Save. Spend. Splurge.

How living full-time in a hotel is cheaper than having an apartment

The secret? Apartment-style hotels and being a consultant who is forced to travel all the time, even though I hate commuting.

This is a nomadic lifestyle that is taken up by many consultants, some sales folks and to a lesser extent, business executives.


You have to remember that in Canada, you can only lease by the YEAR. 12 months. Not weekly, not bi-weekly, not even monthly.

It’s a stupid but understandable rule, as landlords want their place rented out with as little hassle as possible (although they are missing out on people like me).

This is a question that crops up frequently because when most people think of a hotel, they’re thinking of a luxurious 4-star or 5-star hotel that has no kitchen and no amenities for regular, day-to-day living.



Much like this uber luxurious Fairmont Royal York in Toronto where Vancouver Housewives stay. I am not a Housewife, so I don’t have the kind of cash to splash out on something like this.

See, THOSE hotels, are expensive, at around $90 – $100 a night for a 3-star hotel, and upwards from that, and I don’t stay there, I stay in apartment hotels.

In fact, there are lots of these apartment hotels all across North America, not so much in Europe, but in the U.S. they’re everywhere, and they have the MOST chains of apartment hotels I’ve ever seen.

In Canada they have a few chains that deal in pseudo-apartment living for people like me (consultants) and salespeople who have to travel to see clients all the time.

Or even just for the regular family who wants a kitchen to cook in.


Between choosing an apartment or living in a hotel, the ideal situation would be that I manage to snag a contract in a city, full-time for at least a year and I can lease an apartment.

In 100% of the times (so far) that I’ve leased an apartment full-time, there has NEVER been a project in my city.

I always end up having to commute 6 hours a week to another city, or worse, fly cross-country.

Luck is just not on my side for projects in my home city, so when I worked out the numbers, it is cheaper for me by almost $500 a month to live in a hotel rather than take an apartment, which is a big driving point as to why I turned into a minimalist.

(It’s a lot easier to shift every few months if you don’t have a lot of junk.)



This is how I budget and make sure I track all the spending.


I’d be paying for these costs anyway because most projects require me to be on-site 5 days a week. I usually travel up Monday, and leave by Friday afternoon, which means I pay for 4 nights at a hotel (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday).

I also end up paying most of these expenses out of my pocket, as I give an all-inclusive rate.


I don’t have a car (gave it to charity), so in this scenario, I’d rent one because a project in another city means taking the highway as it is not likely there is a train that goes there (plus I’d have to somehow get from the train station to the client site anyway, and I hate cabs).

If I had projects that required a car for a longer period of time (let’s say more than 5 months), I’d go out and buy another beater car for $2000 which would save me money in the long-run, although car insurance evens the playing field slightly ($300 a year in Quebec).


Basically, I wouldn’t be keeping an empty apartment about 4 days of the week and being exhausted from traveling back and forth between cities.


  • I am REALLY close to projects. Like within a 10-minute commute at the worst
  • I don’t need a car & all of its costs – I can take a bus, walk, or ride the subway
  • You have a full-time person to take your packages/mail (bonus!)
  • You can use the maid for cleaning if you want (I don’t bother because it’s weird to me & they use a lot of commercial cleaners with strong fragrances which make me nauseous)
  • You get amenities like telephone and TV for “free” in the price
  • Sometimes there’s a pool included, but public swimming pools creep me out
  • There’s always a gym
  • Sometime there’s an office area somewhere for free printing, copying and faxing (score!)
  • Laundry is sometimes in the hotel room itself, rather than in the basement (rare)


  • Moving all the time sucks. I really hate packing, but I’d rather do this than commute every week.
  • The place is sometimes awkwardly laid out and you’d never rent it as an apartment
  • Sometimes you get rowdy groups of drunk college students in town to party
  • You’re always away from family or friends for long periods of time
  • Sometimes the hotels are in the middle of nowhere cities with nothing to do on weekends
  • It can be awkward to constantly refuse to let the maid in
  • Other people have access to your apartment (maids), although landlords have keys too
  • People think it’s glamourous but it’s actually quite mundane and ordinary

I also like to sleep on my own bed, so since I sleep on a Japanese futon on the floor, I just pack it up and go with no hassle and move to my next ‘home’. It’s minimalist living at its best.

P.S. The quality of these 100% cotton, made in the U.S.A. Japanese futons are killer.

And that’s how I roll!

For now, anyway as I’m a DINK (Dual-Income No Kids).

This particular nomadic lifestyle (not to be confused with minimalist, as they are two separate ideas) will have to be adjusted or changed once kids come along.

We’d need to lease an apartment for at least a year or longer with kids, but this has worked out so well for us singletons.


  • Eileen Benson

    Thanks for explaining that living in a hotel means we get access to free amenities like TV and phone. I need to find single-room lodging that I can stay in semi-long-term for my job. Your article helped me see why a budget apartment-style hotel would be a much better choice than actually renting one!

  • Linda Benson

    as a young, pensioner, I have considered hotel/motel living, however, here in Ontario, its nigh impossible to find, reputable, establishments who will consider a semi permanent guest. Apparently they are governed by the rental/tennant act. Plus, the rents are astronomical.
    I would like to know where you find these places and if its still a viable option in 2018. please advise…..

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      In Canada — none. In the US I found that Dallas was very cheap.. in Canada you’re better off renting in small, tiny towns without many folks but enough to have rentals

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You could also try trailer park living. I know there is a small town in Ontario where the trailers had foundations, gardens and looked like actual houses but were really cheap — $20K? I can’t recall where but not all “trailer parks” are what people imagine. It was a nice place to stay — I lived there for a while.

  • Linda Benson

    where do I find these places? I live in Southern Ontario, and can find nothing like this. most hoteks/hotels are subject to rental bylaws and do not offer long term accommodation….
    any ideas where I can get more info?
    April 2018….

  • Damian

    Actually, this is pretty amazing. Even if living in a hotel was more expensive. You got some real balls. To live like that. Live fast. Live truly. People are too comfortable in bubbles. So lame. If you work. Make it. And hotels are what you are use to. After a while you are just going to want to live in a hotel. In fact I imagine appartments probably seem kind of lame after a while. But I’d do it. Which is exactly why I clicked on your link on Google search.
    Imagine being comfortable in a 1 bedroom with a year lease and watching life go out the window…. Cheers

    • Dave Larimer

      I am an American. Like many Americans I have no health care and a job that pays very little. I have found living in Extended Stay Hotels is cheaper and more convenient than renting. No security deposit, no invasive background/credit checks, no electric/water/gas bills, no abusive landlord. Sure it’s small but I have been forced by necessity to become a minimalist and the money I save is hard to quantify. It’s not for everyone. The staff is always nice and there is coffee every morning.

      • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

        I would agree. They’re very nice there, and it becomes an actual home.

      • Patsy

        Hi, my husband is retiring in January. We would like to live in different areas for a while. How do you get information on living in hotels? Thank you. We live in US.

        • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

          Hi! Great question. We actually just picked a chain of hotels and we stuck with them. Candlewood Suites was our choice as it was nicer than Motel 6 or those other chains. It also had a kitchenette to cook in and laundry machines as well as an office. Plus you can get rewards and use it towards free nights.

          A lot of other chains have this too like Hilton Homewood Suites but we found them in general pricier than Candlewood Suites.

          You can search for hotels by looking for the words: “Extended Home Stay” or “Long Term Stay” hotels

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      *shrug* I live in hotels anyway as a consultant, but now I actually own a home so I don’t travel like I used to, but if I didn’t have kids, I doubt we’d even settle anywhere.

  • e

    i spent 5 minutes to figure out what you mean in your stupid cost chart and i have a master degree in mechanical engineering so you must be the idiot nuts.

  • Malcolm Paul

    I read a book a while back by a young English journalist who sold his home in London and decided to live in hotels ( mostly in USA) rentals in San Francisco and our of season luxury apartments in Spain and Europe.
    He’s a pretty wild guy with a drink and drugs problem who has to go into recovery – kinda book about about young stoner writer Brit living out of a suitcase.
    One word title???
    Anybody recognise it?

  • Freeda Rome

    I equate minimalism with veganism, the worst and most difficult part is the abuse you get from people you thought would be the most supportive. It makes other people uncomfortable because it offends their own lifestyle. Stay true to yourself, stay true to logic, and if living a nomadic life in hotels makes more sense, then do it. It is an honourable trait not to need possessions.


      Thank you! What a great comment. “stay true to yourself” is always relevant.

    • jonathan

      i’ve been interested in hotel living for awhile you should note, however, housing rental is controlled provincially, not federally so your opening statement is inaccurate, as every province has different statutes regarding rentals and lengths of leases. In ontario, though a year, when renting through a realtor, is customary – it is by no means the law.

      • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

        Excellent point! I however have never come across anyone who will rent for less than a year. Customary or not, they just wait for someone else unless they find it hard to rent the place. I would look for a place that is decent and clean and those non-shady apartments are by the year… Or going through a housing corp like CAP REIT. Even in Quebec you can rent for less than a year but it is a dump.

  • Mimi

    Why not hire someone to stay in the room, when your’e not there. So the risk of the maid entering isn’t there.

  • Tiffany Goss

    That is the coolest article that I have read in a very long time thank you for your contributions

  • Pumpkin Patch

    Hotel for less than $40 a night? I don’t think so. Even at extended stays you’re lucky for under $80 a night.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      We were in Dallas and got it for $40 a night although prices may have changed lately.

    • Catherine Johnson

      Not true. I live in Atlanta in an extended Stay hotel & it’s about $33/night. Yeah, it’s not the most wonderful place, but I travel 3 weeks out of 4 & it simply makes no sense to cough up a cpl grand a month for an apartment.
      I have 2 beds, full size fridge, tub, cable, free Wifi, laundromat, coffee ☕️ maker, microwave etc. I pay $940/month, with no electric, cable, gas, water or trash bills.
      Sure, it has its down sides! Occasionally I get noisy neighbors but I turn on the AC/heat/fan & cant hear a thing, lol.
      It’s only 1 room & boy, do I miss being able walk into “A” bedroom, “A” living room, “A” kitchen.
      I choose to live alone & there’s no way to do that in Atlanta, without living 20 miles out of town or in the hood, unless you pay a fortune.
      The weekly rates here are about $350/week starting out, + I THINK, a $5 nightly GA hotel tax that’s dropped off after the 1st 30 days. I’m at the absolute rock bottom rate ($235/week) cos I’ve been here a good while.
      My credit’s shot which is another reason I’m here (thanks ex husband!!), but with the $$$ I save, it’s getting squared away.
      I’m friendly with the staff & bring them treats every little while so they know they’re appreciated, & to build up good will. It works too, any time I need something it’s done immediately. I also tip the maintenance guys $20 every so often just on GP. 1st time I did that he said, “but I didn’t do anything for you, you didn’t request anything?” I replied no, but hopefully you’ll remember this when I do…& he did👍🏻.
      Hotel living FTW!!!!

  • Michelle

    In the US a free-lancer would likely be able to deduct some of the hotel (or apartment-style hotel) from her federal taxes as a business expense, making it even cheaper.

  • Tania

    I’ve often wondered how it was cheaper but it makes sense. You work for yourself, not a firm, so you cover your only travel and expenses. I’m assuming not every contract allows a reimbursement of expenses and if they do reimburse you’re sitting even prettier. I often wished I had gone the minimalist path right after my divorce because I gave the ex all the furniture. It would’ve been the perfect time to sell my handbags and other stuff, live in a studio and pare down. Save, save, save and then be a nomad for awhile. Instead, I nested and gained weight and spent more than I should’ve. I think I needed a bit of feeling homey at that certain point in my life.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I’m good with feeling homey and consoling yourself after such a traumatic experience. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

      Yes, I work for myself so I cover my traveling. If I worked for a company (as I did in the past), it was “free”, but I made 25% of what I make today as an income and I worked twice as much. Doesn’t seem like a good deal to me.

  • Sarah @ Love Bites

    Wow – I would have never thought of it like that! As someone who travels for work I get that hotels get very old very quickly…but I suppose when you think of it as a lifestyle rather than a temporary thing it wouldn’t be so bad. 🙂


  • The Asian Pear

    While I don’t disagree with your methods of comparison, I do want to point out that it is not true that you HAVE to rent for a year. There is no law that states this. Rentals are municipal jurisdiction and most cities do not have by-laws regarding it. Rentals (and subrentals) are usually to the discretion of the leasor and leasee. So it’s possible to rent for less than a year. I’ve rented property (and rented out) for 4 months at a time and even 8 months at a time. It’s just the one year is the social norm because it’s less hassle for the leasor & leasee to find another tennant.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I’ve never found an apartment for less than 12 months. EVERYONE wants a year. Then if you don’t stay the year, you have to find a sublet or pay out the amount.

      In Montreal, this is how that works.

      • C

        The point isn’t that you can’t find a rental for less than a year but rather that it’s not a RULE that you MUST rent an unit for a year. It’s an important thing to differentiate.

        • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

          Ah yes!! Excellent point.

          I always rent in large apartment buildings (noise is less than in smaller wood-built walk ups or homes), refuse basement apartments and need a good location.

          Plus, independent landlords have not been good people for me so far, as I don’t like sharing very much.

          As EVERYONE wants that, no one wants to give me a lease for less than 12 months. They’d rather wait for someone to pay.

      • Anne @ Unique Gifter

        As Asian Pear said… no law and moderately common. Where I live, a one year lease is considered long-term. Most are 4-6 months.

  • femmefrugality

    This is sort of amazing. As a DINK, how does that work with the other income earner? Do you do long-distance?

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      What do you mean how does that work with another DINK? We do long distance only Monday to Thursday if we have to. Otherwise, if he doesn’t work, he stays with me 100%, if I don’t work, I stay with him. We try to get projects in the same city.

  • Anne @ Unique Gifter

    You can totally rent places for less than a year, all over the country! Plus there’s always the option of sublets.
    Some of your dislikes are odd, but entertaining to read (ie- cabs).
    Sometimes hotels will definitely win out though. There were a bunch of new executive long stay ones in Ottawa when I lived there. They looked pretty darn fantastic.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I don’t want to deal with sublets and finding tenants. I’ve never found an apartment for less than a year, even asking. They’re just not interested, so I keep my money for me.

      I hate cabs here because the cars are crap. After being in Portugal, and seeing that they have Mercedes-Benz as their cars, you realize that the substandard level of service that we’re willing to accept here, is ridiculous compared to what it SHOULD be.

      Hate cabs. If I MUST take something, I call a limousine cab. Otherwise, most cabbies suck at driving and trigger my motion sickness.

      There is no “sometimes” for me in hotels versus apartments. Hotels have always won out, apartments have always been a hassle for projects less than a year. Even projects guaranteed for more than a year, can be cancelled and I’ve had that happen once, which left me stuck with a rental I couldn’t get out of. There is nothing worse than paying twice for a place to live.

  • Pauline

    Have you tried Airbnb? sometimes people put apartments for rent just for a few months, but in this case I am not sure how you can claim that as a work expense with no bill so probably not worth the savings.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I tried AirBnB or finding sublets to take, but it’s usually in the summer months (college students who go back home), but my projects are not just in the summer. It’s too much of a hassle and it is not as professional as a hotel. At a hotel, I just cancel and leave. With people or independent places, it’s harder.

  • GPS

    That’s really interesting! Can you tell us how you search for an apartment? How often do you change cities?

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I generally change apartments at the end of each project. Sometimes only one of us is working at any given time, so I stay in the city where we are working. In 2010 I moved 19 times (half of it was finding the RIGHT apartment).

      To find apartment hotels it is brands like Marriott Residence Inn or Hilton Homewood. In the US they had La Quinta and other independent apartment hotel brands. 🙂 Just have to do your research.

  • Well Heeled Blog

    Very interesting. I’ve never heard of my friends who are consultants stay at “apartment hotels,” though, they mostly do Hilton or Starwoods (and not the ones with a kitchenette, etc.) And most of them order room service or go out for team dinners so even if there were a kitchen, it wouldn’t be used very often.

    How do you see your boyfriend? Does he fly to your city on the weekends?

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Your consultant friends probably have an apartment and/or a partner who has a steady job in that city to go back to on weekends.

      We are both freelancers with changing cities.

      We are never in the same city for any project. When he works, I live in his city and vice versa. If we commute (yuck) we choose the best city to live in and it is only temporary.

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