Digital nomads can rent apartments on 'standby' for a fraction of the cost — but you might be forced to move out with 3 days' notice
- Some digital nomads in the US struggle to find affordable housing that fits their lifestyle.
- Airbnb offers great flexibility but can get pricey depending on the region, one remote worker said.
But as the digital nomad club shifts to include fewer backpackers and more tech workers, subleasing a stranger's apartment off Craigslist or coliving in an adult dorm doesn't always cut it — and the traditional rental market has been slow to adapt.
Landing's latest offering is a membership tier called "standby," and it's the rental equivalent to flying standby on an airline.
"Standby" members pay a flat $1,295 monthly fee to access 20,000 fully-furnished apartments across more than 375 cities, with the exception of New York and California. The company markets itself as an affordable alternative to Airbnbs, hotels, and even the median US rent, which is roughly $1,937, according to an estimate by Rent.com.
But there's a catch. Any listing rented by a "standby" member will remain open for customers who pay for its standard membership, which costs $199 annually in addition to the rental cost of the apartment they select. That means if standard members want your apartment, you could be kicked out with as little as three days' notice.
If that happens, however, you can transfer to any available Landing apartment at no additional cost — but it's not guaranteed it'll be in the same city.
"If they've been bumped from a home and there are no other available apartments in their city, Standby members have the option of moving to another apartment in a different city within Landing's network, pausing their Standby membership at no cost until a home in their desired city becomes available, or canceling their membership altogether," Landing CEO Bill Smith told Insider in a statement. "If they cancel because there are no options that fit their needs when they're bumped, we will waive their 30-day commitment."
Ulysses, a personal mortgage advisor who requested to only use his first name, has been renting apartments in Salt Lake City on "standby" since January. On average, he said he's "bumped" to a new apartment every two weeks. When he first started using the service, he said he moved in on a Monday and received a bump notification that Thursday.
The constant re-shuffling is worth the price, he said, adding that the program has allowed him to explore several neighborhoods in the city while he looks for a permanent home.
"When I take trips, I'm averaging probably $200 to $400 a night, so three or four nights sort of pays for itself," he told Insider. "It's definitely reasonable — it's fully furnished and it's got everything you need."
Landing declined to comment on specific standby member totals, the average stay length before being "bumped," and average notice given, but said adoption of the new membership tier has been "significant" following its February launch.
Kristin Vierra, a digital nomad career coach currently living in Argentina, told Insider that Airbnb is the best option for flexible living in South America and said she is frequently able to get discounts on stays that are over a month long. However, she said she was shocked by how expensive Airbnb rentals can be in Europe and the United States.
While Vierra agreed the "standby" pricepoint was appealing, she said the possibility of having to move on such short notice would be a deal-breaker.
"As someone who likes to travel slow, develop community, settle in, having to leave on a whim would not be ideal for me," she said. "Especially if you start to get attached somewhere."
Are you a digital nomad? Got a story or tip to share? Email this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
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