How to Choose the Best Accommodation for Your Digital Nomad Lifestyle?

choose the best accommodation - digitalnomadexplorer

Accommodation is important. Whether it is travel accommodation or the place you temporarily call home, after a long day or a long trip, the place you call home should give you some feeling of comfort. How to choose the best accommodation for a digital nomad lifestyle is one that needs to evaluate all the options and then customize it to your length of stay. Nostalgia is one of the strongest emotions that debunk digital nomads, and it is necessary for them to find locations that feel like home, even if their home is on the road most of the time. So even if the place is called home for just six weeks, it is an essential undertaking to find suitable accommodation that fits within the digital nomad’s budget.

If you would like printouts of the tables and a few worksheets to help you determine your accommodation needs, our Cappuccino Solver resource library has worksheets made specifically for this article. Download it below by clicking on the picture!

Click the picture to access and download the Cappuccino Solver “Choose Accommodation” Worksheets!

The thing about digital nomadism and choosing accommodation is that it will always be different for individuals depending on their cities or villages of origin, net annual income, taste, and preferences as well as traveling motivation. Some digital nomads prefer to go minimalist, and the hotels they stay in have only a small bed and a desk. Others who want the comforts of home and all the amenities demand to have a higher level of hotel and hotel service.

Regardless of where you come from, you are likely to fuss about the financial viability of digital nomadism if you’ve never tried it. “How can you afford traveling so much?” That is the question aspiring digital nomads have asked me the most.

There are many things to take into consideration when it comes to accommodation. Even as an experienced and well-traveled digital nomad and remote worker, I’m always finding out new ways to find suitable accommodations, especially in this age of the internet. I often change my strategy as I go because the point is always applying the most suitable ones. The one answer I can give for all the questions is that it is possible to find suitable accommodation for your budget; exploit the unlimited resources on the internet. In this article, we shall explore the various strategies that I employ to land the best accommodation deals for my needs.

Choosing the Best Accommodation for Your Digital Nomad Lifestyle- It All Depends on Budget and Level of Comfort

So, how to choose the best accommodation for your digital nomad lifestyle and what is the most important factor? Your budget and comfort level will decide most of the accommodation issues for you. Digital nomads should have a budget that keeps them on track to be able to make it from month to month based on the income they earn from their business.

Up to one-third of your budget will be your accommodation expenses. Depending on what you find and what you will accept in terms of accommodation, the price you pay for your accommodation will set things up for other expenses as well. For instance, transportation costs may be higher if you need to commute to a co-working space or it might be minimal because you decide to rent a place that is comfortable enough to work from.

By level of comfort, I mean the amenities (furniture, kitchen, etc.) and services that may be on offer when you rent the place. Everyone has their own level of what they will accept. Some desire to try minimalism, and others prefer more services to make them feel good when they come home from traveling or work. Even when looking for accommodation during small trips or breaks, what a person will want in terms of comfort impacts the decisions they make.

Accommodation Pricing Tables – The Options

There are so many variables to consider when it comes to accommodation that for young digital nomads just starting, the options can seem overwhelming. However, remember what was written earlier, that your decisions would depend on two things – your budget and your comfort level. In the tables below, I’ve outlined the prices grouped into high, mid, and low levels. Also, I’ve chosen those internet service providers that I’ve used before or have heard good things about them from friends. This table may help to clarify some of the options you have for choosing the best accommodation for your digital nomad lifestyle.

Accomodation Pricing - Travel

 High-Tier Priced
$200+ per night
$800+ per week
Mid-Tier
$80+ per night
$500+ per week
Low-Tier
$40+ per night
$350+ per week
Free or other
payment
Agoda.com X X X
AirBnB X X X
Booking.com X X X
Couch Surfing X X
Hostels
Hostelworld
X X
Hotels X X X
Housecarers.com X X
Staying with
Friends or Family
or Colleagues
X X
VRBO X X
High-Tier Priced
$200+ per night
$800+ per week
Mid-Tier
$80+ per night
$500+ per week
Low-Tier
$40+ per night
$350+ per week
Free or other
payment

Choosing the Best Accommodation for Your Digital Nomad Lifestyle – Travel Accommodation Options:

With travel accommodation options, you are traveling, maybe taking weekend trips or even one-week trips at a time. The accommodation you need is for a night or a few nights or a week. The table below puts together some of the price options and the type of travel accommodation that is possible.

Semi-Permanent / Permanent Accommodation –

Finding the right place to live, even if it is for a few weeks or months is vital for getting your digital nomad lifestyle running smoothly. The accommodation you need for more extended periods, and as such, the decisions are more serious. In some cases, you need to pay first and last month’s rent and a deposit. That’s a lot of money to be putting out of your budget. The table below sets together some of the price options and the type of permanent accommodation that is possible.

Accomodation Pricing - Semi-Permanent/Permanent

 High-Tier Priced
€2000 -
per month
Mid-Tier
€800 - $1200
per month
Low-Tier
€300 - $800
per month
Free or other
payment
AirBnB & VRBO X X
Apartment Hotels/
Serviced Apartments
X
Apartment Rental X X X
Co-Living Setups X X X
House Rental X X
Housecarers.com X X
Staying with
Friends or Family
or Colleagues
X X X
High-Tier Priced
€2000 -
per month
Mid-Tier
€800 - $1200
per month
Low-Tier
€300 - $800
per month
Free or other
payment

Finding Accommodation with Local Leads

Using local leads is probably the best way to get the least expensive priced accommodation, but it also depends on luck. Meeting the right people and being in the right place at the right time helps find better opportunities.

Here are a few things that can help you:

Local References:

  • People you meet – In the city you are in or are going to, finding local people who can refer you to opportunities to rent apartments or houses that they know about. They often know places for rent that aren’t advertised.
  • Agencies – You might check local rental housing agencies for vacancies and to network with them about finding the ideal home with your budget in mind
  • Asking around in the startup community – The startup community likely has digital nomads just like you who would like to rent a place at low-cost. Each city has several startups incubators and accelerators so this is one good option for you

Checking the Local Ads:

  • Newspapers – The daily newspapers in most major cities still have a section for rentals available. However, many are going digital, so this makes it even easier to check on your mobile phone
  • University ads – Universities are known to have a classified ads section and offer vacancies to students. Many are low-cost places to rent. Check this possibility out and also check the websites of the local colleges and universities

As a previous digital nomad and remote worker who has been on the road for years, I’ve been to different continents, countries, cities, and villages. That translates into hundreds of hotels, hostels, apartments, villas, island cottages, and boats. I’ve had my share of bare-bones accommodation as well as the majestic type of hotels that make you feel like a celebrity. As I grew older and more experienced, I learned how to travel like a pro and settle down in more affordable accommodations that offered me more for less.

Sometimes, a lot of what type of accommodation you choose depends on the activity you will do. Am I going to explore a completely new country or am I going to participate in some organized sports event? The type of travel and length of stay will determine my lodgings. I wrote an in-depth article on The Cool Side of Adventure and the Digital Nomad Lifestyle which can give you ideas on the types of travel adventure you can do and how to plan for it. Check it you for finding some ideas.

Apart from experience that taught me the practicality of living on the road and in new destinations, I also picked up plenty of digital tools that you’ll find valuable for finding suitable places to stay.

Website Services to Help Choose the Best Accommodation for Digital Nomads

The internet has opened up the possibility to find accommodation for any price range, and the number of websites that have serviced is too many to list or even review by category. I’ve gathered a short list of ones that either I have used or that I have spoken with people who have had experiences with their services, and this should give you a snapshot of what is possible.

Booking.com (for short-term stays)

I often use this website service to find the most convenient and affordable short-term accommodation deals. Anytime I go somewhere that unfamiliar to me, I consult this website first. It always helps me to understand new cities and figure out if I’d like staying there for long if I should immediately find another town. I never use this tool to book any accommodations for longer than a week. I love this tool because it gives me as many viable options for short-term stays as possible. The last time I checked, it offers a comprehensive list of over 22 million hotel and hostel rooms.

choose the best accommodation digital nomad hostelworld options - digitalnomadexplorer
Budget level and comfort decide your accommodation – Digital Nomad Explorer

The unique thing about Booking.com is that all their rooms must be featured on Maps.me. Unlike Google maps, which are just as accurate, I can access Maps.me, even when I’m offline. Therefore, even when I’m stranded or lost in a city with terrible WiFi connectivity, I can still find my way. As long as I choose a hotel on offer at Booking.com, I always know I can find my way on Maps.me even when I’m offline.

The reason why you may find this free online service even more empowering is that is features a specialized ratings review for every room’s WiFi connectivity. Presumably, this service is built for digital nomads, and that is why it makes sure you know about the WiFi status. I never book any accommodation with terrible WiFi. Once I am safely checked in a room that I find suitable for my budget, I proceed to look for longer-term accommodations around the area with other tools. Whenever I get lost, I always have Maps.me to get me on track.

Airbnb and VRBO

These are two different tools, but I’m listing them together because of their similarities. These two online services empower you to book private rooms, houses, and apartments globally. When you use their service, you either book the entire premises or share it with your hosts. Unlike hotels, you can have more room and privacy with Airbnb and VRBO. They allow you access to a kitchen, thus giving you a more homely feel. Also, these types of accommodations will enable you to save money because you can work indoors and avoid the cost of hiring co-working spaces.

If you choose to live with your host, you will have unlimited access to the locals. Your host may keep you company by watching TV and even cook dinner with you. It is always a great option because you will have first-hand information about local amenities and culture. It is also a great way to make new friends.

You will be in store for a surprise by using these two services because they offer impressive listings. Often, Airbnb and VRBO host their own exquisite real estate properties with extra room for foreigners with exciting tales to tell.

Hostelworld and Agoda (For low-budget beginners and social, digital nomads)

When I was starting my journey as a traveler and digital nomad, I loved hostels very much for the company they offered. I also found them to be much cheaper, despite the lack of amenities, than extended stays at hotel rooms or bookings in private houses.

choose the best accommodation hostel world  - digitalnomadexplorer
Youth hostels offer low-cost accommodation – Digital Nomad Explorer

I advise hostel stays for beginners who’d like to grow their digital nomadism networks as well as those who’d like to save. Hostels are also great for those who are new to the lonely life of nomadism and would want to spend time with like-minded professionals. It never hurts saving thousands of dollars, and it will improve your budget.

I have spent time in youth hostels in China and Scotland, where I traveled to multiple cities or villages for weeks at a time. The experience I had was mixed. Some I enjoyed and would be keen to go back there. Others were less than welcoming, with curfews and even chores to do in the morning before leaving. Nevertheless, it was a fraction of the cost to stay there compared to even a budget hotel, so it comes back to budget and comfort.

If any of the merits of hostel living please you, make sure you check out Hostelworld and Agoda. Use these two online tools for finding the most accommodating hostels featuring or are nearing cafes and lounges. Always prefer hostels that yield easy access to co-working spaces as well as social amenities where you can catch up with locals and other nomads like yourself. Additionally, they must offer lenient curfews and high-level security features, including secure lockers for your amenities.

choose the best accommodation digital nomad Agoda- digitalnomadexplorer
Across the street from a hotel found by the Agoda Website in Yangshuo, China – Digital Nomad Explorer

My experience with Agoda is mostly in Europe and China. I have relied a lot on the ratings from guests and most of the time was able to find the perfect hotel in the area I wanted to be in, and of course, the right price for my budget. I recommend it as an excellent option to find a hotel when you are traveling to China or Europe.

Housecarers (for pet lovers and free accommodation)

If you search Houscarers, you will be surprised to find that you can travel the world and live in different locations for free. That is the power of the internet: it matches people’s needs and allows them to help each other out. There are so many people out there who need house sitters for their houses while they travel. Maybe you could be one of them. Who house sits your home when you are globetrotting?

Well, some families go for months on vacation, and they could allow you to stay in their houses while they are away. They require you to keep it habitable, during your stay, like you would your own home. How about that, you could find yourself staying in a large villa for months without having to pay a dime?

For the simple exchange of completing tasks like taking care of pets, watering plants and keeping the house habitable, you can save on accommodation costs. If you think that taking care of someone else’s house is something you could do, it just may be the best accommodation for your digital nomad lifestyle. Most of pet loving friends, who are also digital nomads, exploit this facility as much as possible. Since the nomadic lifestyle doesn’t allow them to keep pets, they are always looking forward to house sit households with cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals.

However, this facility requires a person with a good reputation. You must have a trustworthy personality and even have compelling referees. People need to trust you with their houses, and it is easy to earn that trust for honest people. Also, you need to pay an annual membership of only $50 to housecarers.com to find homeowners in need of house sitting.

Couchsurfing (if you have a network of friends & colleagues)

Couchsurfing is a network of hosts who fancy foreign dialects, cultures and travel stories. They offer their extra couches or beds for travelers to settle down for a little while before finding more long-term accommodations or moving on to their next destinations. As a digital nomad, this platform is excellent if you find hotel rooms are too lonely or expensive to set up base before finding better accommodation. However, you run the risk of finding creepy hosts. Therefore, you need to read the host reviews exhaustively and discern which hosts are safe and which ones are potentially unsafe.

Tips to Choose the Best Accommodation for Your Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Tip 1 – Choose a Central City or Country as a Launchpad

Unless you have fixed meeting dates on particular locations, always tour specific continents and regions exhaustively. It is cheaper to travel from Kenya to Tanzania via local charter plans or buses before moving on to Egypt. If you decide to move from Kenya to Egypt, then to Tanzania, your expenses will be more. The same applies to London, Liverpool, and Paris. There wouldn’t be any need to fly from London to Paris and back to Liverpool. From London, you’d better exhaust the Liverpool area by taxi, car rental or train before flying to Paris.

Also, it makes more sense to explore Eastern Europe exhaustively before flying to South Africa as opposed to flying from one Eastern Europe Country to South Africa before embarking on a tour to another Eastern Europe Country. To give you some ideas, I wrote articles on how to be a digital nomad in beach areas and another article focusing on mountain areas. Check them out, you might find some good ideas.

choose the best accommodation as central location - digitalnomadexplorer
Choose a central location as a lauchpad to visit other countries – Digital Nomad Explorer

When you pick out one region to travel and tour exhaustively, it allows you to book base accommodation for longer. How to choose the best accommodation when you are traveling in a region depends on your digital nomad lifestyle. You need to consider how much you travel. That way, you get huge discounts on accommodation offers.

With a base accommodation secured, you can embark on traveling around the region exhaustively. You will end up saving on travel costs as well as accommodation costs. Moreover, you will manage to learn more from your travels than if you jump from one location to the other blindly. Also, visas and passports applications are tedious processes, and you should always save your time by exhausting their timelines. Check out my article on What Kind of Visa Does a Digital Nomad Need to find out if you need a visa for your desired destination to live.

Tip 2 – Always Stay Short-Term at Hotels

Whenever you land in a new location, you may have to stay at hotels because they require less paperwork, and they charge by the day. Hostels and apartments don’t like accommodating visitors who visit for less than a week, and they often charge on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. While they may be more affordable for the long term, it would be useless to pay monthly charges for a two-or-three-day accommodation.

Therefore, whenever you land in an unknown location, hotel rooms are the more feasible option. They are safer, and you can always turn them down if you feel dissatisfied with what they have to offer. I always stay at a hotel for less than three days and still use that time to search for suitable long-term accommodations.

Tip 3 – Book Long-Term Accommodations in Person if Possible

If you are unfamiliar with a place, stay at a hotel in that city, and explore some of your options. If you like the new location and feel like you can stay there, find suitable long term accommodation offers via the internet. Once you find favorable deals with positive reviews, make sure that you contact the landlords for physical inspection. You do not want to pay for a month’s stay or longer only to find the reality does not match the advertised deal. Make sure the amenities are clean and hospitable. Make sure that you are content with the space offered as well. Most importantly, make sure the internet connectivity is fast and reliable.

Tip 4 – Get a Place with WiFi

WiFi, WLAN, and Mobile Data (4G and 3G) Wherever you go, and no matter how long you stay there, it is essential that you have excellent WiFi. When you need to choose the best accommodation for your digital nomad lifestyle, this is a key factor, especially for your work projects. Reliable and excellent internet connectivity will always empower you to find and complete work. It allows you to stay in touch with your family and friends as well. Most importantly, it keeps you in touch with maps, websites, and apps for the best digital accommodations globally. For digital nomads, the most popular saying is perhaps, “Home is wherever there’s fast WiFi.” I wouldn’t wish to disagree, but I think there is more than just that.

One problem with WiFi for digital nomads and accommodation is that hotel or other types of accommodation is slow. Here’s a Youtube video I like that explains about why it is so slow and what you can do about it. This might help you make better choices for accommodation.

Why Is Hotel Wi-Fi So Slow? – Youtube Video by Techquickie

Another option is having Mobile Data (4G and 3G) from a teleoperator. It is more expensive, having to get a monthly sim card subscription but the benefits far outweigh the cost if you can afford it in your budget. Throughout my travels in Europe and Asia, there have been very few times I have been without an internet connection when I needed it. Having this data subscription was the key.

Tip 5 – Favor Long-Term Accommodation

Would you like to live at a tourist attraction, at home, or a residential area with amenities such as hospitals, coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, grocery stores, and night clubs? I suggest you favor living accommodation (longer-term) accommodation instead of travel accommodation. I always find that for longer-term, digital nomad accommodations should be residential areas that allow you to lead a healthy life. If your budget indicates you need to spend less, slow down for a few months and take a longer view. You can always travel adventurously in your leisure time.

long term accommodation - digitalnomadexplorer
Favor long-term accommodation if you know you will stay in-country for some time – Digital Nomad Explorer

Final Thoughts

The life of a digital nomad doesn’t always have to be uncertain or overly expensive. There are numerous tools out there to help you get the best accommodation for your needs. People are so well-traveled that the reviews out there, for every accommodation facility, can help you always to make an informed decision. How to choose the best accommodation for your digital nomad lifestyle has to take into consideration your work lifestyle because your accommodation choice will indirectly affect your work, as it will impact how and where you will process your work projects. My article on The Effective Worker Side of the Digital Nomad Entrepreneur will give you some insight on things you need to do as an entrepreneur digital nomad.

The first thing is still to define your traveling intentions and preferences before you go. As long as you have a budget, you can always find ways to lead a happy life and stay in quality accommodations with adequate and easy prior planning and research online. The basics are simple, and you should always have the priorities that an accommodation service must offer you depending on your needs. If it helps, collect as many contacts of digital nomads as possible so that you can always share traveling tips with them.

Michael Haralson

I'm the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I've traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I'm location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.

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