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I'm asking this in general, but specifically I am planning to travel to Colombia. The maximum period I can stay there is 6 months, and I will probably stay for the most of it.

I'm looking at this from mainly an economic sense, I don't need to stay in hostels/dorm rooms, but I can't afford to stay in a nice hotel the whole period either. But I would also like the convenience of not having to worry about utilities, internet, etc either. Taking Airbnb as an example, I'm assuming the prices are generally higher than what locals could get for similar places, and a lot of hosts have restrictions and rules on how long you can stay that would not apply if you were renting your own place.

So I guess the crux of my question is, is it better to independently find your own place to rent, or rather to use services like Airbnb or a cheap hotel?

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    Considered something like trustedhousesitters.com? Dunno if they have much in Colombia, but it's possible. Also a lot of volunteer places come with accom... – Mark Mayo Aug 8 '15 at 12:02
  • I'm going to be remote working, so a volunteer thing wont work I think. – Niel Aug 8 '15 at 15:53
  • You might be surprised, some times it's just a few hours a week... – Mark Mayo Aug 8 '15 at 17:26
  • It seems to me that many workaway-like places require about 5 hours a day from the 'volunteers'. – MastaBaba Aug 8 '15 at 23:42
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There's no one answer to this question applicable to every place on the planet and, really, it's just common sense. :)

Every big city will have service providers that can get you a long-stay, at a price, but for less then the cost of a hotel.

If you speak the language and can put in the time, finding your own place will obviously be cheaper.

AirBNB and its cousins give good shorter term solutions and, sometimes, provide great steals. Also realise that, for plenty of accommodation on AirBNB, monthly rentals are available.

Lastly, hotels, hostels, as well as couchsurfing, provide good short term accommodation at a relatively high cost.

So, not knowing where in Colombia you're going, and only considering cost, it seems to make sense to book a hotel, hostel or AirBNB place in advance, for a week, say, and then to look for more permanent accommodation while you're there.

  • Yes I am a bit scared cause I don't know the language, and I'd like to have some peace of mind before I leave. I'm going to Bogota first. It probably is better to first check out the area than make a long-term commitment from the beginning. – Niel Aug 8 '15 at 15:57
  • @Neil: I strongly encourage you to start practicing Spanish before you go (and continue learning once you arrive). Not because you'll really "need" it there (there are always ways to communicate), but because it's surprisingly easy to pick up the basics of a language (especially one so similar to English), and because it will be immensely rewarding. – Flimzy Aug 8 '15 at 18:10
  • @Niel: Yes, committing to a location for a longer period of time before having visited is tricky. But why do that indeed? Hotels and hostels in Colombia are quite affordable and decent (in Bogota, I recommend Hotel Aragon) so, book one (or an AirBNB place) for, say, a week and then make it a plan to find a more longterm stay during that week. – MastaBaba Aug 8 '15 at 23:41
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My suggestion is to book something for 1-2 weeks on airbnb, at a hotel or hostel, or something similar. Then, during your first couple of weeks there, make some connections and look for people renting a spare bedroom.

I've never been to Colombia, but I've done this in Mexico, Portugal and Cuba with good success.

How to find rooms for rent varies greatly by location, but in general, ask around. If you don't speak Spanish (you should consider learning at least the basics), you can likely find an expat community in any large city (try meetup.com and couchsurfing.org as examples). There, ask around--where are others staying? How do you find a place to live for 6 months?

With those connections, start making calls (by phone or in person) to see what's available, and find something you like.

You can start a lot of this before you arrive--at least the networking part with expats, so that you'll spend less time looking once you arrive.

In summary, there's no exact formula for this, but in general what I do:

  1. Book reliable lodging for 1-2 weeks before arriving.
  2. Network with people who know the area (expats and hospitable locals) to learn how to look for longer-term housing
  3. Once you're there in person, start exploring the longer-term options you learned about during Step #2

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