Long Term Airbnb vs Hotel – What’s Best for an Extended Stay?

Long Term Airbnb vs Hotel – What’s Best for an Extended Stay?

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Nomadic AF FTC Disclosure

How do we decide whether a long term Airbnb vs hotel is right for us when we move to a new city? There are a lot of factors that go into that decision. A few of the most important are:

  • Are we staying in the city for more than 30 days?
  • Can we go long-term without a kitchen?
  • What are our goals for the month; work or play?

We’ll take a look at these factors a little more in-depth below. But, first…

How Affordable is it to Live in a Long Term Airbnb?

Well, that depends what you’re comparing it to. It’s no more expensive than living back in the States. In most cases, a month in a long term Airbnb overseas can actually be much cheaper. Below is our receipt for a month’s stay in an Airbnb in Bogota, Colombia.

long term airbnb in Bogota
Around $300\mo for a long term Airbnb in Bogota.

This particular Airbnb was well situated in a safe area, near lots of great restaurants, museums, and tourist attractions. And this wasn’t a fluke. We spent the following month in a different Airbnb high up in the Andes in Socorro, Colombia for around the same price.

view from our Airbnb in Socorro, Colombia
Outside our $300\mo Airbnb in Socorro, Colombia.

Now consider, what kind of lodging can you get in your home city for around $300\mo? I’m guessing that isn’t going to get you much. As I try to tell anyone who will listen, traveling non-stop is far cheaper than living back in the States. It’s a hell of a lot more fun also.

Now, Let’s take a look at the above factors that help us decide on a long term Airbnb vs hotel.

Are we staying in the city for more than 30 days?

A lot of times we just don’t know this for sure. We may show up in a city thinking it’s just a stop on the way to somewhere else and end up loving it. Conversely, we may think we’re going to want to be in a city for the long term, only to decide 3-5 days is plenty of time there.

Botero Museum Bogota, Colombia
Bogota was a 3 day stop until we discovered its treasure trove of museums.

So, to be on the safe side, when arriving in a city we know little about, booking a hotel online wins the Airbnb vs hotel battle. A few days before we arrive in a new city we hop on booking.com to book a room for 3-4 days.

Nomad Tip
If you’ve never used Booking.com before here’s a link for you to get $25 cash back on your first stay.

$25 Cash Back off Your Next Stay

After a few days in the city, we can get a feel for whether we want to stick around. If not, we decide where to go next, book a room in that city, and move on. If we do end up loving the city, that’s when we decide to book a long term Airbnb.

In the Airbnb vs Hotel Battle, Airbnb will Almost Always be Cheaper by the Month

Not a lot of people are aware of this, but the longer you stay in an Airbnb, the cheaper it gets by the night. This is up to the Airbnb host, but generally, you can expect to see a 20-30% discount for a week’s stay and up to a 65% discount for the month. You just can’t get that kind of a discount booking a long term hotel room online.

63 percent off a long term airbnb
63% off a long term Airbnb stay.

The above Airbnb is normally $27 a night (including fees). This is comparable to most hotels in the area. Renting it by the month though will cost you less than $11 dollars a night. You can’t even get a bed in a shared dorm room for that price.

Nomad Tip
If you’ve never used Airbnb before here’s a link for you to save $40 on your first stay of $75 or more.

$40 off your first stay of $75 or more

If you’re in a new city for less than a week an Airbnb and hotel room are going to be about the same price. For any stay of a week or longer though, Airbnb will almost always be your best bet.

Can we go long-term without a kitchen?

If you notice above I say Airbnb will “almost always” be cheaper than a hotel room for an extended stay. Almost, not always. For a month’s stay, most hotels you find online are going to be more expensive than an Airbnb. Not all hotels are online though.

hotel Ucum in Chetumal
Our go-to hotel in Chetumal, Mexico.

In Chetumal, Mexico there are numerous hotels that can’t be booked online. These are mostly family-run hotels that are doing just fine without an online presence. Our favorite; the Hotel Ucum.

This hotel meets our basic needs; clean rooms, on-site restaurant, great location, daily cleaning service, as well as a pool. And, based on our numerous stays there, we’ve negotiated a great monthly rate with the owner. Roughly 1\3 the price of the cheapest long term Airbnb.

airbnb in chetumal
Airbnb’s in Chetumal are more expensive. They have kitchens though.

Without a kitchen in the hotel, are we really saving a lot of money? Eating out in Chetumal is cheap; $10-$12usd\person per day. For the two of us though that’s a food budget of at least $600usd\mo. We could cut that in half if we had a kitchen and cooked most of our own meals.

Even though our monthly hotel rate is 1\3 the cost of a long term Airbnb, it’s more expensive when you factor in our food budget. In Chetumal, the cost of our hotel and eating out every day is around $70\mo higher than an Airbnb and cooking at home. Worth the extra cost when we factor in daily cleanings and a pool at the hotel.

poolside
Chilling by the pool is worth the extra cost.

This would only work in a city with a cost of living as low as Chetumal. In any other city, where daily meals may cost you $20-$25usd, a long term Airbnb, where you can cook your own meals for less money, would be the way to go.

What are our goals for the month; work or play?

Cost isn’t always a factor in the Airbnb vs hotel decision. What our month looks like work-wise also plays a big part in whether we’re staying in a hotel or an Airbnb. Since we schedule our own work hours, we pretty much know what each month is going to look like.

A Heavy Workload Calls for a Long Term Airbnb.

If we know the next month is going to be a busy one we basically get an Airbnb with plenty of workspaces and hunker down for the month. Why an Airbnb if we’re in “work mode”?

  • Fewer Distractions – You’re not being kicked out of your room an hour a day for the cleaning crew or listening to everyone in the pool having a great time while you’re stuck working.
  • Faster Wifi – Airbnb’s generally have dedicated wifi. In a hotel, your online work could come to a grinding halt while the kid in the next room streams their favorite movie.
Slow Internet
Shared internet sucks when you’re in work mode.

Knowing we have a full month’s work ahead of us usually sucks. What’s nice though is that after a full month’s work, usually comes a couple of months of play.

A Light Workload puts us in Vacation Mode.

That’s the really nice thing about being nomadic-AF. One month of working hard usually translates into 1-2 months of hanging out in vacation mode. And, for us, vacation mode means traveling around and checking out all that the country we’re in has to offer.

plane trip to corn islands
In vacation mode on the way to the Corn Islands.

Renting an Airbnb for an extended stay just doesn’t work for us when we’re in “vacation mode“. We want to have the flexibility to move from city to city, or beach town to beach town. In vacation mode, we’re not trying to cook every meal and clean up the kitchen afterward.

Even though staying in numerous hotels over a couple of months is more expensive than a long term Airbnb, for us, when we’re in vacation mode, it’s worth it.

Long Term Airbnb vs Hotel Rooms – Our Conclusion

We believe that hotels rooms are the better bet when:

  • You’re staying somewhere for a week or less.
  • Cooking and cleaning aren’t on the agenda.
  • You want the flexibility to up and leave on a day’s notice.

AirBnb v Hotel

We believe that a long term Airbnb is better when:

  • You know you will be in the same city for a month or more.
  • Faster wifi and fewer distractions are needed for work.
  • Cost of living is too high to be eating out every meal.

Hotel vs Airbnb

Our lifestyle differs quite a bit from most people’s. Living in a long term Airbnb or hotel room for months on end may not be for everyone. If you’re weird like us though and want to figure out if the nomadic-AF lifestyle is for you, check out our blog on how we got started living the nomadic lifestyle.


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