LIVE LIKE A LOCAL: RENT A SHORT-TERM APARTMENT WHILE TRAVELING
If you want to experience the true life of a place, experience it like a local: get an apartment in a true neighborhood. Wake up to the sounds of street vendors and garbage trucks. Be recognized with a smile by your local noodle-slinger.
If a city strikes your fancy, rent an apartment for a month and stick around for awhile.
Another advantage of worldwide Internet networking is that it allows us to exchange short-term apartments without going through an agent or company. Check the New York City craigslist sublet page and you’ll find plenty of Parisians happy to exchange their Left Bank apartment for a little temporary stepping stone on the Upper West Side. Though apartment exchanges are rare in Asia, there are plenty of expats and locals alike who will be vacating their adobe and happy to have someone trustworthy in there to pay the bills and make sure nothing blows up. It’s a win-win situation.
I have rented beautiful, fully-furnished apartments in Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Guanajuato, Mexico. This experience has allowed me to build a healthy routine in the midst of a tumultuous couple years of travel. I’ve been able to host dinner parties, get valuable work done, accommodate friends from abroad and even redecorate a bit (with permission, of course).
Here are some resources:
In all cities, start with www.craigslist.org. Search the apartment rentals. Search ALL the categories, as many people do not pay attention to the specific category and will post a sublet in ‘rooms / shared’ or “apartments available”.
https://www.airbnb.com/ needs no introduction. It has become an indispensable resource these days for finding short term stays. While prices are definitely rising and good spots are more difficult to snag as the service becomes more popular, you can almost always find a deal if your timing is right.
www.couchsurfing.com is another good resource. Search the ‘groups’ section for people offering rooms or apartments. If there are none, join the group and post your own request. He/she who knocks will be let in.
https://www.facebook.com/ is good for finding short-term rooms and apartments. Large cities will have groups in which people post apartments that are free for a month or so. Try searching “Expats in _________” and you may find a group with rooms to offer.
Permanent English teachers need vacations, too. In Taiwan, try www.tealit.com. There are plenty of English teachers here who pay their own rent and need to fill their place up before taking time off. In Korea, since language schools pay the rent, I find it is harder to find sublets from vacationing English teachers.
Here are some of the places I’ve rented around the world:
This place I found on Craigslist in Guanajuato, Mexico. It was about $50/night for short term. Plus: being in a local hillside neighborhood. Minus: Walking into a gunfight on the way home one night.
Not much happening in this city at night, so since I save $ on drinks, I splurged for some luxury high-rise living. I lived here for two months last year and paid about $700/month incl. bills and building fees.
HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM
I found this on craigslist from a guy who needed me to watch over it while he was back in California for two months. It was a four-floor semi-mansion with a great open staircase and rooftop garden. Loved it here. I populated the five bedrooms with couch surfers from around the world and had a great time; the first time I ever lived in Vietnam.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
Seoul is also pricey, and I rented this from an English teacher when he was back home on vacation. I paid $400 for a one-month stay and enjoyed it. As with everywhere else in Seoul, it was surrounded by bars and restaurants and it was nice to feel like a local in them.
Apartments in Tokyo are expensive. It’s hard to believe that the worst place I’ve lived in Asia has been the most expensive. This was about $800/month and I stayed for one month. It was located in Shimokitazawa – one of Tokyo’s hippest neighborhoods. I used to hit up the all-you-can-eat-and-drink Izakayas in the neighborhood ($40 7pm-11pm). It was better than a hostel and just about the same price.