New In Town? How To Find Short Term Living Arrangements

If you’re looking for a room in a new city, it can be complicated. Check out our guide to finding an apartment for short or mid term travel.

One of the joys of being a long term traveller is you get to call many places home. But, setting up camp in a new town can be awkward and expensive.

When you arrive you don’t know the best areas to live, you don’t know what the going rate is for rent and bills and sometimes local customs can catch you off guard.

For anyone who has spent an extended time in a new city, you’ll appreciate it can be complicated.

Here at Global Playboy we’ve been the new guy in town more than once. We’ve done the search, the awkward living arrangements and paid too much for crappy digs. So let us help you…

Enjoy the view / pic: Michael Gaida

Research Before You Arrive

Although it’s obvious, many people arrive in town and start looking around. It’s then that they get a shock that the perfect apartment they were thinking of in the middle of town is, well, a bit more expensive than they thought.

Many big cities have multi lingual estate agents and you can always look them up to give you a rough guide about prices.

Of course, one of the best ways to do anything is ask a friend or colleague on the ground. Many long term travellers have a mate they can refer to for advice about where to stay.

There are forums for many cities and countries so take a look at sites like Expatica or ExpatForum for advice on the ground.

Hotel/Hostel/Research On The Ground

Sometimes the only way to do it is to arrive in a place, get a cheap hotel or hostel for a few nights and hit the streets. For smaller towns in places like Thailand, Europe or Africa this is often the only way.

Ask locals or fellow expats when you get there and start walking around the local areas looking for ‘to let’ signs (obviously work it out in the local language first).

This can net you a good deal if you find the right person. I’ve had an apartment in Thailand where the owner was extremely relaxed and let me haggle a good price based on a minimum stay.

Get Your Company To Do It

If you’re travelling on business or for a business, you’ll often get somewhere provided. These are normally fairly high end serviced apartments in the popular parts of town, so if this is an option for you do it.

The downside of this is you can end up living in a relatively soulless part of town as far as local living is concerned. This is normally made up for in the premium apartment stakes.

I once had a serviced apartment in central London. Although the area was dead out of business hours it was a 10 minute walk to bustling Brick Lane and the same to the Tower of London.

Buena vista / pic: TPSDave

Book Somewhere Before You Arrive

If money is not really an object then you can often find a good serviced apartment or short term let pretty easily.

Global cities like Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, New York and London can be pretty expensive for a short or mid term let. However there are many cities which can be a lot cheaper to at least set up camp. Instead of Manhattan try the Bronx or Queens, instead of central Paris try areas closer to the peripherique (avoid the banlieus!).

If you’re looking for short term stay in smaller cities you’ll often get a great deal on relatively nice apartments. We’ve had great digs in Penang, Malaysia and Lagos, Nigeria simply by booking before we arrived – normally with a local estate agent. Run a search online for ‘short term lets + city’.

Live With A Local

Often a great idea is to rent a spare room longer (or mid) term. This is an especially helpful way of doing things if you don’t know anyone else in town. An instant guide, hopefully an extended social group and a great insight into the workings of a strange new city.

The additional benefit of this is that you don’t need to organise things like internet, water/electricity bills, furniture etc. Obviously this is great if you don’t know how long you’re gonna be in town.

Our favourite site for this is EasyRoomate which covers many countries around the world. From Switzerland to Singapore there is a lot to choose from and it’s one of the best ways to get localised.

Ready made social group? / pic: Unsplash

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What are your experiences with finding short term lets in a new city? Feel free to let us know in the comments below or by emailing us at You can also follow us on Twitter.


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