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Renting a House or Apartment in New Zealand

Renting in New Zealand

The vast majority of information that we’ve ever published about property abroad on Expatra relates to buying rather than renting – but when it comes to nations such as New Zealand, Canada and Australia, those emigrating to live there often want or need to rent before they buy a home.  Renting a house or apartment in New Zealand can be a challenge – after all, the logistics involved in organising such a long distance international relocation and a home purchase at the same time are almost impossible to comprehend let alone cope with!

If you’re interested in moving to live in New Zealand and you’re in the process of sorting out accommodation as well as your residency permits etc., here are all the facts that you need to know about renting a house or an apartment in New Zealand before you commit to buying real estate.

As with the rental market in the UK, you can rent short or long term in NZ.  If you’ve bitten the bullet and agreed to buy a property in New Zealand and are waiting for the purchase process to go through or an off-plan home to be completed, you may find that renting short term is suitable for your needs.  If so, you can rent a fully furnished apartment in the main cities easily – although the majority of these are used for corporate letting purposes and so come with two bedrooms at most and they can be quite expensive.

If you don’t want to be paying top dollar for your short term let then avoid Wellington and Auckland and head for Christchurch as it’s up to 20% cheaper!  Alternatively, if you don’t mind being outside of the city you may be in a position to rent a holiday home.  Out of season this is an affordable option, but during peak season you’ll be wise to only take this option if you want the property for a couple of weeks.

During the winter in New Zealand some locals rent out their own homes and head to the Northern Hemisphere in search of the sun – check out house swap type websites and make a few direct enquiries to home owners.  Otherwise the only other short term property rental options that you have are motels, hotels, B and B’s and backpacker hostels.

If you’re moving to New Zealand lock, stock and barrel and want to acclimatise yourself and get your family used to living in a new country, you may have made the decision to take your time with a property purchase, and quite frankly we do not blame you!  At the moment the New Zealand property market is in transition from buoyant to stagnant and by holding out you may well be able to bag yourself a better bargain!  Additionally, you can spend plenty of time getting to know all parts of the North and South Islands whilst renting a property.  Only when you’re certain you’ve found the right location do you need to worry about property hunting.

Longer term lets are usually for at least six months – otherwise most landlords say it’s not in their interests to sign a rental agreement.  Long term rental properties come unfurnished 99% of the time, and the rental agreement you sign will usually have a fixed letting duration written into it.  Without mutual consent it is hard to terminate such an agreement early…so think carefully about how long you sign up for.

In terms of finding rental properties in New Zealand, the more attractive the home the faster it is snapped up.  There’s a bit of a catch 22 situation in that ideally you need to be living in New Zealand to find the best rental apartments and houses, but you need a rental apartment or house to be living in New Zealand!  The best way round this can be to short term let an unseen property for a month and use that month to find a long term let.

Look in the local newspapers every day – although Wednesdays and Saturdays are usually when agents and landlords advertise, contact the leading estate agencies regularly for details of anything within your price bracket or in your chosen location, and be prepared to move quickly on anything that comes up and catches your eye.

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