After a little over 8 weeks, we finally moved into our own place! We haven’t lived with just the two of us since May 31st so we were looking forward to having our own space and to also not be living out of suitcases!!
We closed on our house on 31/5/2016 and lived with my mom until we departed in late September. We were in an Airbnb for about 2 weeks when we arrived in New Zealand, and have been staying with Maree since mid-October. We were lucky staying with Maree because we didn’t have to rush into finding an apartment. We spent a considerable amount of time exploring different parts of Christchurch to try and get a feel for where we wanted to live. During this time we were also looking into rentals.
The thing with rentals in Christchurch is that the good ones go fast. (I believe this is also the case in Wellington and Auckland.) We lost out on 3 different rentals before finally getting ours. We are happy that these didn’t work out because the place we got seems better, each for different reasons.
We have leased a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhouse in Sydenham. While we aren’t in the Central Business District (CBD), it is very close and has a very central location. We can see the Port Hills when we look out the front and the city when we look out the back. We are within walking distance to lots of shops, restaurants, and bars. We can walk to the CBD, take a bus, bike (once we have them), and ubers won’t cost much. I am about 15-20 minutes from work, which is a much better commute than I used to have in the States. We moved in yesterday and had hoped to have a night out on the town but we weren’t finished moving in time. Christchurch celebrated Christmas in the Park and we were able to watch the fireworks from our spare room. We love being in the city!
There are a few things to note about renting in New Zealand. First off, you generally pay rent on a weekly basis. This is how the prices are quoted. With our rental company we opted to pay each fortnight (biweekly) since this is same schedule that I get paid. If you are leasing through a property management company you will have to pay a letting fee. The letting fee is normally one week’s rent plus GST (Goods and Services Tax). GST is currently 15%. You will also have to pay bond, which is the security deposit. This is normally 4 weeks rent. The bond is held by a third party, the Ministry of Housing. As long as there is no damage to your rental and you have paid the rent on time, you will be refunded the bond. Landlords and property management companies cannot hold your bond. Bond has to be held by the Ministry.
Our townhouse is newly built, within the last 2 years. For 5 months we are actually taking over someone else’s lease. The couple moved to Australia and had to terminate their lease early. In order to do that, they are paying $40 of our rent each week. We weren’t even aware of this until we signed the agreement. We decided to extend the lease through January 2018. We knew we weren’t going to want to move in 5 months and our options were to sign through the end of October or the end of January. We sold our house and all of our “stuff” and booked a one-way flight to New Zealand. Signing the lease felt more real than any of those things.
Since the couple was relocating to Australia they were selling a lot of their stuff. We were able to buy tons of stuff we would need for $500 – vacuum, pots, cooking utensils, camping chairs, chilly bin (cooler), a shelving unit, laundry rack, an emergency earthquake kit, etc. They were even kind enough to leave us a ton for free – bath towels, cleaning supplies, unopened shampoo, a modem, an HDMI cord, watering can, cutting board, pot holders, a clock, fly swatters, coasters, etc.
The rental is also partially furnished, which isn’t as common as it once was in Christchurch. There is an option to rent a bedsit, which is when you get your own private room and ensuite bath but share the common areas such as kitchen and living room. If you choose this option, they usually provide the furniture and kitchenware. We actually looked into this option and lost out on one. We were hoping to do it for 4 or 6 months until we knew exactly where we wanted to live and to save money. Thankfully we didn’t get it because it would have prolonged the “temporary” living arrangements we have had for almost 6 months.
When I say that the good rentals go fast, what I mean is that you need to be prepared to submit the rental application immediately after viewing the place. Anthony had looked at an apartment on a late Wednesday afternoon. We completed the application that evening. He followed up at 9:00 am on Thursday and said that they were already moving forward with someone else’s application.
It took us 3 trips to move everything we have into our new place. We probably could have done it in 2 but took the extra trip. We didn’t have a walkthrough with anyone from the property management company. They did their walkthrough on their own and were supposed to take pictures of anything that was damaged. We were told to take our own pics and send them over. While everything seems to be in great condition, we took pics of the few minor scuffs and such that we were able to find. Better safe than sorry.
Even though we didn’t have much to move we still had to unpack, wash dishes, and do a bit of cleaning. It was very clean but I still did some surface cleaning. We have also spent a few hours each day shopping to get the items we need (dishes, silverware, shower caddy, sheets, duvet, etc.) We will be so happy once we can have a weekend without having to shop. Some places where we have found good deals are Briscoe’s, the Warehouse, and Kmart.
Christchurch has already started to feel a bit like home. Now that we have a place to live and call “home” we think our keenness for Christchurch will only continue to grow. The townhouse has TONS of space. Therefore, we will be able to entertain guests and visitors! We have a spare room and even bought an air mattress from the previous renters just to be prepared in case anyone decides they want to travel halfway across the world to visit.
Click here to check out our video of our new home.