Nobody likes to pay too much for accommodation. Right! In your home country, it’s easier to find the best value accommodation but in a foreign country, not so much.
That’s why, having just been through it in Mexico, I’ve created this post. Follow these not so usual tips to make your accommodation dollar go further and give you the opportunity to find the best value accommodation gems in your new country.
These will be especially useful if you’re in a country that doesn’t seem to have real estate agents who deal with rentals and the language in the local newspaper isn’t one you can speak.
1. Book a starting point
Until you get there, you aren’t going to know what it’s really like and whether or not you really want to stay there. You don’t want to be stuck in a place that has construction going up next door (like we did in Danang, Vietnam!)
2. Give yourself 2 weeks grace
You’re going to need to give yourself the two weeks for reconnaissance. Especially, (like we did this trip), if you are jetlagged or catch a nasty bug/virus and are wiped out for the first week! This gives you time to walk your new area, get to know it, and seek out the best places to eat, shop and enjoy.
3. Start online
Once you know you are happy to stay where you have landed (or you’ve found an even better location nearby) let your fingers do the walking first. Start by looking up vacation rentals online through sites such as booking.com, Airbnb.com or other online rental companies relevant in that country (e.g. vrbo.com is here in Mexico).
Look for ones a bit above your budget. Then go and check them out on foot to see if you can connect directly with the receptionist, security guard or even the owner.
We have found that going directly to the property often gives us a saving of up to 40% or more. You will also find that by putting in more than 30 days into these online sites you can get a huge discount too (we’ve even seen up to 70% savings) which gives you the best value accommodation in any country.
4. Look for rental signs
Next, walk the streets of your favourite areas looking for “for rent” signs or in this case “se renta” signs. We’ve found some of the best-hidden gems of properties doing this in lots of different countries (primarily the less established ones).
Takedown the phone number, and send them a text message (it’s always polite to do at least the intro in their language to get them on the right side) asking for what you want. That is, if you have decided what it is you actually want.
5. Know what you want
It’s super important to know what’s important to you. This will save a LOT of time looking at properties that don’t suit you.
In our case, currently, we need either two work tables (or one large one) with decent backed chairs. We also prefer new or nearly new, modern design rather than eclectic, and air-conditioned (even though we don’t use it much, it’s worth it for a good night’s sleep if it’s super-hot).
Do you want to be close to your already favourite restaurants? Do you want ocean views? Does it need to have its own pool or are you ok with a shared pool? Is a balcony a must-have? What do you want in the bathroom – bath, shower, spa?
Get clear on what you aren’t willing to go without and that way it will make decision making a lot easier too.
6. Google the buildings
The other thing we do when we are out and about is look for buildings (apartment blocks) in the right location and then google the name of the building to see what’s available inside. (There’s nearly always pics of the rooms inside – love Google!)
This will save you time because you will be able to see if the property ticks your list of requirements before going any further.
Often this also gives you contact details. Or sometimes, we have a chat to the security guard who nearly always has a contact number to a local rental agent who can help you.
7. Keep your cool
When you start to see how much your dollar can get you in some countries it can be super exciting. But I recommend keeping your emotions in check and giving yourself the time to weigh up the pros and cons.
Be sure to not sign anything that day. Sleep on it. Go and visit the property in the evening (say a Saturday night) and see what it’s like. You don’t want to be next door to a night club! Or find out the next day you could have gotten something equally as good, but for half the price.
By taking your time it will ensure you get the absolute best value accommodation for your budget.
Find the best value accommodation
And it almost goes without saying but once you have decided and committed to a property, don’t look at anything else! Just enjoy your new location and everything it has to offer.
I hope you find these tips helpful and that they enable your budget to stretch to as much luxury as it can for you (which can be surprisingly a lot more than you might think in some countries).
If you have any feedback or tips to share on how you find the best value accommodation then please let us know below in the comments.
Love and travel always,
Tegan and Clark Marshall