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More About Living in Hotels

In the past I have spent about 18 months living in hotels with a couple of months of breaks in between. I have previously written about it in terms of living in London hotels [1], but I have been asked for more generic advice.

Firstly the amount of possessions that you may have when living in hotels is seriously limited. For ease of travel you want to restrict yourself to one suitcase for checked luggage and one for carry-on luggage. Hotels often have short-term storage space for possessions of guests, so having a second suitcase of items that are not worth stealing (clothes and books) may be an option. But consumer electronics devices other than a single laptop computer are not an option.

I read an interesting blog post on ZenHabits.net titled Minimalist Fun: The 100 Things Challenge [2] which advocates counting and limiting the number of possessions you own. When living in hotels if I considered my books as one collection and my clothes as another (having never been interested in trendy clothes they count as utilitarian items for work or leisure not objects that I seek to own) and as my mobile phone was a tool for work and my computer gear was strictly limited to items that were needed for work (and thus “tools”) my only possessions were a digital camera and some bottles of liquor! The lack of ability to accumulate possessions may be considered as an advantage or a disadvantage depending on what your aims are.

If you are moving to another country for work there are three ways of doing it. The easiest is to be a permanent employee of a company that assigns you to work there – in which case they will probably pay to transport your stuff when you buy or rent a house. If you are a looking for new employment (either contract or permanent) in another country then you can either find the work before moving or after arriving there. Finding work before arriving in the country is difficult and generally only works for short-term contracts. So it’s most likely that you will either be looking for work immediately after arriving or after a short contract. In either case having better mobility increases your employment options – why restrict yourself to one city or region when you can choose from all jobs in an entire country or (in the case of the EU) half of a continent! The career benefits of being able to accept any job anywhere in the world at short notice are significant!

There are situations where an employer will pay hotel bills. One example was when I was working for a London based company and they assigned us to work at the other side of London. My colleagues complained and the company paid for hotel bills for everyone Sunday night to Thursday night inclusive as well as an extra hour of pay per day as compensation for the inconvenience. For me of course one hotel was as good as another so it just meant that my employer was covering 5/7 of my living expenses. Then I had a meeting with the hotel manager and pointed out that having me check out every Friday would be bad for them as the hotel was mostly empty on the weekend and suggested that they make me a deal for the other two days – I ended up paying something like one night of hotel fees per week! If I had rented an apartment I would have still been paying the full rent (which while less than 30 days hotel fees per month would have been considerably more than 4 or 5 days of hotel fees per month).

If you live in a hotel then there is always some sort of deal that can be arranged. Apart from certain busy days (such as around the Christmas and new-year time) they always want long-term guests and will be willing to reduce the price, give free dinner or drinks from the bar, etc.

The cost of living in a hotel at times such as Christmas may be as much as five times the regular rate. That is a further incentive to visit friends or relatives at Christmas. If you can’t visit your family (which may be difficult if they live on the other side of the world) then finding a friend who has a spare room might be an option.

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