Home Sweet Home — 4 Step Guide For Finding the Perfect Place

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Finding a new place can be a time-consuming, challenging task, especially if it’s your first time or if you’re coming from abroad. Friends and family are often happy to offer advice, but in the end YOU need to be happy with the decision, so today Post a Note would like to offer some guidance that will help you evaluate the options and find the best match for your situation.


Step 1) Choose Your Type of Accommodation

If it’s your first time renting or you’re new to New Zealand, shared accommodation or a furnished flat might be good options.


Shared Accommodation
The cheapest alternative is room-sharing. While not everybody enjoys sharing a place with others, room-sharing is often the cheapest option, especially for students. Very often, the rooms come already furnished or semi-furnished and in many cases, include bills, whiteware (fridge-freezer, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, cooker), and bedding. Sometimes, however, you may be required to bring furniture for your bedroom.

Questions to Consider 

  • How many people will be living there?
  • Who will be my room mates (e.g. age, gender, cleanness, occupation, pets)?
  • Who lived in this room before and why did s/he move out?
  • Is there a minimum time commitment, lease, bond, etc. involved?
  • Does the room include furniture, bedding, kitchen access, access to washing maching and dryer?
  • How many people are sharing the bathroom (and what time is everyone getting ready in the morning)?
  • What are the cleaning arrangements?
  • What are the rules regarding having friends over?


Own Flat
Renting your own flat means more freedom, but it also means higher prices and more responsibility. Most places require you to sign a lease, agree to a background check, and provide one or two weeks’ worth of rent as bond. If possible, try to view the flat at a time when you would normally be at home, to see what level of noise you can expect.

Questions to Consider 

  • Is there a washer, dryer, oven, microwave, dishwasher, etc. in the flat?
  • How many rooms does the flat have?
  • Is it a full bathroom (including bathtub) or does it only have a shower?
  • What heating system is used?
  • Why is the previous owner moving out?
  • How long has the previous owner lived there?
  • Are there any problems with mould or pests?


Furnished Flat
A furnished flat, although often slightly more expensive, is a good option if you’d like to “test the waters” at a new city before finding your own place. This renting option gives you a secure place while you’re exploring the city to find a more permanent place in a good area, that best meets your needs and budget.

Questions to Consider 

  • How many rooms does the flat have?
  • What furniture is included?
  • Do I have to bring my own bedding and cookware?
  • Is a washer and dryer in the place or building?


Step 2) Determine the Right Price

Some flat prices seem rather low and “perfect” for your needs, but make sure to find out if there’s a reason why the rates are low and what utilities are included (e.g. heat, power, cable, etc.).

Before you look at flats, know your budget and future expenses that might affect your budget significantly (e.g. expensive car repairs). As a rule-of-thumb, you should avoid spending more than 1/3 of your weekly salary on accommodation. Additionally, utility bills, internet, and transportation costs need to be taken into consideration when comparing rentals. You may find that some places have utilities, parking, etc. included while others don’t. Feel free to ask the landlord or current tenant how much to expect to pay for them so you can account for everything when comparing places.

Questions to Consider 

  • How much is the bond?
  • What utilities are included and how much is, on average, the bill for those not included?
  • Is parking included?
  • Is storage included?
  • How much is the rent per week?

Important: If you are asked to pay rent or bond by an instant money transfer service (e.g. Western Union) or cash, your alarm bells should ring. As opposed to bank transfers that are usually traceable by the bank and/or police, instant money transfers cannot be traced. Stay away from places where this might be requested to avoid fraud. Traceable money transfers and cheques are the way to go.


Step 3) List Your Desired Features

It’s good to have a broad idea of what features your new place must have, before you head out to look at places.

Questions to Aski Yourself

  • Is the view important to you?
  • How big should the room, flat, house, kitchen, and bathroom be?
  • What’s the minimum and maximum number of rooms and bathrooms the place needs to have? This is especially important when you’re looking for a place for the entire family.
  • Is the room/flat/house furnished or unfurnished?
  • Should the new place have a washer, dryer, oven, microwave, dishwasher, full bathroom (including bathtub), garden (access)?
  • What maximum noise level would you be willing to tolerate during the day, at night, and on the weekends? If you need it quiet, a street-facing sleeping room might not be the best choice.
  • Do you prefer carpet or hardwood floors?
  • Would you prefer a log burner or heat pump?
  • Should the kitchen have an electrical stove or gas stove?
  • If you have a car, would off-street parking be an important criteria or is street parking ok?
  • How many floors are you willing to walk up the stairs if there is no elevator?
  • How much light do you need throughout the day and how dark does it have to be for the perfect sleep?


Step 4) Find the Perfect Location

The location of a new place is often a deciding factor. Especially if you don’t own a car, the distance to the nearest bus stop, how often busses run and when they stop running at night, distances to the local dairy as well as the reputation of the neighbourhood are very important factors.

When you’re moving to a new city you might have difficulties identifying reputable areas. Your colleagues can be your best source of information to find out which areas to avoid and which ones might be best for your situation. A place close to the city centre might be great when you want to be close to the action, but for a family with children the same place would be a poor choice. Hence, your individual situation and budget play a big role in finding the right location. Certain areas of town might also have a higher crime rate, so it is worth checking crime statistics before you choose a place.

Questions to Consider 

  • Does it have morning sun (facing East), afternoon sun (facing South), evening sun (facing West), or no sun at all (facing North)?
  • Which floor is the flat on and is there an elevator?
  • Does the place have to be close to town, bus stops, or shops?
  • What neighbourhood would you like to live in and how far away from work or university is the maximum distance you would tolerate?


We hope these suggestions provide a little guidance for your next move and feel free to comment on this post if you have any additional recommendations.


Have a great weekend!

- Your Post a Note Team


Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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