Living in a Hotel: Here’s What You Need to Know (Including Costs)

Short Answer: Living in a hotel is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice. Room service, housekeeping, state-of-the-art workout facilities — all this can be had for less than what you can pay monthly for an apartment. In this article, we uncover why people are choosing to live in hotels, who should consider it, what are the pros and cons are, and, most importantly, how much it costs.

Who Lives in Hotels?

Most of us are accustomed to the security and stability of a permanent address. We live in a home that we have filled with things we love and don’t want to be uprooted from. But, maybe you’re not one of those people or, perhaps, your circumstances are about to change. Your line of work may be contractual, unpredictably taking you to different locations for varying periods of time. Perhaps you’re starting an internship or you want to travel around the country. Maybe your credit is affecting your eligibility to be approved for an apartment or you don’t have enough cash for the first and last months’ deposit. Or you may need a distraction-free environment to finally write the next great American novel. The reasons for living in a hotel are endless.

Age is really not a concern with hotel living. You must be at least 18 if you’re planning to live alone — that’s true of apartments as well. But, keep in mind, hotels have the right to increase the age requirement to 21. Many extended-stay hotels have options for seniors and some are even tailored to government or military employees. And, most extended-stay hotels allow pets. But, living in a hotel is probably not for most families. The majority of cheaper rooms will be studio suites designed for singles.

Introducing the “Aparthotel”

Most hotels aren’t designed to live in for more than a couple of weeks. Hotels pride themselves on four- or five-star service, the best locations, and countless amenities. But, there is an affordable, practical option: the “aparthotel” or “apartel.”

Apartment hotels are often serviced complexes. You generally pay monthly rates and get a choice of rooms — from budget to boutique. The majority have free parking and a concierge, while other amenities like dry cleaning and room service vary by complex. Aparthotels operate like renting, but without the commitment or long-term contract.

The Hotels That Do It

North America is a bit of a pioneer in hotel living. With some of the most expensive cities in the world and some of the most diverse jobs found in them, the need for an alternative to traditional renting is burgeoning. Millennials increasingly are embracing hotel living.

Extended Stay America is the market leader in hotel living, offering rooms and suites (often purpose-built) in which it actually encourages guests to stay long-term — although you can stay for as little as one night. The company’s motto is “Stay more, save more,” and those staying for longer will receive monthly discounts as an incentive. Extended Stay America operates 630 hotels across the U.S. and Canada.

ESA offers suites with fully equipped kitchens, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs with premium channels, and a free “grab-and-go” breakfast. Unlike a hotel, the cleaning services are usually weekly or bi-weekly, as opposed to daily. And, like an apartment building, laundry facilities can be found on-site. Some locations have gyms, swimming pools, hot tubs, and other accommodations. What’s more, most of the utilities, such as phone and internet are unlimited.

In addition to ESA, other big-brand extended-stay options include Best Western, Hyatt, Choice Hotels, IHGHome Suites by Hilton, Marriott TownePlace Suites, element by Westin, and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham. While each provider varies, you can expect something similar to the ESA offering described above — and all from a name you can trust.

A Few Alternatives

While purpose-built complexes are easiest to find offering long-term stays, ordinary hotels will let you stay for weeks at a time — at a price. But you may be able to negotiate your fee for a longer stay. Hotels often overbook because guests don’t always show and they don’t want to have empty rooms. If you tell a hotel that you’d like to occupy a room for a while, you may be able to negotiate a discount.

If you aren’t interested in hotel haggling and you still aren’t sold on an aparthotel, there are other options. Airbnb Sublets is designed for longer-term stays. (Note: You can get up to $55 toward your first Airbnb stay by using our referral link. A lucky member of the FQF staff will also receive credit towards their next stay if you sign up with our link.) You can also consider Homeaway if you’d like an entire home to yourself. Or house-sitting. And, if you own a property, you can also try a home exchange where you swap homes with someone for an agreed-upon amount of time.

The Cost

Some celebrities have famously lived in hotels — including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Bob Dylan. More recently, the likes of John Travolta and Robert DeNiro have shunned a permanent home in favor of hotel living. But, hotel living isn’t reserved for the rich and famous. If you’re on a budget and trying to accommodate a job or lifestyle, you too can join the list of people who have called hotels their home. Let’s break down the costs of living in a hotel for one year:

January through April

You have a contract in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Four months at the Extended Stay America in Oakland, Calif., at $3,469 per month would cost a total of $13,876.

For that, you would get a fully equipped kitchen, a phone and Wi-Fi, a television with premium channels, air conditioning, a living area, a bathroom, complimentary breakfast every day, complimentary parking, weekly housekeeping, and a convenience store on-site.

Four months for a one-bedroom apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area at $3,096 per month, plus utilities ($150), internet ($40), premium cable ($70), phone service ($40), insurance ($100), breakfast ($5×30 at $150), laundry ($30), cleaning ($30) will cost $14,824. Of course, prices vary.

Potential saving for living in a hotel versus an apartment: $948

April through July

You’ve found work in Denver, Colo.

Four months in an Extended Stay America aparthotel in Denver at $1,871 per month would cost a total of $7,484

Four months rent within a 10-mile radius of Denver at $1,526 per month, plus the same bills listed above will cost $8,544

Potential saving: $1,060

September through December

You’re wrapping up the year in Richmond, Va.

Four months in an ESA aparthotel at $1,494 per month would cost a total of $5,976

Four months’ rent in Richmond at $971 per month, plus the same bills listed above will cost $6,324

Potential saving: $384

Total savings in one year of aparthotels: $1,767

You can save money living in a hotel. So, why aren’t we all abandoning our apartments and rushing to doing it? Well, the figures assume you would pay for all the aparthotel services in your own rented apartment. And, if we were really trying to save, I bet we’d cut out a few of those premium cable channels and maybe ditch the landline, potentially leveling the rate of living in an apartment.

Pros

  • Non-committal
  • Services are included with the room rate
  • Choose where you want to live
  • No security deposit
  • Housekeeping
  • Front desk services: Have your mail signed for, have any guests directed to your room
  • Free luxury services like gyms and swimming pools
  • Communal space: Meet people with similar lifestyles and make some friends

Cons

  • Not having a permanent address
  • Lack of space
  • Close neighbors
  • Minimalist lifestyle that accompanies hotel living
  • You may pay for non-optional services you don’t need, want or use

In Summary

It can be a big plunge to live like a nomad. But, it works well for a growing number of people. When the main alternative is renting an apartment in a set location and spending chunks of time away from it at various jobs, hotel living can be handy. At worst, it would end up costing around the same as renting an apartment, but with no lengthy contract chaining you to it, and no security deposit upfront.

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5 comments

  • Hi I’m looking to move to New York ( later London, Paris, and Toronto) to build up on an International career in finance. I’m glad I came across this article. I may need a hotel room for maybe 6 months to a year in each location. Is there any advice you can give? The financial district would be an ideal location. Thank you.

  • Patricia says:

    I live in White Plains NY and My mom and I are considering living in an hotel but for longer than 4 months something like 2 years minimum. Can you please tell me some places I can find or any websites I can go to. We want something spacious with a kitchen and fridge so we can cook our own food. Can you please help me.

    Thank You,
    Patricia

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Patricia,

      There is an Extended Stay in White Plains that would offer long-term rentals. However, given the long length of time you need a place for, it would make far more financial sense renting an apartment. The cost of staying in a hotel that long would be significantly more than renting an apartment. Good luck!