How To Rent An Expensive Apartment For A Budget Price When Traveling

Derek "How To" Travel Guides, Travel Costs, Travel Tips & Advice 108 Comments

After writing my “Living Abroad for Less than $1000 per Month” post a few weeks ago, I received all sorts of interesting emails from readers. I honestly had a great time answering them and I stayed up until 3am a few nights in a row trying to respond as quickly as I possibly could!

Through all of those emails, I did happen to notice that one particular question kept popping up over and over again, and so I thought it best to answer this question as a post in the hopes that the information can benefit as many travelers as possible.

Here’s the question…

How do you find such cheap apartments all over the world?

While the answer to that question certainly isn’t anything groundbreaking, there is actually a particular method I do use that goes beyond your typical apartment hunting and lease signing. And without this method, there is no possible way I would have been able to afford the super-comfortable, perfectly-located apartments I’ve rented in such countries as Argentina, Czech Republic, Thailand and here in Mexico.


First, it is a fact that no matter where you go in the world, you can always find a cheap apartment. You might have to live a good distance away from the center of town or make due with a somewhat dilapidated building, leaky plumbing and moldy walls, but cheap apartments always exist. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with these places, especially for anyone interested in exploring a foreign land on an ultra-tight budget, before you hand over the first month’s rent, you might want to consider whether or not the apartment truly offers what you need.

During my early years of traveling, whenever I would search for an apartment, my idea of luxury involved having a hot water shower, reliable electricity and a bed without bedbugs. But these days, I do require a certain level of increased comfort, not so much because I’m getting older, but because I spend a good deal of time in my apartment working on my internet projects. And as anyone who spends a lot of time working on their laptop knows, an apartment that lacks natural light and requires you to sit on a concrete floor while cockroaches crawl up your shorts, doesn’t exactly help create a favorable working environment.

What does help is a comfortable chair or two, a good wi-fi connection, a secure door to enter the building (there’s nothing worse than worrying if your laptop is being stolen while you’re out exploring) and a mattress that is more than a few centimeters thick. And while we’re at it, let’s throw in a great location that allows you to walk into town or to the beach in just a few minutes!

So once again, the question is: How do you find such a place without breaking your budget?


After deciding on the ‘perfect neighborhood’ in the city or town I want to live in, I’ll spend a couple of days viewing as many furnished apartments as possible. I find these apartments simply by walking around, asking people if they know of any places for rent and calling the phone numbers on the “For Rent” signs that I come across. Usually, the places that interest me the most will be out of my budget, but I don’t worry about that and in a moment, you’ll see why.

As soon as I do stumble upon my ‘perfect place’, I immediately schedule a meeting to speak with the landlord/owner in person. And then, far from accepting the advertised monthly rent, I offer to pay them 60% of that amount instead.

Before giving the landlord time to reject this seemingly absurd offer, I then continue with my proposal. I quickly explain…

1….that I’m a great tenant! I don’t smoke, don’t party, don’t drink often, I don’t have pets, I’m super-clean, quiet and I mind my own business. I then offer to provide them with references from landlords of other apartments I’ve lived in.

2….that I won’t use the air-conditioner which, in many countries, will instantly reduce the landlord’s expenses by a couple hundred dollars. (It might get a little hot, but that’s nothing that a couple of cheap fans can’t fix!)


3….that I’ll allow the landlord to kick me out of the apartment with as little as three days notice if they happen to find someone interested in renting the place for either a longer period of time or for more money.

At this point, I finally stop talking and wait for the reply, hoping that I’ve presented as compelling a case as needed in order to secure the deal. Sure enough, nine times out of ten, the landlord accepts the offer, especially if it happens to be low season or involving an apartment located in a neighborhood with an abundance of places for rent.


The landlord earns some money instead of having the apartment remain empty and I’m able to live in a nicer apartment than I usually could afford, for a price that is well within my budget.

A good example is the new apartment I’m living in now here in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The advertised monthly rent was 9500 pesos (approximately $800 USD) but using the above method, I’m only paying 5500 pesos per month, or $460 USD! And this place is spitting distance from both the beach and the town center, it has two, yes two!, balconies and a bed that has secured its spot as one of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept on.

In fact, here’s my place:

Apartment Playa del Carmen

It’s not overly luxurious or anything but for the excellent level of comfort that it offers, along with its prime location, this really is an absolute steal.

Also, in case you’re wondering, over the past 11 years, not one landlord has taken me up on my offer and kicked me out! But if I ever do have to leave on short notice, it’s really no big deal. I’ll simply stay at a hostel or guesthouse for a few days and repeat the process all over again…

And that’s how I find cheap, yet wonderful, apartments to live in during my world travels!

Do you have any useful tips to share that help you find cheap apartments during your travels or even at home?

Since 1999 I've been traveling and living around the world nonstop. Sign up below for personal stories, real advice and useful updates from my adventures. Only good stuff, no nonsense.

Are you ready to earn money and travel?

How to Work on a Cruise Ship and Travel eBooksClick above and get started!

Comments 108

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Accommodation Options Abroad - Move Your Life Abroad

  2. Pingback: How To Look Em In The Eye And Find An Apartment In Amsterdam – Disrupting the Rabblement

  3. Pingback: Tipps zum Geld sparen beim Reisen

  4. Pingback: 8 Tipps, wie du unterwegs Geld sparen kannst! | A Soul Traveller's Life

  5. wayne

    Hi Earl, I have gave me so much info, that it is to good to be true.Ok then I am looking to move down to mixco some time this year. I thinking in oct or nov., of 20014.I know the us money is at this time in may is $13.50 peso, And are money can go a long way. So if I got apartment next to the beach do you know how much it is going pries will be????? I am also on a budget that is $865.00 us. So do you think that I can live in playa del Carmen for that????? So if you can gave me Liz email. Then I will gave her a note to her. Thanks so much for the help Wayne.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Wayne – For an apartment right next to the beach in Playa del Carmen right now, you’re looking at a minimum of $1500 USD per month. For your budget, you could try to find an apartment that is a few blocks away from the beach and a few blocks away from the exact center of town. You might be able to find something in this area for around $500 USD per month during low season (summer). And Liz can be reached at:

  6. Alana

    Question! I’ve never rented outside of the States so pardon my ignorance… Do most overseas apartments have rental contracts that require you to stay for so many months or is it usually on month-to-month basis? I guess I could always just leave after a month regardless, but I would feel bad if I entered a rental agreement knowing I was going to break it.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Alana – It all depends on the destination and the person you are renting from. There really is no set way. Some places require a contract and deposit, others don’t, some require minimum one or three months, other don’t. You just have to go to the destination, look around and see what you can find.

  7. ann

    Hi Earl,
    I have been reading about Playa Del Carmen,very interesting information.
    I am a single mature lady that will be coming to Playa in October 2013.
    As you recommended I have booked into a hotel for four days while I scout out the,’budget’ furnished rental accommodation for three months(or longer if the Price is Right) It would be fantastic to meet with your friend Liz and see if she can help me. My question being,does she have an office in Playa? Speaks english I hope!!! my spanish is Null and Void.
    Cheers for any input you can throw my way.


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ann – She speaks 100% fluent English and you can always just send her a message through her FB page!

      1. Melissa Bahre

        Hey Earl, could you please post Elizabeth’s FB page again, it won’t come up clearly on your page, no doubt my sorry techie behind!

        1. Post
  8. Pat Kerr

    Hey Earl glad to see someone is taking the bull by the horns -so to speak- or has bull fighting been banned in Mexico already.
    We are as can travelers for many years and last year we tried a trailer park in Florida full of very old snowbirds from all over. we have traveller to Cancun, Stopped for 4 days in Playa and on to Chetemal. Belize city and St Ignacio Belize and back to Playa all by bus.
    We tried Boquete Panama, and back to Ajijic Mexico a couple of years ago . So far our favorite place has been Playa. We are feeling the draw again and want to find a place where it is not more than one block to the beach and the walking street where we have a view and with a reasonable price for January to the end of March or sometime in April.
    With some of the things you said there may (by now) a way of having someone look and negotiate for the best deal possible. Due to a recent change in my health I cannot walk long distances anymore. It says you are in Romania at the moment but WHO KNOWS right.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Pat – I am here in Romania actually but you should contact my friend Liz who is a local in Playa that helps foreigners find apartments at local prices. You can contact her through her Renting Playa del Carmen facebook page below:

  9. Pingback: Apartment Hunting in Santa Cruz: What Were We Thinking? : Indefinite Adventure

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *