Cats are the original “work from home” species. Our jobs of monitoring pests, keeping the couch warm and rescuing stray hair ties are best performed in the home. Only recently, however, have our human companions started to enjoy the benefits of working from home. And one of the greatest benefits of a work-from-home lifestyle is the opportunity to travel full-time. While living as a digital nomad may seem like an extreme lifestyle, securing digital nomad housing is actually easier than you think! Read on to learn about your best options for finding a home away from home.
Airbnb – the easiest way to get started on digital nomad housing
Welcome to the most convenient option for digital nomad housing. As the Internet changed the way we go to work, it has also changed how we get connected to housing. 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.
The business model of matching renters with individual property owners allows for more flexibility in negotiation. It’s also to have an independent third party acting as a broker in case any issues come up. Additionally, you will provide payment through Airbnb’s reputable payment platform.
With Airbnb’s large inventory of housing, 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! One advantage of staying in a hostel is that they 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 have coworking spaces and almost everywhere has libraries and coffee shops.
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 a weekly basis.
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 less common but not impossible to find. Try calling a few complexes to see if they have extra inventory available for a short-term lease. Always make sure to speak with someone on the phone, you’ll be surprised how often 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, like Fernish, that will charge a monthly fee to come and completely furnish your rental for the duration of your stay.
Extended stay hotels – the 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 leasing 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 also great for exploring new areas while you determine a more cost-effective solution for your housing needs.
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 hashtag, it is a real way of living for many digital nomads.
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, it’s best to pair this method with some tried and true internet from a library or coffee shop that way you do not run down your data allowance.
Couchsurfing – least expensive digital nomad housing
Something that many remote workers experience from time to time is budget constraints. While regular travel is undeniably good for your soul, it can take a toll on your finances. One great way to be mindful of finances 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. It’s also completely acceptable (and advisable) to ask for references.
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.
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.
If you are looking for all the amenities and are willing to spend to get it – this is your best option.
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 Internet 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 experiences. 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!