Top 10 Accommodation Options Abroad

Finding accommodation abroad has been something that I’ve struggled with in the past.

Before I moved abroad for the first time in 2011, I remember spending countless hours looking for the right type of accommodation. The reason it was so difficult was because I didn’t really understand what my options were.

This week I find myself looking at accommodation once again for my trip to Mexico in February.

However, this time I know what I’m doing. I now have lot’s of experience living abroad in many types of accommodation and know that advantages and disadvantages of each one.

Today I want to share with you the top 10 accommodation options abroad.

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1. Hostel

The cheapest and most common type of accommodation for young travellers. Hostels are great because you’re able to meet fellow travellers from all around the world. You will be able to share stories with them and even embark on new travel adventures with your new found friends. If you’re looking for somewhere to meet others and have a party, hostels are perfect.

Unfortunately hostels are normally short term options because it can become rather uncomfortable sharing a room with 6-20 others after a few days. That being said I know many travellers who have lived for more than 6 months in a hostel, sharing a room with 6 others who were also living there full time.

Pro’s:
-Cheap
-Social, able to meet other travellers
-Multiple facilities

Con’s:
-Loud
-Lack of privacy
-Theft is common
-Lack of cultural experiences
-Shared rooms

LengthShort – Medium

Cost$5-$20 per night

Resources:
Hostel World
Hostel Bookers

2. Hotel

If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more upmarket to a hostel, then renting a hotel room might be a better option for you. Having a clean and spacious room to yourself every so often is extremely enjoyable. After travelling for a while it’s nice to treat yourself to a nice hotel room for a few days. Unfortunately, hotels are generally quite expensive in comparison to hostels and other options.

Pro’s:
-Comfortable
-Clean
-Easy to find
-Private rooms

Con’s:
-Expensive
-Lack of cultural experiences
-Hard to meet others

LengthShort

Cost$50 – $100 per night

Resources:
Hot Wire
How to Find a Cheap Hotel Room

3. Air BnB

Sometimes you just want to settle into an apartment and make yourself at home. Air BnB allows you to rent an apartment or room at an affordable price. To do this all you have to do is visit the Air BnB website, type in your location, and search through hundreds of rooms available in that area.

If you’re planning on staying in the same city for a few weeks or months then renting an Air BnB is a great alternative to a hotel.

Pro’s:
-Apartment
-Clean
-Multiple Facilities
-Affordable
-Easy to Book
-Discounts for long term stay

Con’s:
-Might have a bad host
-Might have to share apartment with others

LengthShort – Long

Cost$15 -$100 per night

Resources:
Air BnB
The Beginner’s Guide to Air Bnb

4. Host Family

If you’re looking to improve your language skills and explore a new culture, then there is no better way than living with a host family. By living with a local family you’ll be able to interact with them in a foreign language, learn more about their culture on an intimate level, and be given home cooked national dishes every day.

One of the greatest experiences I ever had was living with my host family in France. I was able to improve my level of french, learn about the french way of life and go on holiday to Spain and the French Alps with them!

Pro’s:
-Cheap
-Cultural experience
-Learn language
-Multiple facilities
-Cooked meals

Con’s:
-Lack of privacy
-Might have to live outside the city
-There are house rules that you’ll have to follow
-Lack of independence

LengthMedium – Long

Cost$250 – $700 per month (all inclusive)

Resources:
Should you Really Live With a Host Family?
Home Stay Accommodation

5. Student Accommodation

Student accommodation is the cheapest and simplest option for long term accommodation abroad. If you’re planning on studying and staying somewhere for a few weeks or months, then living in student accommodation is your best bet.

You’re normally able to book this type of housing through your university or school, which means that you’ll already have somewhere to stay before you arrive. Because you’re able to book this through your university, it will be a lot easier to show proof of accommodation when you apply for your visa. This is what I did to get my student visa to study in Paris.

Pro’s:
-Cheap
-Social, able to interact with others
-Organised through school/university
-Can be booked before you arrive abroad

Con’s:
-Small rooms
-Shared facilities
-Lack of privacy
-Might have to share a room

LengthMedium – Long

Cost$200 – $1000 per month

Resources:
Study Abroad Apartments
How to Find Study Abroad Housing

6. Lease Apartment

If you aren’t attending school/university or simply don’t want to stay in student accommodation then another option is to lease an apartment. Settling in somewhere and having your own apartment can feel like you have a new home abroad. If you plan on staying somewhere for more than a month, I recommend leasing an apartment.

Pro’s:
-Privacy
-Independence
-No rules
-Affordable

Con’s:
-Harder to meet others
-Lack of cultural experience
-Have to pay bills (water, heating, internet etc.)

LengthMedium – Long

Cost$400 – $1000 per  month

Resources:
How to Rent an Expensive Apartment for a Budget Price When Traveling
Why I Rent Apartments When I Travel

7. Share a Room

If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to lease an apartment or studio to yourself, you might want to consider sharing a room. Finding a room to share is normally pretty quick and easy in most countries. This means that when you arrive, you can stay in a hostel for a few days until you find a shared room/apartment that you want to move into. I recommend visiting the rooms before paying a deposit and agreeing to stay there.

To find a website that offers flat sharing around the world, simply type in “flat share” or “room share” followed by the city/country that you’re looking to stay in.

Pro’s:
-Cheap
-Social
-Easy to Find

Con’s:
-Lack of Privacy
-Normally have to share a room

Length: Medium – Long

Cost$200 – $800 per month

Resources:
How to Find a Roommate Overseas
Tips for Living With a Foreign Roommate Abroad

8. Work Exchange

If you’re on an extremely tight budget and don’t want to pay for accommodation, consider a work exchange. In exchange for work (as the name suggests) you’re given free accommodation at the house you’re working at. You only have to work for a couple of hours each day, and can spend the rest of the time exploring your surroundings.

The work that you have to do in exchange for a free room might be anything from painting to gardening. These jobs normally only last for a few days or weeks, so take advantage of them while you’re there.

Pro’s:
-Free
-Food might be included
-Make friends with other workers

Con’s:
-Normally have to share room
-Lack of Privacy
-Can be located far from the city
-Have to work

LengthShort – Medium

CostFree

Resources:
Workaway
Workaway, Helpx, and WWOOF: What’s the Difference?

9. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing offers the opportunity for travellers to stay on someone’s couch, floor or spare bed for free. This is an extremely helpful way to experience a new culture because you are essentially living with a local. Take advantage of the time you spend with your hosts and ask them about things to do in the area and places to see.

Pro’s:
-Free
-Cultural experience
-Social, able to interact with your hosts and their friends.

Con’s:
-Uncomfortable
-Lack of privacy
-Might have a bad host

LengthShort

CostFree

Resources:
Couchsurfing
How to Crush it on Couchsurfing

10. Au Pair

The role of an Au Pair is to help look after a families children and teach them your native language. Rather than a simple babysitter or nanny who comes and goes, you live with your Au Pair family. This is typically a sought out job for girls.

This can be a well-paying job in many areas around the world. I’ve met a few people that have been paid more than $5000 per month, plus free accommodation and food.

Pro’s:
-Free accommodation
-Paid
-Cultural experience

Con’s:
-Stay with family
-Have to look after kids
-House rules
-Less free time

Length: Medium – Long

Cost: Paid $100 – $350 per week

Resources:
Au Pair World
Find Au Pair

Now that you know the top 10 accommodation options abroad you probably have a good idea of which accommodation type suits your needs. I’m going to be cheeky and show you one more accommodation type abroad that may be even more exciting than the other options.

11. House Sitting

If you don’t mind living a little outside the city consider house sitting. In exchange for a free place to stay, you are expected to look after someone’s house while they are away. This can include anything from gardening to looking after animals. It’s a great way to have a whole house to yourself without having to pay for it.

The reason I wanted to include this in my list is because it’s an extremely popular option for long term travellers that have flexible travel plans. If you don’t mind taking a couple of weeks or months to live in a house, that is often in a remote area, house sitting will be the perfect option for you.

Pro’s:
-Free accommodation
-House to yourself
-Privacy
-Multiple facilities

Con’s:
-Have to follow rules
-Generally far away from the city
-Might have to look after pets or property

Length: Medium – Long

Cost: Free

Resources:
Trusted House Sitters
Mind My House

Conclusion

So there we have my top 10 (actually 11) accommodation options abroad for you to consider.

It’s such a simple process and is nothing to worry about. Remember if you’re not enjoying staying somewhere, you can always move somewhere else.

Now that you know about the different housing options abroad, you might be wondering how I’ll be handling my accommodation in Mexico.

Well, because I don’t have any real travel plans or deadlines, the idea is to arrive in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and book a hostel for a few days. While staying at the hostel, I’m going to ask around about the best options for leasing an apartment, visit some and book one for a month or so.

But who knows, I’m not going to stress about this like I did a few years ago. I want to be flexible enough in case my travel plans (or lack thereof) change.

I wish you the best of luck finding your accommodation abroad!

Have you ever stayed in any of these accommodation types abroad? What was your experience like?

Lewi

Lewi is the founder of MoveYourLifeAbroad.com. For the past 6 years, he has been travelling and working his way around the world. He is extremely passionate about travel and loves sharing his knowledge with others because he believes everyone should have the opportunity to live abroad. In his spare time, he enjoys having a few cheeky beers with friends and riding his bicycle around town.

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