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Living in a hotel sounds cool, off-beat, and interesting at first glance.
The idea of caping of a day of exploring amazing cities and strolling through markets in a comfortable hotel bed while calling down to room service sounds very tempting to many.
But there are some super important considerations that you want to think about before deciding to live in a hotel permanently.
As someone who has lived in a hotel/hostel for an entire summer and thought about living in hotels indefinitely, I’ve seen both the pros and cons and in this article I’ll tell you everything that you need to know before making the leap to full-time hospitality living.
Can you live in a hotel?
Yes, it is possible to live in hotels but there are many logistical hurdles that you would need to consider before choosing that route. There also is the impact on your physical and mental well-being that should be a top consideration.
Below I’ll break down all these to help you answer the ultimate question of whether or not you should live in a hotel.
I mostly focused on living in a hotel abroad with the goal of traveling and exploring the world but some of these considerations will also apply if you were thinking about just living in a hotel domestically.
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The first step in deciding if living in a hotel is right for you is deciding how you feel about the common logistical hurdles that you will have to deal with.
1. Overcoming the cost (or taking advantage of it)
The biggest hurdle that many people imagine is the cost of staying in a hotel every night.
Now true, if you’re trying to stay in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton every day that is definitely going to add up quick.
But if you’ve done enough research, you know how cost-efficient living in a hotel can actually be in certain parts of the world.
For example, if you chose to go to Asia you could potentially live in a pretty solid hotel paying only $30 to $50 a night.
Some hotels may even provide you with a discount if you make an extra-long booking (always talk to management about this possibility).
And remember, you won’t have utilities, water bills, cable, furnishings, or have to worry about trash or recycling fees. Internet will be free many times and you might be able to drop your gym membership.
If you are able to monetize what you are doing or set up a business such as a travel blog, you could potentially write off a lot of your living expenses which could bring down your owed taxes substantially.
And if you are savvy with reward points, you can also use those to your advantage in a major way.
If you focus on one or two hotel loyalty programs, you will quickly climb the elite status ladder and eventually have the top status with several hotel programs.
These statuses like Hilton Diamond will give you great perks like free breakfast and lounge access that could be used to carry you through meals at times, saving you lots of money.
You’ll also have plenty of points and potentially upgrade certificates and free night certificates that you can use to help offset the cost of your stays.
If you are using a co-branded hotel credit card, you’ll earn even more points and add to your savings.
Let’s say you had the Hilton Surpass, which earns 12X on Hilton properties on top of the 20X you’d earn if you were Diamond. That’s a total of 32X and if you value Hilton points at .5 cent per point then that’s like 16% back.
You could stay at a nice hotel like a (self-rated 5-star) Hilton DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur for $50 a night. So your total monthly expense for your room rate could be $1,500 minus the 16% back ($240) for a net expense of $1,260.
That hotel offers breakfast and lounge access and over the span of 30 days those savings could be very high. And again, think about all of the bills you won’t be paying by staying in a hotel.
So depending on what your living situation currently is, you could be saving a good amount of money by living in a hotel.
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2. Navigating visa restrictions
If you were planning on living in a hotel in another country, you need to make sure you know how long you will be allowed in the country.
For example, you may only be allowed to remain in the country for 90 days or you might get a longer period of time such as six months.
It depends on the type of visa you have but if you are staying in one country, there’s a good chance that you will have to renew that visa on a regular basis.
This can be very tiring and can also get a little complicated and even a little costly.
If you are not comfortable with constantly navigating visa requirements, dealing with immigration and customs, the inevitable hiccups, etc., the hotel hopping route is probably not for you.
3. Dealing with luggage
Living in a hotel means that you will most likely have all of your belongings packed up into a couple of bags that you will have with you at all times.
This can get tricky when you want to take a short trip somewhere because it means that you will have to either bring along all of your luggage which could be a lot or it means you will have to pay for nights in a hotel where you will continue to store your luggage.
In some cases, you may have a great relationship with the hotel and can work something out to temporarily store your bags but I don’t think that is a common practice.
This also means that you will have to do laundry in the laundromat or pay the hotel to do it which can be quite expensive. It also comes with the risk of the hotel or a laundry service losing your clothing items.
And if you like to purchase souvenirs, you’re going to have to do a lot of shipping if you want to keep space in your luggage for your essentials.
If you can’t see yourself living out of a couple of suitcases, you may not last very long when trying to maintain a permanent residence in a hotel.
4. Finding a place for your belongings
For everything that doesn’t go into your luggage, you’re going to have to figure out what to do with it.
Do you sell everything? Put it in storage? Burn it?
You’ll have to decide what to do with your belongings but a lot of people do enjoy the process of simplifying their life and getting rid of things they no longer need.
When I was contemplating a move to full-time hotel living, I threw away several boxes full of old awards, papers, and other things from my childhood that I knew I would just never use or need or even miss. It felt really good to toss those things out and purge them from my existence.
Other belongings are more difficult to get rid of such as automobiles. So in some cases, you have to do a lot of planning and legwork ahead of time just to figure out where all your stuff is going to go.
5. Mail and packages
You can have mail and even packages (including Amazon) delivered to your hotel. Typically, you would only want to do this if you trust the hotel and you always want to notify them that you are receiving a package.
But there will always be the risk that a package gets lost or is not properly stored for you when living in a hotel.
I would recommend having your mail forwarded to a family member and having them open up those letters that have special importance like those from the IRS, etc. And be sure to sign up for paperless billing to minimize your incoming mail.
Pros and cons of living in a hotel
Once you’ve decided that you can deal with some of the logistical issues, you have to figure out how you feel about the pros and cons of living full-time in a hotel. Here are some of the main pros and cons that I considered when deciding whether or not I should live in a hotel.
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The derailed diet
As someone living in a foreign location, and potentially hopping around dozens if not hundreds of cities, you’ll have the opportunity to try all sorts of different foods and cuisines.
Sure you might get sick here and there or gain a little weight but you’ll end up getting exposed to more foods (and therefore cultures) in a few months than many people do in a lifetime and that is something that’s just incredible to think about.
Maintaining a healthy diet while living in hotels can be extremely difficult.
This is all the more true when you build up to high levels of elite status and have constant access to free breakfast, free alcohol, and all of the snacks and goodies that come along with those visits.
One of the biggest reasons why I decided to not live 100% abroad in hotels is because I knew that it would absolutely wreck my diet.
If you are staying in an extended stay hotel or just a hotel with a kitchen, things will be dramatically easier for you because you will be able to do some cooking and eat clean. In that case, look for certain hotel brands that cater to long-term visitors like the Hilton Homewood Suites.
But just know if you don’t go in with a plan and/or possess a high amount of discipline when it comes to your diet, living full-time in a hotel could be a very bad thing for your diet.
The experiences and life decisions
This goes along with the dining experiences mentioned above. When living in a hotel and traveling the world, the world is pretty much your oyster. The possibilities for exploration are essentially endless and only limited to your budget and motivation.
For me, this was the biggest pro of potentially living in hotels indefinitely. The thought of visiting potentially 20 to 30 countries in a year was pretty unbelievable.
There’s a potential loneliness factor if you are doing this far away from home and a far flung destination. You’ll likely be missing key events like birthdays, weddings, etc. and that can start to take its toll.
You’ll also have to give up (or at least put off) major things in your life like getting a dog or potentially having a child or career.
So it’s a matter of balancing the (priceless) personal experiences you will have with the events you will miss with friends and family and also those big life decisions you may have to put off for a while.
This is probably one of the major reasons why living in a hotel aboard is not sustainable for many people — it’s just too hard to not connect with friends and family after so long and you get the itch to live a more normal life.
Many mid-range or luxury hotels will have nice fitness centers where you will be able to get in a great work out.
It’s not uncommon for these hotels to have decent free weight sections, ellipticals, treadmills, and other types of machines. You also may have a pool to use for a nice workout and even a sauna to relax in. So when it comes to staying fit, it’s not that difficult to do in a hotel.
And if you’re doing a lot of exploring, you’ll be on your feet a lot getting in a lot of miles which can be great exercise. In many cities, you can rent bikes and get great exercise as well.
Hotels can be breeding grounds for viruses and there’s always the potential threat of bed bugs. If you are planning on doing a lot of hotel hopping, the odds of you getting exposed to one of these two things will continue to go up.
Obviously during a time such as when a pandemic is alive and well you won’t want to be hopping around hotels so there’s also the possibility of your way of living being effectively shut down by things out of your control.
Insurance is another major thing to consider.
You might be able to qualify for some type of traveler’s insurance but you will also have to contend with finding the providers to go to and if you are constantly on the go that can be a challenge — especially if you don’t speak the native language.
Certain types of medications are banned or highly regulated in some countries so it’s also possible that you may not even be able to get the type of medication you need.
There is something exciting and exhilarating about a constant change of scenery. You’ll see so many new things and create such great memories that there is an endless potential for growth and development.
If you’re someone who tends to get stuck in a rut, constantly switching up the scene could be just what you need to flourish as an individual.
Not having a place to call home could have an effect on your mental health.
Many people are just not cut out to be on the road all the time and away from home. And a lot of people may not be able to function right not having a true home at all.
If you are not staying in nice properties or in spacious suites, you might feel a bit claustrophobic from time to time being stuck in a small hotel room. Other times, noisy neighbors can disrupt your sleep or cause other horror stories in your life — you never know who might be in a hotel room next to you.
At some point, you may reach a level of fatigue from the constant traveling and checking in and out of hotels that could build up and cause you to become exhausted.
This could also be taxing on your immune system and cause you to experience health issues.
Living in hotel FAQ
In the vast majority of cases, you will not be able to buy a hotel room. But if you are interested in doing so, you should look into timeshares which allow you to purchase something like a room/villa and share it with other owners.
You can live in some hotels for months, as I’ve personally done it myself. Some hotels may allow you to stay even longer but this could depend on things like local regulations and laws for visitors. In some cases, employers send out workers to destinations where they basically reside in hotels for years at a time.
You can live in some hotels indefinitely and for long periods of time which is essentially a permanent residence in some cases. As long as the hotel does not have restrictions on the duration of your stay, you should be able to remain there as long as you wish as a paying guest.
Ultimately, I decided that I was more interested in living in a home, getting a dog, and living a more traditional existence than living permanently in a hotel. But I think for some people, living in a hotel could be a good thing at least for a while and could be an exciting adventure that lasts for a few years.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.