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Are Extended Stay Motels A Good Option For Temporary Housing? (Hint: YES!)

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By Curtis

Can you live in a motel? How much does it cost to live in a hotel?

Here’s everything you want to know about extended stay hotels and extended stay motels from someone who’s done it!

There are times when making use of a hotel for periods longer than a week would make sense.

I’ve done it — I stayed in a cheap extended stay hotel for 3 months!

A longer hotel stay of 1 month or more (up to 1 year) might become necessary due to:

  • A change in your employment circumstances
  • A big move
  • A death or divorce of a family member
  • An extended vacation

Whatever your reason for needing a furnished place to stay for 1 month or more, cheap extended stay hotels and motels can definitely be an affordable solution to your temporary housing needs.

The big question becomes: are extended stay motels a practical option?

An “extended stay” usually applies to stays of at least 5 or 7 nights, depending on the hotel. Extended stay discounts usually are in the form of weekly rates, and monthly rates, which are discounted even more. The term “extended stay” can refer to any long stay, up to one year. Those who reserve extended stays are typically engaged in business far from home (e.g. consultants), or are in need of temporary housing for a relocation, or while their own home is being renovated.

~ Fodors

What Is An Extended Stay Hotel vs. An Extended Stay Motel

Extended stay hotels and motels are just like “regular” hotels, but they primarily attract people who want to stay longer than just a few nights.

They’re similar to apartment complexes — just on a smaller scale.

  • Extended Stay America is one of the more popular extended stay hotel chains.
  • Motel 6 (also Studio 6 — same company, more amenities) is a popular extended stay motel chain.

It’s worth noting that many “regular” hotels and motels also offer discounted rates for extended stays.

Motels are usually cheaper than hotels for these reasons:

  • Few if any amenities (laundry facilities, pool, restaurant on-site, room service, fitness center, etc)
  • Smaller rooms with doors which open directly to the parking lot outside 
  • Often located on busy roads

How Extended Stay Motels And Hotels Work

Whether or not a hotel can accommodate extended stay patrons is determined by the licensing requirements set forth by their local zoning authority. Each city or municipality has the right to set their own standards on this issue.

Often, as is the case where I live in Duluth Minnesota, special circumstances present themselves that are an answer to a local problem.

For example, snowbirds (people who migrate between the northern states for the summer months and southern states for the winter) are very popular in this area. Many people live in RVs here year round — while others simply come north during the hottest months.

During the middle of the summer, the local college dorms are empty due to summer break. With these empty rooms being a financial burden when unoccupied, the solution became to rent them out to snowbirds for those summer months. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Another example: construction workers. They typically travel from job to job within a specific region — often staying put for a matter of months. Signing a year-long lease isn’t practical and staying weeks at a time in a hotel becomes quite expensive. Extended stay hotels become the perfect option!

The same is true for consultants, contractors, and anyone else who needs temporary housing. For example, maybe you don’t want to sign a year lease on an apartment — or you can’t, due to your current credit rating.

My Experience Living In A Motel

My own experience living in extended stay motels included a 3-month period between the sale of an existing home and waiting for construction to finish up on our new home.

We were able to stay close to our neighborhood and schools — which meant that our routine was hardly disturbed, while most of our household items were boxed up and stashed away in a storage unit.

How Much Does It Cost To Live In A Hotel?

“How much are extended stay hotels per month?” is the next most logical question. For example, you may be wondering, “Are extended stay hotels cheaper than apartments?”

Personally, I found that monthly hotel rentals average around $800 a month and up — but it depends on the hotel you choose and where it’s located:

  • The cheapest weekly rate hotels range from $90 to $125 a week — but they aren’t always in the safest neighborhoods and they don’t include any amenities.
  • The most expensive weekly rate hotels range from $325 to $450 a week — and they include lots of amenities.

Here’s a good list of extended stay hotels that rent by the month and their rates (3,180 hotels in 649 US market areas).

Does Motel 6 have extended stay? – Yes. Motel 6 and Studio 6 (same company, with more amenities) both have weekly and monthly rates.

Do Extended Stay Hotels Have Kitchens?

Yes, even most cheap extended stay motels have kitchenettes located inside the rooms.

With a kitchenette, you have the ability to cook meals and store food supplies — eliminating the cost of eating out at restaurants from your budget.

Here are some examples of kitchenettes at extended stay hotels:

Believe it or not, you may find that staying in an older motel with a kitchenette is only a little bit more expensive on a monthly basis than you would pay for a local apartment rental with a year-long lease!

So to answer the underlying question, “Can you live in a motel?” The answer is YES, you most definitely can — because you basically have everything you need in your fully furnished room:

  • Bed, Pillows, and Bedding – for sleeping
  • TV –  for entertainment
  • Refrigerator and Cabinets – for storing food
  • Stove, Microwave, and Cookware – for cooking
  • Dishwasher and/or Sink – for washing dishes
  • Dishes, Glasses, and Utensils – for eating, drinking, preparing food
  • Full Bathroom – for toilet, showering, cleaning yourself
  • Lamps, Curtains, and Door Locks – for lighting and security
  • Additional furniture (varies) – desk, chair, sofa

Here’s a list of extended stay hotel amenities, services & policies, room types & features — by extended stay hotel chain:

Extended Stay Hotel Chain Comparison

As you can see in the following videos, cheap extended stay hotels can be quite comfortable and practical for a few months:

Benefits Of Paying Monthly Rent At A Cheap Extended Stay Hotel

When you’re on a budget, it’s important to know what you’ll be paying for and what will be included for FREE. As I see it, these are the benefits of living in a motel:

  • Bed linens are usually changed out once a week — but you can forget about the maid making your bed each morning.
  • It’s very much like living in a completely furnished small apartment.
  • The necessities of life are provided — including dishes, silverware, cooking utensils, toilet paper, local phone calls, and other utilities (cable, electricity, water, heat/AC, garbage, laundry).
  • Some extended stay hotels provide a FREE continental breakfast each morning and FREE coffee throughout the day.
  • Depending on the hotel’s amenities, you could also use things like the gym and swimming pool for FREE.

Compared to renting an apartment, living in a motel also has these benefits:

  • No credit check
  • No lease
  • No utility deposit
  • Low move-in cost

The only downside that I can see to living in a hotel is it’s not a good environment for kids, or if you’re a fan of peace and quiet — because the walls are relatively thin, and doors are likely to slam shut at all hours of the day and night.

How Long Can You Stay At An Extended Stay Hotel?

Most people stay a few weeks or a few months, but you can usually stay up to 1 year if you like.

Extended stay hotels have set daily rates, weekly rates, and monthly rates if you plan to stay more than 30 nights.

Can you Get Mail At An Extended Stay Hotel?

Yes — you have 2 options:

  1. The United States Postal Service offers Mail Forwarding for FREE. They will forward your mail — piece by piece — to anywhere! You can receive your mail this way for 15 days up to 1 year.
  2. Or, you can sign up for the USPS Premium Forwarding Service Residential for about $25 a week. In this case, your mail is packed up at your local Post Office and forwarded weekly by Priority Mail to the address you specify.

More About Extended Stay Motels & Hotels

In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some additional resources to help you decide if living in a motel is the right option for you: