Tips & Guides / Moving Guides

How to Find a Short-Term Rental

By Barbara Zito | Oct 12, 2022
Beautiful interior of a short-term rental from Landing.

Ready to try out living in a new city? If you thought you needed to sign a 12-month lease to secure housing, think again. This guide will tell you what you need to know about how to find a short-term rental in the city of your choice.

What is a short-term rental?

Landing apartment

There are many confusing phrases in real estate but luckily, “short-term rental” is not one of them. In fact, a short-term rental is exactly what it sounds like: It is a rental property—usually an apartment, but it might be a house—for which you are signing a lease agreement for a short period of time. This means instead of signing a typical year-long lease for an apartment or a house, you are becoming a renter for anywhere between a few days to a few weeks to a few months—whatever the shorter period that you’ve worked out with your landlord might be.

How does a short-term lease work?

Aside from the shorter time frame, signing a short-term lease agreement isn’t much different than signing a long-term lease agreement. You will work it out with your landlord the day you’ll move in, and you’ll agree to pay the rent on a certain date each week or month, depending on the length of time you’ll be living there.

A short-term lease might be on a fixed-term basis—meaning you’ll indicate your move-out date—or you might discuss leaving it open-ended with your landlord so that you have the flexibility to renew on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis. Keep in mind, though, that if you have the option to leave it open-ended, you’ll likely need to give your landlord a suitable amount of notice for when you do leave so that they can advertise the vacancy.

What are the benefits of short-term lease apartments?

Perhaps you are looking for temporary housing before you move into a new place for the longer term, or you’re looking at corporate rentals as you start a new job in a new city. Maybe you’re a digital nomad who prefers monthly rentals in a certain city or town before heading off to a new locale. Whatever the reason, there are many benefits to renting an apartment or a house for the short term:

1. You can save money

For starters, a short-term rental—even in cities where rents are high, like New York or Washington, D.C.—will likely save you money over renting a hotel room or a vacation property. But unlike most apartments, short-term rentals are usually furnished. This means you can pack light, show up to your new place, and already feel at home, even if you haven’t unpacked a single box.

Depending on the rental market and the time of year you are looking to rent—off-season is always a great time for short-term tenancy—you might even score a deal on a short-term rental. Remember, landlords need their vacancies filled to earn their income. If they can’t secure long-term residents for their available units, they may be amenable to short-term residents—perhaps even at lower rental rates— to fill in the gaps in their income.

2. Try out a city before you commit to a long-term lease

A short-term rental benefits both the decisive and the indecisive residents. Maybe you are sure that you are only going to be in town for a certain amount of time. A shorter lease term will ensure that you have housing for the duration. On the other hand, if you’re indecisive about how long you’ll be staying, a short-term rental agreement allows for you to have comfortable housing as you test out the neighborhood before committing to a longer-term lease or even purchasing a property.

Don’t mistake indecisiveness as a bad thing! It can be quite smart and worth your while to see how you like living in an area first with a short-term rental. Whether you eventually plan on setting down roots in that town or move on to someplace new, you can always place the majority of your belongings in storage so you can travel light between the rental properties.

3. Build a reputation as a good renter

Even as a short-term resident, you can establish yourself as a good renter—remember, good landlord-renter relationships are everything when it comes to a peaceful living situation!—so that you will have a good reference moving forward. Additionally, if you are looking to improve your credit score so you can purchase a home or even secure a long-term rental, a short-term rental can give you the time you need to get your finances in order.

4. Enjoy a place that feels like home

In addition to the flexibility of renting for shorter time periods, you’ll also have privacy and more space than a hotel room offers, not to mention more amenities. Depending on your rental agreement, you might even find pet-friendly housing options—just note any stipulations regarding your security deposit.

Even the most comfortable hotel or vacation rental might still feel like you’re living on someone else’s property. A short-term rental, on the other hand, will feel more like home because it has all the creature comforts of home, from full kitchens to spacious bedrooms and living space.

How to find a short-term rental

Landing apartment and short-term rental

There are various rental listing websites where you can start your short-term rental search online. Of course, at Landing, we’re partial to our own network of flexible, fully-furnished apartment rentals that digital nomads and others with a penchant for travel can rent in many cities across the country.

If you’re looking for something that feels more like a vacation spot rather than a residency, you might search sublet listings on vacation rental sites instead. Then again, if you are in town because your employer sent you there for a long-term assignment, you might appreciate corporate housing or extended stay hotel sites that offer a housing contract—usually with efficiency kitchens and living rooms—for three-month or six-month time periods, for example.

Furnished short-term rentals like those offered through the Landing network can make you feel like you’re at home whether you’re there for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months.

Other tips for making the most of your short-term rental

While we’ve explored some of the benefits of becoming a short-term renter, there are even more ways for you to make the most of your short(er) time in a city:

1. Get out and explore

You might be in the city only for a short time span, but as of signing that lease, you are a resident of that city. Take full advantage of it. Get out and explore the neighborhood and the greater community. In no time at all, you’ll find your favorite cafe, bookstore, park, or any other place that you like to go to spend your downtime. Enjoy sampling the local cuisine, too. Try out new restaurants or scour the local farmer’s market for regional ingredients to cook up in your own kitchen.

2. Take time to settle into your new home

While short-term rentals often do come furnished, you can still put your own stamp on the place. No, that doesn’t mean you can paint the walls, but you can certainly bring pictures and other creature comforts that remind you of home. In fact, because you don’t have to worry about moving furniture, you might have more room to bring things like pictures, small decor, books, and anything else that puts you at ease. Apartments offer a world of opportunity—quite literally!—whether you decide to stay for a number of days, weeks, or months.

3. Test out the type of living arrangement

Another benefit of signing a short-term lease as opposed to a 12-month lease is that you’ll also have the chance to figure out whether you like living in this type of apartment. Are you living in a high-rise co-op? You’ll learn quickly whether you enjoy taking that elevator multiple times a day. Do you live in a fourth-floor walk-up? You’ll learn even more quickly whether you’ve got the energy to hoof it up and down all those stairs. The beauty of short-term rentals is that you can have the option to live in a variety of places in a relatively short period of time. Had you gone the traditional route of long-term apartment leases, it would take years to experience and get acclimated to various types of housing.

Are you ready to start your search for short-term rentals? Landing offers fully furnished apartments in more than 375 U.S. cities, all with flexible leases that make it easy to live life on your terms. Learn more about what a Landing membership can do for you today!

Barbara Zito

Barbara Bellesi Zito is a freelance lifestyle writer from Staten Island, NY, where she lives with her husband and their dog. She covers real estate and home improvement for a variety of digital publications including Apartment Therapy, Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, and of course, Landing’s blog.