I enjoy the benefits of living in hotels full-time, while also saving money! I especially love the stress-free lifestyle and the abundance of free time in my life.
Update: In October 2018, I created an updated version of this comparison. See Save Money By Living in Hotels: 2018 Edition.
The hotel lifestyle may not be appropriate for those who have a big family, certain pets, or certain hobbies. It may not make sense for those who already invested in a house, furniture, etc. and are satisfied with their lives. It may also not be suitable if you don’t get along with your partner well because you will be spending a lot more time and space with him or her!
The hotel lifestyle may work well for those just starting to live on their own or as a couple. It could also be appropriate if you are tired of the clutter, the bills, the chores, the errands, and the risks associated with owning a house and a car. The hotel lifestyle may be ideal if you are tired of having a never-ending to-do list, and you want to reclaim your time away from work. It can be extra lucrative if you travel for work; if your job is paying for your hotel and meals, you’re living completely for free!
There are a variety of hotel rates that could match your budget and standard of living:
Hotel rates depend on the location, quality, amenities of the hotel. On average, I can usually book U.S. hotels at the following long-term nightly rates:
- Budget & Long-term: $39 e.g., Red Roof Inn, Super 8, Day’s Inn, Econolodge, Extended Stay America
- Standard: $59 e.g., Best Western Plus, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn
- Premium: $89 e.g., Hilton, Hyatt, Crowne Plaza, Marriott
- Luxury & Resorts: $159 e.g., Hilton Resorts, Holiday Inn Resorts
Benefits differ based on the class of hotel. For example, a budget hotel will likely not include any breakfast. A standard hotel may include some pastries and apples. A premium hotel may include a full breakfast buffet. A luxury hotel may include a hot made-to-order breakfast of your choice.
Tips for the Best Rates
- When booking standard, premium, or luxury hotels online, use a Corporate or Government code, if possible. Most major corporations have a partnership with the major hotel chains, and the rates can be significantly lower than what the pubic sees. Veterans and seniors can also get good discounts.
- Look for specials and book in advance. The more advance notice you can give, the better the rates. Advance notice will also help ensure you’ll get an upgraded room once you become an elite level.
- Maintain a good relationship with hotel management. After establishing yourself as a good hotel guest for a few days or weeks, request a lower long-term rate. So far, this has worked for me every time!
- In the United States, hotel patrons must pay sales tax during the first 30 days of their stay. After staying for 30 days, Americans are considered residents of the hotel and no longer have to pay the hotel taxes. In some cases, I have also had the first 30 days’ tax payment reimbursed to me. Again, it’s worth establishing a good relationship with hotel management so you can work as a team.
Let’s do a quick comparison between the hotel lifestyle and owning a home, using 2 scenarios: Budget and Premium.
- Long-term hotel rate of $39/night for a budget hotel
- Mortgage $900/month and related expenses, e.g., water, electric/gas, home insurance, property tax, cable, internet, and maintenance costs, $500/month
- Estimates do not include one-time costs associated with setting up and furnishing the house. Down payments and any gains or losses associated with the sale of the home are also not included.
- Monthly Hotel Living Expenses: $39/night * 30.5 nights = $1200.
- Monthly Expenses of Owning a Home: $900 + 500 = $1400.
- Summary: Depending on your specific expenses, you could save money by living the hotel lifestyle.
Hotel Living Pros
- No clutter – Being a minimalist offers a great level of freedom and healthy perspective
- Minimal bills – You might need a car and related bills for that, but you won’t need utilities or other payments
- Rewards – You can get free nights by being a member of the hotel chain’s rewards program. Plus, most of your expenses can be paid with a credit card, which can give you rewards such as cash back (I generally get 2% cash back with the American Express Blue Sky Preferred card.)
- Flexibility – With a starter home, you are investing in one particular location, price point, and home. If your job or family situation changes, or you have problems with your home, it may feel stuck. The hotel lifestyle enables more freedom and flexibility.
- Minimal stress – You eliminate the chores / errands / shopping / maintenance from your life. You can use your precious time for enjoying life, volunteering your time for a good cause, attending school, a second job, etc.
Potential Hotel Living Cons
- Unclean hotel – The cleanliness standards in some budget hotels may not meet your standards. This can be mitigated by talking with management or changing hotels.
- No refrigerator – Budget hotels may not include a refrigerator. The inability to store some of your groceries may impact your ability to eat economically.
- Plus Hotel Living Cons in Scenario 2
- Long-term hotel rate of $89/night for a premium hotel
- Mortgage $1500/month and related expenses, e.g., water, electric/gas, home insurance, cable, internet, and maintenance costs $700/month
- Owning a home includes owning a car. A car note and related expenses, e.g., insurance, inspections, gas, maintenance, tickets/fines, $600/month.
- Premium hotel living includes free local shuttle transportation. However, a budget of $300/month is used for taxis as needed.
- Owning a house may also have additional expenses for housekeeping, lawn service, pest service, pool service, gym membership, etc. Let’s assume $300/month for additional expenses like that.
- Estimates do not include one-time costs associated with setting up and furnishing the house. Any gains or losses associated with the price of the home when sold are also not included.
- Monthly Expenses of Hotel Living and Taxis: $89/night * 31 nights + $300 = $3000
- Monthly Expenses of Owning a House and Car: $1500 + $700 + $600 + $300 = $3,100.
- Summary: Total expenses are similar. However, reality is that owning a house usually means extra shopping and services, which means more $$$ every month. E.g., you want to own the latest surround-sound TV and Blu-ray movies, the guest bedroom needs a new futon, the roof needs replacing, and the A/C needs repair.
Hotel Living Pros
- All 10 of the benefits I mentioned in Top 10 Benefits of Living the Hotel Lifestyle!
- No clutter
- No bills
- No chores
- Service, service, service
- Access to facilities, such as a gym, pool, and business center
- Stress-free commute
- Free breakfast
- Minimal stress
- Living in a premium hotel (as opposed to a budget or standard hotel) offers additional levels of safety, security, service, and quality. Premium hotel reward programs can also provide more benefits, such as upgrades to suites and more free nights.
Potential Hotel Living Cons
- No permanent address. However, given how simplified your life is now, why do you need one? I usually just keep my employer updated with my current hotel address. For long-term things, I use a family member’s address.
- Feeling crowded. If you’re used to having lots of space and stuff, you may feel uncomfortable giving it up at first. Fortunately, frequent stays in premium hotels at least will get you upgraded to a suite for free.
- Being away from family and friends. Like anything, this could be seen as a pro or a con. Personally, I greatly enjoy having friends all over the world, even if I don’t see them in person often; Facebook helps with that.
I generated these estimates in this Hotel Life spreadsheet (Excel), which compares expenses between hotel living, owning a house, and renting an apartment. Feel free to download it and enter your own costs to see if hotel living may save you money.
Questions? Comments? I would love to hear from you!