We tend to think of hotels as fancy places to spend time on vacation, but historically they haven’t always been for short stays. From the 1870s, residential hotels in New York City served as permanent addresses for families and single men unable to pay their own servants; according to the New York Times, the practice grew in popularity (and prestige) during the 1920s, until the Great Depression brought about its demise. Still, the serviced apartment has never quite gone away – and amid the current housing crisis, it might even be seen as a viable alternative to signing a lease.
As landlords emerge from COVID-enforced eviction moratoriums, rents are rising faster than heat wave temperatures—four times faster than incomewith the median rent across the country recently surpassing $2,000 for the very first time. These dire circumstances lead some to consider a counter-intuitive solution: full time hotel stay. And there are actually compelling reasons to consider this option if you’re struggling to find affordable housing, but only if saving money isn’t your primary motivation.
Not all hotels allow long term residents
The first thing to know is whether you even have the option. Not all hotels or hotel chains are open to the idea of long-term residents. If you search online you will find that most hotel websites limit a reservation to 28 days.
One thing you should never do is book a hotel room and just refuse to leave. Even if you pay your nightly fee, if the hotel has a policy against full-time residents, they will eventually kick you out – and that’s a plot easier for a hotel to kick you out than an ordinary landlord. If you are planning a full time stay, you will need to settle this with the hotel first.
You can avoid some of this embarrassment by aiming for what’s called an “extended stay” hotel. These hotels offer apartment-style suites designed for longer-term living, and since their entire business model is focused on long-term guests, this is the easiest and safest option.
Then there are motels, which generally offer fewer amenities and conveniences than hotels, and which have been the housing of last resort for the working poor for decades. If you can’t get a security deposit and/or your credit score is poor, renting an apartment is often impossible, but an extended stay at a motel is an option if you can cover the night’s rent. . Most motels will let you stay as long as you keep paying your bills, and just like hotels, there are specific motels for extended stays like Extended stay in America or Motel 6 Workshop 6. Depending on location, rates at these extended stay motels can be significantly lower than a hotel.
How much does it cost to live in a hotel?
Hotel room rates go up and down daily depending on what’s happening in the area, general demand and other factors. At this moment, the the average cost of a hotel room in the United States is around $200 per night, which equates to about $6,000 per month. Hotel rates for extended stays are usually between $5,200 and $7,200 per month. This is obviously higher than average rents, even in cities where the cost of living is high.
Motels are much less fancy and much more affordable, with nightly rates ranging from $45 to $100 (or more) depending on location, and extended stay motel rates range from $90 to $125 per night, for an overall motel stay of $1,350 to $3,750 per month). But keep in mind that lower rates will be found in more undesirable locations, as motels tend to be located near major roads and away from city centers.
The pros and cons of living in a hotel
While motels can sometimes be a relatively inexpensive housing option, the financial benefits of living full-time in a hotel or motel stem from their flexibility (typically: no lease, no security deposit, and no check-in). credit required; you’re set as long as you have a valid form of payment (including cash) and included amenities.
Even living in a modest motel means you don’t pay separate utility bills for electricity, water, heat, and probably even TV and Internet. The room will be cleaned regularly, you will receive free toiletries, and sheets and towels will be washed and replaced. You will also often receive free local calls. At many hotels, you can also count on the use of a gym included in your rate, free coffee and tea, and maybe even a free breakfast every morning. That’s a lot of things you don’t pay for on top of your rent. So while you might end up paying a monthly cost that’s comparable to or higher than rents in your area, you might save money depending on what it covers.
On the other hand, there are a lot of downsides to hotel/motel living:
- Storage. Hotel rooms aren’t designed to hold a lot of stuff. You will certainly have to reduce your lifespan or invest in a storage solution, which will have an impact on your budget.
- Aesthetic. Finding a well-priced hotel room for a long-term stay probably means it won’t feel like a luxury resort. You’ll probably have to put up with worn-out furniture and uninspiring interior design — and there are even more restrictions on what you can do to personalize the place than in a rental.
- No real kitchen. Most motel and hotel rooms don’t have a kitchen area to speak of, with the possible exception of a microwave and cooler (not to be confused with a mini-fridge). Most extended-stay hotel and motel rooms have kitchenettes, but they may not be particularly large or well-equipped.
- No sense of community. Having any kind of relationship with your neighbors is almost impossible in a hotel, because there is a good chance that they will disappear in a few days. Living in a permanent state of impermanence has a psychological impact.
At the end of the line
Living full-time in a hotel or motel won’t be much cheaper than renting an apartment in your area, and might even be more expensive, but you can still save on the markups, given the amenities included. If you’re having trouble finding or paying for an apartment to rent, a hotel or motel for extended stays might be a viable solution.