Renting a Residential Property in NZ

Looking for a place to live here in Auckland with your family seems easy but it is actually not. If you are coming here alone and are looking for flatting options (room rent or bedspace) then might be easy, but if you are planning to rent the whole apartment/house, then you have to allot ample amount of time, money and effort.  Even before I got here, my wife and I spent some time browsing through available options. I’d like to share with you my experience and I hope that I can give you a glimpse of the housing conditions here in NZ. Please note that this article is based from our experience in Auckland (could be different in other regions).

When we decided to move to NZ, we were a bit worried because we did not know anyone from here. As mentioned in my previous post, I came here by myself first. This came out as a good decision especially when I realized how hard it is to find a place for my family in Auckland. I think you are lucky if you have a relative where you may have the option to stay with until you can find your own place.

When I came here early this year, I stayed on a serviced apartment for a week which cost me $165 a day. This gave me enough time to do the things I needed such as opening a bank accountapplying for an IRD Number and finding a short term flatting option. I was able to find a flat easily. Here in NZ, one of the most popular property posting sites is TradeMe Property. In TradeMe, you can filter your search based on the location, price, number of rooms, etc. In my case, I sent an email to the property manager, and he replied promptly. We met the next day for the signing of the tenancy agreement and rental payment. Below are the things that came up

  1. The minimum rental period is 3 months. I did not expect this. I used to rent a flat in the Philippines too, but I was able to “negotiate” a minimum rental period. Nevertheless, the amount of time was just right for me to settle and prepare for my family.
  2. Rent is $200 weekly. That is right. Rent in NZ is paid on a weekly basis. Rent for a flat typically ranges from $150 to $400. My rent already includes gas, power, and water. Internet/broadband is an additional $20 per month. 🙁
  3. You have to provide 4 weeks rent as a security bond. This bond is held by the government’s Tenancy Services, and will be deposited to your bank account when the tenancy ends. I had an experience in the Philippines where the landlord did not give the security bond back. Those dirty tactics are not possible here!
  4. You have to pay letting fee which is equivalent to one week rent to the agent. Another $200 dollars from my pocket. Ouch!

Ok, you might say that was easy. We’re not on the difficult part yet. Three months have passed; everything seems fine at work and looks like I am ready to move my whole family to NZ. Again, I went to TradeMe to search for a two bedroom apartment where we could enjoy living with privacy. Search returned many results from TradeMe, so I say to myself everything is going to be fine. I found a perfect place on a perfect price. I sent a message to the property manager saying that I am interested. His reply – property viewing is available the following week, and I could visit if I’m really interested. The day came. I was excited and early. I wanted to check the premises first before I meet with the property manager. Few minutes have passed, I noticed that other people were also coming. I asked myself, do they come here to view the property? Exactly at the scheduled time came the property manager. He asked everyone to come inside to have a look at the property. That confirmed it – all of us (around 15 in total) were there to view the property. The place was really nice, and everyone seemed to like it. After viewing, the manager handed the application form and asked us to fill up with our personal details. At first it felt like I was applying for a job. Unfortunately, that’s how it works in Auckland. If you want a good deal in rental properties, then you need to stretch your patience.

I’ve expressed my interest to around 15 rental properties, and had been to 8 viewings before finally succeeding. I even met a regular participant in several viewings who is also a Filipino and told me that his family temporarily stays with his relative. Wanna know how I got it? Luck maybe. If I analyse the property manager’s story, I guess she picked me because 1) She needed the property rented immediately. Unlike me, other applicants wanted to start rent after few weeks 2) I have a stable income knowing I am an IT professional 3) The unit is ideal for a family of three. 4) Lastly, I think others shy away from the rental price which is $35 dollars more compared to other units in the same compound (around 5,000 pesos per month).

Again, I had to provide 4 weeks rent worth of security bond and a week’s rent of letting fee for the property manager. As for the rental cost, it is quite expensive compared back home. A 2-bedroom apartment typically costs about $450 or more depending on the location. Those which are nearer to the city center cost a lot more.