Digital nomad housing – how to get started now

We live in a different world these days. One that potentially offers more freedom than any other period in history. Thanks to the Internet, a large part of the workforce only requires a computer and a connection. When that’s all it takes, people long to become untethered to a static location. As more people wake up to this new reality, a whole new group has formed. Meet the digital nomads! These brave souls are leaving expensive homes near offices and finding a new commute on the wide open road. While this may seem like an extreme lifestyle, securing digital nomad housing is actually easier than you think!

Digital nomad housing - tiny house in Napa
Tiny house in Napa, CA

From Bali to Branson, there are plenty of options. Here, we list some of the most common types of housing to help you discover which one would work best for your situation.

Airbnb – easiest way to get started on digital nomad housing

This might be the most convenient option for digital nomad housing. As the Internet changed the way we go to work, it has also changed how the hospitality industry runs. Services like Airbnb have forced hotels to acknowledge their pricing. There will always be luxury rentals, but Airbnb has helped level the playing field.

The great thing about Airbnb is that you can choose to stay in a room in someone’s home or you can get an entire house to yourself. Once you find a property that interests you, try connecting with the owner to propose a specific time frame. You can often work out a special deal with the property owner for a long-term stay, even if that option is not mentioned in the listing.

Hotel in Glacier Bay National Park

The business model of empowering the renter and the property owner makes for more fair practices. It’s also helpful for both parties that Airbnb is in the middle since any issues can be relayed through the website. Additionally, you will provide payment through Airbnb’s reputable payment platform.

With this flexible platform, digital nomads can easily plan ahead or book a place as their airplane is landing. It was practically made for people like us.


Thanks to horror films, many Americans are not exactly excited about staying in hostels. I can say, from personal experience, that many wonderful hostels exist! These can be very cheap. For example, I stayed 1 mile from the Eiffel Tower in a hostel that cost me $15 a night. This came with a cold breakfast, a view, and staff that saved me from an unwelcome stalker.

Hostels are cheaper because they have rooms that include strangers. You can request a room with only the same gender or mixed. I’ve stayed in a mix when traveling with my brother, as well as in an all-girls room. It’s a gift when you’re traveling solo because meeting new people is practically inevitable. Some hostels offer rooms for one, but you will likely still be sharing a restroom.

The biggest trade-off in using hostels for your digital nomad housing is that you’ll likely need to find somewhere in town to do your work. The good news is that most major cities for coworking spaces and almost everywhere had libraries and coffee shops these days.

Short term leases

Typically, short-term here refers to a period of time that is less than six months. These agreements are usually on a month-to-month basis, a predetermined number of months, or weekly.

Digital nomad housing - apartment in Minnesota
Apartment in Winona, MN

Most short-term options are furnished and are available in a variety of shapes and sizes including villas, houses, apartments, townhomes, or condos. Apartments available for short-term leases are more uncommon but not impossible to find. Try calling around to a few complexes to see if they have extra inventory that may be available for a short-term lease. Always make sure to speak with someone on the phone, more often than not they are willing to flex.

It’s also important to consider unfurnished rentals in order to get the best deal. Most major cities have furniture rental companies that will charge a monthly fee to come and completely furnish your rental for the duration of your stay.

Extended stay hotels – most flexible digital nomad housing

Stepping up a bit are hotels that are set up to be miniature houses. They aren’t quite as big as apartments but they have all the essentials you need to function as if it was your own house. Basically, you get the amenities of a hotel with the comfort of a home. Unlike the short-term option, there are no leases to sign. Choosing an extended stay hotel is like reserving any other hotel room. There are no obligations or utilities to pay. As an added bonus staying at a hotel can help create a sense of security when checking out a brand new area.

Another benefit of extended-stay hotels is flexibility. You can generally leave within 1-7 days of notice with no fee. This is great for people who want to be somewhere for a while but aren’t exactly sure when they will leave. This type of housing is great for exploring new areas while you determine a more cost-effective solution for your housing needs.

If you’re setting up shop for a short amount of time but expect to leave on the spur of the moment, this might be a great option. No need to plan too far ahead and be able to leave on a whim. This also works if you’re going to be in a place for several months but don’t have a home picked out yet. Use an extended stay to hold your stuff while you find more permanent accommodation.

Mobile living

Perhaps you’re more of a free spirit and want to have the option of going where the wind blows. In that case, you have a few options. The first is all about freedom on wheels. Vanlife is more than a fun hashtag on social media, it is a real way of living for many digital nomads.

Rented camper in Meadview, AZ

Buying a van or RV outright is not a cheap option nor is it a spur-of-the-moment decision. To transition into a life constantly on the road, you’ll need to perform research and be ready for a significant investment. Even though mobile living seems to be the default assumption for digital nomad housing, it may not be the best place to start.

If you’re not sure how to get started, try renting first. Most RV dealerships offer rentals and some even use that rental fee towards the purchase, if you feel so inclined later.

Another concern about RV life is the ability to work digitally. While many RV parks have wireless internet, the connection can be unreliable. A lot of vanlifers rely on hotspot data as backup, however, overuse of this method can result in decreased data speeds.

Couchsurfing – least expensive digital nomad housing

Something that many remote workers experience from time to time is budget constraints. As good for your soul as it is, regular travel can take a toll on your finances. One great way to be mindful of how you’re spending is to occasionally take advantage of a free stay.

There are plenty of websites to help travelers connect with locals with a room to spare. This form of accommodation is largely unregulated, so please exercise caution. A good idea is to take the time to get to know your potential host before sleeping on their couch. You just can never be too sure when traveling, especially solo.

This might also be a good time to check in with family and friends about your travel plans. They may surprise you by knowing someone you can stay with.

Corporate housing

Short term housing in Rapid City, SD

While corporate housing is normally priced for business travelers with hefty expense accounts, it’s still worth taking a look to see if you can find a deal. Corporate housing is slightly different than a traditional extended-stay hotel. They are normally full-sized apartments and tend to have high-end amenities like dry cleaning services, gym access, and housekeeping options.

Housing for traveling nurses

Another creative approach to finding housing is to tap into the networks typically used by traveling nurses. I’ve had some success with Furnished Finders in the past. Just make sure to let your host know that you are not a nurse and be prepared for nurses to get priority.

Conclusion on digital nomad housing

At first glance, the world of housing for digital nomads may seem overwhelming. However, there is actually a wide variety of approaches depending on your budget, travel style, location, and connection needs. I personally like to stay in a variety of different kinds of housing. This approach not only allows me more flexibility in budgeting but a wider variety of experience. Imagine meeting locals through a couch surfing site, before settling into a villa in the hip neighborhood on the edge of town. The possibilities of this amazing lifestyle are endless!

Read Next: How to nomad America, 6 myths busted, starting with vanlife

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