Finding a place to stay in a new city may be a bit overwhelming for most new migrants. I bet there are dozens of questions in your mind like, “where do I find all the accomodation listings?” or “where are the cheaper suburbs in Christchurch?”. These sorts of questions are not easily answerable without proper research and I am writing this article to guide you in the search for your accommodation in Christchurch.
Finding a short-term accomodation
As a new migrant, I recommend arranging a short-term accomodation prior to your arrival in New Zealand. This would save you the hassle of finding a place to sleep in on your first day after hours of travel (trust me, there are people who did this)! Remember failing to plan ahead is planning to fail. It may be an Airbnb room, a friend’s spare room (lucky you!), or a hotel room.
For students, contact your school’s admissions office as they may have accomodations available for you at your expense. I personally know that Ntec, a private training establishment (PTE), places their students either in Kiwihouse or in YHA (both are hostels).
Make sure the accomodation has all the basic necessities you will require to live comfortably in the first couple of weeks in the country (e.g. internet access, fully-equipped kitchen, washers or dryers). Choosing an accessible place will also benefit you for convenience (e.g. close to shops, banks, libraries, government buildings—-in short the city).
I recommend against responding to private individuals’ long-term room or house advertisements prior to arrival (unless it’s Airbnb) because viewing the place in person is very important! Committing to these kinds of accomodations would often require legal paperwork. What if there were undisclosed problems in the unit which could have been easily discovered during a physical inspection? It will not be easy and straight-forward to get out of an agreement once signed.
I also do not recommend staying at temporary accomodations for too long (months) as this may break your bank account unless of course you can afford it.
Here are a couple of places where to search for your temporary accomodation:
Airbnb has proved to be very reliable in my previous travels so I do not hesitate to recommend their service to other people. Airbnb lets individuals ‘rent out’ their spare rooms and some even style their advertised rooms like hotel rooms, only cheaper. Make sure that you read reviews of other Airbnb-ers about the house itself and the hosts before committing.
Also do not forget to read the listing’s description as some areas or features of the house that may not be accessible to you. I had an experience wherein the Wi-Fi signal did not reach the far end of the house and unfortunately this was where my room was situated. Good thing, I had internet service on my phone.
The cheapest I found on Airbnb is NZD 16 per night (see screenshot) and it is a sharehouse.
Price range: NZD 16 – hundreds, depending on room or house type
2. Hostels or Hotels
I have not booked a hostel or hotel room in years because of exhorbitant charges (compared to Airbnb) but these options may still be viable for you. Sometimes you cannot just deny yourself free breakfast! Check out some deals as maybe you can lower the price of your hotel or hostel room.
Hostels: NZD 25 – 50 per night
Hotels: NZD 80 – hundreds per night
Finding a more permanent accomodation
Once settled in your temporary accomodation, utilise the internet to find the perfect accomodation for your circumstances. You need to find your ‘home base’, the place where you will spend your first few months or longer in New Zealand.
You may have an idea which suburbs are preferable if you had researched prior to arrival only this time you will be able to confirm what you have researched by going to the place yourself. Use Google Maps and the Street View feature to be familiarised with the area.
This may also be the best time to read up about Tenancy Services in New Zealand. Their website is a great source of information about renting in New Zealand and I would not even bother to retell what they do on this article. Check them out!
Here are a some recommendations where to find your long-term accomodation:
1. Local Facebook Groups
If you have not been using Facebook for a while, it is time to resurrect your FB profile. If you do not have Facebook, then now is the time you must create a FB profile just for the ads.
Mga Pinoy ng Christchurch
Political posts aside, joining this local group may be helpful to your future needs. Lots of Filipinos put their spare room up to help with household bills. If you are lucky you may find cheap rooms (less than NZD 100 per week). The group is not just for classified ads, you can also find tips, news, et cetera.
Pinoy Christchurch rental flats houses room flatmates & boarding house
Most ads in the main Filipino community group gets reposted in this group. If you want to sift through the other posts and only want to look for rental ads, this group may be worth a look.
Christchurch Rentals & Flatmates!!
I believe this Facebook group is the local rental ads group with the most number of members (almost 20,000). If you want to venture away from Filipino main tenants, then this is the place for you.
Acceptable weekly price range:
Single room – NZD 90 – 120, utilities included
Shared room – NZD 70 – 110, utilities included
Double room – NZD 150 – 220, utilities included
Two bedroom house – NZD 300 – 350, utilities not included
Three bedroom house – NZD 400 – 450, utilities not included
Disclaimer: Prices listed are the prices that would fit my household’s budget/prices that had been charged to me before. Some may charge higher; others may be lower. In my opinion prices higher than these ranges are not reasonable to me. Your mileage may vary.
2. Facebook Marketplace
A newer development from Facebook. I used to ignore these market posts when they first appeared on Facebook but now due to convenience in posting, more and more people advertise their rooms (and other things) on Facebook Marketplace. It is also worth a look.
3. Trade Me
You should know by now that when New Zealand residents need something, we always check Trade Me to see if the website has it. Need second-hand furniture? Check Trade Me. Need to find a new rental home? Trade Me again.
You can use the website’s search function to filter and find Trade Me Property listings in Christchurch.
On the iOS mobile app, click Browse Categories > Property > Residential for rent > Region (Canterbury) > Christchurch City. You have the option to filter specific suburbs or to display listings from all suburbs in Christchurch.
While I think people use this mostly when they are trying to find a whole house or apartment and not just rooms, some property managers and real estate managers post individual rooms here as well.
As a testament to Trade Me’s reliability in finding suitable homes, I had lived in two rental houses which both had been found in Trade Me and both instances had been smooth-sailing.
My tip when finding a house is to find houses with no letting fees (admin fee of the property manager; equivalent to a week’s rent + GST). The rental market is so competitive these days there are some who offer free rent for one to two weeks!
Trade Me also has a Flatmates Wanted section. A friend found a nice room at a great suburb using this platform. It was added bonus that the flatmates currently living in the house were great companions.
I have no experience in using Realestate.co.nz but it looks trustworthy enough. It was recommended in one of the Reddit pages I frequent. I checked the website and I could understand why it had been mentioned. It is like Trade Me without the clutter. If you do not want distractions in your search for a house, Realestate.co.nz may be better than Trade Me. Because Trade Me has everything, sometimes you get diverted to other sections like searching for furnitures or gadgets.
Hopefully this guide has been helpful in the search for accommodation in Chrischurch. If you have questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to use the section below for your comments.