Short Term Apartment Rentals – How to Live Like a Local

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Short-term apartment rentals are something that most travelers never consider, but they they’re a great way to get the experience of living like a local, and if you’re sharing the cost of the apartment with others (i.e. some friends or your family) you it can work out a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel.

As with everything though, there are advantages and disadvantages to short-term rental apartments that should be weighed up carefully.

The most common types of people who opt for short-term rentals are families on vacation, people on business trips and travelers wanting to stay in an area for more than a few days.

short term apartment rentalIf you’re a family looking for some temporary vacation accommodation, renting an apartment outside of the usual tourist areas can be a great way to spend a holiday, as it’ll give you more privacy and a large living space that you can call your own.

On this page you’ll see the pros and cons of short-term apartment rental, and you’ll find out how to go about renting such an apartment (via rental agencies and ‘by owner’).

Advantages of Short Term Rental Apartments

  • Living Like a Local – Short-term apartment rentals allow you to experience how a local would live – instead of seeing an artificial image of the area through the eyes of the hotel you’re staying at. It gives you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the local way of living and for a less formal experience that you would otherwise not have access to. Walking down the street, visiting the local shops and restaurants, going to the local church, etc.
  • The Possibility of Saving Money – If you’re splitting the cost of a privately owned apartments for rent with other people, the costs reduce dramatically and the chances are you’ll be paying less money for an apartment than you would for staying in a hotel or a hostel (and you’ll be staying in a much nicer place). 2 and 3 bedroom apartments for rent are common, so it’s just a matter of having people to split the cost with.
  • Fully Furnished – When you rent an apartment on a long-term contract (i.e. 1+ year) there’s a chance that it’ll come unfurnished, meaning it’s down to you to fill it with furniture. Short-term apartments, on the other hand, come with everything you need to live there comfortably.
  • Amenities – In a privately owned apartments for rent you’ll have your own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and possibly more. Chances are you’ll also have your own TV and phone and you’ll have internet access. In a hotel all you’ll get is a bed, a bathroom and a trouser press (if you’re lucky!)
  • Not Tied Down By Long-Term Contracts – Renting short-term means that you can get the advantages of staying in an apartment without being tied down by a long contract.
  • Increased Privacy – Having your own place gives you a great sense of privacy. There’s no worrying about the maid coming in while you’re still in bed like you might get in a hotel.

Disadvantages of Short Term Apartment Rentals

  • More Expensive than Longer-Term Rentals
  • Minimum Stay Length – Unlike hotels, hostels and most other kinds of accommodation, short-term rental apartments come with a minimum length that you have to stay there. This ‘minimum stay length’ is usually 7 days, but it can differ.
  • Problems If Something Goes Wrong – Unlike staying at a hotel, there’s no reception desk to report to if your shower stops working. This means that if you have a problem with the apartment you’ll have to call the landlord and it could be days before the problem is fixed.
  • Extra Fees – Sometimes you may have to pay extra (slightly hidden) fees when renting an apartment (especially if you go through a rental company). These can be for cleaning, use of the internet/phone, satellite/cable TV, etc.
  • Deposit – When you rent an short-term apartment, the chances are you’ll have to pay a deposit (to cover any damages you might make). As long as you keep the apartment in good shape you should be fine, but there’s always the chance that you could lose your deposit. You won’t have this worry when staying at a hotel or in a hostel as you pay everything upfront.

How to Find and Rent an Apartment

There are basically two ways that you can go about renting a short-stay apartment: through a rental agency or ‘by owner’. Let’s take a look at both ways:

Via Rental Agencies

Short-term rentalThere are tons of online rental agency website dedicated specifically to apartment rentals (as well as some dedicated to short-term rentals), and most sites are based in (and focus on) apartments in a specific country/city.

The best way of finding these sites is to Google the phrase “short term apartment rental + [the city you’re staying in]”.

It’s a good idea to spend some time visiting a few sites so that you can compare the differences in quality/prices.

Once you’ve found a place that you like, do a Google search on the rental company involved and try to find out what kind of reviews they’ve gotten (and whether they’re legitimate).

Apartments for Rent By Owner

The second way you can find short-term rental apartments is by looking on ‘by owner’ websites. These sites are a bit like the ‘classified ads’ section in the newspaper, as they allow apartment owners to advertise their apartments on there.

short term studio apartmentThis means that you’ll be dealing directly with the apartment owner/landlord and not a rental agency (meaning there’s no middleman taking a huge commission).

The downside of this is that because there is no rental agency overseeing the whole process, you’re potentially taking a risk because you don’t know how legitimate the person you’re dealing with is. Before handing over any money, always try to get them on the phone or at the very least send them a few emails. Judging from the way they speak/their email responses you should be able to get an idea of how professional and legitimate they are.

If you get a odd feeling about them – like something isn’t quite right – don’t be afraid to move on and find somewhere else.

Here’s a collection of the best ‘by owner’ websites on the ‘net at the moment (all of which are suited to travelers):

  • HomeAway – The self proclaimed ‘world’s leading online marketplace of vacation rentals’. Users can leave feedback on apartments that they’ve rented, which is a massive help. Contains listings from VRBO.com and VacationRentals. This should be your first port of call.
  • Craigslist – I mentioned earlier that ‘by owner’ websites were a bit like classified ads… well Craiglist is the king of online classified ads, so naturally looking on there is a good place to start. Note that some apartment listings on Craigslist will be posted by rental agencies.
  • Gum Tree – This site specializes in finding you short-stay accommodation in England (and in particular, London).
  • AirBnB – A website that has become increasingly popular of late, AirBnB is a service that aims to match travelers with locals who have spaces to rent out. This differs a little from normal short-term apartment renting, as some of the ads are just for rooms to let instead of whole apartments (hence why I’ve listed this last). In a sense it’s a bit like an upgraded version of Couchsurfing (where the accommodation is nicer but you have to pay for it).
  • Crashpadder – Similar to AirBnB.

Related posts:

  1. How to Find an Apartment Abroad
  2. How to Rent a Car in Europe
  3. How to Haggle Like a Local (and Other Money Tips)




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