Guide to long term AirBnB rentals for Digital Nomads
Why AirBnB is the king of accommodation bookings for remote workers.
AirBnB has become an unrivalled resource for travellers. In this guide to long term rentals on AirBnB for Remote Workers and Digital Nomads, we will give you the blueprint you need to score exactly the apartment you are looking for, primarily with digital nomads in mind that are looking for rentals of 1 month plus, but this method can of course be used by anybody.
Are long term rentals the best for digital nomads?
Monthly stays or more, are typical for nomads for various reasons. In terms of AirBnB, remote workers generally get good value for longer term rentals with solid discounts of 20-30% applied to bookings. Staying in a new city for one month or more can be logical for other reasons given that a typical gym membership will be a monthly rate (at a minimum) and a coworking space would also be a monthly rate. It also means you will have real time to figure out whether or not you like a city to the point where you may want to stay on for 2-3 month or even more. Generally speaking, if you want to experience a city properly and meet people while you are there, having a few weeks on location is the best option as it gives you a chance to explore the whole place, make friends locally and build professional networks with other remote workers.
Much of this guide will likely seem simple to most people, however we have included a few crucial pointers throughout the guide that have been gained from experience and thus helping you to get exactly the apartment you would like.
AirBnB is the largest property rental website in the world, with properties listed in over 190 countries. The company has anywhere up to 1 million properties rented on any given night. It goes way beyond a website to find a cool place to stay for the weekend. AirBnB is a tool that can be leveraged to give you user-friendly and transparent access to an exceptionally powerful booking system for properties worldwide, to suit all budgets and accommodation needs.
What are some of the best locations for Digital Nomads
This is entirely up to you and this article generally goes on the assumption you have already zoned in on some cities that you would like to base yourself in, this is a great reason to use AirBnB Wish Lists which we discuss later in this guide. Perhaps you see yourself in Belgrade next month, but Prague and Berlin in subsequent months. Use wishlists to put in the research work well in advance. This guide to AirBnB for remote workers can be used for any city, whether that is an EU capital or a beach town in the Balkans. Obviously different cities have huge variations in rates of rent e.g. a monthly rental in Paris might cost you north of € 3,000 whereas in a city like Budapest for example prices are 70% less than that. Top remote working cities at the moment are places like Lisbon, Belgrade, Berlin, Mexico City, Bali, Chiang Mai, Zagreb. There are a lot of hotspots and more coming on the map all the time. Often, popular remote working locations generally have more sensible property prices and far higher quality options available.
How to Sign-Up
The sign-up process is simple. Head over to AirBnB.com and hover over the top right icon to see the ‘sign up’ option and input the required information from there. You will also be asked for phone information and also for a preferred payment method afterwards. You may have the opportunity to enter a promo code either at sign-up or when you book your first place.
AirBnB, worldwide property all under one roof. The alternative to using AirBnB is searching for estate agents on Google or individuals renting property on the likes of Facebook Groups or Craigslist. This is a hugely time consuming method to scroll through endlessly fragmented information and communicate by email, messenger or a mixture of multiple different channels. Keep in mind, AirBnB is also available in over 30 languages.
Yes you will pay a service fee to use AirBnB. However, for the convenience, transparency and security of booking AirBnB wins hands down. Keep in mind, a lot of other accommodation bookings from other sources on the web are often or usually listed on AirBnB anyway i.e. hosts will advertise their property on multiple channels. There is an element of ‘everything under one roof’ when it comes to AirBnB. The filters available are also unrivalled so save yourself the time and stick to one app.
How do I book on AirBnB?
It is simple to start your search. Go to the airbnb.com homepage. Select ‘Places to Stay’, then input the city of your choice along with dates and the number of guests intending to stay.
One of the main choices you have when using AirBnB is to rent an ‘Entire Place’ or ‘Private Bedroom’. This guide is to help nomads that are generally intending to rent an apartment to themselves, rather than staying in a private room with the landlord. If you are staying in a city for 1-month, an ‘Entire Place’ rental is probably the way to go, especially if you want your own space and intend on dating some locals!
Using Filters on AirBnB
If you prefer a place with at least 1 bedroom, as opposed to a studio flat, select the number of bedrooms accordingly. You can refine your search further by using ‘More Filters’. There are options here for ‘AirBnB Plus’ also. These are properties which have been visited by AirBnB staff, and that meet a particular high standard of design and quality. However, please keep in mind that there are apartments that are just as amazing that are not listed under ‘AirBnB Plus’ and most importantly, rental prices are substantially more and not always worth it. Of course though, feel free to check it out. Our advice would be to skip AirBnB plus for your first rental, or until you get more comfortable with a few other rentals first. More necessary filters for a long term stay are, WiFi, Kitchen facilities, washing machines etc. Generally, apartments include all these amenities but keep an eye out. If for example you do not spot that an apartment does not have a washing machine, you may find yourself having to trek to the nearest laundrette once or twice a week which might be a drain on your time.
WiFi Quality in AirBnB Apartments
If you are working remotely, WiFi of a reasonable speed is going to be essential. Hosts will understand this and therefore it is more than acceptable to ask the host about the exact speed of the WiFi connection, in what will be your home office for a month or more. Feel free to ask the host for a screenshot of the WiFi speed if you need it. This can be important, as even if you are renting a coworking space while in the city, you may find yourself needing to get some work done in the apartment itself.
AirBnB Kitchen Facilities
These vary greatly from one apartment to another. All apartments will have the basics i.e. plates, knives and forks etc. however, be sure to look closely at pictures of the kitchen. Some guests may be perfectly OK with only having a hob, however you may also have a strong preference for an oven. So, feel free to ask about that. The same goes for any extra utensils or crockery that you prefer to have available. A lot of nomads are quite health conscious and if you have a nutrition routine alongside your gym routine, making sure your AirBnB has most or all of what you need in advance will save you some stress later. Especially if you need to hit the ground running in any new city.
Accessibility needs in AirBnB Properties
In the More Filters sectio, select ‘Choose features of your place to stay’this will show additional options around accessibility for guests. Accessibility is something that AirBnB has been improving on over time and will hopefully continue to do so in future. Make sure to always contact the apartment host to ask any further questions you may have about accessibility options in the apartment. We discuss contacting AirBnB hosts a little further down in this guide. Any professional host will be ready to answer your questions.
Using the AirBnB Map
This should be familiar for most people, drag, zoom-in and zoom-out. But, it can get a little confusing when a huge number of options are visible. So, filtering is important. A big suggestion is to start filtering by neighbourhood first, and that is where a little research outside of the AirBnB app is strongly advised. Check on Google search, which neighbourhoods might be the best for a first timer in a new city that you have your eye on. Your priorities may be, being close to a particularly suitable gym, a coworking space that looks good for your needs, a public transport link such as a metro station or green spaces like parks or organically produced food at farmers markets or that you are looking to be in a neighborhood that is perceived as generally safe, or at least not known to be unsafe.
Different things are important to different people. Ultimately, you will likely find yourself with a shortlist of neighborhoods that are close to the centre, or in the centre itself. The advantage to being in the centre is that you are close to everything you need, plenty of people around, plus all the good restaurants, nightlife and services. The downside, centres are often nosier, busier and can be more expensive than a satellite neighbourhood which may just be 10 minutes further on the tram. Our advice is to find your preferred neighbourhood first and start your property search from there. Use Google Maps parallel with AirBnB maps so you can start to make sense of neighborhoods. Keep in mind, the exact address and location of an AirBnB listing is not confirmed until after you book it. However prior to booking you can see where the apartment is, accurate to a few blocks.
AirBnB WishList(s) and why should you use them
An AirBnB WishList is a way to create an easily accessible shortlist of favourite apartments located in the neighbourhoods that fit the criteria you are looking for. Taking Belgrade as an example, you will quickly be able to see that neighbourhoods close to Stari Grad like Dorćol are quite central, with plenty of gyms and coworking spaces closeby. A quick search online of ‘best neighbourhoods to stay in Belgrade’ will also reference Dorćol and several more.
So, let’s say Dorćol in Belgrade is appealing. You could start your search there and add each property you like to the Wish List by selecting the heart symbol. We recommend naming each WishList by the name of the city for simplicity purposes e.g. ‘Belgrade’. Each list can contain a maximum of 50 apartments. If you go over that amount, simply start an additional list ‘Belgrade 2.0’ if you find a lot of places you like.
Keep in mind, you can create WishLists at any time you like, including a few months before you intend to travel. These can be a great way to make your browsing or scrolling time a bit more productive when you add a property to your list for later. If you are a nomad that intends to travel most of the year, for the next 2-3 years, WishLists continue to prove their value, as over the course of time, you will have a powerful personal list of properties created, for multiple cities in various countries, that you can quickly check for availability when you are ready to travel. Will your property be available for your intended dates when you are ready to book? There is every chance that it will not be. So, pack out your WishLists with plenty of options or book early at the time of searching if you are ready to do that.
Book now and pay later on AirBnB
Yes you can book now and pay later on AirBnB. This is an extra and little known option called the ‘Payment Plan Feature’. This is not a hidden feature, but it is not widely advertised either. This feature will allow you to pay up to half now and the remainder on an agreed number of days prior to your check-in. Essentially, it allows you to lock-in that perfect apartment you have found for later travel and not have a full accommodation bill at once. This is especially useful as listings on AirBnB can be here today and gone tomorrow. The availability of the ‘Payment Plan Feature’ varies from listing to listing. Feel free to ask your host about this when contacting them and flag that you intend to use it, it is possible that they may not even be familiar with it. The option is only available for stays of not more than 28 days in duration and the reservations made at least 14 days in advance. An important point is The Payment Plan option will only appear on the actual payment screen. Keep an eye out for it.
Paying for your AirBnB Stay
Should you pay outside of the AirBnB application? Our advice is not to do that. For all the reasons outlined in this guide, you will find that AirBnB service fees are quite reasonable. Above all though, your payment will not be protected and you could unfortunately become a victim of a fraudulent operator. In addition to this, you will not have the support of AirBnB throughout the duration of your stay, should you have any reason to contact support.
Most major credit and debit cards are accepted for payment, you will set up your preferred payment method at registration. Apple Pay, Google Pay and Paypal are all accepted, as well as a growing list of financial applications that you may have on your phone, depending on your country of residence.
What is a good budget for an AirBnB monthly rental
This completely depends on the city. A small tip is not to set a price filter earlier in your search, this can omit too many apartment options, and it just may be that one of those options would be open to negotiation with you, which we will discuss later.
One of the big benefits to using AirBnB as a digital nomad is that, when you search for a monthly rental, a discount of anywhere from 20% – 30% + is applied. So as a good rule of thumb, a good budget for an AirBnB monthly rental would beanywhere from € 800 EURO – € 1000 EURO per month. For this budget in places like Eastern Europe or The Balkans, you can most definitely book a high spec apartment, in a top neighbourhood that’s spotlessly clean and has great facilities. In South East Asia such as Thailand or Indonesia, it’s highly likely you would have access to a pool and/or gym in the building for a similar budget.
Are AirBnB rates seasonal?
Yes absolutely they are. For example in cities like Las Palmas in the Canaries or Split in Croatia, just for example, the difference in rates between on and off season could be up to 50% or more. This can work to your benefit. The nature of being a digital nomad and the lifestyle that goes with it means that you may not necessarily want to be anywhere near the summer tourist crowds anyway and prefer spring or autumn for example in these locations rather than the height of summer. Equally so, for some European cities like Krakow, Prague, Zagreb, Budapest. These cities have extremely popular advent festivals or Christmas markets that start as early as November and run to the end of December or the first week of January. It helps to be aware of any potential events going on that may lead to price hikes.
What fees do AirBnB charge renters?
There is a service fee of 12% – 20% added to the cost of your rental with AirBnB but this is dwarfed by what you would need to pay in real estate fees if you went that route, usually 1-2 months deposit, plus agency fees. The service fee in AirBnB allows incredible access, secure payment and you do not need to pay a deposit. There is also a cleaning fee, this is set by the apartment hosts however, and so it varies. Anywhere from €18+ to cover the entire length of stay is a good indicator.
Should I only stay with AirBnB Superhosts?
Keep in mind that new listings are added to AirBnB constantly. We will cover how to contact a host in the next section. If their communication is good, and it almost always will be for those that take rentals seriously, then you know you are on to a winner and someone who is a professional when it comes to hosting. The Superhost feature is useful, but not essential and although you should feel free to filter by superhosts, we would almost recommend not doing that, as again this will omit a huge number of otherwise fantastic apartment options from hosts that are just getting started with AirBnB themselves. Something to also keep in mind is that new listings can often come with a 20%+ discount.
Are AirBnB ratings important?
Ratings in our view are extremely important. AirBnB does not allow you to filter search results by the rating. When viewing properties, a small piece of advice would be to give most focus to properties above 4.75 at a minimum. Something to remember is that a new apartment will not have much or any ratings. So again, use your common sense when it comes to communication with that host and just try to recognise any potential red flags. Are they professional? Are they relatively polite? Are the images of the apartment aligned with what you would expect of a nice place to spend a month?
How to negotiate the price of an AirBnB Rental
You will need to communicate with the host directly. Scroll down on a listing and you will see the option to ‘Contact Host’. You can of course ask your host any questions you have in mind about the listing or the neighbourhood using this feature.
What you may not know is that you can also negotiate on the price of a listing and we strongly suggest you do this. Keep in mind that each host is different and may have different personal circumstances when it comes to their listing i.e. one host may have a heavy mortgage on their listing but another may have no mortgage at all due to the apartment being inherited (just for example) other ‘hosts’ may actually be companies with multiple listings in one city. The point is, some hosts will always be in a position to negotiate if their circumstances allow and you will never know unless you ask. This is especially true if you are staying for a month. Some hosts, especially in low season, may have very few bookings on the horizon and are only too delighted to have a guest stay long term.
Keep an eye on the listed price from the owner, if the asking price is way over the top for a given city vis-à-vis the cost of living or average monthly salary, then you know the apartment may be solely targeted at foreigners. Rather than let this turn you off, it may actually mean there is plenty of room for negotiation here.
Keep your contacts short and sweet. Remember hosts have busy lives also, and they will want to deal with questions or negotiations promptly. There is also a limit to the amount of messages you can send out in a day, so do not over do it. You could reach out with something like following
Your listing is interesting for me. It is close to the neighbourhood I am looking to be based in. I would like to ask if you would accept ‘800 USD’ per month for your apartment. Thank you!
Generally, you will get a response within 2-24 hours if the host is interested. You will get a feel from the response pretty quickly on how much room there may or may not be to negotiate. We suggest building up your WishList and then using that to contact multiple different hosts with the same message. You will get a hit if you contact enough hosts. Aim to contact anywhere from 10-20 hosts initially.
Take note of the properties bookings
This one is a little bit cheeky. You can get some visibility to see how full a host’s bookings are by checking the availability calendar on their listing. If you happen to notice that a host’s place is empty for several weeks around the time of your booking, that may give you an indication of how likely they are to negotiate their fee. In other words, a host may not want to risk having their place empty for long periods of time. So, if you spot a place with little or no bookings on the horizon, that could be a good one to explore.
Are AirBnB referral codes worth using?
Yes they most definitely are. You could find yourself getting at least one night completely on the house which is excellent. Make use of these. When you sign-up to AirBnB or you will have the option to enter a referral code. You could find yourself getting at least one night completely on the house which is excellent.