Planning to work and travel like a digital nomad?
Or maybe just work from a remote location for a while?
Then you probably want to take a different approach when you’re searching for accommodation. After all, the places to stay that are ideal for a vacation may not always be so suitable for working remotely.
Whenever I search for accommodation for a ‘workation’ or a nomad trip, I use different sites or search filters than when I travel just for fun.
What to look for
It’s now always so easy to know if a place will be easy to work from.
For example, sites like Booking.com or Airbnb offer no assurances about the WiFi quality.
When searching for nomad accommodation, what I always want to know is:
- Is there good WiFi?
- Does it have a good workspace (or workspaces nearby)?
- Is it in a convenient location?
- Are the costs reasonable (or are there discounts for longer stays)?
That last point is pretty important!
When you’re working remotely, you typically want to keep your expenses under control — unlike a holiday where you might like to splash your cash a little more. After all, you don’t want to feel like you’re working just to pay for the trip.
Airbnb seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it platform — and some people get upset about disproportionate cleaning fees for short stays — but for nomad or remote work trips I still find it one of the best places to look.
Living out of a hotel for more than a week or so can get pretty depressing! Whereas Airbnbs do typically have much more of a homely feel that is suitable for staying longer.
The process of finding good Airbnbs can be quite manual and time-intensive, though. Many Airbnbs are holiday homes that may be in inconvenient locations (e.g. away from shops or other things you need for a longer stay). Only some Airbnbs are suitable for working. But there are definitely some gems on Airbnb if you can do a bit of research.
In the Airbnb search filters, be sure to tick these:
Not every place with WiFi has good WiFi though. As of 2021, Airbnb now has a feature where the owners can specify the available WiFi speed in the listing, based on a speed test they can do through the Airbnb app. This has made it a lot easier to find good WiFi, though not every listing adds this information.
For some extra assurance, you can ask the owner directly via private message. You can ask them to go to speedtest.net and report what number they see.
One neat trick is to install the Roamer browser plugin. It adds a box to every Airbnb profile showing the expected internet speeds. It’s not perfect, as it relies on the average speed in the neighborhood, but it can at least tell you if fast internet is at all available in the area you’re planning to stay.
Some Airbnbs will give discounts for weekly or monthly stays, so this is something to keep an eye on. Just by searching for a month-long stay, for instance, you may already see places with -30% or more off.
For longer stays, it can sometimes also pay to contact the owners directly and ask for an offer, as they can send you invitations with rates that are different from those that are listed.
House sitting (for free)
Another amazing resource for finding nomad accommodation is Trusted Housesitters.
Housesitting is such a great opportunity for nomads, and yet so few seem to know about it!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could work remotely and stay for free? The idea of house sitting is that you can stay somewhere in exchange for taking care of the garden, plants, or pets while the owners are away.
An annual membership at TrustedHousesitters costs $99, but this is nothing considering it lets you apply for unlimited housesitting assignments.
It’s weird that house sitting is so little talked about among digital nomads. It always comes up in ‘how to travel the world for free’ type of guides but never in any nomad resources, even though it’s a perfect way to keep your expenses super low while you’re earning money online. I think it’s a massively overlooked opportunity.
I have some friends who spend several months in the year doing housesitting or home exchanges while working online. They love pets and they love staying in free accommodation!
You can also use TrustedHousesitters to find people to look after your place while you’re working remotely from somewhere else for a while.
A different (and fun!) way to work remotely is through a coliving.
The term coliving sometimes gets used for student or low-cost housing, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Coliving is also a form of long-stay accommodation commonly used by digital nomads.
Coliving accommodation lets you share a house with other freelancers and nomads. They typically have private rooms but with shared communal spaces and co-working offices. They’re fun and social places to stay and great for networking too.
The huge advantage of booking a coliving is that you don’t have to scroll through endless listings of places that aren’t actually suitable for working remotely. You will know for sure the place has great WiFi, desks to work from, and everything else you need.
The biggest platform for finding these places is Coliving.com.
There are also emerging brands of coliving accommodation providers such as Outsite that have properties around the world.
Most people who stay in co-livings tend to stay for at least a few weeks, some for several months at a time. Having like-minded nomads around is a big plus of this type of accommodation, and some co-livings even organize activities such as morning yoga, afternoon surfing, etc. They are therefore a great way to tap into the nomad lifestyle without having to do all that much planning!
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