Why We Moved to Live in a Hotel

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Three weeks ago, my daughter and I did something that I had never planned on doing and we didn’t do it for the reasons that you might believe. We moved and started living in an extended stay hotel. I have always been one who was looking for ways to live a simple life. I hate being surrounded by clutter and “stuff” just for the sake of having stuff. Too much clutter makes my brain foggy and keeps me from performing at my best. My daughter is the same way. It is the reason that I have always considered homesteading and the reason that I make so much more than I buy. Call me a hippy who should have been born in the Sixties, call me crunchy, call me whatever you want, but I truly do believe that living without junk, that minimalist living and living as self-sufficient as possible is the best way to find happiness in your life. Living in a hotel is the first step for both of us to having that simple, clutter/junk free, chemical free, self-sufficient life that we both want.

We are living full-time in a hotel and not for the reasons you might think! Let me show you why you should consider living minimally in a hotel too! {Plus see how much money I'm saving by doing so!}

 

To be honest, it is something that I have considered for quite a long time, but because people seem to look down on it, I put it off more than once. Just ask anyone who travels in an RV full-time about the reactions they get. For me, the RV idea holds promise, but for us, it is so expensive to get started that I have always stopped short at doing it. I refuse to travel with any debt which means I would need to pay cash. I can’t reconcile paying $50,000 or more in cash to get everything we need when I could buy a small fixer upper for that same cost. Living in a hotel though required none of the debt and actually is saving me money each month. It accomplishes the same things and still gives my daughter and I the freedom to travel if we choose to; or to stay put somewhere for a while if we would rather do that.

How to Live in a Hotel

So, three weeks ago, we took a leap of faith and moved into a Woodspring Suites about 2 hours from Austin and honestly? We couldn’t be happier. Have we needed to adjust? Of course. We moved from a 1,900 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with a fenced in backyard and 2 car garage. We left a neighborhood with tree lined streets and a community pool. We sold or gave away almost everything we owned and now, we are making a life inside of a room that isn’t likely to be more than 300 square feet on a good day. I’m really bad with measurements so hey, let’s just go with 300 square feet for now. 🙂

The largest adjustment though hasn’t been the lack of space or missing the items that we gave up. In reality, the biggest thing about learning how to live in a hotel so far as been adjusting to that fact that my daughter and I are so physically close to each other now. There is literally nowhere in this room that either of us can go where we can’t hear what is going on elsewhere in the room. To have true time away, one of us has to leave the room. It might sound like it would be a huge issue, but frankly; it hasn’t been. She has extra curricular activities a couple of times a week. Since these are drop off activities, I use the time that she is there to regroup and quiet my mind.

If you’re considering living in an extended stay hotel too, you’ll need to find one that will fit your family. For me, Woodspring Suites fit that bill.  The rooms are decent sized and the cost is as well. In addition to that, Woodspring typically had better reviews on Trip Advisor for the locations I was looking at than other extended stay hotels. Try to book your room a month at a time since when you book at Woodspring Suites, you will save more by booking longer. If you’re moving into a hotel to save money, that last part is extremely important. If you have pets, make sure that you have get a hotel that is pet friendly. Woodspring is pet friendly and since we have our dog with us, that was the clincher for me.

Downsizing to live full-time in a hotel

To start our process of living in a hotel, we had to downsize considerably. First, I started with the 101 things to donate or throw away that I keep on hand. I always start with this list when I’m decluttering since the items on it are usually a major source of clutter. A lot of the stuff we would no longer need or anything we didn’t want, we sold at my favorite places to sell online. Extra cash is always a help. Purging your belongings isn’t easy; especially when you’re doing it with the knowledge that you won’t have the space to replace it. I’ve never thought of myself as materialistic, but I will tell you that there was quite a bit of back and forth on what I actually needed to bring versus what I wanted to bring. In the end, my desire for a simpler life won out although I do have some things that I just wasn’t ready to get rid of stored at a friends house.

The only thing that I brought that could be considered unneeded was a small wooden block with “Be still and know” on the front. It is my favorite Bible verse and one that brings me comfort every time I read it. Having it in plain sight acts as a reminder and since it is small enough that it sits in front of the tv, it isn’t actually in the way anywhere.

Surprisingly, my daughter had a much easier time of letting go. I gave her an 18 gallon tote and told her to fill it. Once the tote was full, that was all she could bring. For her, her must bring items were her makeup since she is very interested in cosmetology, her drawing tools – she’s quite talented  – and a few things such as her sequin mermaid pillow and a super soft throw blanket that she got for Christmas. She didn’t know it, but I would have brought the pillow and throw anyhow since we both brought our own bedding to give the room a bit more of a homey feeling.

The funny part of the downsizing story is that even after we moved into the hotel, it continued. In the past 3 weeks, I have found a large box, a large tote and a small box of things that were brought but not needed. They are items that we were sure we would need or want, but as it turns out, we don’t. Those items will either be donated or taken to my friends if I can’t bring myself to get rid of them yet.

Most likely they will be donated.

Must Have Items for Living in a Hotel

What I have discovered is that there are certain items that you must have if you’re going to live in a hotel with kids. Mainly they revolve around the kitchen area. As you can see, we have a full-size fridge, a sink, cabinets and a 2-burner cook stove. Having the ability to cook meals was important to me and I love that I don’t have to fight with a dorm sized fridge like most hotels offer. Having the larger fridge allows me to shop for a couple of weeks which will help to keep my costs down.

I knew that I wouldn’t have a lot of space for kitchen gear and gadgets so to keep things simple, I bought a set of nesting cooking pots. This allows me to have 3 saucepans with lids with removable handles that sit down inside of each other to save space. I also brought along my electric pressure cooker so that I would have the ability to cook quickly and to make crockpot recipes without needing to have an actual crockpot on hand. Finally, because I wanted to be able to continue to make recipes like my chocolate chip quick bread recipe, I brought along a large countertop toaster oven that I had at the house. It is large enough to fit a 9×13 baking dish, has a convection setting and works fantastic for when I need to bake. Finally, I brought two 8×8 baking dishes, a loaf pan and a 9×13 baking dish. Yes, I could have given the 9×13 away, but I like having a larger dish if I’m making a casserole. For dishes, we brought a dinnerware set for four. This gives us 4 plates, 4 bowls and 4 drinking cups. I bought the same amount of silverware. Cooking utensils were kept only to the ones I actually use a regular basis and to one of each type.

The Instant Pot, toaster oven, baking dishes and cookware are all stored in the lower cabinets with my roll up dish strainer. Having a dish strainer that rolls up makes dishes easy to do and saves space since it isn’t taking up a huge spot under the counter. Dishes are stored in the upper cabinet with my cooking spices stored in the other cabinet. Silverware and my kitchen knives (I brought 2 with me) are stored in the one kitchen drawer that is actually a drawer. The rest of the cooking utensils, my hand mixer, pot holders and kitchen towels are stored in a 3 drawer storage cart that sits to the right of the counter where the trash can is in the pic above. The trash can still sits in the same spot, but farther to the right to allow room for my cart to sit there.

Saving money living in a hotel

It is no secret that living simply saves money which is one reason I’m such a fan of minimalist living. I wasn’t too surprised by the fact that we are saving. I was a bit surprised that I am savings as much as I am. As I said earlier, I’m active saving quite a bit of money by living in a hotel even though you might not think it would be possible. We had lived in an expensive area and we were renters so the truth is that we are living in a hotel quite a bit cheaper than we were in the house that was far too big for my little family. It really wouldn’t have mattered if we had bought a house either since our house payment would likely have been almost as much as our rent payments.

My monthly expenses in the house looked like this:

  • Rent: $1600
  • Power – $400
  • Natural Gas – $100
  • Water/Trash – $100
  • Net – $112
  • Lawn care – $124
  • Pest control and other minor home maintenance: $100

Total: $2536.00/mo

Since we lived in a subdivision with an HOA, our lawn had to be cared for in a specific way. This alone resulted in $31 each week going out. Power was so high because here in Texas it gets hot. It is expensive to cool 1900 square feet. Pest control was up to us according to my lease as was minor home repairs such as changing air filters and the like. Because of these fees and regular expenses for living in a home, I was spending over $2500/mo just for basic living costs. That does not include groceries and other monthly fees that must be paid for.

After moving into a hotel, my monthly expenses now look like this to cover the exact same basic needs:

  • Hotel room – $1440.00
  • Laundry: $40.00

Total: $1480

Since I no longer have a washer and dryer, I have to have a wait to wash clothes. Currently, I actually take my laundry to a friends house and wash, but should that end, my laundry costs would be around $40.00 a month. Even with that cost added, I am still saving quite a of money.

$1,056 per month.

$12,672.00 per year.

Traveling while living in a hotel

It has been my plan for years to travel full time. This is where the RV idea came into play and after my best friend launched on her own RV adventure with her family, I saw that it was possible, but like I said in the beginning of this post, I am not keen on the idea of spending so much money to get started. Living in an extended stay hotel though, allows my daughter and I to travel if we choose. It is as simple as booking a room in our destination and packing the car. We aren’t limited by where we are living since we could live anywhere that we want to.

Since Emma was already homeschooled using the Monarch Homeschool Curriculum by Alpha Omega, as long as she has an internet connection, she can do her school work. Since we are living in a hotel when we travel, net will not be much of an issue. I do have the option here of upgrading to a premium internet service for $20.00 each month, but so far, I haven’t found that I have needed it for her school or my work. Because I earn money with a blog, I need a net connection, but so far, the free internet at Woodspring has been more than sufficient.

Since we are just getting settled and the holidays are coming up, we are keeping our travel plans on the backburner until the new year. The first trip we are planning is a trip back home to Ohio hopefully in January. Emma will be turning 13 soon so a trip home is the perfect birthday celebration! From there we will likely spend some time in Tennessee and then? Who knows!

Why live in a hotel? Why not downsize to an apartment?

I can hear the question now so I figured I would go ahead and answer it. “If you wanted to downsize, why not just rent a smaller apartment?” For one, as I just explained, living in an extended stay hotel allows us to travel whenever we feel like it. Traveling is important to both Emma and myself so we wanted to live in a place that would allow us to do so. Secondly, the average cost of an apartment in Central Texas is $1300.00 per month. That usually does not include utilities which means I would still be spending $2,000 or so each month. For what? For a home that was cluttered with items that cost money to buy, items that we didn’t really need and things that neither of us actually wanted.

Instead, we chose to live a life that was a lot less stressful and a whole lot cheaper. We’re happy with the decision and I honestly can say that I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to try downsizing without the long term commitment that buying an RV creates.

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Stacy Ott

Stacy Ott is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family.By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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Comments

  1. BEEN A FAN OF YOUR BLOG WE LIVE IN A 900 SQUARE FOOT CONDO . MY IN-LAWS COULD NOT UNDERSTAND WHY WE DID NOT BUY A BIG HOUSE AND YARD ETC . OUR CONDO TAKE CARE OF THE OUTSIDE STUFF AND WE HAVE LIVED HERE FOR OVER 20 YEARS . IT SMALL ENOUGH TO CLEAN AND IT BEEN AFFORDABLE . BEST OF LUCK IN YOUR NEW PLACE . GLAD YOUR DAUGHTER LIKES HER NEW PLACE AS WELL TAKE CARE TRACY

  2. Thanks for the cost breakdown. It is more cost effective than I thought. How does the mail work when you move around? Do you get it forwarded to ‘general delivery’ and pick it up at the post office?? Enjoy your freedom.

    • Stacy Ott-Barr says:

      Hi Maggie, for some things you can have it done to general delivery, however, since I knew we would be here in this area for a bit, I went ahead and picked up a box at the UPS Store. $20.00/mo and it allows me to receive packages where a post office box does not.

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