What We Look for in Digital Nomad Accommodation in 2024

Buckle up nomads! Let’s find you a place to live…

This is the quick-and-dirty guide to everything you need to know to effectively book accommodation as a digital nomad

Remember… this guide is based on our own experience, preferences and needs, so you may prioritize things that aren’t included in this list.

Use this guide to get you started, and in just a few months time, you’ll have your own list of do’s and don’ts to help you pinpoint the perfect place to live. 

We’ve covered, “How to Find Cheap Accommodation,” in a separate article, and most nomads will tell you, the key to finding deals is by staying flexible. The more flexibility you have with move-in dates, duration, and location, the more options you’ll have.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the nitty gritty and the do’s and don’ts of finding digital nomad accommodation…

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Before We Start...

We’re going to assume you know where in the world you’re headed, and approximate time you plan to go, and the area you want to stay.

If you’re headed to Bali but unsure which area to pick, then it’s time to do a bit more research to narrow down your preferences. While Babakan and Berawa (two neighborhoods in Canggu) are merely 2km apart, the environment, crowds, and cost of living differ greatly!

It’s important to know what it is you’re looking for before diving into this guide or accommodation websites. 

Once you’ve got your location selected, continue on…

Which Filters to Use

We’re currently in Da Nang (half way down Vietnam), and after some careful research, we narrowed down our preferred location to the ‘An Thuong’ area, where many expats reside.

Despite it looking like a very small red box below, the area is actually huge! Remaining focused on this area really helped us to stay focused when looking for a place suitable for monthly rent.

Digital Nomad Accommodation - Narrow Your Search Area
Notice the small red box... that's An Thuong area!

Now that you’ve confirmed which area you’ll look for accommodation, the next step is to strategically search using specific filters

There is no point in looking for accommodation outside of your budget or basic needs (we can’t live without wifi or air con). Apply the filters and cut your list. This way you won’t start to fall in love with places that lie outside your budget, or might not have your ‘non negotiable’ amenities!

Mandatory Filters

  • Price: Whether it’s per night or per month, always set the price range if you have a budget. Even if you’re not tight on money, it’s smart to set a budget in line with a reasonable price point for the area you’re looking in. Why get ripped off when you don’t have to?
  • Number of Bedrooms: We only set this if we need more than 1 bedroom (e.g. traveling with a friend and you don’t want to share, or another room for working). If not, leave it off and let the accommodation gods find the best place for you.
  • WiFi: We always check this box. As digital nomads, this is a top priority and a basic necessity. 
  • Air Con / Heating: The only time we uncheck this is if we are traveling to a cool area (e.g. mountain regions).
  • Rating: While this is not an option on Airbnb, its a filter on sites such as Booking.com and Agoda. We personally set the rating to “8+” on Booking and Agoda, as we know properties rated to this standard usually meet our expectations.
  • Only Show Available Properties: When given this option, we select it to limit clutter in search results. 

Remember to set your map to only show the area that you are interested in!

Be mindful that the website may expand your search results, so double check the property location before getting too excited. 

Optional Filters

We usually leave these off unless there are too many options and we need to limit our choices. Or, we may pop one on if we’re going to a place where we really want a pool, kitchen or desk.

  • Dedicated Workspace: I personally love a large desk, table, or dedicated workspace, as I like to work at home. This may or may not be important to you. 
  • Kitchen: While we rarely cook, this may be important to you if you’re staying long term, an avid cook, or hoping to save money in a pricier country by cooking at home. While we don’t always look for a kitchen, we do try to find accommodation with a mini fridge for leftover food and cold drinks.  
  • Laundry: We rarely use a washing machine in SE Asia, as its cheaper and more convenient to get your washing done by somebody else. In Europe, we brought our clothes to a laundromat and did it ourselves. For us, a laundry machine is not a must, but for you it might be important. 
  • Pool: This is very location specific. Villas in Bali with idyllic gardens and private pools could be a game changer on a hot summer day. 
  • Property Type: We usually leave this unchecked, as we’re open to staying in most accommodations such as private villas, apartments, studios, hotels, and guesthouses. Our ‘off-limits’ accommodation is tightly shared spaces such as hostels or shared homes. Hostels are listed on accommodation sites, so if we see the option to remove them from search results, we select this box. If you’re curious about different digital nomad housing types, our complete guide is coming soon!
Can you believe this was Max's garden in a shared villa?

Number of Reviews

As you make your way through accommodation options, be mindful of the number of reviews per property. 

We tend to steer away from properties with little or no reviews, even if it’s newly listed. We’ll get into more details later regarding what we look for in reviews, but be mindful as you begin to narrow down your selection. 

At a minimum, we like to see at least 3-5 reviews, but basically, the more the better, and the more comfortable we are with considering that accommodation.

Another thing to note: take a peek at the last review date. Is it recent? 

Questions to Ask

Once you’ve selected a handful of places, you may want to reach out and ask a few questions before booking.

This is especially important if you’ve followed our steps for finding cheap accommodation and already found yourself in a WhatsApp dialogue with the property manager. 

We usually look for the answers to these questions in the accommodation description, photos, customer reviews, and finally, in a direct message. 

  • WiFi Speed: As a digital nomad or remote worker, having reliable internet connection is a must. We’ve found that 20 MBPS download and 5 MBPS upload are enough for video calls and our basic online needs. If you’re a coder or videographer then you may need faster speeds. You can ask for a screenshot of the speed or perform your own test using Speedtest.net if you view the property in person.

  • Loud or Quiet: Understanding local noise pollution or disturbances can help when selecting a place. Is there construction next door? Will it impact your work flow or calls? Is there a bar or karaoke studio nearby? Are there roosters or dogs that wake up before dawn? Is the property on a loud or busy street? Even the lightest sleepers can benefit from knowing this information.
     
  • Option to Extend: Should you enjoy the accommodation, is there an option to extend long term or pay month-to-month? Ask ahead of time and let them know you may want to extend upfront so the property manager can block off the booking calendar.
     
  • Monthly Rate or Long Term Discount: Most accommodations offer a cheaper price if you message asking about the ‘monthly rate’. Also, many places will offer an even larger discount for 3, 6, or 12 months. In our experience, it’s best to test the accommodation for a month before committing to a longer period. It’s okay to tell them you plan to try it out and potentially extend. The property manager will usually work with you to make sure the property stays available.

  • Extra Costs: While daily rentals almost always include the cost of water, cleaning, and electricity, these are not always included in monthly rates. Ask the accommodation about extra costs. Things to consider include water, electricity, cleaning, parking and garbage pickup.

  • What’s Included: Similar to extra costs, its a good idea to ask what’s included in the rate. For example, daily rentals tend to include bath towels, toilet paper, and soap, but not all monthly rentals include these items. We had to learn this one the hard way!

  • Confirm Pictures: If you notice any discrepancies in online pictures or reviews stating that the accommodation was outdated or looked different, you can confirm with the property owner to send images of the exact room you want to book. You can also ask questions such as, “Is there a desk in the room?” or “Is there a mini fridge?”.

Sample Dialogue

While it may seem like there are a lot of questions to ask, we’ve found that most accommodations are happy to provide answers and set clear expectations for the rental, as their goal is a happy customer. 

If you’re in a place where English is the second language, it’s important to be clear with your questions, ask one at a time, and use basic language.

For example…

“Hi there, we would like to book Hotel Awesome from July 12 – August 11. What is your monthly rate?”

“Thank you. Are there any extra fees such as electricity or cleaning?” — If there are extra fees, we keep asking to find out the specific fees and the costs. 

After assessing the fees and if it is still in budget, we continue with our questions. 

“Thank you, we have a few more questions. What is the wifi speed? Is the neighborhood quiet?”

Again, let the responses trickle in instead of overwhelming them. And finally…

“Great, thank you. We are interested in booking your place for 1 month and maybe extending longer if we like it for a total of up to 6 months. Is this possible?”

Once they say yes, finish with…

“Thank you. We are very excited. Do you need a deposit? What time can we check in?”

The conversation above suitable for if you’re out of town and want to book ahead. If you are in town, we advise reaching out to ask a few questions, then going to view the property yourself, so you can make a more informed decision.

We secured this via WhatsApp in Vietnam after seeing this perfect desk + view online!

How to Read Reviews

Previous tenants and customers often tell you everything you need to know, and that’s why we push for places that have plenty of recently published reviews. 

If a place does not have reviews, sadly, we often skip it. Remember, this is our personal preference and what’s worked for us. 

When checking reviews, we look on the platform where we originally found the property such as Airbnb or Booking.com, as well Google reviews. We read both the good and bad reviews, as each of them share valuable insights.

We focus on the most recent reviews. If there was an issue a year ago, you’d like to think that the issue has been resolved by now, particularly if the property manager has responded to and acknowledged the issue in the review.

Also, we use the search function to find words that are important to us such as: bed, wifi, internet, noise, smell and mold.

You’ll also begin to notice comments highlighting specifics around the location, as well as the the accommodation host’s hospitality. 

If you see a recurring negative comments – for example, related to the hardness of the bed, mold in the bathroom or early hours noise and disruption, then you should consider looking at other options.

While the property may seem perfect in many ways, these issues could be deal breakers

Accommodation Bonuses

These may seem like simple things, but these bonuses can add up over time.

Here are some things we look out for, that may potentially sway us to book one place over the other.

  • Free Drinking Water: It’s a simple thing, but it saves us from purchasing water bottles daily and cuts out time taken going to and from the local shop.
  • Free Breakfast: Another simple thing (and maybe not on your radar if you’re not a big breakfast eater), but a free cup of coffee and small meal lowers daily living costs and may spare you an extra hour or two of focused work time in the morning before you need to head out of the house. 
  • Proximity to Shops: If your accommodation is in walking distance to grocery stores, shops and restaurants, it may enhance your overall quality of life and ease of living. 

How to Post in Facebook Groups

If you haven’t already read how to find cheap accommodation or Airbnb alternatives (coming soon), check out those articles and you’ll understand why we’ve mentioned Facebook groups here. 

Facebook groups are a hidden gem when it comes to finding last minute, long term accommodation, but you need to know how to use them strategically

Once you’ve followed these steps to find a location-specific Facebook accommodation group, and understood that its a last minute advertisement to a newly listed, first come first served accommodation, then its time to make your move. 

You can either comment on the newly listed post asking for more information, or you can do one better and post your own request.

You’ll need to be specific… very specific

Look at what others post, what information is included, and if the post has received comments. If it appears to work, copy it.

Your post should be easy to read and highlight what’s most important for you. Make it clear and concise. Things to include:

  • Number of bedrooms
  • Type of house (villa, guesthouse, shared house) – guide coming soon!
  • Location (neighborhood)
  • Move in date, if known
  • Duration of rental period (monthly/yearly)
  • Property requirements (pool, quiet area, wifi speed, air con, desk)
  • Any other requests (pets allowed, no mold etc.)

Hi! I’m looking for 1 bedroom in a guesthouse with a shared kitchen and pool. Location in Tumbak Bayuh (quiet area with no construction, dogs, or roosters). Room must have natural light, fast wifi, and working desk. Move in date is flexible, starting June 1. Monthly rental with option to extend long term. Budget 8mil IDR. Please DM me with more info and pics. 

 

Digital Nomad Accommodation - How to use Facebook example 1
Digital Nomad Accommodation - How to use Facebook example 2

How to Find Reviews for In-Person Viewings

If you found your accommodation in a Facebook group or while walking through town, you may not have the benefit of looking at reviews before you view it. This is okay. 

Ask the property manger for the accommodation name, as most homes have unique names to easily locate on Google and most apartment buildings have names as well.

Look up the property name on Google and have a glance at the reviews.

While you may not find the exact listing of your accommodation, you can still see how others have reviewed units in the building. Be mindful of reviews related to construction, noise and safety.

Additionally, you can search Google for ‘[accommodation name] Airbnb’ to see if there is an Airbnb listing related to the unit. 

If the property owner does not give you the name, but offers the location, you can try to find a point on the map with images that are similar to the listing to see if this is the same place. Be careful here, as its a grey area, but it’s worth a shot!

Digital Nomad Accommodation - finding a house in person
We saw a "For Rent" sign above a coffee shop and found this epic place on the map!

Things to be Cautious About

Alright, let’s wrap this up. What are we cautious about?

  • No Reviews: Even if the listing is new (and might be perfect), we tread carefully, as we do not want to be the guinea pigs. 
  • Recent Bad Reviews: If there are multiple recent reviews complaining about the same thing, we’d steer clear. It’s not worth the potential headache.   
  • Mixed Reviews on Various Sites: If one site has amazing reviews but Google says its complete crap, it’s hard to tell which to believe. In these cases, we err on the side of caution.
  • Conflicting Photos in Listings or WhatsApp: When photos on various platforms look different for the same room, we take a pause and ask why. Are they showing old photos? Highlighting the best photos for several rooms and treating it as one super-room? Are they pre/post renovation? We run into this issue more than we’d like to admit, and even when we ask the owner, they usually deny it (not sure why?), despite one apartment clearly having a balcony and the other having a window. Be vigilant in your investigations, and trust you gut
  • Request for a Large Deposit: Most places allow you to pay when you arrive. Some request a fair deposit such as a 1/4 of the rent upfront to reserve the space. Always use a traceable payment system to track your money and create a papertrail, just in case. We use Wise for international transfers, and we never transfer more than we’re willing lose (read: get scammed out of).
  • Overall Communication / Vibe: If you feel like the communication is lacking or the property manager is unkind, choose another location. There are plenty of places to live. You want to find somewhere where you feel safe and supported.

So, are you ready to find your next digital nomad accommodation?

We’ve poured everything we know into this beast of a guide, and tried our best to give you as much insight as possible to help you book your next digital nomad accommodation. 

Whether you’re wondering how to find cheap accommodation or curious about the different digital nomad housing options (guide coming soon), we’re here to help. 

But, just because we’ve been around the block a few times, it doesn’t mean we’ve managed to remember everything there is to know about booking accommodation for digital nomads, remote workers, and long term travelers, so if you think of something we missed, please drop it on the comments below.

Who knows, you could be our next DNG accommodation guru!

Max quit her corporate job in 2013 to take a chance building businesses online while traveling the world. Armed with an adventurous spirit and a can-do attitude, Max has traveled to more than 50 countries, embracing slow travel as a digital nomad and long-term living in places such as Thailand, India, Nepal, and Indonesia. Max currently resides in Bali where she oversees content creation for DNG as our resident travel aficionado.
Picture of Max Pankow
Max Pankow
Max quit her corporate job in 2013 to take a chance building businesses online while traveling the world. Armed with an adventurous spirit and a can-do attitude, Max has traveled to more than 50 countries, embracing slow travel as a digital nomad and long-term living in places such as Thailand, India, Nepal, and Indonesia. Max currently resides in Bali where she oversees content creation for DNG as our resident travel aficionado.

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