In a perfect world, families would be able to take up residence in their new home within a day or two of their move date.
But sadly, this isn’t often the case.
In many instances, there’s a period in which temporary housing is a necessary evil.
This scenario can be brought about by extended delivery windows on long-distance moves, and leases and rental agreements that don’t match up perfectly.
Time spent in limbo can be boring, stressful, and expensive, but with a little planning and creativity, it can be productive, relaxing, and even fun.
Let’s take a look at a few mid-move temporary housing options.
1. Tough it out in Your Empty House
Staying in an empty house may sound about as pleasant as painting someone else’s basement, but it can be an economical way to while away the days waiting for your new home to become available.
If you’re a homeowner who’s sold your old house and bought a new one, you may be able to negotiate with the new owner to stay put temporarily.
First, you’ll want to do an analysis based on things like:
- how much the new owner will want to be compensated
- how much it would cost to stay in a motel, short term rental, or Airbnb property
- where you and your family will be more comfortable
- if it would interfere with starting a new job or getting the kids enrolled in school
If your waiting period is more than just a few days, being in an unfurnished home can lead to feelings of isolation and boredom, so take those factors into account as well.
If the new owners are flexible, retired, or short on cash, they may jump at the opportunity to make a few extra bucks before moving in, so don’t be shy about asking.
2. Stay with Friends or Family
A wise person once said that leftover fish and houseguests stink after just a few days.
Though shacking up with friends and family might not be a viable long-term solution, it’s definitely worth considering for those with a week or more to kill.
This is especially true if you don’t get to see them frequently enough, and if their home or apartment is big enough to accommodate additional occupants.
You’ll likely save a ton of money as well, though you’ll want to consider helping out with food and other expenses related to your visit.
Moving is often particularly confusing and unsettling for little ones, and being in familiar surroundings with grandparents, cousins, and friends can help lessen the impact.
If you go this route, have a backup plan in the event that things get uncomfortable.
3. Take a Vacation or Road Trip
Though embarking on an international vacation may not be a realistic way for many families to spend their mid-move lull, for adventurous types it can turn an unpleasant situation into a memorable one.
If you choose this option you’ll need at least a week of free time—a precious and scarce commodity in today’s busy world.
Sure, you may constantly think about all the things you’ll need to do when you get back to the real world.
But if you’re able to temporarily compartmentalize those nagging thoughts, you may just have the time of your life.
For savvy travelers, discount flights, and relatively cheap lodging in foreign countries are just a few mouse clicks away.
Considering what you’d spend in the US, it may even be an economical option even when airfare is figured in.
Mexico and Latin America are relatively close, and in many instances, you’ll actually pay less than you would by staying in a ratty Midwestern motel off a nondescript stretch of interstate.
Not big on international travel?
Consider a staycation.
America’s got some pretty impressive attractions.
They say the Grand Canyon is nice.
Vacation rental websites like Airbnb specialize in connecting travelers and vacationers with empty residences.
They’re often overlooked by those in need of short-term housing while waiting for furniture to be delivered or their new home to become available, but they definitely warrant a closer look.
Properties on Airbnb can be pricy, but affordable options exist too for those who know where to look.
When choosing accommodations through Airbnb or similar websites, consider the following:
- they cater mainly to vacationers, so the more popular the city, town or resort area the more you’ll likely pay
on the contrary, staying in less touristy areas may mean big savings
- you can filter options depending on your needs (wifi, pet-friendly, laundry facilities, swimming pools, etc.)
- if you’ll need lodging during the summer months or on holidays, prices will probably be higher
- you pay per-night, so the duration of your stay is up to you
- long-term discounts may be available (weekly or monthly)
- utilities and cleaning are included
- no deposits
- you’ll benefit from previous guests’ reviews of the places you’re considering
Of course, there are downsides as well.
Hot properties tend to go quickly, owners sometimes cancel at the last minute, and you may have minimal storage space in an already furnished home.
If you’re considering staying in an unfamiliar city or town, you’ll want to know about crime rates, hospital locations in case of emergencies, and whether there are worthwhile attractions nearby that’ll help occupy your time.
5. Corporate Housing
If you’re moving because you’ve been offered a position in a distant city with your current employer, or have taken a job with a new company, you’ll want to address corporate housing with the HR department.
Most companies have formal relocation policies, and they usually include corporate housing for transferees.
When food, fuel, lodging, and downtime are taken into account, moving can be hugely expensive and unproductive.
The last thing companies want is exhausted, frazzled, and inefficient employees, so they’re often happy to take care of corporate housing.
If it’s an option, they’ll likely find you a place near the office so you’ll be able to get to work immediately.
This will allow your family will start the acclimation process earlier, which generally means a much shorter and smoother transition period.
Smaller companies may not offer corporate housing upfront, but it’s an important negotiation point that may be worth holding out for.
6. Extended Stay Hotels
For their abundance and convenience, traditional and extended stay hotels are often the best bets for families in relocation limbo.
If you’re only cooling your heels for a week before moving into your new home, hotels are affordable options.
But if your wait time is more than a few weeks or a month, however, extended stay options may be the way to go.
At extended-stay hotels, you’ll get a reduced rate for staying long-term, and it’s often as much as 50% less expensive than you’d pay at a comparable hotel that charged by the day.
Many extended stay hotels also feature individual bedrooms, kitchens, and refrigerators—all handy amenities for traveling families.
Staying in a hotel without a kitchen means you’ll need to account for three daily restaurant meals for everyone in your family.
With a kitchen, however, you’ll be able to shop at grocery stores and cook in your room, thereby reducing your food bill significantly.
On the downside, you’ll need to commit by the week or month, which means less flexibility if circumstances change.
Consider doing a cost comparison using hotel websites to see which option makes the most sense for you.
7. Couch Surfing
For those not familiar with the term, couch surfing is when travelers stay in someone else’s home or apartment.
But there’s a catch.
Unlike with Airbnb, the owner is there too.
Admittedly, it’s a mid-move lodging option that’s best left to the young, adventurous, and unattached.
It’s probably not a good fit for introverts, families, and those averse to awkward social situations either, but for college grads and young adults embarking on new careers and adventures it’s an option worth checking out.
You’ll usually spend less than you would at a hotel, and having access to someone who’s already familiar with the area can be a big bonus.
There are a number of couch surfing websites and most of them thoroughly vet their service providers, but you’ll want to do your own due diligence as well.
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Though the CDC recommends staying at home if possible, it’s just not an option for some families.
Many national hotel brands have recently instituted new cleaning procedures to cope with the additional risks brought about by COVID-19.
In many cases, they’ve added them to their websites to give potential guests peace of mind.
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with things you can do on your own to protect your family while on the road as well.