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8 Types of Digital Nomad Accommodation

The Ultimate Guide Digital Nomad Accommodation

In this guide to nomad accommodation, we’re delving into your options as a digital nomad or travelling remote worker. We’ll be touching on when each option might be right for you — along with some examples.

No matter what label you use (digital nomad, travelling remote worker, long term traveller, location independent…) there’s one problem we all face as a result of our location-freedom: Choosing where to stay.

It’s different from choosing where to go, or where to be. Choosing where to be comes first…

The hard(er) decision comes after that. When you know you’ll be in Bangkok, Costa Rica, Gran Canaria, Madrid, Athens, Colombo… Because then you have to choose a place to STAY.

The question becomes: ‘how “livable” is this place’?

And that means considering more than just the list of amenities! Factors like neighbourhood, community and access, all come into play.

Is it child / pet friendly? Can we park there? Is there public transport? Who else will be around the area? Where is the nearest supermarket?

If you’ve ever…

  • Wondered about where to stay or spent more hours than you’d like trying to find the ‘right’ place?

  • Stayed somewhere that’s negatively impacted your experience of a destination?

  • Maybe you’re just starting out on your nomad journey and want to make sure your first steps are in the right direction?

You’re in the right place!

We’ll cover:

  • The different accommodation types available.

  • What makes them good or bad options for digital nomads or travelling remote workers.

  • And some examples in each category. So who knows… maybe you’ll even find the next place you stay!

Having worked remotely from around the world since early 2018, I’ve used the whole range of accommodation options. Now, I travel the world, living mostly in Airbnbs, while I curate and share the best accommodation deals with nearly 2,000 RemoteBase Members.

Ok, let’s jump in…

#1 — Private Accommodation

What is private accommodation? Well, basically anywhere you don’t share anything (like kitchens or bathrooms), is entirely private by my definition. Think of these as being as close to a traditional ‘home’ as you can get. Entirely your space, fully furnished with a home-like feel. Could be an apartment, house, villa, chalet…

Great if you need private space for your work, and can be ideal if you travel with a friend, or as a couple, and don’t need or want to be constantly surrounded by others for social interactions.

Having everything at your disposal does mean there’s less need to put yourself out there and interact though. So, if you’re looking for community or social connection this might not be the best option for you.

You already know the ‘big player’ names here, like Airbnb and Vrbo. There’s also Agoda (a great option across Asia)! And smaller providers with international operations, like Numastays, do exist, but they’re few and far between.

TIP: If you’re a relatively private person or just like the idea of keeping a kind of sanctuary of space for yourself, but still want a social fix, you can always book private accommodation close to a community focussed co-working space.

#2 — Co-living

Coliving covers all kinds of set-ups where you’re essentially living with other people, and sharing part of a building or space.

If you’re a social butterfly, or a solo traveller, you might like this option as it surrounds you with people you have something (a temporary address at the very least!) in common with.

Sound interesting? It’s worth digging a little deeper into exactly the kind of co-living best for you. Not always, but in most cases, you’ll get a private room to sleep in, with all other amenities (kitchens, bathrooms, and common spaces) being shared. Beyond that, there’s tons of variance in what’s on offer…

Vonder is a provider operating in a handful of cities like London and Warsaw. They’ll give you gorgeous high spec apartments, huge shared kitchen spaces with enough room for big groups to cook & eat together, along with some of the fancies, like gyms and cinema rooms — wow!

Selina is another provider, they have a more global spread, and their focus is slightly more tilted to community and bringing people together. The kind of bedrooms available vary location to location (you can opt for a shared room, or a private room in most places) the common/shared areas tend to be quite eclectic and unique, too.

Selina also tend to have co-work facilities available, too, for an additional cost. If you’re a resident though, you’ll be eligible for a discount! Even then, the costs can mount up, so be sure to weigh up options!

If you want to avoid big-brands in favour of independent businesses, look at boutique co-living providers. They may have a focus on just 1 or 2 locations, with a unique feel or community. Great examples here are Sende with spaces in Rural Spain, and (soon) Portugal. Another winner being the Swiss and Greek Escapes — sister-boutiques offering the same kind of goodness in 2 very different settings!

There’s also plenty of activity & sports focussed co-living providers out there — like Surf Club Keros, where you can stay, work, and… you guessed it… surf! You’re more likely to come across these kind-of-by-accident if you’re already into a particular sport or activity, but don’t be afraid to get googling, too! These spots can be a great way to experience something new, and keep your work-like balance in check while you’re at it.

#3 — Hotels

No explanation needed here, you know what a hotel is!

Hotels tend to be built around vacations or business travel, in both cases convenience is key! If you’re looking for conveniences like daily room cleaning or room service, or want to take advantage of facilities like spas to re-charge, a hotel might be perfect for your next stint.

The downsides? One convenience you won’t find -unless you pay top dollar (hello luxury suite)- is a kitchen! Which means ordering in, eating out, or… going hungry! Another way to meet your food needs is to go all-inclusive.

All these ideas are probably a turn off if you’re a health and fitness fanatic, or if you love to get creative in the kitchen. This single blocker (kitchens!) makes me think hotels will never take a majority stake in the nomad accommodation market — at least for long term stays!

Also, consider hotels might be lacking in the sense of community / socialising if the place is bustling with business guests on 1–2 night trips and you’re there for a month or more!

If you do give hotels a go, you’ll be aware of the big names like booking.com* — who’ve recently made it easy to search for long term stays!- and hotels.com. But consider booking directly and making use of any loyalty programs the various brands run. Citizen M hotels, for example, are powered with loads of cool tech, and offer discounts on any stays over 5 days — which might draw you in!

#4 — Hostels

Are you picturing partying backpackers and gap year revellers? Don’t worry They aren’t all like that. There’s a time and a place for the party-hostel. But there’s also some pretty sophisticated hostel offerings out there — like Circus Berlin!

Of course, you might just opt for a hostel if you’re particular budget conscious (they do tend to be much cheaper). If that’s the case, treat yourself to some ear plugs and an eye mask on the way — future you will thank you!

Some hostels will only offer dorms, where as others have private rooms. If one or the other is important to you, make sure you include this in any search filters.

One issue with hostel-living is even when you book a private room, you can’t always fully know what you’re walking into… Even if the hostel isn’t known for being a ‘party hostel’, you have z-e-r-o control over who else might be dominating the shared spaces (which is exactly where you might be working from…) during your stay.

Imagine doing all the research on different hostels, comparing locations, amenities, prices, and ‘party-levels’… and thinking you’ve scored the perfect place, only to arrive and find there’s a university sports team on a 2 week session…

Lastly, I’d consider the type of work you do before even thinking about a hostel. If you work in legal or finance, you might need private space for certain conversations, which might not be easy to come by at a hostel. If you’re a photographer, videographer, or do anything else that means you’ll need to carry and store any expensive equipment, you might have security concerns.

The easy answer here is to find a co-working space, but when you combine the costs involved, it might be less hassle to just stay somewhere covering all bases!

On the other hand, if you’re a personal trainer, or writing your next book, maybe hostels work just fine.

Hostelworld is probably going to be your best friend for making comparisons on amenities and price, but it’s also worth speaking to hostels directly to see if there’s a better price they can offer.

#5 — House sitting

This has to be one of the cheapest ways to stay anywhere. It’s basically free. And given you’re in someone’s home, it should have all of those homely comforts that hotels and hostel never think of (need a salad spinner? you got it!).

Depending how you look at it, most house sitting gigs come with a catch, or a bonus. Usually, in the form of a furry friend! Yep, it’s house sitting and pet setting.

Platforms like Trusted Housesitters let you segment where and when you can ‘sit’ and what kind of animals you’re into, and the annual membership fee isn’t huge. On vary rare occasions you can find ‘sits’ that don’t have any pets to look after, but they’re few and far between, so I’d advise against going into a house sitting search with that expectation!

All sounds great right? In theory it is, but it’s worth remembering…

  • You can’t pick the dates! Even though most platforms let you filter by your availability, the actual dates you’ll ’sit’ for are set by the home/pet owners.

  • As a result, you can’t guarantee you’ll always have a ‘next sit’.

  • And even if you do find two (or more) magical ’sits’ where dates line up, you’ll need to beat the competition to ‘win’ the job…

Owners get many (anywhere from 10s to 100s) of applications on platforms like trusted house sitters, and they pick the sitter they like best… A very fun experience, but not the most reliable housing solution.

I mentioned Trusted Housesitters, but there’s others like Nomador and HouseSitMatch.

#6 — Vehicles (van life!)

We’ve all seen the photos, right? The back doors a van swung wide-open, a mere frame for some far off paradise-beach. Eurgh, it’s captivating me now just thinking of images like those…

Then I remember the things we don’t always see in those kind of image… like sleeping with bugs, or in the cold. And what about showers and toilets?… and that’s before we’ve talked about finding secure, reliable wifi!

Like every type of accommodation on this list, there’s a time and place for van life. But unlike the others, this does require a kind of upfront, long-term investment or commitment… a van!

Or does it!? Companies like CamperRetreats.com let you get just a taste of camper van life, before you decide to go all in! You might find you like a happy medium of 1 month a year in a rented camper, and keep yourself flexible the rest of the time. But you won’t know unless you give it a go!

#7 — Lesser known platforms with a specific focus

I want to make a quick point here… finding accommodation can sometimes feel like a chore, which is why, sometimes, it’s just easy and ‘safe’ to rely on the big-name providers out there. The companies with hundreds of thousands (or millions!) of options, available all over the world, and marketing budgets big enough to make sure you don’t ever forget it. Airbnb Booking.com Kayak. Vrbo. Expedia… the list goes on.

But remember these aren’t your only option. Some platforms have chosen to focus their efforts, and stick to a local, regional, or national spread. Examples here include Whatyawant.co which focusses on awesome accommodation across Colombia’s major destinations. Or Numadu.co which is mostly focussed on hotels and apart-hotels in the Canary Islands (although they have a few listings elsewhere, too).

Remember: small doesn’t have to mean bad or worse!

#8 — Serviced Apartments / Aparthotels

Talking about apart-hotels (or serviced apartments), they deserve a category of their own in this list. If you’re struggling to choose between a hotel and an apartment, this might be the option for you.

Maybe you’re looking for some of the conveniences of a hotel (like fresh sheets and cleaning) but want to be somewhere that feels more ‘home comfort’ than ‘key-card’.

Bridging the two worlds, serviced apartments are a popular choice if you want to avoid the ‘mom and pop’ operators on platforms like Airbnb and vrbo, but want to feel more settled than you could at a faceless hotel chain.

It’s a kind of middle ground that offers a similar level of service and logistics as hotels (cleaning standards are high and if there’s any issues, you won’t be speaking with the friend of the son of the host to fix it. There’s a company with motivation to handle things, and handle them properly.

The price isn’t so middle ground though. Most serviced apartments run high when it comes to price. Typical guests are business travellers (consultants or project workers) sent ‘away’ — on long term projects, far from their home base or local office.

Of course, sending someone away from their home base for several months means the company picks up the bills — including accommodation. It’s also in the interests of these companies to put their staff up in a decent spot. A place that feels like home. With everything from Wi-Fi to blankets and calming wall art.

If you want the best of both worlds, you’ll probably have to pay for it.

Plus: Serviced apartment’s aren’t as available as hotels. Some city’s don’t have any! But if they are available, they’re usually the go to pick when sending staff away for 2 weeks or more, and they can get booked up well in advance.

They seem to be more common across the US. Providers like Sonder, for example, have a great selection of locations. Blueground offers slightly more across Europe, where there’s generally less serviced apartment operators.

And where there is, they just don’t come close in the level of service seen in the US (cultural difference?). For this reason, you’re more likely to see their spaces listed on other platforms and marketplaces as private accommodation, being run by a property management company.

My Advice…?

Lot’s of options, right? Over the years, I notice people tend get tied to one. When asking Where do you stay, people often reply something like ‘I stay in hostels’ or ‘I book Airbnb’s’ or ‘ I only stay in hotels’.

It’s as if their answer defines them. It’s their identity. The hotel couple, the vanlife guy, the airbnb lady.

I say avoid this ‘pick and stick’ approach. Tune into your needs and stay in different kinds of places.

Consider how your needs change from one destination to the next. How they’re dynamic and change or cycle over time:

  • Craving some solitude? Surround yourself in nature with some private accommodation at the beach or in the mountains.

  • Feeling sociable and looking for a sense of connectedness and community? Book a community focussed co-living space.

  • Physical activities are your thing? Try a new sport for a month or 2 with a sport or actives focussed stay.

  • Need to re-charge or looking for pure convenience? Maybe a hotel can bring you back from the verge of burnout.

Don’t let your accommodation choice define you!

So, where’s next?

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