- I’ve been living in hostels for almost three months.
- While I was originally nervous about it, I now love it.
- It makes it easy to travel around, meet new people, and hear about new places.
- I’m currently hostel hopping around New Zealand.
- I plan to continue living like this indefinitely.
When I first decided to move to Australia for a year, I pictured myself living in an apartment or share house after I managed to get settled.
I booked a hostel for the first two weeks and planned to use that time to find a more permanent accommodation. After visiting a few places I found somewhere that looked good and committed. When my two weeks at the hostel finished up, I packed my bags and headed to my new home.
Quickly I realized how wrong I’d been about the house. Let’s just say it wasn’t the right fit. In four days I moved out and back to another hostel in Sydney, this time on the beach. I started looking for new, long-term accommodation but, after talking to people about their own living situations and experiences, I made the decision that a sublet wasn’t the right move for me.
Here’s why I instead made the decision to stay in hostels — and why it’s worked so well for me.
If the city you’re in isn’t a good travel base, hostel hopping can be a great alternative.
When I lived in Florence, Italy, during my junior year of college, it was easy to use the city as a base to travel around Europe. In contrast, Australia is an extremely spread-out continent and to use one city as a base to see the other spots is not only timely, but also costly. I stared at my suitcase filled with all my belongings for the year and realized that carrying it around wasn’t sustainable. I began to plan.
It’s been two and a half months since I left New York and, with the exception of the four nights I spent in a house, I have lived in a hostel for every day of it. I spent two weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia, six weeks in Sydney, one week in Tasmania, and currently I’m hostel hopping around New Zealand. I shipped my suitcase home and bought a travel backpack, which has helped me feel more free as I move around.
I stayed in hostels as I traveled around Europe, as well as when I visited Los Angeles, Montreal and Japan, but, through all those trips, the longest span of time I ever stayed in hostels was ten days. I’m coming up on three months of hostel living, a reality I never imagined for myself. But to be honest, I love it.
Hostels have somewhat of a stigma in America, but they’re actually great places to meet people and learn about new places.
I was prompted to discuss this experience because hostels aren’t as commonly discussed or used in America. In fact, there is quite a stigma against staying in hostels. As my stay in hostels has continued, and I’ve met more and more people living long-term in hostels, I’ve become fascinated by how common it is to call a hostel home.
My friend Cassie moved to Australia a few months before I did and spent her first three months staying in a single hostel in Melbourne. At the time I could not have envied her living situation less, but now I understand why she enjoyed it so much.
She told me about the ups and downs of hostel life saying, “Living in a hostel long term is not for the faint of heart. For three months, I lived in a 10-bed dorm with other girls who were constantly cycling out of the room. You’d have new people every day, and everyone was on their own schedule. Cleaners would come in in the morning, so your sleep schedule was never quite right. I also shared a bathroom with an entire floor of girls (two toilets and five showers). House rules had to be followed, like no alcohol in the rooms and no outside visitors.
“That being said, living in a hostel was a great experience. There were other long-term people there as well, so it really felt like a community. I made a ton of friends and met people from all over the world (including the bartenders in the hostel bar… can you say free drinks?!) I was constantly learning about not only where else to go in Australia, but new places to add to my bucket list as well.”
Staying in the same hostel for a long period of time can be tolling, which is why I like hopping around.
As Cassie says, living in a hostel brings on a mix of feelings. Currently, I’m going to a new hostel every few days, but, when I was in Sydney I stayed in the same hostel for two weeks and then a different one for almost a month.
The two weeks I spent at the first one were great, but staying at the same hostel for almost a month was quite a different experience. In this particular hostel, there were many guests who were also staying put for awhile, while others were gone in a matter of days. Staying with the same people when there’s no opportunity to have a space of your own can be very tolling.
Besides having to repack all the time, which honestly isn’t that bad, I prefer to move from hostel to hostel, having the opportunity to meet new people. There’s no shortage of amazing stories to hear and memories to create.
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