One of the questions I constantly get asked is: “But when you move around so much, where do you sleep?!”. Especially people who hardly ever move seem to find it hard to understand how digital nomads find places to live. The interesting thing is, it is really not that complicated at all! Over the years I’ve tried many ways to get good deals and find the perfect place for me to stay. In this article I want to show you how you, too, can easily find a great digital nomad accommodation around the world. In addition, I give you valuable tips and lessons I learned from my flat hunting mistakes in the past.
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My Personal Best Practice
As you can probably imagine I have moved a lot in the last couple of years. And I mean A LOT! However, today, I don’t change my location as often as I used to. I aim to stay at a new place for about 3 to 9 months and go on smaller trips to explore the region while keeping this base. Once I feel like I have to move to a new country (either because I’m running out of visa options or because I get bored), I pack my stuff and leave again.
Believe it or not, but I don’t really invest much time in organizing these relocations at all. I don’t even think about it much. By now it’s a fairly automated process. To give you the short version I usually use these tools to find my new temporary home:
- Local Real-Estate Agencies or Facebook Groups
Bonus: Co-Living Spaces
Are you wondering why I only use these websites and apps? The following explanations will show you why I think you can find the best digital nomad accommodation with them.
After I’ve decided what country and city I’m going to next, it’s time to start looking for an actual place to stay. The only thing I book in advance before I go to a new place is a hotel room for the first couple of nights. I like to pick a nice place in a good location that gives me the chance to look around and get a first impression of the city. For several years now, Booking.com is my go-to search engine to find these first nights. I’m sure I made a couple of hundred bookings with them over time.
Because they are simply the best for my needs. First of all, they have a very, very comprehensive list of hotels and hostels all around the world. To be precise: You can book the best deals for more than 23 million rooms! If I was running a hotel, the first thing I would do is get my place listed at Booking.com.
Second, which I find super handy, too, is the fact that you can find all of their places in Maps.me.
In case you haven’t heard of it: Maps.me is, similar to Google Maps, a free, fast and detailed map app, that you can use offline. I swear by it and use it in every city I go to.
Since I book my accommodation on Booking.com, I can be sure that it is in this map app, too. No way to get lost in a new city with this bulletproof combination.
And third, which might be the most important feature for me and every digital nomad: They have a separate review category for “WiFi”. How handy is that?! If there is one thing that is super important in a digital nomad accommodation, then it’s a reliable internet connection. Booking.com allows you to see the WIFI quality of a place with one simple look. And to be honest, the WiFi and location reviews are the first ones I look for.
Have I mentioned that this platform doesn’t charge you any fees for your booking? Like nothing? It’s true! They even don’t ask you for advance payments (you can pay once you have arrived) and they offer a very customer-friendly cancellation policy. Most of the time you can cancel for free up until a few days before arrival. Perfect for everyone who likes staying flexible.
On top of that, as soon as you did your fifth booking with them, you get the “Genius Status”. That means that you get an extra 10% off selected rooms, early check-ins, late check-outs, free welcome drinks and much more. If that’s not freaking awesome then I don’t know what is.
Although, I cannot imagine that there is anyone out there who hasn’t used them yet, if you haven’t: check them out. Seriously.
As just said, I book the first couple of nights in a new place with Booking.com. If I plan to stay for a couple of weeks and know I like the area, my next step would be to check out Airbnb places.
On the long-run hotels are simply too expensive. Plus, I really want to have a kitchen to prepare my own food, so hotels are not for me if I stay longer than a week. That’s where Airbnb comes into play.
From my experience this platform is the perfect way to find places for a few weeks, sometimes even a month or two. More and more people offering their room or entire place for rent, which results in a great number of listings all around the world.
The great thing with Airbnb is that you can get in touch with locals. If you only rent a room in a place, you usually spend fair a bit of time with your host, e.g. cooking dinner or watching TV. That often means you make new friends and get the chance to receive first-hand information about the city, best places to go out and such.
If you prefer to have your own space, you can also rent entire apartments. Your host will likely be happy to answer your questions about the area, too. But obviously you won’t have that much contact with him when he’s not living in the same place.
The main reason why I like Airbnb so much is the fact that you can discover amazing gems; accommodation that you normally wouldn’t find. An eco bamboo home in Bali? A charming garden room in the Netherlands? A cottage on a small private (!!!) island in Norway? Only on Airbnb, guys!
So if you are looking for a very special experience, may it be in an extraordinary place or getting in contact with friendly locals, Airbnb is your place to go. Plus, you can sometimes find cheaper deals than you would find with any real estate agencies.
In case you are not registered yet, use this link and get 25 USD off your first booking with Airbnb.
Another great alternative that I have used a lot in the past is housesitting. When people go on vacation or are away for work, they want someone to take care of their house and sometimes of their pets, too. If they don’t have any family members or close friends around, who can do the job, they need someone else. Of course, you don’t only have to work, you get to live in the place for free! Yes, for free!
Sometimes the hosts are only away for a few days, sometimes it can be months. That means you get a free digital nomad accommodation in exchange for a little bit of work. Watering plants every couple of days, collecting the mail or walking the dog is surely not too much to ask for when you don’t have to pay rent.
The shortest stay I did was two weeks, the longest, 2,5 months. The accommodation itself can be anything from a small apartment to a luxurious villa with pool (yes, I’ve had that, too!).
One of the biggest plus sides for me is that you can take care of people’s pets. I grew up with cats and dogs and bunnies and horses and all that. Unfortunately, the digital nomad lifestyle doesn’t make it easy to have pets and I have to admit that I miss having little fluffy friends around me. So housesitting is just perfect for every animal-lovers like me ;)
The platform I have been using for years now is Housecarers. They list a huge number of house owners all around the world and are easy to use. You simply build a profile on their page (of course, potential hosts want to see if you are trustworthy), browse for houses to sit and apply.
To be able to contact the house owners, you must be a member, which costs 50 USD a year. But trust me, it is well worth the money. I can’t even count how much I have saved by housesitting. You only need to housesit a night or two, and the membership was worth it financially.
Click this link to browse currently open houses and see if you can find a place you would love to stay.
4. Local Real-Estate Agencies or Facebook Groups
After a few days or weeks in a new place, you should be able to tell if you want to stay longer. In case you like it that much, that you want to spend the next months there, you can look for a mid- to long-term digital nomad accommodation.
While Airbnb and Housecarers are great options, it’s often hard to find places that are available for a couple of months in a row. Therefore, you need to use other methods.
I usually check out local real-estate agencies first. If they have offices in town, I simply walk in and ask what’s currently open. As easy as that.
In addition to that, I google something like “rent apartment Prague” or “short-term/long-term accommodation Porto” and see what comes up. If I find an interesting place, I make an appointment.
Another way would be Facebook groups. Search for groups like “Chiang Mai Housing” or “Rent Apartment Budapest” and see what they have to offer. Alternatively, you can post your requirements (location, budget etc.) in the groups and hope someone will reach out to you with an offer.
Whichever way you choose, always, ALWAYS have a look at the place before you book. That’s why you should be in the area already and don’t start looking when you are miles away. The pictures online might look super cozy and clean. But you will be surprised at what the places actually turns out like.
It could be infested with cockroaches, it could be right above a shady brothel, or it could have the most disgusting and penetrant smell you can possibly think of.
Never book something long-term before you have inspected it! Ever.
Depending on the season and your standards and budgets, it is usually no problem to find a place within a few weeks or sometimes even days.
In case you have no luck with the above mentioned methods, you could also have a look around on Nestpick.
Nestpick is a website that I have only recently discovered when I looked into apartments in Spain but I’m already loving it. It is a search aggregator that helps you find furnished apartments, long-term and short-term, in more than 60 cities around the world.
How does it work?
Nestpick scans a wide range of popular partner websites, such as Spotahome, EasyRoommate or Beroomers, to find their best deals for you. That means you no longer have to go to all of those 50 websites one by one, but can simply go to Nestpick and see what the city has to offer with one click. Super easy and it saves you so much time!
To narrow down your search you can, of course, use filter options, e.g. price, property type, district, or amenities. You can find anything from budget options to luxury apartments, whatever you are looking for. Moreover, you can either look for places in advance or properties that are available immediately which is perfect for everyone who hates planning ahead (like me).
Definitely a great way for digital nomads to find flexible housing options! Head over to Nestpick’s website to see what you can find in your next city.
Co-living is another great way of digital nomad accommodation. It is not used that often, yet, but the concept is very promising. You basically share an apartment or an entire house with other digital nomads. You live together, work together and hang out together.
You can find places like that all around the world by using specialized websites like CoNomads or CoWoLi.
I’ve dedicated an entire blog post to the concept of co-living for digital nomads. If you want to find out more about it, check out the linked article.
Tips When Looking For Digital Nomad Accommodation
For “frequent movers” the following tips may seem obvious. But if you haven’t moved houses too often before, you might see them as helpful reminders.
Get your documents straight. Many places won’t care too much about your story as long as you pay the rent. But especially when you want to rent long-term, real-estate agents might want to see things like references, visas, proof of income or even a good-conduct certificate. Make sure you are prepared when you apply.
Check WiFi. This one is super important for every digital nomad accommodation. Of course, you want to have a strong internet connection in your new place. When you rent long-term, make sure to check the speed of the connection when you are inspecting the place. Nothing more annoying than moving in a place for the next 3 months and finding out that you can’t even load your emails with the Wifi quality.
Find out how you can get and improve your internet connection wherever you are in the world.
Read the reviews. If available, read the reviews about the place or host thoroughly. If someone gave a bad review because the towels were too scratchy, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. However, if several reviews confirm that there are energy cutoffs all the time and the landlord doesn’t care about it, you might want to stay away.
Location. Of course, location is a matter of preference. But I always make sure that I can walk to places like grocery stores, markets or public transport within max. 30 min. Nothing worse than dragging your food and drinks for hours through half of the city in the boiling heat.
Ask for long-term deals. I don’t tell you to bargain hard with locals. But many hosts are willing to give you a discount (especially on Airbnb), if you stay for a few weeks or months. Of course, having you in for that long is easier than finding a new person all the time. So don’t be shy to ask.
Follow up. In case you are applying with an agency or the landlord directly, there is a good chance you have to compete with other applicants. If you want the place, send an email right after the inspection and thank them for their time and how much you would enjoy living there. If you haven’t heard back a couple of days later, contact them again and ask for the current status of the application process.
It’s Easier Than You Think
As you can see, finding your perfect digital nomad accommodation is not complicated at all. Simply book a hotel with Booking.com for the first few nights. If you like the location or found another one you prefer more, start looking for Airbnb rooms or apartments or see if there are housesitting options available.
For any long-term accommodation check out real-estate agencies or Facebook groups. Depending on the season and your budget you will most often find a place within a few days or weeks.
Another great option which is especially suitable for digital nomads is co-living, where you live and work together with other location-independent professionals.
Even if you are not used to moving to new places all the time, don’t be afraid. In my experience, finding a nice place to stay is usually not a problem at all.
What is your experience with digital nomad accommodation? Do you find it hard to find good places? What’s your favorite website or app to look for them? Let me know in the comment section below.
Want to know where most of us live? Check out this article that lists 20+ popular cities for digital nomads.