Save Money by Living in Hotels (2018)

I live in hotels full-time. This post is an update to one I wrote 3 years ago: Save Money by Living in Hotels?  As requested by my readers, I am sharing my actual hotel living expenses. I then compare those expenses to estimates for owning a house and renting an apartment.

Throughout my 20s and 30s, I owned 3 houses and rented many apartments. In 2013, I began living in hotels. (I had a short break in 2017, when I re-confirmed how expensive it is to rent an apartment and own stuff.)

I typically stay at mid-range or premium hotels in the Hilton, Marriott, and IHG chains. I am loyal to those hotel chains so that I retain the highest elite status. The highest hotel elite status provides:

  • At least 20% of my purchase back as points toward free nights (see my examples: Hotel Living Costs at Embassy Suites and Hotel Living Costs at Crowne Plaza)
  • Complimentary breakfast or food credit
  • Complimentary room or suite upgrades
  • Executive lounge access (where available)
  • Additional perks, like bottled water, snacks, refrigerator, and microwave

I feel like I’m on vacation 100% of the time, while actually saving money!

Cost Comparison:

Hotel Living vs. Owning a Home vs. Renting an Apartment

I created a Hotel Life Comparison spreadsheet (updated from a previous post) that compares expenses between hotel living, owning a house, and renting an apartment. Feel free to download it and enter your own expenses to see if hotel living may save you money.

Estimates do not include one-time costs associated with purchasing and furnishing a house or apartment. The comparison also does not consider any gains or losses when a home is sold.

Assumptions

  • The average hotel rate I pay is $115 (it varies significantly, but this is the average based on actual expenses in 2018)
  • After adjustments for taxes and points, my average hotel night costs are $101/night (Note: In many states, I would not pay taxes  after staying in the same hotel more than 30 days; I moved around a lot in 2018, so I always had to pay tourist taxes.)

$115 + 10% taxes = $126.50

$126.50 – 20% return from points = $101

  • Mortgage is $2500/month (estimate)
  • Rent is $2000/month (estimate)
  • Hotel living includes complimentary shuttle transportation within a standard 5-mile radius
  • Owning or renting a home includes owning a car
  • Expenses cover 2 people

Cost Comparison Summary

The results of my comparison are:

  • Monthly Expenses:
    • Living in Hotels: $4,000 (actual costs; least expensive option)
    • Owning a House and Car:  $5,300 (most expensive option) 
    • Renting an Apartment and Car: $4,250
  • I save $1,300/month by living in hotels instead of owning a house

Bar chart of monthly expense budgetOwning or renting comes with paying bills. Also, there always seems to be something that requires additional spending. For example, the yard needs mowing, the roof needs replacing, or the air conditioning needs repair.

I have also found that buying stuff for a home is an endless cycle of spending. For example, if you need a computer, you may feel a need for a printer. Then you need to buy printer cartridges. Later you have to pay for maintenance or replacements because technology inevitably stops working. It’s frustrating and expensive to own stuff.

Check out the insightful (and entertaining) article Why Your Home is a Terrible Investment by JL Collins.

Hotel Living Pros

Not only can I save money, but I can enjoy many hotel living benefits, as I previously shared in Top 10 Benefits of Living the Hotel Lifestyle:

  • No clutter
  • No bills
  • No chores
  • Loyalty rewards
  • Service, service, service
  • Access to facilities, such as a gym and pool
  • Stress-free commute
  • Free breakfast
  • Flexibility
  • Minimal stress

Living in a mid-range or premium hotel (as opposed to a budget hotel) also ensures an acceptable levels of safety, security, comfort, and quality.

Being a minimalist has wonderful benefits as well. Not buying, fixing, or cleaning things means that my time and my mind can be focused on areas of interest (like blogging) or need (like exercising). I also feel good about not contributing to the slave labor markets and the negative environmental impact from consumerism.

Hotel Living Cons

For a balanced comparison, following are my primary hotel living challenges.

  • No permanent address. It’s challenging getting credit cards and certain mail. I have a great relationship with my Post Office Box store owner in California. He forwards my mail to me when it accumulates and when I request it. (See also, Dealing with Medical Equipment while Traveling.) I use a family member’s address for when a P.O. Box is not allowed.
  • Small space. I love my husband dearly, but being in a small hotel room 24×7 can feel cramped. For example, I am often on business calls, while he is also working in the same room. Fortunately, my highest hotel loyalty elite status often provides suites. (See My Suite Life)
  • No pets. I love both dogs and cats, and I would love to have a pet again. However, only some hotels allow pets, and hotel pet fees can be significant.

For me, the benefits greatly outweigh the cons. Because I enjoy travel, flexibility, and a stress-free lifestyle, I am going to continue saving money by living in nice hotels!

Questions? Comments? Let me know in the Comments section below.

2 comments

  1. Hi Libby. I think there are a number of other things that might make the leap more difficult (e.g. if you have kids at home or certain hobbies like woodworking) but either way, your posts always get me thinking not just about the hotel lifestyle but about consumerism in general and how much I contribute to it.

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