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Can You Live in a Hotel?

Couple sleeping in a hotel.

As someone who is about to live in a series of hotels along the Pacific Coast, this is the most valid question I can answer for you. Yes, you can live in a hotel, but there needs to be some considerations and concessions made to have a happy and fulfilling time. First of all, consider this a world adventure, and take the time living in hotels to explore the surrounding neighborhoods and towns. Here are other areas to think about as you learn about how to live in a hotel.

Is it Legal to Live in a Hotel

Yes, it is legal to live in a hotel as long as you know that you cannot stay there permanently. There is a limit to the number of nights you can stay at a property, which is typically 28 but varies based on the hotel. Also, consider that some professions require travel, including truck drivers, nurses, and book researchers, such as myself. I am working on a series of nonfiction books about life in hotels based on what happens once I get there. So, hotels do book stays with people, including families and military households, who require long-term stays.

A woman looking through a veranda.

Individuals suffering from medical emergencies or who are in outpatient therapy for surgery or drug addiction might also need to stay in a local hotel for a few months. You might also be wealthy and have a love of architecture and maids, which I personally feel akin to in this situation. I would not say I am rich, but having resources to live in hotels for a few years, by way of a freelance writing job, affords me this luxury. I will not deny the perks of living in a hotel are quite exciting. Since I work from a computer as a freelance writer, I can live anywhere as long as I can afford it, you see. This brings up the next point!

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There is a tax situation that you might want to be aware of. In some states, if you stay in a hotel for more than 30 days, you have to pay a resident tax, but if you stay for 31 days, the taxes are refunded to you. The bottom line varies, so check your home state for specific information about extended stays in hotels.

Paying for Hotel Living

Living in hotels is legal, but you do have to have the money to pay for it. There are some ways to make the financial burden of living in hotels easier. Start by having a set budget for how much you can afford–make it or break it, bottom line–per night for a hotel room. Also, know in advance that the majority of hotel rooms cost double on the weekend nights–Friday and Saturday.

This is when you might want to look at staying at a less than wonderful hotel for the weekend, and return to a more luxurious hotel during the five-day week. This can help cut down on the expense if this is a concern for you. You may also have the budget to afford the higher rates on the weekend. Choosing a less expensive city or town to live in near your preferred location is another way to cut down on hotel costs. But it doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive, and lots of people live this way without losing money.

According to Chris McNamara of Outdoor Gearlab, and also someone who owns a very nice Lake Tahoe AirBnB, I have my eyes set on, “The short answer: living in a hotel is as expensive as you make it. It can be less expensive or more expensive than renting an apartment, depending on your standard of living and how you are able to deduct expenses. At first glance, living in a hotel may seem expensive.”A golden plated hotel signage.

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As a freelance writer of web content, here’s how I live in a hotel without making it expensive. I work online and do all of my business over the internet, including using PayPal to receive payments. I then use online banking to handle my affairs with my debit card. I don’t have credit cards, but I do have some cash saved for meals, entertainment, and small shopping trips. That being said, I know where my funds are coming from in order to pay for hotel living.

Have a clear understanding of how you are going to pay for your hotel accommodations before you pack up the car or storage container with your belongings. This way you avoid being stuck in a potential legal situation where you cannot retrieve your things from your hotel room after you are locked out. I am not saying that is what would happen, but I imagine if you are unable to pay for your hotel room and you don’t move out–that would be exactly what they would do.

You do not want this to happen to you, yet when you live in a hotel, you are not on a lease and have zero protection for your personal property. Be cautious with your spending, too, especially for the first month or two as you adjust to the new accommodations.

How Much to Pay a Night When Living in a Hotel

A woman sleeping in a white bed with lampshade.

For me and my two-person household that includes one parent and one child, I am sticking to a budget of $100 a night and booking five-night stays in a single hotel at a time. This allows me to afford 20 nights in hotels for $2,000 a month, which is right below what I paid to rent a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the city. I know there are 10 or 11 more days in a month, which I will get to in a second.

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By setting a specific limit on how much I can pay per night, I automatically narrow down my options when searching for a hotel. From there, I focus on the amenities to ensure I have everything we need as a family to be happy and content. One of the biggest deciding factors to help you determine if you can live in a hotel is the amenities. In order to work or to be accommodated for your lifestyle, certain amenities need to be available.

For me, the most important amenities are free onsite parking, preferably covered, as well as continental breakfast with waffles and wifi in the rooms, as well as in a work space and lounge. There needs to be an onsite convenience store, too, and a gym and a pool indoors with a hot tub. I know this might sound like a lot to some, but these are all part and parcel for hotels.

Also, I use Hotels.com exclusively when booking my accommodation. This allows me to get one night free after booking 10 nights, and this is added to my account after three nights. The result is that I have two free nights per month that I plan to use for weekend stays in hotels. We can book one hotel for free for two nights and save a ton of money. However, by doing this, we are able to save at least $300 a month on hotels. I have plans for us to visit campgrounds and stay in cabins and historic houses, including yurts, for those other weekends when accommodations are too expensive or already full in cities where we are driving along the Pacific Coast.

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Since this is a long-term road trip, I have a final destination–Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, CA–that will be where we turn around and head back up through California–or start toward Highway 66. I’m not sure yet. Either way, our hotels will be booked along the way to save my sanity and time–and because I have noticed that last-minute bookings seem to be more affordable. This might only be because it is the spring season. Summer may prove to be a lot more expensive and difficult when trying to book hotels in popular tourist areas along the coast.