Updated Apr 17, 2022
Today’s international short-term rental market is diverse with many companies offering a variety of economic options. Short-term rentals are a popular alternative to hotels and hostels for digital nomads and vacationers alike. They offer a feeling of home, access to an equipped kitchen, and can be found in areas where it may be difficult to find a hotel.
Airbnb is the first place many of us look for furnished short-term rentals and vacation homes abroad. They are the most well-known company providing easy access to furnished vacation rentals in more than 220 countries and territories. However, there are a number of reasons digital nomads and traveling remote workers may want to search alternative sites:
- In many areas Airbnb prices have soared and can be more than resort stays (without the amenities)
- Airbnb scams have become more common, although there are tips you can learn to avoid short term and vacation rental scams.
- Airbnb hosts may cancel last minute and you are left on your own to find replacement accommodation. Airbnb has limited compensation for rebooking cost differences (10%) which can be high when attempting to book another place last minute.
- The quality of Airbnb properties varies greatly due to limited quality control
- Reviews on Airbnb can be unreliable
- Add on fees can be equal to more than a night’s stay and can include service fee, cleaning fee, pet fee, security deposit, additional guest fee, resort fee, management fee, community fee
- Some cities, condominium associates and HOAs ban or limit Airbnbs and guests arrive finding out they are staying in the rental illegally (Airbnb leaves it to the host to determine if the rental is allowed)
- Many websites offer the same convenience of online booking and secure payments but have better customer service
- There are websites that specialize in particular regions of the world where Airbnb has limited choices
Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to constitute 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.
Characteristics of the best websites for traveling remote workers
This article will focus on short term rental sites with characteristics and services that make them ideal for traveling remote workers and digital nomads. These include:
- Facilitate searches for stays longer than 21 days
- Give discounts for longer stays
- List prices for total stay or monthly rate rather than nightly rate
- List a significant number of monthly rentals that are equal to or less than the average cost of a one bedroom in NYC ($3195) or San Francisco ($2800) in 2021
- Vet the landlords (so you don’t have to)
- Simplified application process
- Secure online payment service for booking with credit card rather than bank transfer to landlord
- Clearly list cancellation policy (each property on a website may have a different cancellation policy but these should be clearly listed)
- List properties with equipped kitchens and include utilities
- Have options for paying only a portion up front (so you don’t had to prepay several months of rent at once)
The best of non-Airbnb websites
- Best for large inventory of rentals: Booking, Agoda, Vrbo, Trip Advisor, Wimdu, hotels.com, 9flats
- Best meta search tools: Tripping, Nestpick, Wimdu
- Best for large quantity of longer term apartments: Nestpick, Flatio
- Best for unusual properties: Glampinghub, Agoda
- Best for hand-picked quality rentals: Plum Guide, Belvilla, Marriott, Halldis, Villa Finder
- Best for rewards programs: Hotels.com, Marriott, Agoda
- Best for the United States: Vrbo, Hotels.com
- Best for quantity of rentals in Europe: 9flats, Flipkey, Expedia
- Best for Asia: Agoda
- Best for Latina America: Vrbo
The List of Alternatives to Airbnb
The links to services and websites provided in this post are not sponsored and are for convenience and informational purposes only. Contact the websites directly with any questions regarding their services.
Short-term rental search engine that redirects to partner websites like Booking and Trivago. No holiday homes or apartments are advertised directly on the site.
- Large search engine
- They are a third party in addition to the original booking site and host.
- No customer service for problems with the booking or cancellations.
A brand of the Booking Holdings company which also owns Booking and Priceline. Lists >2,500,000 properties in >200 countries and territories.
- Large alternative to airbnb
- Short term rentals in Asia
- Can search by monthly stays or dates ranging from 30 to 90 days
- Labels properties ideal for long stays
- Many properties with free cancellation option
- Can filter by bed type (great for those who prefer King beds)
- Can get discounts by booking multiple stays at once
- Has a Best Price Guarantee (if you can find same room for same dates at a lower price on another site they will match rate or credit the difference)
- PointsMax is their new rewards program allowing you to earn points through multiple partner loyalty programs (including major ones like United, American Airlines, FlyingBlue, British Airways, Etihad)
- Customer reports of “ghost” bookings where people book and pay online but properties have no record of booking
The short-term rental industry leader. Lists >7,000,000 properties in more than 220 countries and territories.
- Largest number of non-hotel housing options worldwide
- Wide selection of housing types (entire place, private room, hotel, shared room)
- Can filter by free cancellation
- Can arrange for monthly rentals without leases
- Flexible rental length
- Secure payments through website
- Many properties with weekly and monthly discounts
- Can filter by EV charger availability
- Can filter by unusual accommodation type like dome, tiny home, shipping container, farm, entire island, castle, earth home, etc.
- For stays >28 days you’ll be charged initial down payment for first month and you pay monthly thereafter
- Airbnb Plus offers a smaller selection of places verified for quality
- Some airlines offer miles for Airbnb bookings made through their dedicated platforms (Delta, British Airways, Qantas)
- See list of Airbnb cons at beginning of this article
A brand of India-based OYO Vacation Homes. Lists more than 25,000 properties in over a dozen European countries with most in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK.
- Quality screened properties in Western Europe
- All properties screened for quality
- Excellent 24/7 customer service
- They offer cash back bonus if you are first person to stay in non-rated home and first to rate your experience
- Occasional discounts like the VR20 with 20% off
- Offers some unusual property types like boat, chalet, castle, farmhouse
- May have individual property booking maximum length of 28 nights
- Maximum rental period is 3 months (1 month in Italy)
- Priced for vacation rentals, no discounts for monthly stays
- Site states stays are not for “business travel”
A brand of Booking Holdings company which also owns Agoda and Priceline Lists >6,000,000 properties in more than 223 countries and territories (including regions of Australia, Asia, South Africa, and northern Africa).
- Travel anywhere in the world.
- Many properties with excellent last minute cancellation policies
- Many properties with discounts for monthly stays
- Free “Genius” loyalty program gives 10-15% discount, room upgrades, and free breakfasts
- Can also search for hotels, hostels, campgrounds, luxury tents, boats
- Limited quality control
The largest extended-stay hotel franchise in North America. Provides a rental experience that is similar to booking a hotel room with a national chain. Rooms include a fully equipped kitchen, free WiFi, and breakfast. Lists >650 properties in the US and Canada.
- Instant booking
- Consistent experience across all properties
- Not dealing with inconsistent hosts
- Breakfast included
- Flexible rental periods (weeks or months)
- Discounted rates for long term guests and booking early
- Can book through other platforms that give awards
- Access to pool and gyms
- “Extended Perks” rewards program offering discounts at their hotels as well from partners
- Low star ratings
- Impersonal standard hotel room
- Limited geographic options and property types
Platform to find short-term rentals from between 14 days to 12 months worldwide and especially in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Czech Republic, and Croatia.
- Longer stays
- Virtual tour listing mean an apartment has been personally verified by Flatio team
- First month’s payment is only forwarded to landlord after 7 days from beginning of lease once you have confirmed there were no problems
- No deposits for rentals shorter than 180 days
- No cleaning fees
- Some properties require security deposits
- Charges a reservation fee €19 and a variable service fee based on rent and length of stay
- Landlords have 24 hours to reject you based on your reservation request where you give information about yourself
A brand of TripAdvisor which also owns Holiday Lettings, Niumba, Vacation Home Rentals, and HouseTrip. Properties listed on one site are automatically listed on all of the partner websites. See Tripadvisor Rentals below.
Lists >70,000 monthly furnished rentals for travel nurses and other traveling professionals. Marketed as “the specialized resource for 30-day and greater stays”. No markups, commissions, or booking fees. You submit a housing request to be connected with host property owners. Used by travel nurses and medical staffing companies. The site has a useful calculator tool to research average rents in various locations.
- Traveling professionals staying more than 30 days in one location in the US
- Free to the traveler
- Specifically for extended stays for professionals
- Mostly marketed to travel nurses who receive housing stipend from staffing agencies so may influence prices
- Most are minimum 1 month stays
- Bookings require lease agreement
- Direct rental payments to landlord (although through online portal)
- Requires review of your credit score and report, background check
- Some rentals do not have utilities included in price
A site specifically for camping with some comforts and luxuries of a home (for example a carpeted tent with a queen-sized bed). Lists >23,000 stays in 115 countries.
- Rustic and rural accommodations
- Unique stays like treehouses, yurts, glamping tents, tiny homes, airstreams
- Many unique and affordable stays around the world
- Many properties don’t have kitchens (or kitchen equipment)
- Properties can be just as expensive as more equipped or luxurious properties on other sites
- No discounts for longer stays
- Service fees are non-refundable (up to 20% of total)
- Complicated cancellation process
Lists >2,000 properties (mostly apartments and villas) in the main touristic cities in Italy, as well as Paris and Brussels.
- Short term vacation rentals in Italy
- Great for quality rentals in Italy
- Excellent customer service
- Can be difficult to get prices for long term stays
- Most properties priced for vacation rentals
- No discount for long term stays (but may be able to negotiate)
A brand of TripAdvisor which also owns Flipkey, Niumba, Vacation Home Rentals, and HouseTrip. Properties listed on one site are automatically listed on all of the partner websites. See Tripadvisor Rentals below.
Specifically for staying with hosts. Mostly for a renting room in a house but entire houses or units are also available. You can choose a stay focusing on a particular experience like cooking, eco-friendly, language, yoga, art & craft, sport, or just “weird and wonderful.” Lists >325,000 stays in 176 countries.
- Staying with hosts and getting to know the locals
- Europe (especially U.K.) and major cities worldwide (LA, Sydney, London Paris)
- Many options more affordable than vacation rentals (average nightly price globally is $38 per room)
- Some stays will have meals provided or list access to kitchen
- Great if you want to meet the locals, work on your language skills
- Can list stays by monthly rather than by nightly rates
- All stays include breakfast
- Can’t easily sort by amenities offered
- 15% non refundable booking fee at time of booking (the remainder is paid to host in person on arrival and may require bank transfer)
Hopper is the most downloaded travel app in the US. In January 2022, Hopper began offering over 2 million worldwide vacation rentals in addition to flights, hotels, and rental cars. Each of their properties is managed by professional property suppliers. Unlike Airbnb, Hopper has a cash back loyalty program for travelers to earn rewards on all of their travel booked on the app.
- Hopper enthusiasts who love their Price Prediction feature
- Hopper users who want to take advantage of the ”Carrot Cash” cash back loyalty program
- Travelers who want to book vacation rentals, flights, and car rentals on a single platform
- As of February 2022 they haven’t ironed out their cancellation policies yet
- With only 2 million properties, they have fewer options compared to the competition but they promise to keep rolling out new properties
- You can’t yet search by price but that should change soon
A brand of Expedia Group which also owns Vrbo. While typically known for hotels, the site also offers vacation rentals. You can submit your travel dates and let properties bid to host your extended stay which can save you up to 60%.
- Hotels and aparthotels
- Can sort by free cancellation
- Loyalty program for discounted stays and free nights
- Can’t search for stays longer than 28 days without submitting travel dates for bids
- Mainly markets hotel and aparthotel stays
A brand of TripAdvisor which also owns Flipkey, Niumba, Vacation Home Rentals, and Holiday Lettings. Properties listed on one site are automatically listed on all of the partner websites. See Tripadvisor Rentals below.
A platform to connect landlords to tenants. A good site for both housing shares and monthly rentals of entire places. Tells you how many roommates share a place and if bills are included. Check to make sure kitchenware is provided. Operates in 30+ countries. Marketed for “making moving abroad more simple.” Collects a one-time fee of 25% of the first month’s rent, capped at €250. Listings in >30 countries.
- Looking for mid to long term apartments while in another country
- Can receive immediate confirmation that can be used as proof of residency for visa application
- Site verifies bank details of landlords and they get badges if they have successfully rented out on the platform
- Secure online payments
- If landlord cancels you get full refund
- Site holds the first month’s rent until 48 hours after move in to make sure you are happy with the place before they pay the landlord
- Service fee >25% of first month’s rent
- Security deposits may be required
- Hosts may requests tenants of certain ages and genders
- After the first month, rent may be requested directly with landlord and require bank transfer
A member of Marriott Bonvoy. While they generally market luxury vacation homes you can find reasonably priced vacation rentals with a little searching. Lists >20,000 properties worldwide including North America, Latin America, Caribbean, Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
- Earning or redeeming rewards points through Marriott Bonvoy
- Luxury vacation homes
- Part of Marriott rewards network so can use points to pay and earn points when you stay
- Excellent 24/7 customer service
- Promises professional cleaning and bathroom amenities
- Must book very early to get best deals
- You don’t find out true price per night until you choose specific nights
- Most are priced as higher end luxury homes
Search engine for more than 3 million listings from 200+ partner websites like Airbnb, HomeStay, Spotahome, ErasmusU, student.com, etc. to provide a large selection of mid to long-term furnished rentals around the world. Lists >3,000,000 properties in major cities worldwide.
- Search engine for multiple sites
- Offers student apartments and very economical furnished rental options
- Limited listings outside of major cities
A brand of TripAdvisor which also owns Flipkey, Holiday Lettings, Vacation Home Rentals, and HouseTrip. Properties listed on one site are automatically listed on all of the partner websites. See Tripadvisor Rentals below.
London-based company listing peer-to-peer vacation rentals that differ from Airbnb and Vrbo by the quality controls. Plum Guide is selective about its properties and only puts its names on homes that represent the top 3% of the market. Listings must pass the Plum Home Test consisting of a 150-point checklist to qualify for Plum selection. Hosts are obligated to keep price parity across all platforms so the same home is the same price whether it is on Plum or Airbnb. Homes tend to be at the higher end but you can still find many affordable quality stays. Lists >10,000 properties in Western Europe, Barbados, Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, Mexico, and the US.
- Major international cities like LA, London, Rome and Paris
- People who don’t want to look through a lot of listings to find the perfect place
- Properties are high quality
- No hidden costs. Total price shown includes all taxes and fees (unless you add additional services like housekeeping or fridge fills, pool heating fees in winter, bring pets).
- Matchmaking service where personal travel advisors recommend the perfect destination based on your criteria, for FREE, with no obligation to book. No more hours wasted searching through listings. You can use this service for long stays to make sure you get the best discounted price. Matchmakers can negotiate with hosts for long term stays which may decrease price another 10-20%.
- Offers some flexibility with payments (you may qualify for a more flexible payment plan depending on cancellation policy, length of stay, check in date)
- Many properties offer weekly and monthly discounts
- Security deposit listed is not taken as part of the booking but is the maximum amount a damages claim can be brought against you
- No guest reviews are published (they believe the peer review system is flawed)
Dedicated to short-term housing solutions. You can browse by city or submit a request and a professional will send you options that fit your needs and budget. They handle the lease, deposit and schedule move in and out. Marketed as short-term corporate housing.
- Professional and personalized assistance for those short on time
- Personalized results
- No leases or deposits
- Multiple housing types
- Customizable furniture options
- Prices start at $80/day
Lists >60,000 holiday cottages, lodges, and apartments throughout Europe. Marketed as “last minute” holiday rentals.
- UK properties
- Great if you are flexible and looking for inspiration for stays mostly in the UK
- Every property is 100% verified
- Instant booking
- Members can save up to 60%
- Limited to Europe
- You can only search for stays up to 28 nights
- Many properties seem to prefer check in on specific days of the week
- Cancellation policies are not clearly noted
Flip Key, Niumba, Holiday Lettings, and House Trip are also part of TripAdvisor Rentals. VRBO rentals also show up on TripAdvisor search engine. Nightly rates are in line with HomeAway and Vrbo. Extra fees are added to the total (cleaning, tax, booking). Lists >630,000 properties in 190 countries.
- Large company alternative to Airbnb
- Integrated with collective information of TripAdvisor traveler reviews
- Fewer options than other large sites
- Some properties require inquiry to host before booking
A search engine that compares deals from multiple booking sites including Vrbo, Booking.com, hotels.com, Agoda.com, etc.
A site to find flats, rooms, and homes in Europe and a couple of cities in the US, Brazil, and Australia. Marketed to students, digital nomads, professionals, and groups.
- Finding furnished apartments in major Western European cities
- Monthly or longer stays
- Secure payment – they wait 24 hours until after move in to pay landlord in case it doesn’t match the listing
- Response from potential landlords within 48 hours
- Premium Places collection lists hand selected and verified properties
- Provide accommodation certificate which can be used for visa applications
- Pay security deposit and rent after first month directly to landlord (may require bank transfer)
- Service fee is not visible until you send booking request
A professional vacation rental management company that lists >30,000 properties in the US, Canada, Mexico, Belize, and Costa Rica. Many properties are simultaneously listed across multiple platforms.
- Excellent customer service
- Properties managed by professional company rather than individual hosts
- They work with hosts to offer best amenities that draw guests
- Limited inventory and geographic area
- No discounts for long term rentals
- Priced for vacation stays
A brand of TripAdvisor which also owns Flipkey, Niumba, Holiday Lettings, and HouseTrip. Properties listed on one site are automatically listed on all of the partner websites. See Tripadvisor Rentals above.
The site offers handpicked villas in Asia, the Pacific, and Europe. Many of the properties are priced as vacation rentals but they have a number of properties that are more affordable. Lists >40,000 properties in 14 countries in Asia, the Pacific, and Europe.
- High quality properties, often with pools and other amenities
- They promise world class customer service at no added charge
- Every rental is personally checked by the company’s site inspectors
- Limited inventory
- Deposits (50% of total) are always non-refundable but company may negotiate refund on your behalf minus admin fee of $200.
A brand of Expedia Group. Sites like Vacation Rentals, Home Away, Abritel.fr, Stayz, Bookabach, Fewo-direkt.de and other Expedia-owned vacation sites redirect to Vrbo to consolidate rentals into one site. Listings are exclusively for entire homes and apartments and are typically priced for shorter vacation stays. Lists >2,000,000 properties in 180 countries with a heavy concentration in Europe and North America.
- Large company alternative to Airbnb
- No leases
- Flexible rental lengths
- Secure payments
- Mostly priced for shorter stays
- Additional fees vary greatly and are at the host’s discretion
A brand of HomeToGo which also owns Tripping and Casamundo. One of the major competitors to Airbnb. A vacation rental search engine that redirects users to the primary website that has the relationship with the individual lodging provider (such as Expedia, Booking, Homeaway, Vrbo, TripAdvisor, Flipkey, etc.)
- Beginning of your search to compare properties across multiple platforms
- Large search engine aggregates from multiple sites
- For properties booked through site there is a currency conversion fee if you pay in US dollars
Finally, there are several other sources to look for home shares, rentals, and sublets around the world including:
- Sabbaticalhomes.com for locations near Universities
- Idealista.it for Italy
- Leboncoin.fr for France
- Rentalia.com for Spain
- Alquilerargentina.com for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay
- Trademe.co.nz for New Zealand
- Tradingpost.com.au for Australia
- Apartments.gaijinpost.com for Japan
- HousingJapan.com for Japan
- Rightmove for UK