Airbnb’s Live Anywhere Program — Is There Another Way?

Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. We’ll cover what it is, how it works, and why it exists, as well as some alternative options. Let’s get started…

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

What is the Live Anywhere program?

The Airbnb Live Anywhere program is a competition, with winners picked by Airbnb. The prize? Airbnb Credits, to spend living in ‘long stay’ Airbnb listings across 12 locations, one month at a time. The program was introduced in June 2021.

Why does the Airbnb Live Anywhere program exist?

Living around the world one month at a time isn’t something new per se (I’ve been living like this since 2017), but it became something of a trend in the wake of the pandemic. At the very least, it became an aspiration for many. To be clear, we’re not making assumptions here: Airbnb reported 11% of guests from 2021 bookings describing their lifestyle as nomadic, and 74% of the consumers they surveyed expressed interest in living somewhere away from where their employer’s main office is, in a post pandemic world.

The Live Anywhere program was a direct response to this upward trend in nomadic living. Presented with the opportunity of a growing market segment — which Airbnb are well positioned to service — the Live Anywhere program gave them great exposure among both existing, and would-be digital nomads.

Is Airbnb’s Live Anywhere program right for you?

Applications closed at the end of June 2021, and it wasn’t made clear if the program will make a return. Assuming it does return (we hope it will!) it’s not clear how often applications will open. Not exactly great news if you’ve been reading this and thinking you’d like to apply…

But there is some good news: If you’re looking to explore a nomadic lifestyle, there’s plenty of alternative options to explore in the meantime. Let’s check those out.

If money was no object, you’d probably just pick up, go to wherever you liked, and pay for an Airbnb or hotel. The reason the Live Anywhere program is so attractive is your costs are covered, because for the vast majority of people, cost does factor into a decision like where do we stay?

With that in mind, we’re breaking down the 4 alternative options to the Live Anywhere program…

House Sitting

Platforms like Trusted House Sitters let you apply for house sitting opportunities all over the world, usually for just a small annual membership fee.

Upsides: Stay completely for free!
Downsides: Dates of your stay are dictated by when hosts need a sitter. Often housesitting involves pet sitting, too. Can be competitive, with many people applying for a single house sitting opportunity and the host making a decision.

Hostels

Let’s assume if you’re reading this, you know what a hostel is or have some idea of how they work.

Upsides: Cheap, and there’s lots to choose from.
Downsides: Quality can vary in almost every regard: comfort, security, privacy… You name it!

Most hostels offer ‘no frills’ accommodation focussed more on travellers (not remote-workers). Whilst lots of hostels do have private rooms, they aren’t always available, and the alternative is a ‘dorm’ style room — 4–20 people in one big room…. Yikes.

Co-living

Co-living saw an uplift in interest during and after the pandemic. It’s a broad term, and can cover anything from a hostel with a focus on longer-term guests, to luxury shared accommodation. More often than not, co-living has more of a community feel when compared to a hostel, which is achieved through: regular events like business masterminds, or activities focussed on wellbeing (like daily yoga), or location (like kite surfing).

Blue — ‘coliving’ | Red — ‘co living’ | Yellow — ‘co-living’ | Google Search Interest, Worldwide, 2004–2021. Source: Google Trends.

Upsides: Great way to network and connect with people who likely have similar interests, There’s often co-work or workspace available.

Downsides: Costs, and what is included varies across providers (so it can feel difficult to compare offerings).

There’s a compelling argument suggesting the economics of co-living only favor locations where the cost of living is low. So, choosing co-living for 12 months of the year might not be sustainable financially, but it can serve you well if you have specific or seasonal interests like surfing, horseback riding, or scuba diving.

Discounted Airbnbs

Leverage your longer-than-average-stay, and book with Airbnb host’s who offer sizable discounts on bookings over a month.

Upsides: Large selection of listings, a filtered search ensures you have everything you need for a comfortable and remote-work-friendly stay, it can be as private, or sociable as you like (filtering either for (including filtering for ‘entire place’ if you value having your own private space).

Downsides: Can be difficult to find. Unlike the Live Anywhere program, this is not free, but…

Discounted Airbnb’s are one of the best options in terms of value for money — you can have more, for less.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

So, plenty of options… The reality is, accommodation is the biggest expense a digital nomad will incur — beaten perhaps by some long haul flight tickets! So, it’s worth thinking about what’s right for you in terms of both price and value, and acknowledging the best fit might change over time.

We hope Airbnb’s Live Anywhere program does make a return, the experience on offer is potentially life-changing. In the meantime, we’ll continue to share the best discounted deals we find every month with the free RemoteBase newsletter.

What option do you think is right for you?

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