What made me decide to live in a hotel full time

 

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Good morning! Today I have a post from mochimac, a personal finance blogger at “Save. Spend. Splurge.mochimac got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months. She now lives in a hotel full-time, and works a lot less for a lot more money as a freelancing consultant.

Please contact me if you would like to guest post on RFI.
About 6 months into my job right out of college, I decided that I would live in a hotel full-time and travel.

I came to this decision when I had signed a 12-month lease for an apartment that was very close to the actual office I thought I would be working in.

For the first month or so, I was taking the bus to work and getting there in about 15 minutes, even with rush hour, it was fantastic!

My apartment was great too, about 1200 square feet, 4 closets which I immediately filled with clothes and things, and plenty of light, air and space. It was pretty much a dream apartment overlooking a gorgeous forest right off my balcony.

…then I got staffed on a project in the middle of nowhere, and realized that I would be commuting to another city via an airplane each week (Monday) and returning late afternoon (Friday), only to be too exhausted to do anything but flop on a bed at around 9 p.m. at night.

Saturdays were reserved for buying some groceries just for the weekend as I wouldn’t be in the apartment all week, and my Sunday was prepping to fly back out at 3 a.m. on a Monday morning to be at the client site for an 8 a.m. start.

1_SaveSpendSplurge_Mochimac_Photograph-Office-Air-Plane-Travel

My office was literally in the sky at the start of my consulting career

PAYING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR AN EMPTY PLACE

It was not a life that I had envisioned.

I had a lovely apartment, fully decorated to the nines and a relaxing oasis, but I was so fatigued, slightly stressed out from a new job and more than that, $60,000 in debt from student loans and annoyed that I wasn’t even living in this perfect apartment about 70% of the time.

Then I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea – Why didn’t I just live in the cities where I worked in a hotel? I could prove how much cheaper that would be to pay for a hotel (plus food) on the weekends for me to stay there rather than fly back each week, and I could give up my apartment.

I was already living out of a carryon suitcase full of things, it became very clear to me that I didn’t need about 99% of the stuff I had in my beautiful apartment for 70% of the time.

The client would love it because I could be there early Monday without any flight delays, and I wouldn’t be rushing off on a Friday to catch my flight back home.

I would also be less fatigued, be able to walk to work and I’d have 100% of my basic expenses paid for : shelter (at the hotel), food (per diem given each day), and I’d only have to cover my personal expenses. Even my cellphone was paid for.

That is when I decided to live full-time in a hotel and have been doing that ever since.

I’ve met other consultants along the way (about 2) who have quietly admitted that they did the same thing when they were singletons. I guess I wasn’t the only one with that idea!

There are even other consultants I’ve observed on my travels who do this with their entire families, and their wives don’t work, and just live in the hotel, taking care of their kids while they go to work.

GIVING UP 90% OF MY STUFF WAS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT

Once I gave up my apartment, I also realized I’d have to put everything in storage or sell it, so I sold every piece of furniture and major appliance I had (couch, coffee table, TV, etc), and put the rest of my things in storage.

All that I had left was about a storage bin’s worth of boxes filled with clothes and other things. I took out a full-sized suitcase of exactly what I would need other than kitchenware, and experimented living with just that, full-time at a hotel.

I tried it out for a year, and loved it.

It was a bit tough at the start when I wanted to reach for something that I thought I had (like a mug), but realized it was still packed away, but I made a list and learned how to make do with what I had.

I managed to save about 90% of my net income and funneled it all into debt with my new creative way of living, and cleared $60,000 in 18 months.

A little while later, I quit my corporate job and became a freelancer, which quadrupled my income and helped me clear the last $15,000 of my debt in 2 weeks, but that’s another story.

TURNING INTO A NOMADIC MINIMALIST FULL-TIME

When I came off the project, I didn’t exactly have a place to move back to, so I just continued living in a hotel while I waited to be staffed on another project.

It became expensive because I wasn’t used to paying for anything, but it certainly motivated me to ask for more work as soon as possible.

I also learned where to go to live for the interim (apartment-style hotels are the best), and realized I could negotiate lower monthly rates with them rather than daily or weekly ones.

Throughout all of this, I contemplated what it meant to have all this stuff that I didn’t even use, and concluded that I didn’t need what I thought I did.

I turned into a minimalist because I thought: “If I could do this for a year, couldn’t I at least get rid of all the excess baggage (literally) and do this as a lifestyle for the rest of my life?

Who is to say I can’t live my whole life with a few suitcases, even if I have kids?

I don’t need as much as I thought I did, and my future kids will certainly not need as much as me, not having any expectations for stuff and things except for the ones set by me.

And that’s where I started thinking about living with less as real way of life.

I didn’t set a limit on how much I could own, but I did want to be able to move with just one trip in a car, so that became my guideline of what I could keep and what I had to sell, donate or toss.

THE STORY TODAY: STILL LIVING IN HOTELS

Now that I’m a freelancer, I still live full-time in hotels (save for a few years when I traveled and basically haven’t worked much because I didn’t want to).

I travel to the cities where I need to work, and living in a hotel actually ends up being a cheaper, hassle-free option as a consultant than if I were to keep a full-time apartment and travel from there.

Of course, the one time I stayed in Manhattan about a block from my work site, was rather expensive at $5000 a month coming out of my pocket, but it wasn’t for a long period of time.

2_SaveSpendSplurge_Mochimac_Photograph-New-York-City-Central-Park

I lived about a block from Central Park, Manhattan (pictured above)

Sure, it isn’t as easy to accumulate junk and it can be frustrating at times, but at least I don’t have that weekly commute of flying cross-country, and I can be at the office in about 15 minutes or less (while walking no less!) most of the time.

My life has turned into finding out what is truly necessary to live a fulfilling and happy, and to live with less. The struggle still continues to some extent but as I meander through life, it is becoming clearer what makes me happy.

 

this post was featured on Financial Uproar, thank you!

A 30 something French girl embarking on a journey towards Financial Independence. I blog about money, travel, simple and deliberate living, freedom and choices. You can find me on Twitter, Google+, or Reach Financial Independence's Facebook Page

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Comments

  1. Oh – I love this post! In my younger years in public accounting I considered hotel living as an option. I never put it into practice. It’s great to hear its working for you. So cool.
    Taynia @ Skinny Seahorse recently posted..Words that Motivate (financial)My Profile

  2. Interesting story although I don’t really like hotels. I have stayed in so many crappy ones that it has taken its toll…

    As for giving up my stuff (or clutter) I think I could handle it fairly easily. So long as I have my loved ones near me and a notebook (so I can blog) I would be happy :)
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Do You Trust Your Partner With Money?My Profile

  3. If you’re a full time consultant living out of a hotel makes a lot of sense. I could certainly give up a lot of my stuff. Either sell it or park it in long term storage somewhere. But I don’t think that’s a lifestyle I would want to do forever. And from your chart it looks like there is a crossover point where the hotel becomes cheaper that is largely determined by how many nights per month you’re required to be away from home with work picking up a lot of the tab.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..PPL Corporation (PPL) Dividend Stock AnalysisMy Profile

    • Actually, even with work NOT picking up the tab, it is cheaper for me to live in a hotel than to rent an apartment:

      How living in a hotel full-time is cheaper than renting.

      I tend to pay all of my own costs (I’m all-inclusive as a rate) and I only bill my own company for the actual days spent on-site. The rest, comes out of my own pocket.
      mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. recently posted..You’re already as free, happy, and as rich as you want to beMy Profile

      • massdd fre says:

        its not a new idea .I first heard of this idea living in hotels from a singer named Tiny Tim on the Jonny carson Tonite show in 1970. I have since found it a facinating idea. I am tired of working on my home. It may sound expensive ,but a motel 6 $50 per nite 1500 a month or a super 8 for $80 $2400 a month may not be far from the cost of owning a home. Consider this ,You have no electric bill ,no oil bill ,no maintenance and way more free time. with no mortgage it costs me 17000 a year .Cable ,electric RE tax, heating oil. Food can be more expensive in a hotel if you eat out often.

  4. Great story – thanks for sharing! It’s interesting to see that all of the stuff we think we need we can usually live without just fine. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..You’re Not Just Paying off Debt, You’re Building WealthMy Profile

  5. I’ve lived in motels for 6 weeks out of the last three years. If I spend another night in one, it will be too soon.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..How to Avoid Ancillary Fees from AirlinesMy Profile

  6. Thanks for sharing. I have to admit that when I saw the title I did not see how it would make sense, but after reading your thoughts I can totally see why this would be a great option. I think the part I would like most would be not accumulating as much junk and having the freedom of being so close to where you’re working and the freedom that might come with that.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..5 Great Ways to Save Money When Buying a New CarMy Profile

  7. There is something appealing about that lifestyle, and I see how it makes sense for your career. For me, there is something about having a place to call home. I do like to cook certain meals that would be hard in a hotel with limited kitchenware. I like my bike. I have to have at least one dog. I like to enjoy a freshly mowed lawn and see may roses come into bloom in the spring. I also have a 6 year old, and I do know that some people travel the world and home school, for us, having her in school and able to do things like dance and soccer is important. I do think people tend to have too many things, which don’t reward us or make us happy, but I don’t think I could handle it as a minimalist. Very neat to see that way of life, though.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Your Group Life Insurance Policy Might be Limiting YouMy Profile

  8. Awesome post! I can see how it definitely makes sense in certain situations. The greatest advice in this post is to get rid of stuff and transition towards a more simplistic lifestyle. My wife and I are trying to continue that trend and we’re loving it!
    Jacob@CashCowCouple recently posted..How to Make Money on CraigslistMy Profile

  9. Not my lifestyle choice, but it is great that you are finding your way!
    Marie at Family Money Values recently posted..Allocate your Investments for Long Term Family WealthMy Profile

  10. That is so interesting! I could see at the time why you wanted to do it! I would have a hard time if that went on too long. I’m a homebody, so I would even have trouble traveling that much for a job…but I do love the point of knowing what you could live without. We ALL need to take inventory of the “stuff” we own!
    Budget & the Beach recently posted..ConfessionsMy Profile

  11. Definitely a perk from the consulting, but I love minimalist mindset! Who needs stuff? It just costs money and takes up space! Certainly there would be some changes required should you settle down and have children, but the main focus of only owning what you need is important!
    writing2reality recently posted..Lending Club – April 2013 UpdateMy Profile

  12. I did something similar for 2 years. My home was 3 hrs away from my work place. I worked from home couple of days a week, but I still had to be at work for the rest of the week. Initially I had an apartment in my work city as well, but to save money I gave up the apartment and started living in hotels. I had to pay my own hotel charge, so I went a little further and gave up the comfort of hotel and posted an ad on Craigslist. I actually rented a “dining” room from a couple of college students. The arrangement is I pay $x (<< hotel rate) each night I crash in their dining room. They didn't have a dining table and all I needed was a place to crash with my sleeping bag and a place to shower. It worked our SO much cheaper than the apartment and the hotel.
    Suba @ Wealth Informatics recently posted..Your friends are the reason why you are not saving money or losing weightMy Profile

    • If I was willing to sublet and rent a place from people, this is what I’d do too.

      I considered taking on sublets during the summer for my contracts, but then it became a hassle because I got extended, and I needed to be able to renew it as often as I wanted, or leave whenever I wanted instead of being locked into a lease or contract.

      I also wanted my own things around, and to not use other people’s items or to bother them. Kind of like my own home but.. a very temporary one.
      mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. recently posted..I once lived in a mobile home for 6 monthsMy Profile

  13. I think you made an awesome decision. Why pay for a place that you don’t get to enjoy? This decision seems to have worked well for you, so congrats on pulling the trigger to do it.
    Debt Roundup recently posted..Betterment Investing Update – Roth IRAMy Profile

  14. I always love to hear about “alternative” lifestyles! I don’t know how much I would enjoy living out of a hotel, but I can’t knock it until I’ve tried it. Consulting can be a tough lifestyle I’ve heard, but I bet living out of a hotel has made it easier to not have to deal with all your “stuff” that requires maintenance and attention. Owning a home has taken up a lot of my time and definitely can appreciate people who choose not to have their own place, or even live out of a hotel!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..The One Thing Most People Do Not Consider Enough When Choosing a CareerMy Profile

  15. Very interesting post! I think it is great that you moved into living in a hotel full time both when you worked on specific projects and now as a freelancer. And isn’t funny how we don’t miss most of what we own once we live without it? Your life sounds much like the Suitcase Entrepreneur that moves around the world working from either hotels or from homes that she house sits at.
    About 10 years ago I had the opportunity to work on a long term project in the UK and I lived in a small hotel room for 15 months. Travelled alot on my time off. The thing I found was that I really didn’t miss my house or my things back home either. Others came over to work for a few months at a time and they were so homesick, but I loved living in a tiny hotel and being 5 minutes from work in a cool foreign country.

  16. wow! that`s a really amazing and interesting way of living! and I guess it just proves that we humans don´t need that much stuff!! I remember when I visited Prague a couple of years ago, and I stayed in a hotel apartment, and how much I loved it. There was a small kitchen, a dining table, a sofa area and a big bed, with a decent closet, and I found myself thinking, this is really all I need! I love staying at hotels, so have to say, I´m a bit envious of your lifestyle!
    The Norwegian Girl recently posted..My Shopping Ban ChallengeMy Profile

  17. That’s a pretty interesting idea of living in hotels Pauline. In your line of work it also probably saved you in airline fees as well unless you company was covering those fees as well. I don’t know if I could do the whole suitcase thing though that would be tough at least at first till I got use to it.
    Chris @ Stumble Forward recently posted..Dining Out and Identity Theft: Restaurant Credit Card ScamsMy Profile

  18. The last time bf and I stayed at an aloft I told him that the room would make a nice little studio. Here in NYC a lot of the nicer hotel rooms are actually bigger than peoples’ apartments. I’m not sure I’d want to live in a hotel full-time indefinitely, but I’d definitely love to do it for a few years while I’m still young and kid-free.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..How to Host a Fabulous Party For FreeMy Profile

  19. This is exceedingly enticing to me and I love the writing in the post. I wonder if I could Skype enough guitar lessons to make this happen?
    cj recently posted..Handle Minor Setbacks Like a PigMy Profile

  20. Suzanne @ Financial Advisor Coach says:

    What a truly fascinating read for me. I am contemplating moving overseas as I have a very mobile business and have already lived in 3 countries. All I need is my laptop, my VOIP phone, my digital reader, and my clothes. Right now I have a 3 bedroom house with a plunge pool and all the “stuff” that goes with it. As I contemplate giving up all my stuff, I wonder if I would miss any of it. From what I’ve read in private forums from people who moved overseas and gave everything up, they do not regret it. How about you? Is there anything you gave up that you wish you had now?

    • I am living in Guatemala at the moment and got there with only one suitcase. I don’t miss a thing because anything you miss you can buy. Well, you can’t buy family and decent cheese, so I go back to France once or twice a year for a full month to enjoy those. With skype I talk often with my friends and family so it doesn’t feel like I am missing out.

      • Yeah well.. the food is something you can’t control. At least you’re in Guatemala. I am in Canada where the fruit and vegetables taste bland and there’s practically no good cheese to be found unless you want to sell your right arm for some Morbier or St. Marcellin and you kind of have to be in Montreal.

        Even the wine can only really be found in Montreal.
        mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. recently posted..Who are the top 1% in Canada?My Profile

    • Not a single thing.

      I don’t miss the TV, the furniture, the couch, the.. what have yous. I don’t miss a single thing I gave up, except for perhaps, the freedom and stability of having a single address to give to people and to come home to (which actually turns into a big negative when my job location changes again).

      Otherwise, I am happier than a clam these days.
      mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. recently posted..The money mindset and traits of self-made millionairesMy Profile

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  22. Its like you learn my mind! You seem to know so much
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  23. Great post until you got to the part about plopping down $5k in 1 month in Manhattan. =(

  24. marco Dio says:

    if you pay 5000 a month you need to have 1.2 million in savings. You cannot live there but you can visit for a week or month ,once in a while.

  25. joe redford says:

    motel 6 , 50- per nite. Think of giving up all of your possessions if you move often and safety. Do u trust room service around your computer for EG.

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