What It's Really Like Living In A Hostel Long-Term

Life & Travel

Could you imagine living in a shared environment for the sake of saving money?

Would you be able to live in a hostel?

There are pros and cons to sharing such close quarters, but the reward of saving more of your paycheck might be worth the sacrifice if only for just a small period of time. I currently have taken the bullet as a last survival resort, and have found that there are most certainly downsides to living the "hostel life," but on the flip side, the "carefree" millennial Black girl warrior in me is making it work!


You Save Money in Rent and Utilities:

Living as a long term hostel tenant will save you coins! With real estate prices soaring through the roof in most major gentrified cities in the country, paying significantly less a month for a bed in a shared dormitory could be worth it! You get to save on utilities, as most hostels include basic amenities, including WIFI. Not even gonna lie - not receiving three bill statements from Con-ed, Optimum, and National Grid a month has been liberating!

Photo by Charles Lyles @lifebylyles

You Meet all Kinds of New People:

When you live in a hostel, you get an opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Folks have fascinating stories and life experiences that are fun to learn about. Fostering new connections with people in a hostel has been a highlight of my experience thus far. You would be surprised how many similar life experiences bring people together in a hostel. The solidarity and potential for life-long friendships you gain with people in the same situation as you is very rewarding!

You Really Learn How to Be Considerate of Others:

When living in such close quarters, there are a lot of liberties that you would normally take in your own space that you would not be able to do in a communal environment. Hostel life will teach you quickly to be mindful of any behaviors and patterns that would cross the boundaries of your other roommates. There is humility in these lessons that can be taken with you wherever you go.

You Learn How to Adapt to Foreign Environments:

Living a totally different lifestyle to what you are used to is no small feat. Living in a communal environment catalyzes your natural Instincts of adapting to your surroundings. It gives you certain skills that you would have never attained so quickly otherwise. You would be surprised with what you are able to teach yourself when it comes to organization, time management, and eliminating excess.

Photo by Charles Lyles @lifebylyles

You Find Inspiration in Change and Humility:

No matter what your reasoning is for living in a hostel, I doubt that this life would be anyone's first choice. Humbling yourself to be able to downsize in this extreme way gives you a feeling of pride and respect for the extent you would go to better yourself in the long run. It teaches you gratitude for all that you do have. In my case, I have been able to take this initially unwanted situation and be inspired to write a TV pilot entitled, "Finding Fontaine: Hollywood Hostel," that I will one day pitch to Netflix. To me, this is the definition of "When life gives you Lemons, you make Lemonade."

Freedom to Travel:

If you can live in a hostel in one part of the world, you can live in one in another. Living in downsized communal housing allows you to be able to freely travel from place to place on a budget. Imagine living in a hostel in Thailand or Cairo for only $10 a night in a place where our currency is worth significantly more? You could explore different cultures and expand your horizons whilst you save your money investing in yourself.

Photo by Charles Lyles @lifebylyles


What Privacy?!:

When sharing a room with 3 to 10 bunk beds, you can kiss your privacy goodbye! People are constantly coming and going, alone time in the room is often very rare. If you ever had a bad day, and all you want to do is come home and relax in your bed alone, you will be constantly reminded that you are living in a room with 5 other strangers. I often have to find a spot that is quiet to do tarot readings for client and the constant presence of other people is problematic! If someone is a big snorer, heavy walker, or loud talker, you better grab some ear plugs!

Photo by Charles Lyles @lifebylyles

Co-ed Living:

Most hostels are co-ed, so expect to be sharing a room with the opposite sex. This means being subject to always having to be clothed and mindful that the big burly straight dude sleeping across from you might be checking out your goodies any chance he gets. I got lucky enough to get a smaller 3 bunk bed all-girls room, but others may not always be as lucky! If you're someone who likes to walk around your house butt ass naked, or are self-conscious around the opposite sex, this is something you'll have to get used to.

Photo by Charles Lyles @lifebylyles

No Hanky Panky:

While living in a hostel, there is little chance for you to "get it in." You most likely wouldn't want to obviously, but there are times, naturally, when you will wish you had privacy for intimacy... even if it is with yourself. Your best bet is to take a temporary vow of celibacy, or find somewhere else to endulge in sexy time.

You Run on Hostel Time:

Every hostel has their own quiet hours, cleaning hours, and communal space hours. If you like to stay up late and watch Netflix, chances are there are people trying to sleep next to you. Don't get caught sleeping either when the kitchen closes…or you might find yourself taking a late night walk to the nearest 7-11. Are you a late sleeper? There are some long-term residents or tourists who will get up at the crack of dawn for work or to prepare for their day. If you are a light sleeper, prepare to be woken up.

Annoying Hostel Mates:

Living in a hostel comes with one, or two, bad apples! Let's just face it, there is bound to be an altercation at one point or another with someone you just can't stand, even if you tried. Every hostel has that one or two energy vampires that you learn to stand clear of by day two! Also, depending on where you stay, the hostel could be reminiscent of an episode of "Big Brother," or "The Bad Girl's Club" and equally as annoying! To combat this, stay to yourself!

Photo by Charles Lyles @lifebylyles


Not every hostel will be the same when it comes to cleanliness. Depending on the price point of your stay, cleaning could be an ongoing problem. There are so many people using the common areas that it might be difficult for the hostel hosts to keep up with the cleaning in a timely fashion on top of not everyone having the same level of cleaning needs. If you are a germaphobe, this will be the hardest part of living in a hostel for you.

Bed Bugs:

For me, this is worse than any con on this list. Living in a hostel is definitely risking being subject to bedbugs. There are so many people coming and going who are backpackers traveling from place to place. You will never know if someone is carrying a little sneaky bed bug in their luggage. It is often hard to prove that you've been bitten, unless you find an actual bed bug. Unfortunately, this potential risk comes with the territory. Make sure you read all the reviews to see if anyone has reported bed bugs. Also monitor and inquire about pest control.

Even though the cons outweigh the pros, I still have made the "hostel life" work for me. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and everything happens for you - not to you.

My best advice for someone looking to live the hostel life is to meditate often, cleanse and ground your energy, and get out as much as you can. I know that this is only temporary, and a new dawn for me will soon come. It's not perfect, but it's a roof over my head…

So with all that being said, could you live in a hostel?

Photo by Charles Lyles @lifebylyles

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