Hotel Living: Possible or Just a TV Trope?


No matter your preferred genres, just about everyone has seen a television series or a movie where a character or family more or less ends up living in a hotel for a while. Sometimes this is a week or two. Other times it at least seems to be years where the characters bounce from one hotel to another like the main characters of the long-running series Supernatural.

Is this just a cinematic trope, or is it possible to live in a hotel? When you stop to think about it, the idea certainly seems to have an appeal to it, especially for singles or couples without children who have a bit of wanderlust, flexible jobs, and a reluctance to waste time on chores and errands. With today’s changing employment trends, it is something more people are beginning to wonder about.

Has it been done before?

Woman in a hotel

In short, yes. If you take any time at all to run a basic search, you can easily come up with a lengthy list of celebrities and eccentrics who lived in hotels of one caliber to another for months or even years. Tennessee Williams, Coco Chanel, Janis Joplin, and Oscar Wilde are just a few notable examples.

Of course, things are far different for the majority of us than it is for the rich and famous for whom a pricy long term stay in the best suites and hotels is a simple matter. What about the rest of us? Has an “Average Joe” managed to pull off living in a hotel comfortably?

Again, the answer is yes. You can find numerous examples throughout the web of individuals who decided to live hotel to hotel or in an extended stay hotel for a myriad of reasons. Their overall costs and expenses vary based on where they decided to stay, their preferred standard of living, and their reasons for making the decision to live in a hotel instead of renting or buying an apartment, home, condo, etc.

Why live in a hotel instead of an apartment or RV?

Whether we embrace it or scoff, “The American Dream” has had a lasting impact on our society and the views held by many of our family, friends, and neighbors. Looking through that lens, such an idea seems offputting or worse to a great many. Apartment living and renting is the norm in big cities, but even that can be viewed as unideal in suburban areas where owning one’s own home is “the dream.” Then there is the stigma against mobile homes of any type and budget or extended stay hotels based around outdated ideals and the stereotypes of those who live in such places.

Hotel room at a luxury resort

This can put pressure against the decision on many, making the idea seem distasteful or an option of last resort. However, when done thoughtfully, hotel living can be a cost-effective option for individuals and smaller families. In some places, it can be less expensive overall than renting an apartment, and it does not require the upfront costs and long term commitment to purchasing a small home or RV.

Traveling for work is often a fact of life for skilled laborers and tradespeople. Unions provide a hub for their pay and benefits as well as assisting with assignments to new contracts. The workers travel wherever their union sends them for the set term, which usually runs anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of years. However, contracts vary and are subject to change based on the pace of work or how other contracts work out, so there is never a guarantee of how long a position will last. This is why per diem pay for these traveling tradesmen is usually included in their contracts to cover room and board costs.

A fixed budget and uncertain time frame make extended stay hotels fit their needs better than attempting to rent an apartment, even splitting one with some of the other workers. Some turn to RVs, but the mortgage on them is often the same as that of a small home, and the upkeep is often more plus the risk of damage in the case of an accident. So hotel living is popular due to the lower expense, included services, and lower risk for those who travel frequently.

That is another thing that is easy to overlook when considering whether or not hotel living is a viable option for those starting out or with a desire to travel often, the services and amenities included in a hotel, and how that can impact expenses. Just think about all of the things you don’t have to think about when staying at a hotel. Your cleaning is done for you. Access to at least a rudimentary gym is typically included.

Toiletries are provided, so you do not have to worry about running out and purchasing those unless you simply have a strong preference for one particular type or another. Plus, there is no need to spend time worrying over furniture, linens, or artwork, and you never have to worry about maintaining a lawn, your plumbing, or any other routine household maintenance.

Extended stay hotels can be a bit different. The “free” coffee and continental breakfast might be missing, but many offer a small kitchenette in the rooms. Their rooms are often a bit larger and more completely furnished than typical hotels while having lower rates for longer stays. Many offer laundry facilities on-site and other amenities. You simply need to do your research when selecting one for a stay, including whether or not they offer discounts for stays of a month or more.

There is a trick to it.

“What about all my stuff?” you may be wondering.

Businessman entering hotel with luggage

Here is where the idea of the hotel living lifestyle gets a bit tricky for some. Living in a hotel is not something you can go into the same mindset as someone who is living in a traditional home. The trick to it is learning to live light.

Those who choose to live in hotels often do so because they either simply love to travel are not sure whether or not they want to move soon, or they travel for work. Living life with minimal or no roots is most easily done when you are not lugging around a bunch of stuff. The more you keep with you, the more difficult and uncomfortable living in a hotel will be in the long run. Therefore, minimizing and downsizing your possessions is encouraged if you are looking to live in hotels.

If this is something that interests you, perhaps an extreme decluttering is to start. This can have the fringe benefit of adding to your base savings via selling excess possessions you rarely if ever use, or you can give back by donating gently used clothing and other items to shelters and other charities in your area.

More oversized items you simply cannot bring yourself to part with will need to be stored somewhere. Some ask loved ones to hold onto specific items. Others decide to rent a storage unit. Still, others have a settled home but choose to live away from it much of the year.

Set up as much of your correspondence and paperwork to be handled electronically as possible. These days, the vast majority of businesses often prefer to handle billing, receipts, and scheduling digitally. Not only does this lower the amount of worry each time you decide to change locations, but it also lowers the number of papers you need to mess with and either shred or file away. Plus, it reduces the amount of paper waste produced each year. So, win-win all around.

However, not all correspondence can be handled digitally. For those things, there are a couple of ways you can handle it. You can keep a PO box if you tend to stay in one general area. You can set up a forwarding system with USPS.

Or you can send your mail to an established address if you have someone there you can trust to check and gather your mail for you regularly, contacting you as needed when specific items come in. Yet, this last method is only suggested if you have family living where your established address is, and they are willing to do this for you over the long haul. It is the least self-sufficient and dependable of the methods listed and the one most given to difficulty and pitfalls.

Do not forget your health.

Another thing to keep in mind if you decide to try living in a hotel is your health. It can be tempting, at least at first, to treat every day like a vacation because that is what most of us associate with hotel stays. This is fine for a few days, but eating out and skipping the gym can take a toll on your budget and heath fast. Remember, it is a change in lifestyle, not a vacation, and look at this change as your new normal.

This is one reason extended stay hotels are suggested, especially for those new to living in hotels. They most often offer small but functional kitchenettes in each room. This allows you to purchase groceries and cook in your room, which improves your ability to eat healthfully with ease. Searching for a room offering an actual stove or oven instead of just a microwave and a larger refrigerator provides more options.

Room service in the hotel

When you are paring down your possessions, keep the need to cook in mind. Compact and versatile appliances such as an instant pot or a good quality toaster oven are wise purchases that can increase your ability to prepare a wider range of foods easier. When it comes to vessels and utensils, look for well-sized options that can collapse or nest for conserving as much space as possible within the limited cabinet space.

Keep your dishes and cutlery to a minimum, and make sure to wash them immediately after each use. This will save both space and time while ensuring you always have dishes to eat from at each meal.

While you are at it, do not forget to stay active. Some hotels may include at least a basic gym. Others may not, but with a bit of planning, you can still fit in 15-30 minutes of cardio, calisthenics, or weight training with a minimum of fuss and equipment needed. There is a range of YouTube channels, blogs, and even apps offering a host of different workout routines to fit any interest, fitness level, and schedule. All you have to do is take a look.

Is it worth it?

Woman wake up on bed in hotel room.

When it comes right down to it, anyone thinking about living in a hotel has to ask themselves if the shift in lifestyle is worth it or not. That’s not a question anyone can answer for you. It is an answer you have to find for yourself, keeping a few things in mind.

What do you desire more, the freedom to go wherever you want when you want or putting down roots? Does what you want from your life fit more when what is described in the article above or the stereotypical “American dream?” Does the idea of a minimalistic lifestyle appeal to you? It’s not for everyone, but for those who love it, it works and works well.

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