The world has changed. Jobs that used to require expensive daily commutes to head office are now being done from the kitchen table. But more and more people are starting to ask themselves: if I can work from home in the commuter belt, where else can I work from? If I can work anywhere, why not travel and see the world? Or why not just relocate to a country with a better climate, a more enjoyable way of life, and vastly lower rental prices?
Post-covid, the people asking these questions are not just a tiny niche of dewy-eyed nonconformists. The numbers are striking. According to a 2021 Gitlab study, almost a third of "remote workers plan to relocate or to work from abroad after lockdowns are lifted".
A third! If that sounds like a lot it's because it is. One in three remote workers, all looking to keep their existing (or similar) job roles while travelling overseas and exploring the world. So what does all this mean? It means the digital nomad lifestyle is no longer the preserve of graphic designers and tech entrepreneurs. But with more and more people looking to get involved in digital nomad coliving, where will they all stay/live? This article is a breakdown of the 11 main types of digital nomad accommodation.
Particularly for first-time Digital Nomads, perhaps the most obvious places to start when looking for accommodation are the big-brand multinational websites. Some of these big-name companies market themselves directly to the nomad community (e.g. Nomadstays and NomadList). Others pitch themselves more toward the coliving scene, whose membership overlaps significantly with digital nomads. Key players here include Coliving.com and Common Coliving.
With providers like this, you will be living/staying with other digital nomads and explorers. There will be lots of chances to share adventures, share networking opportunities and share extension cables with people who, just like you, have to choose to explore the world while working remotely.
Large-scale corporate websites like these offer a range of accommodation options all over the world — perfect if you're looking to shop around and see what's available. They also have the budget to offer a smooth online booking process, though it's worth keeping in mind that (in some cases) you may need to wait for the actual accommodation host on the ground to confirm your booking. With many properties all on the same website, it's easy to compare like-for-like, and there are usually plenty of reviews to show what it's really like through the eyes of a real human guest. This is often more important when you're not booking with a local, independent company directly because you can't easily ask your host quick-fire questions before you book.
Overall, the big-brand digital nomad accommodation providers offer a good all-around service, especially for inexperienced digital nomads who are looking for peace of mind and the instant gratification of a one-click booking process.
As the digital nomad community grows, so too does the number of small, independent and boutique accommodation providers who host them all over the world. If you can think of a cool location with decent internet, you will probably find some kind of independent accommodation there with facilities and branding designed with digital nomads in mind.
Full disclosure: here at Heyday Chalet, we offer exactly this service — digital nomad accommodation where you can book direct and experience something a bit different. In our case, that's a nomadic / coliving experience in a ski resort (or MTB Mecca, depending on when you visit).
Of course, we're not alone in offering this. There are loads of other companies like us out there, all offering a great service in some incredible, bucket-list locations. In fact, we have put together a list of our favourite coliving destinations so be sure to check that out, too.
Booking with a coliving or digital nomad accommodation provider, you're almost guaranteed to get good wifi, affordable prices and flexible arrangements when it comes to things like arrival dates and stay durations. The accommodation itself will usually be set up to encourage a friendly, inclusive environment, and there will often be regular (optional) social events where you can get to know other people who are in the same boat as you.
A great option for introverts. If you're looking to stay in one place for several weeks or more, and you're not too worried about the social / networking side of the digital nomad lifestyle, then why not simply rent your own apartment? Websites like housinganywhere.com and flatio.co.uk specialise in short-term lets for people who want an inclusive accommodation package for weeks and months rather than just a few days. If you need total privacy and you're happy to discover the local area as a solo traveller, this could be for you.
Most accommodation like this comes with utilities and wifi included so, in that sense, it's not unlike regular digital nomad accommodation. That said, there are some key differences and a couple of downsides for those travelling alone. First, apartments like this are often bigger than one person really needs. That means you usually end up paying a lot more than you would in a coliving or digital nomad place with shared facilities and living spaces.
Secondly, apartment rentals like this don't offer much flexibility. For example, once you have agreed to your departure date, there is no scope for shortening or extending your stay. In specialist accommodation for digital nomads, it's often possible to stay for a little longer than planned, even if that means changing rooms part way through your stay.
All in all, a great option if you really value time and space for yourself. But you're going to have to pay for it.
Communal living or 'coliving' means can sometimes mean different things to different people. (That's why we wrote an article just answering the question: "What is coliving?") But the fundamentals are pretty basic and widely understood. Coliving is a form of shared accommodation for individuals who want their own private bedroom but are happy to share communal spaces like kitchen, living room, dining area, etc. Shared coworking spaces are also quite common. It's a social way of life that gives affordable access to desirable locations which might otherwise be out of reach. The most common locations for colivers, then, tend to be big, trendy cities.
Unlike digital nomads, who are always on the move, colivers can reside in the same coliving accommodation for months or even years without ever-changing location. All the same, this doesn't stop coliving spaces from being the perfect hitching post for digital nomads who are passing through a major city and want to plug into the local community. Must-have facilities like good wifi and available desks are pretty much assured so — overall, it's a pretty perfect fit.
You probably don't need to read an article to learn that, if you're visiting an unfamiliar destination and need somewhere to stay, a hotel might provide the solution. All the same, very few digital nomads ever seriously consider hotel accommodation among their options.
This is perhaps not surprising and the downsides are pretty clear. Hotels don't offer much of a community to socialise or collaborate with. What's more, the wifi can be hit-and-miss, and they don't usually offer a kitchen or living spaces. So it's not a likely first choice for any committed digital nomad.
However, if you're not stopping long and you're looking for a very wide range of accommodation options to guarantee affordability and availability, you can find a hotel pretty much anywhere. Especially at the airport.
You're never too old to stay in a hostel. That's a lie. But if there is an amazing part of the world you'd really like to visit, you'll almost always find a hostel nearby. If you have a quiet spell where work isn't too pressured, hostel accommodation can make a lot of sense — even if you're a hard-working digital nomad, not a party-going backpacker.
Like coliving spaces and digital nomad accommodation, hostels often place a lot of emphasis on meeting people and enjoying enriching experiences together. Set yourself up in the bar/cafe area and it won't be long before someone says hi and asks where you're from. Too busy to chat? No worries — just pop in your earbuds and fire up your laptop.
Of course, it's important to note that hostels are not the same as digital nomad accommodation. Your fellow guests might be a little bit younger than you and they're almost certainly there on holiday. If you have a big block of serious work to get through, a hostel might not be the best place to achieve that.
Even if there is a coworking space nearby with better broadband than a hostel is likely to offer, your fellow guests might not be on the same timetable as you. Staying in digital nomad spaces, you may become accustomed to 'quiet time' after 23:00. So it might come as a shock when you find out that there's a house band in the bar downstairs and their set doesn't start until 22:45.
In just 14 years, Airbnb has gone from nothing to being a $75bn enterprise and the go-to brand name for anyone who's looking for independent accommodation in the western hemisphere. In that sense, this list would most definitely be incomplete if this household name did not get a mention.
As with hotels, there are definitely some drawbacks to choosing Airbnb accommodation as a digital nomad. There is no social or community aspect with an Airbnb stay, and that can make it a fairly lonely existence if you do it long term. Equally, while basic wifi provision is almost always included, boutique apartments and glamping pods don't usually offer the assurances that a digital nomad might be accustomed to when it comes to superfast broadband and a standing desk.
Old school! You're not going to be using your house while you travel the world, so why not let someone else use it and save a ton of money on your own accommodation costs? Websites like lovehomeswap.com allow you to list your home as available for visitors, while connecting you with available properties in the places you most want to see. What's not to love?
Well, this kind of arrangement isn't without its stresses. For many, the digital nomad lifestyle is about escaping the trappings of life back home. With a home swap, you might still get a call at midnight explaining that the boiler is broken and needs urgent repair. Hardly the stress-free escape that most digital nomads have in mind.
Also, there is undeniably less choice available when it comes to home swap accommodation. So, if you have your heart set on spending a month in rural Mongolia, a house swap might not be the best way to tick that one off your bucket list.
Can you still be a lodger in 2022? Turns out, yes you most definitely can. In fact, websites and apps like Roomi and Diggz now make it easier than ever to find people who are a good match for you to share with. You can find out everything from their smoking and drinking habits to how often they work from home vs. the office.
You can use services like these to find people who are looking for accommodation to share, or you can find people who are looking to rent out a room in their home. If you're looking for somewhere that feels a bit more like a semi-permanent home for a few months or more, either can be a good fit for a digital nomad.
If you're only stopping for a few short weeks, this might not be an ideal option for you. And many digital nomads will be put off by the idea of sharing with just one or two people whom they don't know until 'moving-in day'. To a digital nomad who has chosen their lifestyle for its variety, diversity and sociability, this might seem a bit inflexible.
Couchsurfing is like a hybrid of lodging and house-swapping. The go-to website for this niche is couchsurfing.com — here's how it works. When you're back home, you make space available for other people to stay with you while they visit the local area. All the while, you're building up credit as a couchsurfer. Then, when you want to go travelling and see the world, you can cash in all that hostly goodwill by staying with other people in the couchsurfing network. The accommodation is basically free, plus you have a local guide to plug you into the local area. Great, right?
Well, sort of. For most digital nomads, there are some downsides and they're pretty obvious. First, you need to have your own permanent home and be willing to spend lots of time there hosting other people before you hit the road yourself. Second, when you arrive at your destination, you're not joining a network of other location-independent entrepreneurs, you're lodging (albeit briefly) with one host who may have different expectations of your stay than you.
A third big downside only becomes clear when you actually start to plan your own travel ... and you're male. This is explained at greater length by Mike and Oshin at Hobo with a Laptop, but here's the basic problem. Understandably, many women are not comfortable with the idea of having a strange man coming to stay in their house. Perhaps more surprising is that other men don't want to either. So, if you're a single man looking to explore the world, it might be worth doing your homework on couchsurfing before you spend a year building up credit that later proves very difficult to cash in.
For digital nomads, couchsurfing can be a cool and very an affordable way to explore interesting places. You'll also likely be staying with people who are sympathetic to the nomadic way of life and the cooperative, collaborative mindset that often comes with it. Although it probably won't be your main form of accommodation during your big world tour, it might be a good way to fill a few holes in your diary, especially in the most expensive locations.
Life on the road ... literally. If you can use travel wifi or Starlink to solve the obvious internet-access problem, then a caravan could be a fun, adventurous and liberating way to see a lot of different places with no ties or obligations at all.
Yes, you're limited to one main landmass — so Bali and Berlin won't be happening on the same trip. Plus, you're basically on your own: there is no network of digital nomads waiting for you when you arrive at the campsite.
So, it's not for everyone. But if you're happy taking it slow and being a bit of a loner, a camper van could be a pretty cool way to make a lot of memories while working on the move.