Finding a Place to Live in New Zealand
Congratulations on receiving your unconditional Offer of Place! Now, I am sure you are hunting for accommodation in New Zealand. That’s natural! Acquiring a safe and comfortable place to live is a top priority for all international students. The peak seasons for the inflow of international students into the country are January, February, June, July. This means there will be high demand for accommodation during these months. Finding accommodation won’t be easy. Don’t get tempted to finalize a dingy place or an unreasonable residence just for the sake of finding shelter. I would suggest that you stay in temporary accommodation like a backpacker’s hostel or crash with friends for a few days till you find the place of your choice.
In this article, I hope to give you some ideas on the different accommodation options for international students coming to New Zealand.
Almost all education institutions, be it a university or Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), have arrangements for student accommodation. They have their rooms or dorms in the vicinity of the campus or have tie-ups with homestay providers, flat owners, and private hostels. The rooms are furnished and can be single or twin-bedded. You’ll have access to a common lounge, dining hall, and laundry. On-campus residences have limited beds and cost more than homestays. As a boarder, you have to follow the rules monitored by the live-in-wardens. At the same time, on-campus shelters are advantageous due to the following reasons:
- Safe and supportive environment, 24/7 medical and emergency care.
- Save time and cost commuting to your classes, cooking your meals, and grocery shopping.
- Association of students and faculty members from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds who reside on the campus.
- Convenient and free access to on-campus amenities and events (libraries, gyms, dinner get-togethers, etc.)
Despite being expensive, on-campus housing is in high demand. Hence, as soon as you receive your unconditional Offer of Place, it’ll be better to book your room. It’s like the famous proverb, “the early bird catches the worm”.
Homestay (or private board)
A homestay is a popular form of accommodation amongst international students. It is the best way to settle down in a new country, get accustomed to the local culture and lifestyle. In this type of accommodation, you stay with a local family called the host family. They are friendly and easy to get along with. You will be provided a fully furnished room, bedding, and laundry. Depending upon the host family and the agreement that you sign with them, you either will be offered a private bathroom or a shared bathroom. House rules have to be followed. The privacy of the host family has to be respected. The benefits of living in a homestay are:
- They are affordable
- Safe as all host families are interviewed and police screened.
- Experience New Zealand culture and way of life closely
- Live in a homely atmosphere, a family environment
- Improve your English, learn Maori
You’ll get the “home away from home” kinda feeling here.
What's a Boarding House?
In a boarding house, you’ll be renting a single room or a sleeping area within a house shared by other tenants. In this type of residence, you’ll share facilities with other tenants. Basically, by facilities, I mean kitchen and bathroom. All tenants sign individual boarding house tenancy agreements with the landlord. There are no fixed-term tenancies in a boarding house. The agreements are intended to last 28 days or more. A boarding house is usually occupied by at least six tenants. This is not the same as the ‘flatmate’ concept. Here’s why.
Living with a Flatmate
As a flatmate, you’ll be sharing a rental property with someone else who has rented out the premises. You won’t be signing any tenancy agreement with the house owner. You’ll have to share the common areas, household chores, grocery, and utility bills with your flatmates.
Moving on to the last category!
Renting a Premise
Living in an independent apartment or house can be exciting - and overwhelming. To rent a residential place you’ll have to sign a tenancy agreement with the landlord. This will place you under The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act). You’ll be legally responsible for the rent and property. Rent is normally paid weekly or fortnightly. There are different types of tenancy agreements. A landlord can ask for one or two weeks’ rent in advance. If you are paying rent by cash, ensure to take receipts from the landlord. Automatic payment or bank transfer is a better payment option for record-keeping. As a tenant, you are not allowed to sublet the house you're renting, unless you have the landlord's written consent in the tenancy agreement.
Whether you intend to live as a flatmate or a tenant or reside in a boarding house, finding lawful, residential premises can be confusing and complicated. There are many legal obligations that you need to be aware of and follow them. The complete set of legalities can be found on the New Zealand Government website outlined for landlords and tenants. You’ll enjoy more freedom compared to living in an on-campus accommodation or homestay. However, be prepared for a whole lot of responsibilities too.
Saying so, don’t fret too much about it. There are many resources to help you easily secure a decent place to live. Seek guidance from your study advisor, New Zealand education provider, your New Zealand contact (if any), registered property agents in New Zealand, and government websites. An important point to consider while looking out for a place to stay is your priorities – is it in proximity to your campus, budget, or is it a place that suits your needs and lifestyle?
The place where you reside, the people living with you, around you play a vital role in shaping your experiences that’ll last for a lifetime. That’s about it! I hope you’ve received enough insight to help you plan your stay in New Zealand. All the best! Explore, learn, make new friends and have fun.
AJV Global is a New Zealand based ENZ-recognized company. We are an end-to-end education & migration company, with a highly qualified team of advisers licensed by the New Zealand Immigration Advisers Authority and former immigration officers.
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