Nomad, a year in

In 2020 a lot of us were initially pushed to working from home. However, I am lucky that my employer accepted that all positions would be fully remote while still maintaining our office for those that wish to work from there.

As a result, I had a chance to experiment life as nomad, 2021 was the first year that I didn't have a full rental contract for an apartment since moving to Europe in 2017. As housing is usually the biggest expense for most people, nomad or not, I decided to compile my costs for this year without a fixed residence and compare them to previous years.

Of course it is indeed more expensive to not have a fixed residence in the long term, it's a tradeoff for flexibility. In previous years I had to leave apartments early leading to losing part of my deposits. Barcelona is also infamous for having high contract fees when signing a new apartment contract, roughly 10% of the annual value + fees, so in the end it kind of evens out, below you can see my living expenses in full detail.

#Full list of 2021 stays

This list includes only places I was renting as a primary residence, I usually book apartments through Airbnb or Booking, and Hotels in Accor:

  • Barcelona Ibis Styles Bogatell - 17 nights = 495.24
  • Barcelona Airbnb in Raval 1 - 33 nights = 1286.29
  • Barcelona Airbnb in Raval 2 - 60 nights = 2031.26
  • Valencia Airbnb shared - 6 nights = 286
  • Madrid Airbnb shared - 6 nights = 515.33
  • Barcelona Eixample LeMar Boutique - 2 nights = 125.40
  • Barcelona Ibis Styles Centre - 3 nights = 217.72
  • Barcelona Eixample Airbnb - 45 nights = 2583
  • Rome Airbnb Trastevere - 5 nights = 515.10
  • Milan Mercure Solari - 2 nights = 123.40
  • Zurich Ibis Zurich City West(Novotel City West) - 6 nights = 729.05
  • Amsterdam Airbnb in Duivendrecht - 11 nights = 1271.06
  • Ibis Rotterdam City Centre - 2 nights = 169.75
  • Faro Boutique Hotel - 2 nights = 136.16
  • Lisbon Holiday Inn Continental - 6 nights = 625.19
  • Oporto Airbnb - 7 nights = 327
  • Barcelona Airbnb Eixample - 77 nights = 3541.94

The following is a list of apartments I rented as vacation getaways, that is, places that I only visited while I maintained a primary residence elsewhere:

  • Palma Mallorca 3 nights 2 people Airbnb = 163.92
  • Ibiza 3 nights Hostal Costa 2 people = 197.70
  • Oviedo Ibis Oviedo 2 nights = 55.85
  • Prague Ibis Wenceslas Square 6 nights = 254.55
  • Paris Ibis Avenue Republique 3 nigths = 342.42
  • Toulouse Pullman Toulouse Centre Ramblas 2 nights = 225.10

It's important to note that through Accor fidelity program I had some discounts through points accumulated which were used in some of these stays.

Totals:

  • Primary residence costs: 14978.89 EUR
  • Total of nights in hotels and Airbnbs: 290
  • Average cost per night in primary residences: 51,65 EUR
  • Getaways costs: 1692.94 EUR
  • Total housing costs: 16671.83 EUR
  • Total housing costs per night, full year: 45,67

#Previous years

Now to compare to previous years, while I don't have values of all the getaways I could still estimate how much I paid in rent.

For 2017 and 2018, I lived in Budapest and paid approximately 210,000 HUF for an apartment with all bills and gym included, which amounted to roughly 7000 EUR/year, Budapest is of course much cheaper than other parts of Europe which is why there's such a difference from values above, this amount was still quite high compared to average Budapest prices due to the building's amenities.

In 2019 I moved halfway through the year from Budapest to Stockholm, this represented a significant increase in housing costs, they are follows:

  • 4 months rent in Budapest(Jan - Apr) = 2333 EUR(210k HUF/month)
  • 5 months rent in Stockholm in Sodermalm(May - Set) = 6777 EUR(14000 SEK/month)
  • Apartment deposit in Stockholm: 1161 EUR(12000 SEK)
  • 2 months rent in Stockholm in Kungsholmen(Nov - Dec) = 2420 EUR(12500 SEK/month)

Note: My landlord disputed damages and didn't return my deposit for the first apartment, also, I was out during october to avoid paying rent in Stockholm, all amounts are converted to the current exchange rate, all bills were included in both apartments.

  • Total in euros converted: 12691 EUR
  • Total housing costs per night, full year(excl getaway stays): 34.77 EUR

In 2020 I moved from Stockholm to Barcelona, I had to pay extra months due to leaving the contract early and with a short notice, both at the beginning of the year when leaving Stockholm and at the end of the year when leaving my apartment in Barcelona, the full amounts:

  • 2 months rent in Stockholm in Kungsholmen(Jan - Feb) = 2420 EUR(12500 SEK/month)
  • 9 months rent in Barcelona in El Clot(March - November) = 8910 EUR(990 EUR/month)
  • Approximate bills in Barcelona apartment for 9 months(gas, electricity, water and internet) = 1080 EUR(120/month)
  • One time agency fee for apartment contract in Barcelona(10% of annual rent + taxes) = 1437.48 EUR

  • Approximate total in euros converted: 13847.48 EUR
  • Total housing costs per night, full year(excl getaway stays): 37.83 EUR

#Conclusions

It's clear my housing costs have gone up as expected, but 2021 was a year of experimenting and seeing how these would add up, I also didn't plan very well and splurged every now and then. I wouldn't recommend anyone who would prefer to keep their costs under a strict budget to not plan and accumulate a series of short stays which will cost more as lots of places will offer good extended stays rates.

It's also noticeable that a lot of the places I stayed are generally higher cost, so it is easy to keep the costs down by staying in lower cost of living areas which is something I plan for the upcoming year, which should make it closer to my previous yearly housing costs.