How to Find Local Accommodation for a Month or More

finding apartment Guanajuato

Finding a short-term apartment to rent is very easy these days. Finding a place to rent for a year isn’t all that hard either after arrival. The in-between option can be a little tougher. Here’s a question I seem to get at least once a month about where I live in Guanajuato, this one pulled straight from the blog comments:

Can you recommend a place to stay for 30-60 days? Thank you.

No, I really can’t. Sorry. I’m not a real estate agent or landlord and I work full time. I can’t be your short cut. If you want a decent place to stay for a decent price, anywhere in the world, you”ll have to do a little work.

If you have loads of money, it’s very simple. You pull up the vacation rental sites, pick a place, and you’re done. Most of them that are not a primary residence list a cheaper price for a monthly rental than they do for a weekly one. If you’re not loaded though, you have to invest some time to find the right rental place for one to three months. Here are your options.

1) Start with the obvious: vacation rental websites.

If you’re in a hurry, you want a wide selection, money is not tight, and you want to set everything up from your sofa with a laptop or tablet in hand, just go to a vacation rental site like VRBO and book something. Sure, you’ll pay way above the market rate, but it’s very easy. If your time is worth a lot, just do it and get exactly what you want.

2) Negotiate a longer-term deal via the rental websites.

These two videos below show some apartments that various friends of mine have rented in the city where I live. I put these together originally for the people in my Cheap Living Abroad Committed and All In groups to show what the typical costs are like in central Mexico. But the other purpose is to show what you can negotiate in advance or find by just showing up. Two of the houses featured here for $500 a month were booked through AirBnB or Home Away. These people didn’t pay list price though. They offered the landlord a deal for a longer period and the landlord took the “bird in the hand” option so the place wouldn’t sit empty.

3) Get the word out after arrival.

If your budget is the main concern, it’s almost always cheaper to line something up after arrival than to try to do it in advance. Most of what you see online—especially in English—is geared to tourists coming for a short vacation. What you find for rent after arrival, via people who may not speak your language, will be priced much closer to the local market rate. Get a short-term apartment or cheap hotel and then start telling everyone you run into that you’re looking for an apartment for rent. Jason in that video found his this way, through someone at the school where he was taking Spanish lessons. Others have found something through a person they met via an online message board. Still others via a random friend of a newfound friend.

4) Check the local classifieds.

In much of the world, print media hasn’t become so irrelevant as it has in the USA. Apartment ads still show up the old fashioned ways: in local newspapers and in printouts stuck to bulletin boards. Try Craigslist anyway in case, but it’s better to grab a dictionary or app and start searching ink on paper.

To find local accommodation in these places, you may need to enlist a local who has some skills in your language, but there can be a huge payoff. There’s a little weekly paper here in Guanajuato called Chopper that has loads of apartment and house rental ads for $200 to $600 per month, furnished with utilities. There are for rent flyers up in local coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. Your options expand exponentially when you give up the idea of trying to do everything online.

5) Keep an eye out for signs.

Nick and Dariece from Goats on the Road were about to give up on the Mexican seaside town of San Pancho because after doing all the above, they were striking out. In a small town with a lot of expats, they were having trouble finding an apartment or house they could rent for months at a decent price. After three days of searching, they had started talking about where else they should go instead until one day they took a different walking route and saw a for rent sign in Spanish on the side of a building. They worked out a deal and stayed for two months.

find local accommodation in a hotel, like La Bacona Granada

6) Become a permanent hotel guest.

My buddy Ellen Barone has been in my town here for almost six months and where she and Hank stayed is in that first video above. If you ask them about their best deal ever though, it’s when they got a huge suite (1,400 square feet, with a dining table for six) in a hotel in Granada, Nicaragua for less than $20 a night. With breakfast for two. The owner was willing to give it to them for so cheap because it seldom got booked at the regular price (listed at $150 a night in low season) and they were going to commit to it for three months, paying in cash.

In popular parts of Asia, like Chiang Mai and Saigon, there’s already a whole system in place of short-term furnished rentals for expats. Some are like hotel rooms with a little extra room and daily maid service, some are apartment buildings full of short-term rentals. James Clark, one of the digital nomads I interviewed for a Lonely Planet article, says he lands in Saigon, gets a hotel for one night, and then has a place to live for months set up within 24 hours.

7) Do a home exchange.

This doesn’t work if you’re a homeless vagabond, but if you’re normally grounded in a home and you just want to spend the summer in Spain, for example, you can sign up with a home exchange website and find someone who would like to trade places. Naturally this is a lot easier if you’re in Manhattan than if you’re in Oklahoma City, but if you’re a little flexible it can be done. If you own a vacation home it’s even easier. You can do a “non-simultaneous exchange” where the weeks don’t have to match.

8) Become a house sitter.

I know quite a few permanent travelers who find their home base via Trusted House Sitters or some similar site. In exchange for watering plants, taking care of pets, or just making the place look occupied, owners will let people stay in their house for free or close to it. Sometimes they’ll even provide a car or bikes to use.

9) Get Creative for a Place to Live

These are a few of the options, but there are plenty of others, like long term RV parks that a lot of snowbirds use in the Baja Peninsula or long-term travelers use near national parks. There are homestays, working farms that include a place to live, college dorms for rent in summer, and other offbeat possibilities. It’s not impossible to find local accommodation for a month or more, but it may not be as simple as pulling up choices online and clicking on your favorite.

How has it worked out for you in finding a place to live for more than two weeks, but less than a year?

Comments
  1. Dale Reardon

    Hi,

    I found a place in Bali for 5 weeks through asking questions on a Facebook group and then discussing things with the owners direct.

    Not super cheap but real luxury compared to Australian prices for the same standard.

    Dale.

  2. Bob Weisenberg

    Great article. Good advice. We have managed to get good deals using Airbnb. Just ignore the listed monthly price. It’s often just 30 days times the daily price. Just tell the owner you want to rent for X months, and tell them to give you their best possible price because you’re looking at other places and you’re going to make a quick decision once you get all the quotes in. Often it will be the first time they’ve had someone who wanted more than a week or two. In my experience, depending on demand and the season, of course, the price for 2-3 months can be half to a third of the listed daily price.

  3. Aleta

    With airbnb it definitely depends on the season when inquiring about a long stay discounted rate… since the homeowner makes more based on the nightly rate.. Therefore out of season in that particular place would generally be the time to go…(rainy season, colder months, etc.) I would be interested in places that are nice to stay in off seasons..

    • anita

      hi bob i need a place to rest me and my cat,

  4. Traveling Rockhopper

    That’s interesting. Indeed, we usually stay somewhere just for a couple of days…

  5. Emma Healey

    We booked our apartment here in Spain through Homeaway. We are staying January to June which is low season so the owner listed a monthly price €592 for the winter. He charges €400 per week(!!) through July and August so we feel like we got a bargain!

    • RITZ.L

      Hi EMMA,
      thanks for the info on Spain but can you pls.tell me which part of Spain did you stay …..any details on the contact nr.of the owner would be greatly appreciated.
      thanks,([email protected])

  6. ivy kriste

    Very useful information. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  7. Mari Kovonato

    Interesting blog, it is always the question how to find safe and appropriate location for expats, well written. It is also wise to check for jobs before heading your way, I am a recruiter for HR Screening and we work with expats looking for new destinations and jobs throughout the world. http://hrscreening.co.uk

  8. Lucky Smith

    “Can you recommend a place to stay for 30-60 days? Thank you.”
    – My advice is to Check out http://www.propertyasia.ph

    for sale and/or for rent in the Philippines and across Asia.

  9. Lucy Gibson

    I like your tip about searching local newspapers, printouts, and apartment ads when trying to find a good short-term lease. My brother might have to relocate for a few months because of his job. He might end up needing to set up training for a new branch that might open up. Because of this, he’ll need to find an apartment that may allow him to rent for a shorter amount of time. Searching local ads might be a great option. I’ll also suggest searching online as well.

  10. Penny

    I haven’t yet. AirBNBs have turned out to be dodgy in one way or another, and if I got a break on the price I more than made up for it by being gouged in cab fare to get to the locations because they were out-of-the-way. Then I stayed in one more centrally located and promptly got my purse snatched down the street from it. There went the debit and credit cards, my phone, my LIFE.

    Now I’m looking to try to find somewhere to stay for FREE until I can get the passport replaced and get the United Nations International Organisation for Migration to get me a ticket back to Ireland. When you run out of money and are English-speaking suddenly the world thinks you’re an “American” and “a walking ATM machine” and that the “American” Embassy has a money tree growing outside their office and is willing and able to just go pick money off of it for anyone and everyone who speaks the same language as them?

    People are all kinds of hospitable until something happens to you and you start to run out of money, and you speak English. I can’t even find a “teach English for room and board” type situation. I’m in Mexico and everyone acts like that’s unheard of.

    • Tim Leffel

      I’m sorry to hear that Penny. WHere were you? That kind of theft is pretty rare in Mexico. Your best bet is probably to have someone send you money by Western Union or a similar service since you only need a confirmation number for that.

      I’ve had only one dodgy experience in my 20+ AirBnB rentals, but you do have to be very picky about where it is and what the past reviews are like. I do a lot of neighborhood research before hitting the booking button.

      • Penny

        The purse-theft happened in Tijuana and my host down here in Mexico City said that “that happens in all of Mexico.” So it’s not either “rare” unless you mean it’s rare that it happens to MEN. Other women at the police station that day said that it happened because that’s “a tourist-y area” and “it’s Saturday.” And when the police caught the guys they had two other womens’ purses too so it’s not either “rare.” Don’t treat me like I’m making this up or this happens to ONLY ME.

        • Tim Leffel

          It’s statistically close to zero in that huge country, though Tijuana does have much more street crime than other cities. I’ve lived in Mexico three years and have yet to meet someone who has been pick-pocketed or had a purse stolen from their person in my city or the ones in the region. I have one friend (out of many) in Mexico City who got robbed, but he admits he was in one of the worst places for that you could possibly be (a crowded market in a bad neighborhood), at night, and he had very little on him because of that. This was five years ago. Nothing since.

          Mexico has plenty of crime problems, but pickpocketing is a very rare one. Unfortunately, in that “one in 500,000 people” stat, you were the one. But the fact is, your chances would have been far worse in Rome or Barcelona, places people mistakenly think are safe.

  11. Lawrence

    Thanks for sharing the tips regarding how to get a friendly accommodation facility.

  12. Aper

    Thanks for sharing great tips! This information is really helpful to make your trip hassle-free and memorable. I will definitely try your tips on my next trip.

  13. Robert Becker

    Hello Everyone:

    First off, I just wanted to give my own opinion about ANYONE who wants to live in the Philippines! I have lived and worked there for two years and has been there a number of times and just recently came back from Manila last month!

    First of all, Manila is NOT cheap! It is very dirty, polluted, and expensive! The Internet and cell phone service REALLY sucks!! You ONLY have 2 mobile companies to choose from, Smart and Globe and BOTH are equally horrible! A decent one bedroom will cost you OVER $600 OR more a month NOT including ANY utilities in places like Makati, Alabang, or GBC! Also, most customer service people INCLUDING managers can’t effectively solve a problem if their life depended on it!! ALL you will here is, “so sorry for that.” They have NO idea on how to solve a problem when confronted with one AND Uber is NO longer in many of the Asian countries including the Philippines, there is ONLY Brab which jacked up all their prices for obvious reasons!

    IF you want cheap, you will have to go to Dumaguete, but be prepared to literally see TONS of dirty old men (70 and above married to young girls (18-25) WITH one or more kids with them because these people have money!! Lastly, the immigration there is VERY corrupt!! Have fun!!

  14. Millie Hue

    It really helped when you said that we could find good accommodation through vacation rental sites if the budget is not tight. I guess I will follow this tip since my husband and I are not on a budget because we have saved up for this since last year. This will be for the celebration of the sixth anniversary of our marriage, so we are all out for this.

  15. Arban

    Thanks for sharing such an useful list. Fabulous blog!

  16. Vijay Patel

    Awesome blog for a frequent traveler like me who stays in a place for a long time. I face some issues to stay so this blog is really helpful for me. If possible please update some option or a list for Service Apartment in Europe. Thanks for this one. Keep posting

  17. Tim Yaotome

    I find it interesting that you shared your friend’s experience of being able to negotiate a three-month stay in a hotel suite with breakfast. When I read that, I thought that tourists can also help save on an overseas trip by finding house rentals. Investing in a rental can also open the possibility to explore more within a country and have a safe, peaceful place to rest after a long day.

  18. Kalpataru Vista

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing article. After reading the article, I feel it your article will definitely help me a lot to find Local Accommodation.

  19. Sangeeta Bisht

    Thanks for the information which you have shared, I agreed with you. I always prefer staying in short term rentals as i dont spend that much in any place. but being a traveller i would say its better to check out the vacation rental sites

  20. Zoe

    I’ve had the best luck with Homeaway, emailing ahead to ask for lower rent for a stay of 30 days or more. We travel with kids so showing up without a prearranged place to stay is a no-go for us!

  21. Caden Dahl

    If I was to stay in a place for more than a month, I’d be sure that it would be the perfect fit for me. As you said, it would be a good idea to check local listings as not everything is posted online. Plus, it would be a great way to potentially ask local people what their recommendations are.

  22. Ilse

    Usually I prefer accommodation online to make it cheaper. Usually there are many discounts that we can get. Planning a travel agenda with a small expenditure is a difficult thing but if we can manage it it will be easy. Finding things that are more economical will make our trip more enjoyable.

  23. Kerry Chambers

    I’m currently living in Mexico and have been here since December, 2018. I started out with Airbnb accommodation but, after a few days, arranged a longer term stay with my landlord. I now have a large studio apartment with all amenities and high speed internet for $200 per month. I don’t have a car, (nor do I need one), and use local transport or walk. I cook most of my meals at home using local produce and rarely spend more than $25 a week on good quality ingredients.
    My income is around $1500 per month so I have $1200 a month to spend!
    I freelance online in the evenings for approximately two to three hours and my quality of life has immensely increased.
    I now have the freedom to choose where and when to do interesting things, not just dream about them. My only regret is not finding the courage to do this before.
    I do speak Spanish, (it does help), but not entirely necessary as people here are warm and friendly.
    Good luck to everyone wanting to make this change, and thanks Tim for a great blog!

  24. Lilly Willams

    Searching so many blogs for this explanation. Your blog is so informative. I really like it. Thanks for sharing this blog.

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