists their place online, posts photos, writes a description, hit publish, and, presto, they can start to make extra money with the unused space.
The booking process is like booking any other type of accommodation online. You search the database, find a place you like, create an account, and request a booking. When the owner accepts, you are sent a confirmation.
Additionally, many websites allow owners to list their place with an instant booking option, which means you don’t even have to wait for the owner to reply. You’re instantly booked in your accommodation (similar to when you book a hotel).
You’ll also be able to read reviews about the host and the apartment and see exactly what amenities are included. For example, you can see if there is a kitchen (so you can cook your own meals to save money) or if there are restrictions on noise, smoking, and pets. Maybe you need access to a washer and dryer or fast wifi. You can find all of that out in the host’s profile (or in the reviews).
Most accommodation rental sites also include a map so you can see where you’ll be located. That way, you can pick an apartment close to the attractions you want to visit, or, choose one further afield so you can have a quieter stay and get a feel for local life beyond the tourist crowds.
Tips for Finding Short Term Housing
Tips you should consider when looking for short term housing, and advice for choosing your best option.
Know your options
Unless you have a friend or family member willing to put you up between your moves, you’re likely going to need to find a viable temporary housing option through a rental or vacation company. Start with an internet search for “short term housing” in the area you want to be living, and a few different types of properties should show up.
Short term rentals: These are typical apartment or housing rentals that are available with variable lease terms. For most short term rentals, the less amount of time you want to lease for, the higher your monthly rent is going to be.
Corporate housing: Pretty much the same as short term rentals. While corporate housing is created with the general intent of providing temporary lodging for travelling business professionals, short term housing during a relocation is actually the most popular reason people seek out this type of rental, according to the Corporate Housing Providers Association.
Sublets: Depending on the extent of the rental market in your area, you may be able to find a subletting option that works with your timeline. Subletting means taking over a lease from an existing tenant for a set duration of time, and may require approval from the tenant’s landlord.
Vacation rentals: Sites like Airbnb, Owner Direct, and HomeAway connect property owners who are trying to rent out their homes (or a room in their house) for a short or long period of time with people who are looking for temporary housing. While you may think these types of rentals are purely for vacationing, many listings offer longer-term options, particularly during off-season months.
Extended stay hotels: If you need housing for more than a couple of days, you’re probably not going to want to spend the pricey nightly rates of typical hotels. Extended stay hotels, however, are designed to accommodate guests who need to stay somewhere a little longer. Rates vary based on the length of your stay, the room that you choose, and the hotel chain itself.
Use a broker
The easiest way to gather a lot of options in one place is to work with an apartment broker. Brokers will be able to tell you what sorts of temporary housing options exist in the area you’re interested in and can break down your best choices by rate, location, and amenities. And because apartment brokers are paid for by the property managers themselves, there is no cost to you for using their services. Just note that most brokers are looking at short term rentals and corporate housing options, and won’t necessarily be scanning vacation rentals or extended stay hotels. If you want to go the latter route, you’ll probably have to do the digging yourself.
Have a plan for your belongings
One of the biggest concerns people have with short term housing is what to do with their things. While some rentals require you to bring in your own furniture, many short term options come furnished, or may just be too small to house all of your belongings. If that’s the case, you’ll need to make sure you have a good storage option in addition to your rental. Even if you can bring in your own stuff, you may want to reduce the amount of heavy lifting and store your things while doing a short term furniture rental. Whichever option you choose, make sure you have a plan in place earlier rather than later.
Be flexible with your search
When you’re moving somewhere for a long period of time, it makes sense that things like location and amenities would be very important. But when you’re just renting a place to stay for a little while, you may want to compromise a little bit to make the search easier. If you’re not finding a good fit in your immediate search area, expand it to include other nearby towns or neighbourhoods. As long as you can still get wherever you need to be every day, you should be able to handle some short term inconvenience. As for amenities, put things like safety and cleanliness on the top of your list and stress less about things like upgraded appliances and amenities – you won’t be using them for that long.
Consider the length of your stay
A huge determining factor in selecting your optimal temporary housing option is how long you plan to stay. Your best choices will be very different for a one week stay versus a six-month stay, and you may find that budget-wise, an option that seemed appealing to you is too expensive given the amount of time you’d be living there. And if you don’t know how long you’ll be staying, you’ll need to be sure that whichever option you choose has flexibility in letting you add on time as needed.
Don’t forget the pets
If you’re moving with pets, make sure you factor them into your search from the very beginning – you don’t want to find the perfect short term rental only to discover that they’re not pet-friendly. Some short term rentals allow pets, others have some units that are pet friendly and some that aren’t, and others don’t allow them at all. Of those that do allow pets, there is usually an additional monthly fee. Unless your pet has someone they can stay with during your temporary housing period, this is a variable to consider and will have a major impact on which options you can go with.
Take all costs into account
When budgeting for temporary housing, don’t just look at the monthly rent. Some options will also require you to also pay for things like parking, utilities, and general repairs over the course of your stay. When you’re searching, be sure to ask about any additional costs that you’ll need to consider as well as what those tend to come in at. Short term rentals can sometimes run a little pricey, so you must know exactly what you agree to spend before you sign on the dotted line.
Finding a short term rental can take a little bit of work, so be sure to start your search early. Even if you’re not moving for a couple of months, you should be able to find information about availability for your desired move-in period ahead of time. Be sure to expand your search beyond the internet too, and actually call leasing managers with inquiries. A lot of times, you only see basic information online, and the real deal pricing and availability can only be learned through speaking with someone at the property. With so many types of short term housing options, however, you should be able to find a great fit.