How To Find “Home Sweet Home” When You Live Out Of A Suitcase

A place of tension for many location independent folks is where you will live, and how to find housing in your new “home.”  You may need a place for a few nights or a few weeks… to even a few years.  The duration varies as widely as personalities do.   Here’s a great overview on how to find housing that is inspiring and within your budget.

Personally, I love this stage — it’s stressful — but it’s also exciting and fun!  It speaks strongly to my nosy side — I get such a kick at checking out people’s spaces and looking at homes.  Although it’s not all fun and games; I do a lot of research and legwork online before arriving in a country and looking at those places.

Noho Airbnb

If you’re staying a few days to a few weeks, hotels and hostels are great.

Often you are able to get a discount if you book a week or more at once.  We have also stayed in a “serviced apartment,” which is pretty much a living space with a small kitchenette, that is serviced like a hotel.  This would be a fabulous option for someone staying longer than a couple of weeks, especially if you are unsure how long you will stay; hotels and hostels do not require you to sign a lease for a defined amount of time.  They can usually help you to rent a scooter, provide breakfast in the morning and answer any newbie questions you may have about the area.

We also highly suggest checking out Airbnb.

With it, you’re able to stay in some really unique and well-equipped places.  Some folks are concerned about how safe it is — staying in a stranger’s house and all — but there’s a reviewing system that is meant to keep guests and hosts accountable.  We are avid hosts and feel very comfortable with the system. In some cities, we have found Airbnb listings to be considerably more expensive than a good hotel, so check out all your options.

With it, you’re able to stay in some really unique and well-equipped places.  Some folks are concerned about how safe it is — staying in a stranger’s house and all — but there’s a reviewing system that is meant to keep guests and hosts accountable.  We are avid hosts and feel very comfortable with the system. In some cities, we have found Airbnb listings to be considerably more expensive than a good hotel, so check out all your options.

If you are new to Airbnb, use this linky to get $35 off your first booking (that could be one night free!)

Usually we have been staying 6-plus months in our chosen cities, and we have had great luck renting a villa or condo for that period of time.  We like having the extra space, and it’s also been more cost-effective.  We are keen on creating a “home base”, and feeling like we can unwind somewhere familiar.  To find this, I do a bit of research before arriving; I get suggestions about cool neighborhoods and quality realtors through Facebook groups and other forums.  Unfortunately there’s only so much that can be done before your toes actually touch land; often realtors don’t even wish to speak to me until we’re there (which makes sense).  Also, there’s something to be said about how a place feels.  A location may look wonderful on paper, but feels completely different when there in the flesh.  We’ve actually had a shocking experience along these lines… but that’s for another post. :-)

I spend considerable time checking out the listings on a realtor’s site before we arrive; by the time we land, I usually have a considerable list of rentals that I wish to check out in person.  From that list, some will not be available and others will have already been taken.  So it’s always better to have more options than you think you’ll need.

Wish Us Luck!

I do like to use realtors when I’m not familiar with a city; rent may be a little higher that way, but they also take care of everything for you.  Often we have used our realtor as a resource to answer questions throughout our stay, and for this we are willing to pay a bit more. Also realtors want to find you a place to rent as quickly as possible, which consequently aligns with our own goal: we don’t wish to stay in a hotel longer than we need to.  It has been my experience that realtors have been extremely speedy at getting us in to see places and also suggesting other listings that may interest us.

After being in an area for a while and I feel more familiar with the neighborhoods and regulations, I think it’s best to keep your eyes and ears open to private folks who want to rent their space without the added cost of a realtor or to people who need to move now, and are looking to get out of their lease.  Often these are more affordable situations, but you will not have the support of a realtor.

Many people have sworn by riding around and checking out houses that are sporting a “for rent” sign, then calling the listed number.  When you call a number off a sign, you have no idea what it looks like inside, or in some cases, it comes furnished.  Personally, this has not worked well for us. For one thing, we are a bit picky on furnishings,  I felt we were wasting a considerable amount of time, just calling blindly.  Also in some more remote locations you may experience a language barrier; we experienced this in Ao Nang; our realtor was the translator between us and our landlords (and we couldn’t have communicated decently otherwise).

These are my current thoughts on the topic! They’re fresh on my brain because we just paid the deposit for a condo in Chiang Mai.  We are very excited, and will be moving into our new space in a week!  Wish us luck!

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Ashley is exuberant about location independence! She relishes new experiences and working with boutique hotels and resorts. She’s always thinking about design and food… and where they’ll travel next!

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