When I was relocating from St. Louis, Missouri to Cedar Rapids, Iowa I didn’t have a place to live immediately and decided I would rent a hotel room long term. Initially I rented my hotel on-line through Priceline in order to receive a discount. While it was cheaper than standard rates to rent the room using a 3rd party, I was totally unaware that many hotels offer a discounted monthly rate and I could have saved even more by booking directly with the hotel.
After living at the hotel for 2 months with my boyfriend and 2 children, I started to see some of the benefits and the downfalls of living in a hotel as a resident guest. A resident guest is someone who lives at a hotel for more than 31 days. Under these circumstances the hotel will reduce the cost of your stay because they are not required to collect taxes for the state on stays over 30 days. This is one of the benefits of booking directly with the hotel. Also, when you book through a 3rd party, the hotel has less control over your billing, refunds, room rates, and accommodations. So my first lesson was that booking directly gives you more control.
Also, there are many benefits to living in a hotel. My favorite is all the freebies. Hotels provide many complimentary products that you would normally have to pay for if you were living in a house or apartment or even renting a room from a friend or family member. Some of things you can get for free include: Complimentary breakfast, soap, shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, tissues, napkins, coffee, creamer, sweeteners, straws, ice, office supplies like pens, paper and envelopes. You can also ask for cleaning supplies, trash bags, razors, toothpaste, sewing kits, matches, shaving cream, and other supplies that aren’t typically placed in the room, but available if you ask for them. All of these items add up in cost when you have to go to the store to buy them.
The other benefit to living in a hotel is that the room is fully furnished. They provide everything you need including a bed with covers, a TV, a desk and chair, a coffee pot, a dresser and a place to hang clothes, a hair dryer, ironing board and iron, and sometimes even a mini fridge and microwave (you want to make sure you get a room with those if you are staying long term). Other than your clothes and a few personal items, you really could live care free with just the essentials. And you would want to.
When my family first moved to Iowa, we were very attached to our possessions and didn’t want to leave anything behind. We had to get a storage unit to house most of our belongings while we were living in the hotel. We packed as much stuff as we could into the hotel room, even asking housekeeping to remove some bulky lamps and chairs we didn’t need, and we were packed in pretty tight. This is one of the downfalls of living in a hotel. Depending on the size of the room and the number of people staying with you, it can get pretty cramped. I liked having some of my own dishes and we kept a substantial supply of food on hand because I don’t like paying for fast food, and that took up a lot of space. There isn’t much storage space in a hotel room aside for clothing and a few pair of shoes. Sharing a small room with 3 other people can feel a little claustrophobic at times.
The other concern I had while living in the hotel, especially with small children, was safety. Hotels are known for breeding people with a criminal history, transients, truck drivers, and pedophiles. While the hotel we stayed at seemed pretty safe, you still need to be cautious when traveling with children. I remember when I was on vacation one time with my 2 teenage daughters and we stayed at a pretty upscale hotel. My husband was coming back from the pool with the girls and they caught the elevator before him, leaving him in the lobby. When he got to the floor where we were staying, he looked down the hallway and a man was trying to peek under the door in the room where we were staying. Apparently he saw the two girls go into the room in their swim suits and he wanted a second look. My husband yelled at him and he took off running. We contacted the hotel staff immediately and they called the police who apprehended the man in question. The hotel handled everything well, it was just a little scary. Be sure if you have children you never leave them alone or let them roam around in a hotel unsupervised.
Privacy can also be an issue when staying at a hotel. You can typically hear noises from other rooms and even in the parking lot. If you are sharing a room with other people, you won’t have separate bedrooms unless you book a suite which will cost you more money, but may still work. With children, it seems like you rarely have any alone time except in the bath room, and even then sometimes you are interrupted. If you want to have adult time you may need to set an appointment or time it just right. On the other hand, if you and your partner are the only ones in the room, you might actually see a spike in activity because of the environment and that would be a benefit instead of a downfall.
Overall, living in a hotel can provide you with a sense of freedom. Not having a long term commitment to a year-long lease and planning your finances around one single monthly payment can really lift the burdens of providing for your everyday needs. You know if you decide to move or want to travel you have the ability to do so. Having a maid to clean your room and provide you with free toiletries and clean towels every day may also leave you feeling a little pampered. But, the downfalls should be considered as well before making that transformation from long term residence to transient living.