Why You May Want to Retire to Living in Hotels (It’s Cheaper)

Back when Priceline was at it’s most useful, in the early 2000s, there were deals ot be had in major cities for nice hotels in the $30s and $40s per night. There was a frequent flyer living at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. Back then you’d earn stay credit as long as you charged something to your room, like a phone call and you would receive elite benefits even on Priceline stays.

For about $32 a night he had a San Francisco apartment complete with daily housekeeping and club lounge access for breakfast and evening snacks.

Hyatt Regency San Francisco

There may not be deals like that around any more, but hotels can still make good sense for long term living. One homeless man made news finding a place to stay with credit card acquisition bonuses and generating points through re-selling items (buying things, pocketing the points, and then selling them to get the cash back).

Now there’s a viral story about a man who figured out he can live at a Holiday Inn a whole lot cheaper than he can in a nursing home.

With the average cost for a nursing home care costing $188.00 per day, there is a better way when we get old and too feeble. I’ve already checked on reservations at the Holiday Inn. For a combined long term stay discount and senior discount, it’s $59.23 per night

He isn’t locked in to one place, hotels are all over the world. He’ll get elite benefits. And if he needs the kind of medical care that a nursing home might provide, “Medicare will pay for it. Just get someone to call you an ambulance.”

Several years ago I was at a dinner in Palm Beach, Florida where I learned that nursing homes will frequently offer special rates and even free nights for prospective residents to try them out. There’s no reason you couldn’t hop around from nursing home to nursing home even cheaper. I was sitting at dinner with Lucky from One Mile at a Time and we hatched an idea of actually reviewing these properties. Perhaps there’s a niche for a new travel blog in there.

(HT: Basil K.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This post gave me a needed laugh this morning. Over the years I have heard of people who retired to cruise ships but I’ve never read about anyone (except the ultra wealthy) who retired to a hotel.

  2. Nursing homes are not pleasant. The food is institutional & bland. The facility often smells bad (read strong urine odor). You, the resident, have no privacy. The beds are poor, usually a single bed in a room with 2 residents. The rooms are usually semiprivate. If you want a private room there is an extra charge.This is my evaluation of an average priced nursing home (not the poorest quality & not the high end one).
    I have been a nurse for over 40 years. I do not want to work at a nursing home let alone live there. I will take a Hampton Inn any day over the nursing home. The hotel is clean, fresh smelling, with a larger bed & comfortable bedding. You can lock the door & enjoy a breakfast in the AM.

  3. I don’t plan on getting divorced, but if I did, hotel living would be on my shortlist of options (along with super deluxe van life).

    I’ve had a house with a yard for 25 years now. It’s an albatross and for every tax break and every dollar of equity growth, I’ve also had a house that went upside down in the great recession and cost me $300k to get out of, not to mention taking care of a yard I don’t use and rooms I rarely enter.

    As it stands, I’ve convinced my wife that our retirement years will be spent in a ski-in, ski-out condo tower with an elevator, a pool, and no yard work. Resort living 325 days a year at home and we can rent it out over the holidays when we don’t want to be there anyway.

  4. It’s amusing, but the cost comparison obviously doesn’t work. Nobody goes to a nursing home and pays those kinds of costs unless there are major health issues that would go far beyond conditions that would be suited to a hotel life.

  5. @Daniel: yes, depending on the locality. I definitely could in my area for far less, even factoring in utilities. Though if you want to be free to move about, of course leasing an apartment doesn’t do the trick.

  6. @daniel – Where I am a one bedroom in a suburb of Los Angeles is on average $2300.00 so that’s more than $60.00 per day and doesn’t include a housekeeper… Not to mention for an older person … wider doors, elevators, disabled accessible showers etc… in a hotel would be great. Where most apartments have steps, limited access bathrooms etc.

  7. @DaveS Depends on where in the country you are. Nursing homes in the NE run $10k+/month, while assisted living is more like $5k/month. Assisted living doesn’t provide actual medical care, but rather does meals, cleaning, and activities designed for people with limited mobility. You don’t have to have a major medical issue, just the mobility impairments that would make living independently too difficult. Assisted living could be easily thought of as a resort hotel for old people with a concierge to help schedule medical appointments.

  8. this means that if a person resorts to living in hotels as a means of retirement, they won’t have to deal with purchasing furniture, dishes, a wardrobe full of clothes, and numerous pairs of shoes. Who would want to keep moving around and living in hotels after retirement? LOL

  9. ” I was sitting at dinner with Lucky from One Mile at a Time and we hatched an idea of actually reviewing these properties. Perhaps there’s a niche for a new travel blog in there.”

    “View From The Bin”?

  10. I’ve been living in hotels the last 8 years ……I spend 4 to 6 months in Asia and 4 to 6 in usa and 2 in Europe …….many love the comforts of home but I enjoy the freedom of being able to just get up and go or caught the next plane to ? …

    It was a lot easier years ago and Airbnb is looking better and better as prices just kept going up as the economy is better

    Maxing out promotions is key …..

  11. Just find the list of Hilton properties going for 5,000 or 10,000 points per night ($25 or $50 per night cash equivalent value). Most of them include breakfast, and the two in Egypt are resorts.

  12. Doesn’t sound to posh a lifestyle
    Good luck eating the food in a HI unless one isn’t too discerning
    And if you need a nurse in the middle of the night I hope the night janitor will do!

  13. If he is able to travel across the country on his own to different hotels, I don’t think it is fair to compare the cost to a nursing home with 24/7 care.

  14. At least in the past, hotels would give you a very large discount on your room once you exceeded 30 consecutive nights. Back in 2000-2001 I was working out of state and received a per diem. The hotel rate I was given was a good 40% off, if not more and that wasn’t off the rack rate but a rather normal rate. The bargain was even better in the high season because my rate stayed the same despite room rates going up substantially. The was in AZ.

  15. The HI Niagara Falls Scenic Downtown is $60 tonight, before long term or senior discounts. The Seneca Niagara Casino is two blocks away or you could walk to the actual Falls in 5 minutes. Perfect! I stay there frequently. Even Golds get access to the lounge with unlimited minibar sodas and bottled water. And Spires get free appetizers and drinks at the hotel’s Anchor Bar, home of the Buffalo Wing. And as an elite, I’ve never been charged the $10 for parking. Or you could always park at the casino for free, where I stayed for free 4 nights a week after years of playing the tables there. Lots of good options.

  16. Sounds like a good idea. There are plenty of decent hotels in South East Asia (Malaysia / Thailand etc) that cost only 50-60 USD a night.

    You could even get points with Accor or Marriott!

  17. Not a new idea. My Grandmother lived the 40+ years of her remaining life after my grandfather died in a hotel across from the Hancock Building on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Her apartment had a small kitchenette, a living room and a bedroom. Daily cleaning and maid service, along with all utilities and phone were included. She would say that she never made a bed in her life after Grandfather died.

    You never know, especially if our condo fees keep going up….

  18. @CSue,

    I lived in a tent for a almost a year. Trust me, even the worst Holiday Inn would be better.(plus IHG points!)

  19. My mother lived freely and independently in her own home until she was 86. Then having been through assisted living and finally a memory care facility with my mother for two years, I would NEVER live in any of the above. Once you experience life in one of these places, you’ll understand. They’re exorbitantly expensive and pay minimum wage to the people providing care. These institutions are just that: institutions. I won’t burden my family or live in that special Hell. When I get to the point of being unable to care for myself, it will be MAID (medically assistance in dying). It’s already documented in my will.

    With that said, I’ve been thinking about selling my house and living in a hotel in downtown Denver. I’m tired of spending all of my retirement free time mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, raking leaves, fixing everything that wears out or breaks, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Not to mention my property taxes have doubled in just nine years due to the insane development growth in Denver. Maybe it’s time I profit from the uncontrolled growth and sell.

    I own and live in a mid-century house in southwest Denver and have to drive everywhere because it’s a bedroom community. Talk about isolation! Walkability, nightlife, and culture all appeal to me, three livability factors that are sorely lacking right now. Financial freedom from property taxes and insurance, car ownership, and the ever-increasing cost of utilities all appeal to me. Zero maintenance of the property and the ability to travel with points also appeal to me.

    As a healthy 62-year-old retired teacher with an equally healthy pension, I see no downside to hotel living. I’m willing to spend a little more money for the rise in quality of life. The negative comments about all retirees needing assistance must come from financial “experts” who aren’t retired or don’t know anyone who is retired; they have zero perspective. Why would I take advice from someone half my age and experience? Or the naysayers who stand to gain from spouting the evils of this idea, such as A Place for Mom, who is in the business of recommending “retirement” institutions. By the way, those institutions recommended by APFM pay big $$ for those referrals.

    Retirement can last for 1/3 of a person’s life, most of which can be lived healthily, freely and independently. My mother only needed assistance for the last two years of a long and healthy life. I call BS on the “everyone over the age of 60 needs help crossing the street.”

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