Jeremy Abroad

Communal Living

September 27, 2018

I think that communal living is the ideal way to live for anyone not in a serious committed relationship.

I’ve spent the last 8 months living in hostels, hotels, and AirBnBs, and have come to the conclusion that hostels are the best - both for happiness and productivity.

Hotels and renting out your own apartment on AirBnB are lonely and boring - even when you have friends. Unless there’s a good reason you need your own place, I don’t see the point - especially since it’s more expensive.

In hostels you meet a ton of people. Some of these people have changed my life, even if only in a small way.

Even when you don’t connect with anyone, having people around seems to have a more positive effect on my mental health, which in turn makes me more productive. It’s why working in a coffee shop in the viscinity of other people is often significantly more productive than working alone in your bedroom.

As someone who when living alone tends to stray into a nocturnal lifestyle, hostels also help me keep a more sane sleep schedule. It’s easier to wake up at a more reasonable time when everybody else in your dorm is waking up at 9am.

Private rooms in decent hostels are unfortunately always very expensive than hotel rooms and 1 bedroom apartments on AirBnB, but I actually don’t mind dorm rooms and find that the positives of being in the communal environment far outweigh the negatives. The only problem with dorm rooms is when 1. the room is uncomfortable (can be avoided by finding a quality hostel or a better room in the hostel) 2. your hostelmate(s) snore and/or smell bad.

Loud snorers are unfortunately way too prevalent. But this can be remedied by staying in rooms with less people (4 beds or less).

What is the ideal amount of time to stay in one hostel?

I’m not really sure.

If you’re very productive, then it might not make sense to move.

However if your productivity is less than ideal or you’re in a rut, then there’s a good chance you’ll benefit by moving.

Often we’re so caught up in the weeds (local maxima) that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. We might be stuck in a suboptimal maxima and not even realize it. That’s why I think that moving regularly is important.

I didn’t want to leave my last hostel after staying there for a week, but I had to because it was fully booked. But I’m now extremely grateful that I had to leave because it turns out that this next hostel is actually better than the last one for me to get work done. Though to be fair, if the hostel was a downgrade then I probably wouldn’t have been better off switching.


Jeremy Bernier

Written by Jeremy Bernier who left the NYC rat race to travel the world, work remotely, and find the meaning of life.