Man Who Lives in Hotels Full-Time Says It's Cheaper Than Renting
He's traveled to over 25 countries while staying in luxe hotels, and he's saving money.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of rent in the U.S. has risen by nearly 30 percent, according to Zillow's November 2023 Rental Market Report. The pressure to not only be able to afford rent, but also other basic necessities like groceries and healthcare, has reached new heights. Many Americans are being forced out of big metropolitan cities such as New York and San Francisco, while others are having to ditch their cozy studio apartments for more economical living situations with roommates.
Daniel George, a computer scientist working in artificial intelligence, knows this feeling all too well. In 2021, he and his wife became full-time digital nomads working out of hotel rooms across the U.S., and eventually, all around the world. The craziest part of his story? He's spending about the same amount of money on standard—sometimes even luxurious—hotel accommodations as he did on rent, but now he's a globetrotter.
"We thought we'd travel for a few months and then settle down in another city apartment. Traveling was more fun and less exhausting than we'd thought, and we started booking international trips," George explains in an essay for Business Insider.
Three years in, the couple has visited 25 counties and "spent less than we did living in San Francisco and New York, and haven't changed our bedsheets or taken out the trash in years." They've traveled all over, including to Iceland, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Colombia, Peru, Dubai, India, and Sri Lanka.
By definition, George and his wife are professional world travelers, but they also have full-time jobs. To keep things easy, they work normal business hours during weekdays on EST, and use their free time as well as the weekends to explore. In instances where the time zones are nearly half or full days apart, like in Japan, they use vacation days.
They find large hotel brands such as Marriott, Hilton, or Hyatt, more reliable when it comes to WiFi, and only travel to their next accommodation on weekends or holidays. Because they've earned "the highest-tier hotel statuses" with such hotels, they're often awarded free room upgrades, daily breakfast, and access to lounges, which come in handy for work.
So, how do they do it? Three words: credit card points.
"We earn roughly 16 percent of our accommodation costs directly from hotel points," George writes. He further explains that when they pay for a hotel with a credit card, they can expect to see 6 to 8 percent of the grand total back in credit card points.
"Using these points systems, we pay for eight months of hotel fees and get about two months free. We don't have to pay rent for the remaining two months each year since we spend up to four weeks at work conferences and about six weeks visiting our families," he shares.
They also take advantage of different credit cards' sign-up bonuses. Collectively, they have 20 opened credit cards, but because they always pay off their balance, their credit score remains in pristine condition. George notes that certain credit cards also come with travel insurance, and others can help alleviate the stress of foreign transaction fees among other things.
"Before we started traveling constantly, we spent about $36,000 on rent a year — $1,500 a month per person," George writes, adding elsewhere in his essay that their "total cost for [hotel] accommodation for a year is about $36,000." Keep in mind, hotels often come with gym access and a free meal, which are expenses not included in the $36,000 they were paying for rent alone.
"Booking a hotel and flight every few weeks was our new normal," he writes. "After years on the move, we no longer found travel stressful. The plan is to keep traveling before we start a family."