Ways of finding affordable short term accommodation around the world in 8 easy steps

Joanna Horanin

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As a digital nomad, I have travelled and lived in quite a few countries. Every time I move, my first priority is finding affordable short-term accommodation with good wi-fi. It’s crucial for me to feel at home wherever I decide to live.

My experience has taught me that it’s not always easy to find a place to stay. In Vietnam I had no idea where to start looking as Da Nang has only recently started becoming more and more popular among foreigners and information about the accommodation was scarce. In Europe, it’s always hard to find something for only a couple of months for a reasonable price. In Krakow, I was very lucky to rent a small apartment and in Lisbon, the search turned out to be a nightmare.

Does it sound familiar? Have you also had trouble with finding short-term accommodation around the world? Or maybe you’re just starting out on your nomad journey and wondering what the easiest and quickest way is to search for an apartment?

I have recently sat down and thought about what I would recommend others to do. That’s how the below list was created. Here are …..ways of finding affordable short-term accommodation around the world without stress and breaking your bank.

1. Set your budget

How much can you afford to spend per month? This is the question I ask myself first before I choose any destination. I don’t want to spend all my money on a beautiful serviced apartment and then not be able to go for trips and enjoy myself.

Money is quite important to me, so I have never made an error of spending excessive amounts on accommodation or something else for that matter. However, I know quite a few people, who did just that and at the end, they started hating their digital nomad life as they were left with no money to spend on other things.

Budget wisely – that’s my main advice. I would say, spend around 20% of your income on accommodation and not more.

2. Choose the next destination

If you’re just starting out and not earning too much, then don’t follow the crowd. You might be tempted to go where all other digital nomads go, but remember that places such as Canary Islands, Lisbon, or even Medellin in Colombia can be pricey.
Of course, this is a bit different if you have an established client base, but remember to check the costs of living in your destination and then make a decision if you can afford to live there.

3. Think about your expectations

This is directly connected to the previous points.

We all have different standards when it comes to living conditions, especially when we travel. Some prefer luxury penthouses, others love sharing a house with other nomads. There are those, who don’t mind dark, small spaces, and those that hate spending their free time in rooms that don’t get any daylight.
Whatever your preferences, you need to know how you would like to live and if this is possible in the country you’re going to.

4. Browse the internet some more

I started my digital nomad journey when I was in Thailand, where apartments for monthly rent are plentiful and easy to find. When I moved to Europe I started having problems with getting something I liked for a good price.
I made my biggest mistake before moving to Lisbon. I thought there would be plenty of vacant places just waiting for me to grab them, so I didn’t spend any time doing any research. Oh, how wrong I was! It turned out that not only were there just a few flats available, but the prices were often way too high for me.
That’s why I think it’s always a good idea to browse the internet a bit more before you move to yet another country. Check what’s available, compare the prices and find out the general standards of apartments to rent.

5. Don’t rely on booking sites

I love Booking.com when I travel and go somewhere for just a couple of days, but it’s different when I move for longer. I never rely on holiday rental sites. In my opinion, Airbnb is not a good solution. Many times the prices are too high and the standards of the apartments are not worth it. That’s what happened to me in Lisbon. I found their offer way too expensive.

One of the things I do is to look for rental sites first in English and, if that doesn’t work, in the language of the country I am going to. I use Google Translate and look for a phrase ‘short-term apartments to rent in….’ or ‘apartments to rent in….’ and put the translation into Google. It is a great way of finding a lot of good deals.

6. Forget the estate agencies

Estate agencies are good when you’re in a rush, or it’s your first time looking for a short-term accommodation abroad. However, remember that estate agencies charge high commissions and charge landlords 1-2 months lease in advance. If you don’t have money to spare, then it’s best to avoid their services.
Find out first how estate agencies work in the country you’re going to. Sometimes, they don’t require any fees from you, so there are no additional costs. Just bear in mind that you will probably need to pay a higher price for your flat.

7. Send emails

Once I have a good list of apartments I am interested in, I contact the agencies, or the owners by sending them an email. Depending on the country I travel to, I do it before my arrival, or just after. For instance, if I look for a place to stay in Europe, I know that I need to do it a few weeks ahead of getting there.
Finding an apartment in Chiang Mai, or almost anywhere in Asia, is never too difficult, so I leave it until I arrive as I know that I can always find something.
I wait for their replies and schedule a Skype call. This way I rented an apartment in Krakow. I was still in Da Nang when I found what I was looking for. I made a deal with the owner and he reserved the flat for me. Easy!
You can also send inquiries to apartment hotels, or even to landlords on Airbnb (if you feel that they have a good deal for you). Usually, people are willing to reduce the price if you want to rent something out long term.

8. Go from door to door

Not literally, of course, but sometimes it’s worth waiting until you arrive and find a few suitable places then. I would say that it’s good to find out first if that’s possible. In Asia, you will normally see condos with a sign informing of free places. In other countries, it’s not so common.
If you know that it’s easy to find a flat this way, then rent a car, or a taxi, and drive around. Remember to always negotiate your price!

Finding short term accommodation around the world can be a hassle and something that stresses many people out. However, if you are reasonable and well organized, you can easily rent something for a good price. Just allow some time and mind your budget. A digital nomad lifestyle is something that needs to be enjoyed and I hope that I helped you to reduce the stress of your move.

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