Hostel experience shames Dunedin flats

Hostel living around the world is easier than flatting in Dunedin. Photo: ODT
Hostel living around the world is easier than flatting in Dunedin. Photo: ODT
Living out of a bag is not as bad as its sounds, writes Kirsty Gordge.

People have been asking me "How do you cope, living out a bag and in hostels all the time?".

The truth is, it’s amazing. I have everything I need with me and each accommodation welcomes me with open arms. To be honest, it’s quite luxurious and far easier than flatting back home in Dunners, and here’s three reasons why.

There’s a thing in Europe called central heating

This is something that stemmed from the invention of the radiator by a Russian businessman in the 1850s. It is actually standard for homes to be fitted out with these radiators, so every room is maintained to a decent temperature (where you can actually take your coat off). Before I left, I was nervous about backpacking in a ski town, imagining myself shivering in my bed at night, but the reality is I push my hot water bottle away and peel my bedsocks off.  I’m still getting used to it.

Things work, and nothing is broken

There’s never a leak, a faulty lightbulb, mice, a blocked toilet, a wet window, a broken lock, a smoking oven, or an empty gas tank — all of which I encountered on multiple occasions in Dunedin. The kitchens are fitted out with working appliances, there’s almost always toilet paper, and if something does break or go wrong, there’s someone available to help. And I mean ASAP. Without five people from your flat contacting them for two weeks before getting a response.

Healthy competition raises the standard

One of my favourite things about booking and arriving at a hostel is the fact that they all have different perks. A real bonus is a towel, a hairdryer and free hot coffee on drip 24/7. The one I’m in at the moment has a beautiful dining/working area, a cozy TV room with a hundred DVDs (and some ancient board games), and actual enclosed bathrooms instead of rows of cubicles. My bunk has five charging sockets, a reading light, a privacy curtain, a bedside table, a locker, and a rack to hang my towel. I have no need to worry about locking up at night. I haven’t cleaned a toilet this year (or sat on a cold toilet seat for that matter). Clean, dry tea towels just appear every now and again. I even arranged to receive post here so I could read a handwritten letter from my pen pal. As I write this, the lovely receptionist for the evening is just going around lighting incense.

Let’s do the maths

For €12 a night, it works out to be $NZ143 a week: for a bed, power and internet. In Dunedin, I paid $NZ136 a week just for rent, with bills and internet on top, and zero heating, because a) scarfies, and b) no insulation.

The fact that there are seven other people in the room is surely a small price to pay. For the extra $NZ11 bringing in all the other perks, yes, I’d say life is easier in European hostels than a Dunedin flat. So, although backpacking has a bad rap and people are asking me how I do it for a long period of time, I’m over here living the high life with my one bag seeing a different city every week and calling every hostel a home.

Dunedin landlords, you’ve really got to sort it out.

- Kirsty Gordge is a traveller, video blogger and writer. She is also a former Dunedin student.

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