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What it’s Like to Be a Long-termer in a Hostel

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How to Live in a Hostel for a Few Weeks

When fleeting from one hostel to the other as often as every second day, it is hard to imagine what it would be like to stay in the same hostel and the same dorm for an extended period of time. Every hostel has its batch of long-termers, should they be working there in exchange of accommodation or working nearby to save up for their next trip. It is not unusual to find a small group of backpackers that grew roots in a hostel for several weeks or month. For backpackers that only pass through for a few days, long-termers in a hostel are both a wonder and a great source of local tips.

So you too have decided to stop travelling around for a while and save up? Being a long-termer in a hostel has a lot of advantages and constraints but is a serious option to consider when backpacking in New Zealand. In that spirit, we will go over the pros and the cons of staying long-term in a hostel. By the way, have you checked out 10 Tips to be a Great Long-Term Roommate in a Hostel Dorm?

6 Questions to Ask Before Moving Long-term into a Hostel

Before committing to move into a hostel, make sure to try it first. Give yourself three or four days to get a feel of the place before starting to pay weekly. Here is a list of questions you’ll want to ask:

  • What are the perks? (Free laundry, free Wifi, etc.)
  • What kind of dorm will I get? (Dorm size, dedicated long-termer dorm?)
  • What discount will I get to book weekly? Or even monthly?
  • Can I work for accommodation? (This will help you save more!)
  • How long has the staff been here? (The longer the better as it means they like the hostel)
  • Are there jobs nearby? In fact, secure a job before you move into a hostel long term!

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The Pros of Being a Long-termer in a Hostel

Staying in a hostel long-term presents a lot of advantages for backpackers looking to explore an area longer or work in a town for a few months. Here is what we think are the five best reasons to be a long-termer in a hostel:

Make Friends for Life

It is likely that you will hang out with a lot of people when staying long-term in a hostel, from a bunch of travellers passing by to a few other long-termers that you will live with for a few weeks or months. Staying in a hostel for a while is an awesome way to make meaningful relationships with people from all around the world.

Choose to Socialise or Not

When being a long-termer in a hostel you are removed from the need to socialise every night and take part in every activity. You are here for a while, if you miss that pizza night, pub crawl or pot luck dinner, you’ll jump on the next one next week. If you feel like making new friends, hop downstairs and join the crowd. If not, simply relax in your dorm.

Meet New People Every Day

Meeting new people every day is an awesome feeling. You will never feel alone when staying in a hostel. Should you just want to chat, play a game, or find hiking buddies, you have a bunch of new friends ready for you. People from across the globe are gathered together in the lounge, dining room or bar and you can simply walk in and get to know them better without the stress that you might feel when going out alone. Hostels are the very best place to meet new people. Check out more ways to meet people in 9 Ways to Meet People When Travelling Alone in New Zealand.

Save Money on Rent

In most major cities in New Zealand, hostels’ weekly deals are often cheaper than actual rent. So you can trade a bit of privacy for a huge saving every week. Plus, if you get a job as a cleaner or receptionist for a few hours a week in your hostel, you may even be able to live in for free. All those savings can be spent on your next adventure!

It is a Huge Mind-opener

With travellers from all walks of life all around you, staying long-term in a hostel is likely to greatly expand your horizons. Plus, since this is such a different environment that life at home, it will force you to create new habits and cohabit with people and their different quirks making you a much more adaptable person.

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The Cons of Being a Long-termer in a Hostel

For some backpackers, the downsides of staying in a hostel long-term are obvious. For others, they are no bother at all. Here are five reasons not to stay in a hostel for too long:

Lack of Privacy

As opposed to having your own room or even your own apartment, you are likely to be living in a dorm when staying long-term in a hostel. This comes with a bit of a lack of privacy when it comes to sleeping and using the communal areas.

Meet New People Every Day

Although meeting new people is a pretty awesome thing. Having the same conversation: Where are you from? How long are you being here for? Where are you heading to next? can be a bit repetitive. Meeting new people can be exhausting and you may feel like staying in your dorm watching a movie from time to time.

You Have to Commit to a Place

To the outside world, it seems crazy to consider a month commitment somewhere as a big deal. However, when backpacking and literally changing location every day, it may be quite daunting to commit to staying in a place for more than a few days. It usually comes when finances are low and it is time to buckle up and work for a while.

Live Without the Comfort of Home

From living at home with fresh towels to the large bathroom and having clean dishes to living in a hostel full of twenty-something backpackers is a pretty massive change of pace. Be prepared to make some compromises on your usual comfort when staying long-term in a hostel.

You Can’t Pick Your Roommates

If you were to have your own flat with a lease under your name, you would be able to pick who you would like as roommates, interview each of them, and choose the ones that you think you’ll get along the best with. However, in a hostel, you’ll be given flatmates without being able to choose them.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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