- As a longtime freelance writer, I spend a lot of time in hotels. But these days, I’m living in one.
- Our home flooded, leaving my fiancé and I to move into a dated two-star hotel with limited amenities.
- But it’s taught us a lot about work and life, including how to make the best of a chaotic work-from-home environment.
As a longtime freelance writer, I often joke that I practically live in hotels and out of a suitcase. Well, now I actually do — but not my typical five-star, amenity-filled property on assignment for well-known travel magazines. I now call a dated two-star hotel that quite literally resembles a brown box (but with only half the personality) home, and will for the next several months.
Having just undergone an eight-month-long remodel of our house last year, my fiancé and I thought we’d live the next handful of years in newly renovated bliss. Little did we know that lurking under our foundation was a pinhole-size leak in the hot water line that would go on to ruin every square inch of our brand-new flooring (not to mention some walls, the master bathroom vanity, and our kitchen pantry). We had no choice but to file an insurance claim and move out while the mitigation, demolition, and second renovation of the year took place.
When I first saw the hotel our insurance carrier chose for us and our mini schnauzer, Lily, I was overwhelmed with dread. There’s very little storage, the kitchenette leaves a lot to be desired, the two-seat sofa is worn, and there’s only one tiny desk for two adults who both work from home.
But now that we’ve settled in, we’re not miserable. In fact, our new living situation has broken us out of a rut, forced us to get creative, and even delivered some unexpected perks. Here are five things it’s taught us about work and life.
1. You can get by with a lot less stuff than you think
We had no choice but to join the minimalist movement, only bringing the bare necessities with us while everything else we own got moved into a storage vault. I assumed the lack of belongings would add significant stress to the situation, but we’re pleased to discover that quite the opposite has happened. For instance, now that I only have a handful of my favorite outfits to choose from, I finally realize just how much stress I was under every time I opened my at-home closet. Hanging there, mocking me, were pants and tops I haven’t been able to squeeze into for years — and the moment we’re reunited, I’ll be donating them to charity.
We each brought some books, electronics — computers, tablets, headphones, and our
device — and a few items for the kitchenette. That final provision has been an absolute lifesaver, since the hotel-stocked “essentials” only included three forks, two spoons, three glasses, a set of glass nesting bowls with mismatched lids, and some dishes. The smartest things we brought were our air fryer (which we use for most of our meals, since there’s no stove), a chef’s knife and cutting board, and stainless-steel water bottles.
2. You form unlikely bonds with other long-term guests
Much like Vegas, what happens in the community laundry room stays in the community laundry room. The day after we moved in, another long-term guest cornered me in between loads and spilled all her own gossip — including the fact that she’s been stuck here for five months and is now dating the hotel manager.
And I’ll never forget the time I discovered that my thongs had migrated to the far depths of the stacked dyer, which is impossible to reach when you’re only 5 feet tall. Of course my fiancé was out for the day, so I had to ask the 80-year-old man at the next machine to grab them. He now goes out of his way to say hello to me in the hallway and lobby — but only when his wife isn’t by his side.
I’ve struck up conversations with short-term guests too, offering up my recommendations for what to see and do on their vacation or letting them pet Lily because they’re missing their own furry friends while on the road.
3. White noise machines can hide a lot
The large dogs that live in the room above us cry all day long when their owner leaves, but that annoyance pales in comparison to the thunderous sounds the owner makes when he’s home and walking around. Thankfully, a white noise machine muffles most of it. It also comes in handy during my fiancé’s myriad
meetings, which weren’t a problem in our separate home offices, but are now an enormous distraction in this shared space.
4. Freebies are everywhere
There’s an onsite gym 30 feet from our room that’s always empty, which means we basically have a private gym to ourselves and no excuse not to use it (OK, I still find excuses). Plus, there’s weekly housekeeping service, bathroom toiletries, daily continental breakfast, and coffee. There’s also a happy hour several nights a week — complete with light bites and cheap wine — and all the
you could ever need. That means we’re saving a little money, which will come in handy as we pay our insurance deductible.
5. A new neighborhood means new opportunities
The weather just so happens to be spectacular in Phoenix this time of year, so we’re getting out and about more than usual. With no doggie door or backyard to rely on, we now take Lily on multiple walks each day or to a dog park. We even take evening strolls to new-to-us restaurants and shops, as we explore all the fun businesses in our temporary neighborhood.
There truly is no place like home, but we’re making the most of our short-term lodging situation by staying focused on the positives.