When you start talking about traveling on a timeline of weeks and months instead of days and nights, hotels and hostels aren’t going to cut it. On a regular vacation, costly accommodation is a reasonable expense but if you’re going to stay somewhere for more than a week, you’ll need to find something you can rent for the long term. This can be a daunting task, especially if you’re traveling somewhere you’ve never been before. But even if you don’t know a single person in your destination of choice, finding an apartment is totally doable and it can even be surprisingly affordable, depending on your needs and preferences. But before you can start comparing your options, you’re going to need to know where to look. These are the best ways to find a place to stay for your remote work vacation.
This is a platform most travelers have likely used before and it can be a lifesaver for digital nomads and remote workers in a pinch. With instant booking ability and worldwide popularity, Airbnb has accommodation options all over the world and you can be extremely flexible with your dates. Arriving on the 5th and leaving on the 29th? Not a problem with Airbnb. Unlike a traditional rental agreement, you’ll only pay for the nights you need. Additionally, many Airbnb hosts offer discounted rates for people who book multiple weeks or months at a time, so you can actually find quite a few deals.
On the downside, Airbnbs tend to be a more expensive accommodation option, even with the discounted rates, and they often include fees and taxes. For example, I found an apartment in Lisbon that had been discounted from $1,067 per month to $673 for a month, but after adding fees and taxes the total is actually $771. This is for a private room in a shared apartment in Cais do Sodre. In general, it’s still a decent deal and it gives you a sense of the cost of living in the city, but if you have more time to search for a place, there are better deals out there. Sometimes you may want to get to your destination first to look at apartments in person, especially if you’re staying longer than a month and want to compare neighborhoods. If that’s the case, you can use Airbnb to find yourself a landing pad for your first week or two.
Like Airbnb, extended-stay hotels allow you to be flexible with your dates, but they tend to cater to luxury and business travelers. With an extended stay hotel, you can expect a highly-polished apartment with all the amenities taken care of. Chain brands like Anyplace have apartments all over the world, but other brands, such as Locke are more localized and offer high-design apartments in the UK, Ireland, and Germany. They tend to be more expensive—usually between $50 and $150 per night—but if you can swing it, extended stay hotels are a very posh way to do a remote work vacation.
Tap Into the Local Community
If you want to find the best possible deal on your accommodation for your remote work vacation, social media is the best place to start, specifically Facebook. There may be other platforms where people are sharing housing opportunities, but Facebook is the easiest entry point. For every major destination, especially if it’s a thriving hub for digital nomads, you can find groups for people who are looking to rent out their apartments or find a roommate.
The best way to find these housing groups is to type in your destination with a keyword like “apartments,” “expats,” “nomads,” “housing,” “foreigners,” or “for rent” and filter by groups. You may have to do a little sifting to find what you’re looking for, but if it’s a big destination you’re likely to find something. Many of the groups are private, but this is simply to prevent scammers and bots. As long as you’re a real person, they should let you in.
Find Out What Apps and Sites Locals Are Using
Once you’ve found the local community on social media, you may start to notice certain links popping up again and again. The internet is full of apartment-hunting and roomie-finder apps and websites and these tend to vary in popularity by city. For example, Badi in Barcelona will have you spoiled for choice, but in Lisbon, listings are few and far between. Meanwhile, in New York City, Roomi is a solid choice while down south in Miami, you might have better luck on Roomies.com. If you can figure out what the most popular app is in your destination, you’ll have a much better chance of setting up your living situation before you get there. However, it’s always wise to book your first week at a hotel or Airbnb and check out the place in person before committing.
Enlist the Help of an Agency
Real estate agents aren’t just there to sell you houses, they can also help you find an apartment. If you are planning a lengthy trip—six months or longer—renting an apartment the old-fashioned way, rather than subletting, may make the most sense. This is another one that will require some destination-specific research and you should be willing to pay any agency fees associated with booking with an agent. However, you do tend to get the best results and are more likely to find a great place that best suits your needs. Just make sure to read the reviews of any agency you talk to and try to get personal recommendations from the community you find online or in person.