So I found this site that has gotten great reviews called Airbnb. You can rent a room or an entire house/apt directly from the owners with a small service charge to the site. It can be much cheaper than staying at a hotel if you are going to be in one place for several nights or more. Some may wonder about the risk of booking a place with someone you’ve never met, but I’ve rented apartments twice in the past and there are enough reputable sites that I don’t see really much risk in it, if at all. Just do your homework. One thing to know is most places require a refundable security fee, which you pay up front. That may mean bringing extra cash that you get back at the end of the stay.
This type of accommodation is not for everyone. Some people like hotels for the comfort one has of being able to ask staff members questions about a first-time destination, to use a concierge service, or to meet like-minded travelers. I prefer the freedom of coming and going as I please, living more like a local, and having that “at-home” feeling. Many hotel rooms, especially in Europe, are very small–a bed, tiny closet and bathroom and not much more.
What I especially liked about Airbnb is payment is done through them and they don’t release payment to the owners for 24 hours after check-in. So if there is a problem, you let them know. Also, because it is a US transaction there should be no foreign transaction fee on the credit card.
For Sydney, I would have considered possibly renting a room as there seem to be a lot of nice places listed, many of which are en-suite, but with having to work odd hours, I wouldn’t want to be in a situation where the owners might be disturbed by a late night or early morning conversation with work. So, I thought it best to find an entire apartment, which I did for under $100/night, including service charge. It’s in a prime location, not far from the Sydney Harbour.
Addtional cost for wifi: Free!