Digital Nomad and Remote Worker Guide to Living in Airbnbs

Airbnb is a great way to find short-term flexible accommodation for remote work and digital nomads who enjoy the freedom to live from anywhere.  But living in an Airbnb as a remote worker or digital nomad can come with its own set of challenges and considerations. There are some key things remote workers should consider when booking and living in Airbnbs.

This guide will walk you through the most important tips remote workers and digital nomads should know when researching, booking, and staying at Airbnbs. In this article, I’ll give you my best tips for making the most out of your Airbnb experience as a remote worker.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for general information purposes only. It is not meant to represent legal, financial, medical, or other professional advice. Deskless Nomad makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete, or up to date. Please see the full Deskless Nomad Disclaimer

Why Airbnb is still one of the top choices for remote workers and digital nomads

Despite the backlash the platform has gotten recently on social media for various reasons, Airbnb is still a great option for digital nomads and remote workers to stay long-term or short-term for the following reasons:

1. Ease of payment. 

You can pay on the app with a travel credit card, collecting points towards future free travel.  Compare this with arranging for bank transfers in foreign companies when you attempt to rent an apartment for even a short-term stay.

2. No lease and typically no deposit. 

You don’t have to sign a lease in order to stay at an Airbnb.  You are still agreeing to their terms of service when you use the app but you don’t have to sign a new lease for every place you stay.  With their new AirCover service, hosts are covered by insurance so they don’t need to request security deposits. You also get the security of knowing you will get what you booked or Airbnb will find you a similar or better home and give you a refund.

3. Flexibility. 

You can book for a day or a couple of months depending on your travel plans and work obligations. With Airbnb’s split stay feature, you can split two consecutive stays for the span of your dates and explore two different neighborhoods.

4. Your payments are protected with AirCover (Airbnb’s travel insurance).

Your travel credit card may also provide free travel insurance (Chase Sapphire Reserve and Capital One Venture X are both good examples).  Compare this with short-term rentals you find through Craigslist or other listings where if the landlord backs out or you find you are scammed, you may have a hard time getting your money back.

5. You can earn points and miles on your rent. 

Since Airbnb is labeled a travel category on most travel credit cards, you can earn points or miles that you can use to pay for flights, hotel stays, and other travel perks.

6. Airbnbs are everywhere. 

No matter where you want to go in the world you can book an Airbnb rental from a single online platform. If you choose to visit one of the top 10 cities for digital nomads, you will find plenty of Airbnb options.

7. The variety of housing types. 

With Airbnb, you can choose an apartment, house, room in a house, or unique accommodation like tree houses, tiny houses, boats, various traditional dwellings, etc.

8. There are no utilities to set up or pay. 

Unlike with traditional rentals where you may have to pay to activate utilities and then pay them monthly, utilities are included in the price of an Airbnb rental.

9. Airbnbs are great for traveling with dogs. 

While there are some key things you should know about staying in Airbnbs with dogs, it is very easy to find pet-friendly Airbnbs.

Tips for remote workers when searching Airbnb listings

Consider the property location (and noise).  

If you are a remote worker and need to work from your Airbnb, make sure to consider the location of the Airbnb.  It’s important to find a place that is quiet and conducive to working.  But you may also want an Airbnb with easy access to amenities like grocery stores, coffee shops, or parks for your lunch hour or after work.   

Keep in mind the distance to the places you plan to explore when you aren’t working – the beach, running or bike trails, museums, bars, and restaurants, etc.  You’ll also want to consider proximity to public transportation if you won’t have a car.

Make sure there is an appropriate place for zoom calls.  

If you prefer to have a particular background for zoom meetings, look closely at the photos of any potential property.  Imagine what it might be like to set up your zoom meetings in various locations in the house.  You’ll also want to consider the ambient noise.  If your Airbnb is on a busy street or near the airport it may interfere with your meetings.

Confirm the wifi speed.  

Having fast wifi speed is a must for remote workers who rely on the internet to get work done.  Airbnb now offers hosts the ability to check their wifi speed to display on their listing.  Don’t be shy about asking for a screenshot of the internet speed test. You can also filter your search for properties that have wifi (see below).

Remote workers living in Airbnbs can filter for wifi when searching Airbnb listings

If a host hasn’t posted or confirmed the wifi speed on their listing you can ask them to check the speed via Airbnb to give you an idea if it will be sufficient.  You may also want to ask your host about cellular service on the property.

Look for a dedicated workspace.  

An appropriate workspace may be different than your preferred zoom call location.  A quiet place with plenty of light, comfortable seating, large desk space, electrical outlets, and wifi signal may be important to you.  Other remote workers may only need a comfy couch.  Consider how and where you work best.

Having a dedicated workspace can increase your productivity and help you draw the line between work and other activities. If you are traveling with someone make sure you each have a dedicated workspace.

Check the photos to make sure you can identify the appropriate workspace for you (and your travel partners).  You can also filter properties for “dedicated workspace.”  See below.

Remote workers living in Airbnbs can filter for a dedicated workspace when searching Airbnb listings

If you plan to find a local coworking space rather than working in the Airbnb rental make sure to research their locations and prices ahead of time so you know what to expect.

Choose amenities that provide a comfortable lifestyle.  

Look for properties that have the amenities important for your desired lifestyle.  Having an available washer and dryer on the property can save you time and money.  Perhaps you want an outdoor space with comfortable outdoor furniture for your lunch hour?  Or maybe you’d really like to have a hot tub to unwind at the end of a workday.

If you drive an electric car, Airbnb now lets you filter for EV chargers so you don’t have to worry about how you will charge your car.

Remote workers living in Airbnbs can filter for EV chargers when searching Airbnb listings

Look for reviews from other remote workers

When searching for an Airbnb, specifically look for reviews from other travelers who stayed in the property for more than a couple of weeks and worked remotely.  Other remote workers may have helpful insights and experiences that are relevant to your needs.

Look for these details: “Dedicated workspace” and “Guests love this place for long stays”

When considering your length of stay, keep in mind the tourist visa length for your destination

Don’t forget to research the tourist visa length for your destination.  You don’t want to book a place only to realize you can’t stay the full reservation.  

There are several countries that have long-stay tourist visas where you can stay for 6 months or more.  You can also consider applying for a digital nomad visa although there are several reasons you may not even need one.  If you are staying in Europe there are a number of ways to stay beyond the 90-day tourist visa.

Check out Airbnb’s Live and Work Anywhere Initiative

Airbnb recently launched the Live and Work Anywhere initiative to recognize destinations that are embracing the potential of remote work.  For each destination, they are creating hubs to showcase the best of local long-term stay listings.  The hubs will also provide important information regarding visas (including digital nomad visas), entry requirements, and tax policies.  If you are American and plan to travel and work remotely make sure to read this tax guide for digital nomads.

The Live and Work Anywhere destinations and information hubs include:

Tips for remote workers when booking an Airbnb

Communicate with the host before you book.

As a remote worker, you’ll likely be spending more time in the Airbnb property than a typical vacation rental guest.  Make sure to communicate with the host before booking so you can see what kind of host they will be.  You want someone who will be responsive if something is broken or you encounter any problems.

Take a look at these other questions smart travelers should ask Airbnb hosts to make sure you have the best experience.

Look for long-term discounts.  

Airbnb hosts can choose to offer discounts for stays of 7 or 28 days or longer.  You have to play around with the dates but sometimes you will find that extending your dates will save you money.  On several occasions, I have found that staying 7 days instead of 6 scores me a discount.  It sometimes ends up being cheaper to stay longer.

If the Airbnb listing doesn’t automatically offer a discount for longer stays you can contact the Airbnb host to negotiate a lower price.  

Airbnb has a page dedicated to sublets and stays of 30 days or longer.  It is still possible to choose specific sublet dates (you don’t have to start your stay on the first of the month) but to qualify for the sublet long stay discounts the booking must be 30 days or more.  Just as with the main Airbnb page you can search by a specific location or explore the world map for options.  

If you are planning on booking an Airbnb for more than a month, make sure to check out my ultimate guide to renting an Airbnb long-term.

On a budget? Consider learning the many secrets to saving money on Airbnb.

There are actually a number of ways you can save money on Airbnb stays.  These range from tips when searching for properties, things to do when booking your Airbnb, how to buy and use Airbnb gift cards for the maximum discount, avoiding Airbnb rental scams, avoiding occupancy taxes, and many others.  There are also a number of other secrets for finding the perfect Airbnb at the best price.

Make sure to earn points or miles for your Airbnb stays.

Remote workers and digital nomads whose lifestyle revolves around travel and exploring the world can save money on travel by earning points or miles for Airbnb stays.  Learning how to use travel credit cards and the various other ways to earn points and miles for all of your travel bookings can save you tons of money on travel.  Imagine being able to pay for your next flight to your next destination with the points you earn on your Airbnb stay.

You can earn Delta miles for Airbnb stay if you book through the Delta portal. Using a travel credit card like Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve will earn you points for travel purchases made on Airbnb which you can redeem for flights, hotels, car rentals, and other travel categories. 

Check the cancellation policy before you book.

Each host will set their own cancellation policy flexibility.  Make sure you read and understand the cancellation policy.  Depending on how likely your plans are to change during your stay, you may want to choose a property with a more flexible cancellation policy.  Staying longer means you are on the hook for a larger amount of money if you have to cancel all or a portion of your stay.

Remote workers and digital nomads who travel regularly may book several accommodations months in advance to ensure they will have an ideal place to stay.  Changes to an itinerary can get expensive so the more cancellation flexibility you have the better.

Check outside of Airbnb

Many hosts will list the same property on multiple booking platforms.  Sometimes it is a lot cheaper to book a property through another booking platform.  If the host is a professional property manager, search for the agency on google and see if they offer direct bookings.  These will often be cheaper since they don’t include the Airbnb service fee.  You may also want to check out the many alternatives to Airbnb for short-term and vacation rentals.  

One of my favorite accommodation options for traveling and working remotely is staying in coliving spaces.  If you enjoy living with and getting to know other digital nomads and remote workers, coliving spaces are a fantastic way to live in beautiful houses, villas, or even castles and have a sense of community.  Check out my curated list of the best coliving spaces for digital nomads and remote workers.

Tips for living and working remotely in an Airbnb

Take good care of the place.  

Of course, taking care of your rental is the right thing to do.  But you’ll also want to make sure you are getting good reviews from hosts.  It will make it easier to negotiate discounts with future hosts, convince future hosts you are a safe guest when you want to stay for long periods (they can always choose not to accept you), and is generally good karma.  If something breaks, let the host know right away so they can address it.

Set boundaries with the host. 

While it is important to have a good relationship with your host, it’s also important to set boundaries and respect each other’s privacy.  Some hosts live on the same property or in a connected unit.  If you are staying in an Airbnb for an extended period of time you will likely encounter the host at some point.  While it may be a little awkward, find a way to politely communicate your needs and expectations early regarding access to the property and your privacy.  

Take time to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Get the most out of your stay, even if you are working remotely.  Check out the cultural venues.  Participate in outdoor activities.  Look for opportunities to volunteer in the local community.  

An easy way to immerse yourself in the local culture is to try booking an Airbnb experience. You get to try something new and meet the locals at the same time.

Make exercise part of your routine and part of your Airbnb selection

Physical exercise boosts your mental wellness. But it’s easy to slack off or find excuses not to work out when you’re traveling and nomadic. Keep exercise and physical activities in mind when choosing your Airbnb. Consider the distance to parks and gyms to reduce the friction of keeping up with your workouts.

When working and living in Airbnbs, make sure you regularly set aside time for physical activity, especially any exercise that gets you out of your living space and into the surrounding community.

Bring an extension cord, travel plug adaptors, and noice cancelling headphones

An extension cord can make all of the difference in the comfort of your workspace.  Where the host chooses to place a desk may not be the best place for plugging in your computer and gadgets. 

If you are traveling internationally, don’t forget your travel plug adaptor(s) so you can power and charge all of your gadgets.

Noice cancelling headphones are useful whether you work in your Airbnb, a coworking space, or in coffee shops.

Take photos after your final cleaning when you leave.

After you have done your last cleaning prior to checking out, take photos of how you leave the place.  In the event that a host tries to charge additional cleaning fees or damages, you can use the photos to dispute any charges.  Unfortunately, some hosts are unscrupulous and will try to charge unreasonable additional cleaning fees in addition to the original cleaning fee.  Airbnb hosts are individuals and while Airbnb can try to discourage poor host behavior these things still happen.

I hope this guide has helped you prepare for living and working remotely in Airbnbs.  By following these tips, you can have a successful and enjoyable experience living in Airbnbs as a digital nomad.  With careful planning and consideration, you can find an Airbnb that meets your needs and allows you to work and live comfortably while exploring and immersing yourself in your destination.

Jamie Dubois

I am a freelance writer, wanderer, kayaker, rock climber, and adventurer.

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