Digital nomads are on the rise. But where should they live now?

When Julie McCane became a remote worker during the pandemic, she had no trouble choosing a location. London, Paris and Athens topped his list. But how to find a reliable rental apartment — now this was not easy.

Most vacation rental platforms are created for short-term leisure travelers. Dealing directly with a landlord – and deposits and utility bills – seemed too complicated.

Then she saw an ad on Instagram and a light bulb went on. A company called blue background offers furnished apartments for monthly stays at a competitive rate.

“Discovering Blueground helped me put together a lot of stuff about that European vacation I dreamed of at the time,” says McCane, a consultant who works with law firms. “Finding a well-located furnished apartment on flexible terms was a lot less to worry about while I was planning this move.”

How many digital nomads are there?

McCane is not alone. A recent study by MBO Partners found that 16.9 million American workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads. That’s a 9% increase from 2021 and 131% from the pre-pandemic year 2019. By some estimates, there are 35 million digital nomads worldwide.

The actual number may be higher. Many remote workers, McCane included, don’t use the term “digital nomads” to describe their lifestyle. They prefer to be called location-independent consultants or employees.

“Being a digital nomad is a blessing — and a curse,” says Denise Rousseau, professor of organizational behavior and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “It’s appealing because of the flexibility and the feeling of freedom. But for many knowledge workers, it’s hard to sustain over time.”

Rousseau, who has studied remote workers and digital nomads, says housing can be one of those challenges.

As the number of digital nomads or remote workers increases, so does the need for reliable and affordable hosting. Remote workers aren’t necessarily interested in the conveniences of a vacation rental, like a pool or an entertainment center. Instead, they need fast Wi-Fi, fully equipped kitchens, and laundry facilities.

What are your accommodation options for extended stays?

You have a lot of hosting choices as a digital nomad – almost too many choices. Here is a short list:


The largest vacation platform is also an option for remote workers. For Ravi Davda, CEO of a marketing agency, it is his favorite place to book accommodation. Davda says that in some parts of the world, rates are reasonable and hosts can be flexible.

“There were times when we booked for the first month on Airbnb and then spoke directly with the host instead of continuing through Airbnb,” he says.

Both Airbnb and Vrbo offer monthly rates at a significant discount to weekly or daily rates charged to leisure travelers. But you still have to deal with the fact that most Airbnb rentals are created for people on vacation, so you might not find all the amenities you need as a digital nomad.

blue background

McCane, who is about to move from a Blueground rental in London to one in Paris, says the company is trying to make its apartments a home.

“They have a pet-friendly policy, which is wonderful,” she says. Furniture and accessories are the same from city to city, which she also finds comforting. But Blueground is different from a traditional rental in other important ways. Most messaging with Blueground is done through a smartphone app. In McCane’s experience, the response time is lightning fast.

For example, when she arrived in London a few months ago and was still suffering from jet lag, she left her keys in her flat.

“I messaged the team through the Blueground app and someone happily delivered a new set within two hours,” she says. “It’s a big deal in central London, so it’s a great system they have.”

Apartments for extended stays

Some destinations are so appealing to digital nomads that they are creating a new type of flexible accommodation category. Take Portugal, for example, which has just introduced a new digital nomad visa. “Portugal’s location and time zone are also conducive to working internationally,” says Chitra Stern, CEO and co-founder of Resort Martinhal.

The company already offers long-term rentals on some of its larger units, which come with full kitchens and living rooms. (Rates start at $45 a night based on a six-month lease.) The company is also putting the finishing touches on the Martinhal Residences project in Lisbon’s Nations Park area. The property is specifically designed to meet the needs of a digital nomad audience with a combination of hotel suites and luxury apartments for longer stays.

Hotels and resorts

Some hotels accommodate long-term guests. For example, the House Delphine, a luxury boutique hotel in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is offering a special “Work from Hotel” offer on select weeks in January and mid-April through mid-September. For $950 per week per person, a rate that includes breakfast, digital nomads can move to Mexico.

Tim Hentschel, CEO of hotel plannera travel technology company, says hotels are actively courting digital nomads by offering lower rates and larger accommodations for longer stays.

“This phenomenon could become the biggest change in the travel and tourism industry since the invention of the airplane,” he says. “I’m not kidding. Hotels are spending millions and millions on these extended stay deals now. It’s a whole new category of permanent travel.”


When Paige Beauregard and her husband, Francois, needed a place to stay in Orlando, they turned to the internet. “I think I typed in ‘long-term corporate housing’, and that’s when I came across Landing,” says Beauregard. They applied for membership and were accepted. Landing gives you access to its inventory of apartments as a member ($199 annually).

“To say we were surprised by the apartment and the furnishings would be an understatement,” she says. “Not only was the apartment beautiful and the furnishings perfect, but the apartment complex itself was beautiful, gated and with amazing amenities.”

Landing has apartments in dozens of US cities, from Albuquerque to Winston-Salem. And like Blueground, the amenities are standardized, so you’ll get the same furniture, super-fast Wi-Fi, and other amenities.

mint house

Another option for location-independent workers is mint house, which attempts to create a new category of hospitality powered by technology. Mint includes full kitchens, large living spaces and connected workspaces in city centers including Miami, New York and Seattle. Mint emphasizes technology integration with mobile check-in, keyless entry and 24/7 digital concierge services. The company caters to business travelers who need reliable Wi-Fi “but want to have fun at either end of the journey and even bring their family,” says Paul Sacco, Mint’s chief development officer.

Rent directly

Location-independent travelers who plan to spend more than a month in one place can also make a short-term rental. This is what Steffanie van Twuijver, a travel bloggermade in Korea and Germany.

Prices and requirements vary. There are forms to fill out and the deposits can be considerable.

“For example, my apartment in Seoul required a $4,500 security deposit — the minimum security deposit amount — and my rent was $600,” she says. “My house rental in Germany has around 2,500 euros deposit and 1,350 euros per month. So be prepared to have a large deposit for some areas.”

How does a digital nomad

I’ve been a digital nomad for six years and have tried most of these hosting options. There is no perfect choice. Finding the right place to live depends on the location, your needs as a remote worker, and your preferences.

For example, I stayed this spring in a Vrbo rental in Cape Town, South Africa, perfect for a digital nomad. It was close to grocery stores, a mall and the beach. In addition, it had an extremely fast wireless connection.

In terms of ease of use, you can’t beat Blueground and Landing. Everything is handled through their smartphone apps. Connecting to WiFi in Blueground’s apartment in Athens was super easy. The apartment also had everything I needed as a remote worker without the over the top amenities you sometimes get with a vacation rental. Landing locations are always in the middle of everything, close to grocery stores, malls and metro stations.

McCane, the legal consultant, says she wouldn’t trade it for a stable life despite the challenges of being a remote worker.

“A new environment revitalized me, especially after the isolation of the pandemic,” she told me. “Even though there’s more to juggle, being here helps me run a better business – I can also give sound advice to clients who are considering adjusting their lives.”

So how do digital nomads juggle it all? I’ll tell you in part two of this series.

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