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How to Rent Rooms by the Month

How to rent rooms by the month when traveling?

A trick for bottoming out your travel budget or for breaking up the seeming monotonous routine of coming into places just to leave again the next day is to rent out rooms by the month. Traveling like this cuts the price of accommodation in half while providing the time and space to really get to know a place and a people. Renting out rooms for one to three months was my travel strategy during my days as an international student, and it has proved effective now that I travel with a wife and baby.

Where to rent out a room for only a month or two

Staying in places for only a month or two skirts the lee side of time parameters of both hotels and apartments. In point, many hotels do not want to rent out rooms for such a long period of time, and many apartments only want tenants who wish to stay for at least 6 months to a year. The trick is finding places that will meet you in the middle. They are out there.

room rental sign

Sign for a room to rent in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

When I am looking for a hub to stay in for a month or two I look for both hotels and hostels that have amenities for longer term stays as well as for furnished temporary stay apartments. I have found that many hotels also operate apartment buildings for guests that wish to stay over a month, and that many hostels often have private rooms set aside for travelers wishing to stay a little bit longer. I have also found that many cities — especially those who receive an influx of tourists — have many apartment complexes that function like longer stay hotels and cater to guests looking to only stay for a few months.

How to find rooms to rent by the month?

Finding a room for a month or two is simple in most parts of the world — all you have to do is follow the signs. Literally. “Room for rent” signs are often hanging up all over the streets of cities and towns. All you have to do is know the local language enough to identify these signs, make phone calls, and knock on doors.

rental postings at the supermarket

Room rental postings at a supermarket in San Cristobal

Supermarkets around the world also serve as community meeting places, and there are often bulletin boards with community announcements near their doorways. This is where landlords, hotel owners, or people with extra space in their apartment often advertise rooms for rent. A trip to a supermarket is enough to get dozens of phone numbers for prospective places to stay.

Many of these advertisements that hang up in the streets or on supermarket bulletin boards will imply how long of a commitment the renters are looking for. If the ad is for rooms in a hotel or a temporary stay apartment they will often make it known that you can rent a room “by the day, week, or month.” If it is an ad for a longer stay apartment it will often imply that they want you to stay for X amount of time. Very often, there are signs up from people looking for roommates — which may not be a bad deal for a traveler.

apartment signs

Apartment rental signs on a bulletin board in the street

I usually call about the rooms that are advertised for shorter stays first, as their rooms are usually furnished and have everything that I need already in them. It is also safe to assume that their owners are use to people only staying for a month or two, and they often do not bother with demanding inconveniencies such as security deposit, leases, or any other nonsense that comes from renting out an apartment long term. But I also call the more standard apartments as well — you never know.

Couchsurfing.org or other traveler message boards and forums also often have room rental postings on them. I have used CS to find temporary stay apartments or rooms to rent by the month when traveling.

Where to rent a room in this city?

In going through my rounds of searching for “room for rent” signs on the streets or in supermarkets I also walk into hotels and hostels and ask them directly if they have special prices for month long stays. Many tell me to go shit in my hat, that they don’t take people for that long, but some give me pretty good prices. This was how I found the room that I am staying in now at the Casa Madero Hostel in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.

Timeline to find a room for the month

I usually give myself a week to find a room to rent by the month. If I did not have such extensive criteria for renting a room, I could find a place to stay in most cities in a matter of hours. But I am now a little particular about where I want to stay, so I give myself a few days to look around. I will often offer a hotel a discounted price to stay there for a week to provide me with a time buffer to search around a city for an adequate room to rent for a month or two.

Price to rent a travel room by the month

If I am renting out a hotel or hostel room for a month, I expect to pay less than half of the going rate: so if a hotel room is normally $20 a night, I want to pay well under $300 to stay there for a month. Often, I found that I can rent a room in a hotel or hostel for around 35 to 40% of the standard “by day” rate.

The hostel that I am staying in now now normally charges 250 Mexican pesos for a double room for one night, but I pay 3000 pesos a month, or 100 a day.

If renting out an apartment I want to pay between $100 to $300 a month, depending on the country. I have found that in most countries — including some expensive ones — that a room or an apartment can be rented for under $300 a month.

In point, renting out rooms by the month when traveling saves money — it more than cuts in half the most costly travel expense: accommodation. I find that my accommodation budget often drops down to $2.50 to $10 a day, depending on the country I am in, when I lay down the rent money by the month, rather than the day.

Renting rooms by the month also lends a sort of normalcy to life — I no longer need to be perpetually packing and unpacking my bags, mobilizing my family to move to a new place, spending my life sitting on buses and looking for places to stay. The work of travel is finding all of the things that you need — food, water, clothing, shelter — for a price you are willing to pay, and this work becomes pretty light when I rent out rooms from one to three months.

Related articles: 230 dollar a month room in Mexico | Apartment in Dominican RepublicApartment in El SalvadorDigital nomad criteria for travel room | Apartment in Istanbul, Turkey | Renting an apartment in Costa Rica | Vagabond Journey cheap accommodation page

Filed under: Accommodation, Budget Travel, Travel Tips

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Vagabond Journey has been featured on MSNBC.com, The Daily Mail Online, Business Insider, Gizmodo, the Des Moines Register, CBS Phoenix, NBC LA, and numerous other international and local publications. has written 2687 posts on Vagabond Journey.

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  • Paulo

    I’m glad you guys are taking that route. No more 2 nights at each jungle lodge.
    Haven’t you heard? Damn-Slow-Traveler is the new Perpetual Traveler. Hahaha

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Haha, yes, Damn-Slow-Travel is good for the mind, better for the pocketbook. It also makes time and space for working — I can’t tell you how difficult it is to take out a laptop and work when I am traveling fast. Now, I can decide if I want to work this morning and walk up the hill tomorrow, or go check things out this morning and work tomorrow. Traveling slow provides the space to do everything you want. Yeah, I may move about the world a little slower, but I am still moving.

      Damn-Slow-Travel is what makes travel worth it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brandonedick brandon

    This is one of the best articles I could have read. I too have the same problem when traveling overseas with either paying very high prices for short term stays or signing long contracts that don’t end up working due to length of visa travel restrictions. Thanks so much for contributing this Wade, it’s really helped me out.

    Brandon

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Excellent Brandon,

      The hope that maybe some people could use this information is the fuel that keeps me publishing it. Thank you for the feedback, it is truly appreciated.

  • http://www.thelongestwayhome.com/blog/ Dave from The Longest Way Home

    Good stuff Wade.

    It’s true about some hotels not wanting people to stay there for very long. I see their point. Nothing worse than going into a hostel and seeing people in a dorm basically living there.

    I sense danger when I see that. Yet, at the same time I wish the people doing that had an affordable alternative. Unfortunately, there’s often not.

    Another point is that very often, hotel’s with apartments can often be quite costly. Doing as you say and going to a supermarket, or the classified newspaper is a great way to find a cheap place.

    I don’t know about you, but whenever I ask a local about a place, I always get shown the most expensive apartments!!

    Better off hitting the road your self!

    Dave

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      Yes, people think you have money and/ or they take it as a status game to show you the most expensive something in hopes, perhaps, that you will buy in their presence and tick them up a notch. I often tell people how much I am willing to pay upfront: $100 without internet, more with, and go from there. But I have found even really nice apartments around the world to often be in the same ballpark as crappy ones. It is a funny market. I stayed a couple of times in really cheap, sort of junky apartments in China. I was always looking for the cheapest price, back then I had no other standards. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I could have gotten a really nice, big, truly luxury apartment in a new high rise for like $50 a month more than what I paid.

      But, then again, $50 was 50% more then what I was paying and I probably would not have gone for it haha.

      It is a funny thing when you rent out rooms or apartments for a month or two, as you are stepping out of being a tourist and into some grey area that is right before living somewhere. I find that my interactions with the people are different when I rent apartments, I actually have neighbors in the true sense — I am giving a taste of the sedentary life while still moving slowly through the world. It is a good balance.

  • Bob L

    I know it is not your area of travel, but I wonder if any of your readers have tried renting apartments in the USA for a month or two at a clip. From what I see, your choices are either motels which can damned expensive even if they offer a monthly rate and really sketchy transient places taht would not be a first choice for most.

    In some of the bigger cities there are pay by the week or month “Hotels” which in the USA are what we call longer term (Motels being a normal short term place, as apposed to a Love Motel) but even these Hotels are either pretty expensive or really sketchy.

    Bob L

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      I have had short term apartments in the USA in my younger traveling days. But they were in real bad parts of town — read: lots of minorities — but were real cheap, pay by the month, not much over $300 a pop. There are also extended stay hotels, which are often priced around $20 to $25 a day if paying my the month. A little expensive, but I only stay in them while working.

      The best bet for finding cheap, pay by the month rooms in the USA is to go to a university town and rent out a room in a house. Pretty cheap, and often don’t have much of a contract if you are not on the lease, and are easy to find as college kids are generally always looking for an extra roommate to keep prices down.

      But, you are right, motels that offer longer term stays are often the dens of prostitutes and drug dealers. I have had my fair run in with these places working on archaeology projects around the country. Not really good places to be, but I have never had much of a problem — unless you consider a big black whore in an Ohio motel wanting to bake me a chicken at midnight because I gave her a ride over to another hotel so she could do some work a bad situation haha. The worst part of staying in these places are the police, as they tend to have these motels on lock down for lack of much else to do.

    • http://travelvice.com craig | travelvice.com

      I looked into this in the Miami area, and it would seem that 3 months is the absolute minimum for most.

      • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

        Yes, most apartments want at least a semester long commitment. I have only found pay-by-the-month apartments in bad parts of slums where nobody wants to live anyway.

  • John

    What happens when the ad is in spanish and your spanish is not up to par when you have to make the phone call inquiring about the place?? Are you up sh*** creek???

    John

    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com

      John,

      My wife and I both speak Spanish, so there is little difficulty there. But you angled in on a really good point: getting cheaper accommodation, especially when renting longer term, means needing to be able to communicate in a local language. If we were not able to speak Spanish then our options would be greatly limited. 95% of our communication with people renting out rooms in San Cristobal was in Spanish, if we tried to only use English then I believe that we could still find a place, it just would have been more difficult.

      In Istanbul, we renting out a room for a month, but, not being able to speak Turkish, we were curtailed into an English speaking bubble — we only found and responded to ads that were in English. We still found a cheap room — it is still possible to find a room to rent speaking only English or pantomiming — but we were drastically limited in scope and range.

      But, on the other hand, if a room is advertised in English, in a non-English speaking country, then it is probably a place that is more set up for foreign travelers looking to only stay for a month or two.

      Good point, finding cheap rooms is often easier when you can speak the local language.