There are two main ways to travel. You can jump from city to city every few days. That’s how I traveled for the first six months. Everything around you rushes by like a blur. New cultures, new languages, new people, new experiences.
But after a while, that style of travel starts to feel very draining. I found that after meeting new people and saying goodbye quickly, over and over, I eventually started to want deeper human connections.
So I started living in different places every few months. I’d stay one place for 2 to 4 months before moving on. I’ve found that I enjoy doing a mix of these two things – Bouncing from place to place, as well as finding temporary homes.
If you decided you want to spend some time in a country, how do you find a cheap place to live? After all, you can’t just stay in hostels all the time. Here’s what I’ve found.
Craigslist & Gumtree
Two websites that work in some countries are Craigslist and Gumtree. In the United States, Craigslist is much bigger than Gumtree, in Europe Gumtree is much bigger. In Asia, Craigslist has a small presence but is mostly there to cater to foreigners.
On these sites, you’ll sometimes be able to find an apartment depending on what country you’re in. If you’re in a western country, you’ll almost definitely be able to find an apartment using online classifieds.
If you’re in a third world or developing country however, you might have trouble with it. For one, the classified ads might all be written in a completely different language. Another issue is that the ads that are written in English are likely highly commercial ads by people who cater to English speakers.
If there’s a CouchSurfing presence in a city – And almost every city does – There’s likely a room / apartment board for that city. That’s where other CouchSurfers who have rooms or want a roommate go to post their ads.
For example, for Bangkok Thailand, this is what the room / apartments thread looks like:
For countries where Craigslist or GumTree don’t have a presence, CouchSurfing is a good alternative.
Just Walking In
In some cities, there are certain areas that are clearly known as residential zones. If you’re in a city that has a semi-decent level of English, you could just try walking in the front door.
That’s how I found my apartment in Bangkok. I went with a friend to a known residential zone. We walked around and went in any apartment complex we saw that we liked. We asked if they had rooms. If they did, we took a look. We spend 3-4 hours looking at apartments and eventually picked one.
For short term stays, you can sometimes find decent deals on Air B’n’B. Generally they’ll be slightly more than finding it independently, but it can also really help when you’re in a non-English speaking country.
Make sure to check the “weekly” rates in addition to the “daily” rates as you can save a lot of money by booking a longer period of time.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more money, you can go for a professional furnished apartment. A word of warning: In my opinion these are more or less a rip off. However, it’s very easy to get if you’re willing to pay the extra price.
For example, in Poland, Krakow, I’m paying $180 a month for a room in an apartment. There are 4 other people in the apartment with me, separate rooms and I’m quite happy with the setup. However, if you were willing to pay $900 a month, you can get a professionally furnished studio apartment, along with kitchen and everything all setup for you.
It depends on what kind of traveler you are. I prefer to save money on my accommodation, work less and spend more on things I actually care about.
If All Else Fails …
If you really can’t figure out how to find an apartment, try just staying in a hostel and talking to the hostel staff. Since they live in the city, they might be able to help you figure out how to get an apartment.
When I was in Bangkok, I had no idea where the residential areas were. Thanks to the staff at the hostel I was staying at, they directed me to two different places where I could easily find apartments
Finding a great place to live anywhere in the world isn’t difficult. In fact, once you begin looking in earnest, it should take you under a week.
Comments? Questions? Feedback?