Short-term vacation rentals have created a good deal of controversy since the start of their existence about ten years ago and have been growing at an incredible speed ever since. Besides the financial aspect, they broaden the local community’s involvement in tourism and offer travelers a different and sometimes unique option. While staying in a hotel feels more like visiting, short-term rentals give you something closer to the experience of actually being a local citizen of that area.
Chris Cerra, the founder of Remote Base, joins Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski in this week’s episode of The New Nomad. Chris talks about how Remote Base helps the modern traveler in finding the best deals in accommodations and in the same way, allows them to immerse in the local scene. If you’re thinking of traveling but need to stay within a budget, tune in as tips and tricks are peppered throughout this episode. Travel well and travel safely!
From the episode
What You’ll Learn
Welcome to The New Nomad, Chris Cerra is going to join us from Remote Base today. And really, it’s going to be a great conversation. You know, we have a lot of people that ask us, Andrew, you know, I want to go for a month, two months, three months, we hear more and more about slow travel, you know, really getting into the culture, a lot of remote workers, certainly, that’s an important item out there. And people are looking for the tools to make good decisions, to find the right places, to find the right deals, to find the community that they need. And I know you’ve traveled to many different locations, big fan of slow travel, although a lot of our business trips, you feel like it’s almost too fast. What’s the optimal kind of slow travel experience for you, Andrew?
I believe that destinations, if possible, should be no less than three weeks from my take, but and preferably longer. But that does get, depends on your location where you’re staying. And you may get to an Airbnb and determine I gotta get out of this place. Help! But if you know that, I think we’re gonna dive into that today to figure out the best places and how to get the inside scoop on that.
Well, it was interesting. Andrew and I had a conversation on this podcast with a person who is doing 12 places one month each, of course, the over the year. And then of all the places that went great. And then there was one that like, this is just not working for me, time to go. And that was even after two weeks, which I think is a deep enough investment in time to know if it’s not working out or not. But it’s a big world out there. So let’s bring Chris into the conversation because Chris, you know, what you’re offering and maybe a little bit of a background and how you decided to build Remote Base. And also really accommodations for people that are looking for the best long term stay, I would love to hear your story. But also the story of how Remote Base is something that you felt is important for us. And certainly we do like having here in this podcast.
Yeah, it’s really good to be here. Thanks for welcoming me. Yeah, the long stay slow travel digital slowmad approach to it is, I think, an extension of what started out as you know, the digital nomad, kind of typical, almost like backpacking with a laptop. But it’s like, and that’s a lot of fun. And I think that was probably something that a lot of people did when they had to really squeeze it in or kind of do it in secret or do it when, when it wasn’t as easy. And you know, have like, three day, four day stints in locations or maybe one week since in locations. But living out of a suitcase is not fun or living out of a backpack is not, you know, not as fun as really being able to experience a place. So, you know, Andrew just talked about three weeks being like, the minimum in his mind and, and that’s certainly something that I’d have to agree with. I think we tend to stay now for one to two months really where we can, visa-dependent. Yeah, that whole thing is something that started a long time ago for me, I think it starts, it’s a slippery slope, it starts with working remotely and that might be just domestically maybe venture to the local coffee shops. And then that’s what I was doing like that, you know, five, five or so years ago, and then it kind of branched out into maybe we do some we extend some weekend breaks and we do you know we do a weekend a city break somewhere and we just extend it and work for a week in that location. And once the penny drops in that scenario, it’s easy to kind of take that extend out and before you know it you’ve done your first one-month trip to a destination and really good things happen when you do that because I think there’s there’s a big financial saving. You know, I run the Remote Base newsletter and that’s really all about helping people just unlock the world and kind of save them time save them money, save them stress. The big way that we do that is we help them save money on accommodation. So we saw the best accommodation deals for long stay and they these you know this crazy deals out there 50 6070 80% off when you book for one month or more. And yeah, so you kind of once you go over the 28-night mark in the booking platforms you can unlock some crazy discounts. And that’s kind of, that’s a big one, because I think a lot of people think that going away for so long is, you know,, has a bigger financial impact than it really does. In a lot of cases, it’s actually cheaper than then kind of staying put and having all of the other commitments and not necessarily just the commitment of a place to stay. But all of the things that come with that, right? Like when you’re based in where you kind of end up getting a vehicle or all of the other things that they entail just having a long-term base somewhere. But there’s also, there’s other kind of cultural and like more immersive things are unlocked. Like, when you go to a coffee shop, on the 15th day, the staff are kind of like why you, you’ve been here for more than two weeks, like you’re not a tourist. And that’s one of my favorite things, I think kind of being able to get a little bit closer to the people who are in a place. Because you can read a million blogs about the best, X or the best y in almost any destination, right? Just takes a little quick Google and there’s 1000s of results. But yeah, one of the best things to do is just get, you know, talk to the barista. Ask the guy in the coffee shop, like hey, where do I get good? Whatever it is that you’re into, you know, good noodles or good live music, you know, that they’re the people who are going to unlock the location for you. I think so yeah, there’s two big things that like really changed the way that you experience a place when you can go long term. And it Yeah, has to start with remote work. But pretty soon you get into long stay discounts and it is a game changer.
Well, I mean, you really get into the culture, the vibe, the pace when you’re there and, you know, and help us, you know, to our audience, you know, a lot of people like, well, how can I do this? How do I make it monetarily work. And we’ve already mentioned that, obviously, the costs are on a per day basis are better when your long term stay. But I would also think that you’d have deeper insights that you can share with others that give you a better revenue, making opportunities. If you’ve been somewhere for a period of time. Maybe some of the things that you’ve seen that people say to you, Hey, I can’t do this, then you say Yeah, well, actually, you can, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the monetary side that help people stay as they move along.
Yeah, there’s a thing that people say a lot, which is like, you know, this place, I’d love to go here, but like it’s inaccessible. And it’s maybe because there’s, you know, maybe because they don’t have a vehicle, or they would have to, like, it’s a place that’s more rural, and they can’t necessarily accident, there’s not an airport that’s within two, three hours. So it becomes you know, we have to rent a car, or if we’re there for a long time, then how do we move around once we do get there? And actually, again, it’s that equation of like, well, am I the per night rate might be really high, but people look out for a couple of months, you know, there’s enough money left over for you to rent a scooter and go driving around the hills of Tuscany, or you know, to rent a car and do whatever it is that you want to do around an island. It’s you know, if that’s where you are. Yeah, there’s there seems to be a very high density of kind of digital nomads and traveling remote workers in the cities. And that’s because they’re accessible. And they’re fun, because they’re away from, you know, an inverted commerce home. But that new place like that new places, is only fun for so long. And I think slowly with the way that remote work has evolved, people have seemed to want to come away from cities. And so then it becomes about how they can balance staying in a place that is kind of more disconnected and maybe greener and just more natural but also having the kind of accessibility aspect and freedom of movement that people still kind of need. That’s still a big need.
Chris, so there’s been a lot of grief and commotion online in the last year and a half or so how that Airbnb rates have just gone up, owners are charging way too much because of everyone being so many more people being free to work wherever they choose and going off for a week to two weeks at locations. And of course, people starting competing sites and booking platforms for houses etc. I believe that this is a market that’s going to grow evermore with people coming alongside Airbnb saying ours is better. Do you believe that Airbnb still is the future of this space and that they’ll put in some pricing controls? Or, you know, I guess price is one of the things you’re, you keep your, your thumb on. So can you speak into those topics I just brought up because it’s a real mess for some because they look at it saying, Oh, I thought this was going to be less. But I go there, and it’s more expensive than a hotel and hotel has, you know, room service, etc.
Yeah, breakfast. Yeah, I can definitely talk about this, there’s a number of aspects that I think are worth covering. Let’s start with kind of the worldwide spread. I think that there is, like, this conundrum. It like manifests in different ways in different places. So for example, in the US, or in North America is crazy, because the taxes are just insane. They’re insanely high on short term rentals. And so that means that, you know, even with discounts, even with what looks like a kind of severe discount, 50 60% off, you actually might only end up with like a 40% discount or a 30% discount, because the fees are so the taxes are so heavy. Obviously, certain states are more punishing than others. But yeah it can be really rough. And I think a lot of the bad press, or a lot of the press that kind of hammers Airbnb for fees, actually looks at it on still looks at it on a short-term rental basis, which you know, which they should, because that’s largely what it is. And so I think that aspect of is probably correct. It’s still like, I still think, you know, even when you kind of crunched the numbers, still seeing a kind of 30% discount or a 40% discount, still quite good for a long stay.
As we move like across, you know, if we move east, you know, you go to Europe, there it manifests slightly different, because there are various cities now that, well, not even now, for a long time, there are some cities that have put really tight restrictions on short term rentals, there’s over tourism concerns, there’s housing concerns. And you know, that those are valid too. And they’re, you know, they’re being dealt with that way. In Europe, they’re less, you know, seems to be less severe in terms of taxes there. And I’m more kind of liberal approach, I think, to the way that the fees are applied to airfare, the host Airbnb fees can be paid by the host, or they can be paid by the customer. And I think there’s more hosts in Europe that are willing to kind of stomach the fees at their end, as part of the kind of, as part of their, you know, that’s their way of keeping themselves competitive. As opposed to, you know, in the US, it’s very much kind of like, the, you know, the customer takes the cost. Or maybe I’m not even sure, but perhaps the taxes are actually forced on the guests. And yeah, and then, you know, as we, as we move even further east, as you move into kind of Africa, Asia, those are countries where, you know, if you’re coming from a Western country, or if you earn in western currencies, then the fees are almost negligible. Even if the fees are applied, they’re almost negligible, just because of the way that the global economy works. So that the whole thing is something that I see evolving differently in different places, in terms of competitors, and like people that are coming through and challenging Airbnb, I think that you’re right is it’s kind of ripe, ripe for disruption. There’s probably lots of changes that we’re going to see over the next few years. There were a few, there are a few kind of niches that people are going into like some people want to want to develop like Airbnb where you pay with NFTs or Airbnb, where you pay with basically all down the crypto route. Other people are like, no, no co-living is what it’s about. And we should have community. And there’s with that I think no matter what happens, you’re going to pay like people have to pay for accommodation. And it’s just going to be about what you pay for. So if you want to have like a private space where there’s nobody else around and you can focus on your work, you probably are looking for an air b&b or a hotel room. And if there’s if we’re saying that there’s parity in the price there then that’s going to be what the price is. If you are somebody who wants community and wants to be surrounded by people with similar interests or similar kind of professional pursuits, then, you know, the people that are developing these communities, that they’re not going to give you that for free, they’re just going to charge probably somewhere in the same region because, you know, that’s your alternative. They’ll, they’ll charge for that. And it’s just going to be about kind of the perceived value that people have and from the different options that are available.
That being said, I think there is something to say around kind of around the long-term thing, which is there will always be deals to be had. And whether that is, you know, whether that is on Airbnb or off Airbnb, like, it’s no secret with Remote Base, we are heavily focused on Airbnb, people actually ask all the time, like, is this how we monetize? Are we taking another cut out of that pie and essentially kind of inflating things even further? Well, the answer is no. Like we never take commissions for Airbnb bookings. The newsletter is completely free. So if you sign up to that, it’s like, it’s free monetarily. And it’s also kind of free data-wise, like I don’t even take first names, or the email signup pages. It’s more about just kind of helping, genuinely just kind of helping people go out and pursue this lifestyle if they want to. There’s no monetization there on the Airbnb side. Yeah, I think that there will always be discounts available on Airbnb, if people aren’t looking at Airbnb, aren’t you know, I’m seeing all of this that you’re describing around the evolution. And you’re right, we keep our finger very much on the pulse, not just with pricing, but people’s operating models. Like, how they are how literally how they’re operating? Like, are they do they own the property? Or are they just kind of borrowing it and selling it for a higher price? Yeah, we tried to keep our finger on everything. And where there are deals that look good. Yeah, those will kind of slowly creep their way into the newsletter and the remote base space.
So, Chris, you mentioned earlier about the trend away from the cities. Is that also perhaps a cost element of it too? Because I would think that if I was at it, kind of a more rural location, I might be able to get a better deal? Or are there particular if somebody’s really looking at the finds answers of it, is there a particular region of the world that you see that there are better deals and more opportunity to save in your experience?
That is a really hard question. I think. And this is why it’s hard. I don’t think that there’s like a definitive answer to this, because, but the whole point of, you know, if you live this lifestyle already, or if you’re pursuing this lifestyle, the chances are, you’ve chosen it, or you’re kind of in investigating it, because because of what you want, right? Like if you’re somebody who likes the cities, then you’re not going to go and live in the country, because it’s cheaper, like, you need to find a way to make the city more affordable for you. And vice versa, right. If you’re somebody who really likes the rural space, then don’t hold yourself up in a box surrounded by people in the city, because it’s a little bit cheaper. So I think there’s what you want, is probably accessible, somewhere in the world. Sure, probably for the price that you know, for your budget, you can, you can probably make it accessible, I think that where price sensitivity comes into play. It means for a lot of people, it means moving out of kind of Western countries or you know, moving away from the US and Europe and, you know, into like Asia or into South America, if time zones are a concern, because that’s another concern that people have, or just distance, right, just like being close enough to family, like in an emergency. Maybe you want to get back and you want to get back quickly and cost-effectively. So yeah, I think if you, Asia has countryside, and it has, and it has cities just like a lot there. You know, there are probably a few countries out there that only have one or the other. But for the most part, in terms of continent or region, you can find what you’re looking for. And I don’t want to encourage people to kind of kill their desires for the sake of the price. Like I think it’s out there guys, like you can go and find it. You can go and find what you want and it will help you get it in budget.
And that’s the thing I think is great about Remote Base is you also can wait. Like for instance, instead of staying in London, which we know is expensive. Maybe I’ll stay in Sarajevo? I mean, I’m just throwing that out there as an example. And I’m sure you would help curate those different choices too. With the discounts that you find. Is there a place, are there places right now that are hot in your mind?
Yeah, for sure. There’s a lot of kind of, in kind of Europe, Europe in inverted commerce, like Turkey has been really big recently. I think their currency went quite weak and, you know, again, because pricing and cost of living. People kind of saw that as an opportunity to go somewhere where the sun shines, and that’s light on the pocket. Yeah, that’s a big one. Similarly, like Albania, we’re basically talking about Greek weather. But at a fraction of the price. Brazil is on a very good trajectory right now. So the guys who did the start of Madeira project with the Nomad village there they, Yeah, they’re doing another Nomad village now in Brazil. So yeah, there’s a few different places. I think Asia has some kind of a few different nomad, almost like Nomad rites of passage, like, Yeah, have you really done it until you’ve been to these places. So that, you know, there’s places like Bali, which, because of that, because of the kind of, not status but because of what it stands for in the Nomad community. I think prices have gone up. And kind of in Thailand, there’s Chiang Mai, where I’ll be heading later this year. So yeah, there are some places that are just kind of on the map and probably aren’t going anywhere. And then there’s these new developing places. And I think that some of the new places are really exciting. Somebody also said that India is going to be big. And I think that’s, that’s a really interesting kind of proposition. One where, you know, lots and lots of development happening in terms of like, infrastructure all the time. So yeah, and it’s a big place, right, you can probably go there and, and spend a lot of time there and see a lot. And it takes you the better part of a year, and you still would probably come away feeling like you hadn’t touched it. So if you don’t if you’re into this further, kind of the travel aspect and the exciting, adventurous side of discovering new places, which I think a lot of people are if you’re in that digital nomad, traveling, remote worker mindset, I think a lot of that’s fueled by that, just that buzz that you get when you arrive somewhere new for the first time and have to orient yourself I think that’d be a fantastic place to go and do that.
I’m totally with you and have some places that I’d like to explore with, you know, where the Portuguese colonized India and things like that, there’s some really interesting aspects of, of India and other places that you reference, but this is one of those times where I love to hear an overlooked place that you think people or experience that you think our listeners should know about.
Yeah, okay. This is like, every traveler’s, yeah, it’s one of those questions that I think every traveler gets asked and it’s kind of like apples and oranges. I know you’ve had people on the podcast before talk about like, kind of in maybe exotic off the beaten path places you had like Mark Phillips talk about Silk Road you had Ali Green basically say just you know, find what you like wherever you are. And I think that for me, I don’t know where I am on that spectrum, right in terms of go along. Go exotic or just go local and kind of be where you are. One of probably one of my favourite places was Hawaii. And this is probably going to spike a lot of people’s like in a spike a reaction out of a lot of people. The reason that that was one of my favorite places was because I kind of happened upon it. I wasn’t supposed to be going there. So I went to the island of Kauaʻiwhich is like the most westernly island. I think if you there’s another one which is like private, so it’s not really considered the territory of any country or something. It’s like you can’t really go to it. So it was as far west as I could possibly go. And it’s also a less kind of developed island, people call it the Garden Island. It’s like, I think a ridiculous percentage of it is basically undeveloped, like 78% or something. And it’s got some, there’s just little facts about it that little tidbits that are really beautiful. Like, you know, Jurassic Park, when it was kind of filmed there, they’ve got this stunning coastline. There are parts of it that look like desert and parts of it are like jungle, it’s just spectacular. But the thing that drew like, maybe if you’re from the US, maybe it doesn’t feel like it’s that big of a deal. Because you’re kind of like, you’re not really going anywhere, away from home. Potentially, this is what I kind of make up when I think about this. But for me, it was a place that I never, ever thought I would visit. And for a lot of people, it’s a place that is like a once in a lifetime. The goal of my life is to go and visit this place. And I managed to do it. And I spent three weeks there, and I had an amazing time. And if I wanted to I could go back. And you know, my lifestyle allows me to do that. I think it’s amazing.
But yeah, you know there’s other places. I think another thing about Hawaii is that it’s an expensive place. So people think like, oh, you know, that’s Don’t tell me to go there, that’s unattainable. Well, it is attainable. I promise you it is. And yeah, I think the only other thing that I would add there, the kind of non-destination-focused answer to that question is don’t focus, you don’t focus the travel on like getting to a certain place, just go and just be. And probably like the one thing that I tell people all the time is like, no matter where you are, or no matter where you go, the best advice that you can have, I think and kind of practice, the best thing you can practice as somebody who travels is to just never make any assumptions. Because you can go somewhere and meet people and talk to people, do things, see things and a lot of it is a lot of your perception or a lot of your experiences, kind of grounded in some assumptions that exist, either before you get there, or you know, they form as you’re experiencing. And actually a good thing to do is try and shake those or even just check them right, just acknowledge that you that they’re there and see what happens after that. Because you might find that actually, you have a very different experience. And yeah, mate, you know, you could go to Zanzibar and have just as good as an experience as I did in Hawaii, I think it’s totally dependent on who you are and where you’re coming from.
Well, you know, Chris you’re hitting a nerve in the sense that I just spent a couple of weeks in Hawaii. And, and I agree with you, and we took somebody out there that that was their 50th state. And there are those of us who like to collect countries. But it’s also a great 50th state, usually it’s Alaska or Hawaii that are the last two that are out there. And the thing about Hawaii too is once again, I stayed in an Airbnb, which actually was quite affordable. I know it was more than the expensive side relative to the rest of the world, but it is quite affordable. And for those of you have gone to Hawaii or not, you can fly Hawaiian Airlines island to island, like you can literally get on flight 7am In the morning, be off the plane at 7:30 exploring another island, and then take the nine o’clock flight back to where you are be back at 930 and the flight to like 100 bucks round trip. It’s like taking a bus. So I highly endorse it. And the other thing I mentioned to our listeners is, you know, while we always talk global, you know, each state, each province each, you know, area of a different country, right could have a totally different feeling. Hawaii is about as different as you can get. So I think it was a great poll by you there and I the island of which you speak is, I heard is amazing. I think that’s the island that you’re right. It’s like 80 or 90% totally pristine. And last but not least, if you go to Hawaii, try their bananas, which tastes actually really good. Some of their fruits that are really good, right, Chris, as opposed to the stuff that you often get at grocery stores that are designed for big consumption on that.
So Chris, while we’ve got a chance here. Why don’t you share with others where folks can find out more about yourself and Remote Base because I’m sure people want to avail themselves of Remote Base and we’ll make sure that these are in our liner notes for folks to get to.
Yeah, absolutely. So you can come and sign up for the newsletter. That’s just that RemoteBase.co .co.Yeah, like I said, that’s totally free. So it’s just a little, little tap on the keyboard, little clicking the mouse. And yeah, you’re in. There’s also, you know, the, the free newsletter goes out once a month. And that’s like a summary of all the good deals. But you can also join us as a premium member. And it’s like $68, for the whole year, you know, less than $6 a month. And with that, what you get to do is kind of pick some preferences and say, like, Okay, here’s my budget, this is my budget range. These are the continents that I’m interested in. And you know, I’m into the city, or I’m into the beach. And you can set those preferences. And we basically just fire out those deals to you whenever we find them. So they’re kind of premium, there are premium alerts. And if you want to get me directly, personally, the best place to do that is probably over on LinkedIn. So I’ll give you guys the link there. But yeah, I’m always there. I’m always trying to get connected with people who are in this space and answer questions and stuff. Another way to get me personally is if you’re signed up, just hit reply to any of the emails, they will come directly to me. And yeah, I’d be happy to kind of hear where you are, where you want to go, where you are going next I love getting to kind of get into chat with our members. I think it’s really interesting.
Fabulous, thank you, Chris. Allen, this has been good. I love hearing your bits on your time in Hawaii most recently to last month or so. And another good, good episode. Thank you, everyone for joining us. Allen, what do you think is your top takeaway today?
Well, first off, I love the idea that somebody can help curate a discounted opportunity for me, it will give me a ton of choices. And I really do think that a lot of times until you see the different options, you forget about places. And I’m really excited. And then, you know, Chris has commentary on some of the hotspots. I mean, Albania, Turkey, Brazil, India, I wrote them down. And, you know, just all marvelous places in Albania was something that came to my attention there because it’s a really unique place I’d like to get to so how about yourself, Andrew, as you take it away?
Okay, well, you know, Hawaii has not been a state that I’ve been to so my interest is piqued once more. It’s one of those things I usually picture outside of my home country even though it’s for many, many years it’s not really been my home country. But yes, you’ve dangled the carrot once more Hawaii should be on my list. You know, thanks everyone for joining us today we are here for you and bringing you the best guest in this space. So if you will write us a review, share this with others and join us again next week, because we’ll have another fabulous guest for you to listen to. Thanks for joining.
About the Guest
Chris Cerra is the founder, creator, and Head Deal-Hunter of Remote Base, a website dedicated to helping travelers, remote workers, and digital nomads in terms of accommodation and immersion with the local community. Since 2017, Chris has been living the remote work lifestyle in countless countries across four continents with his company, Remote Base. He is helping other people access this way of living. He is sharing ideal locations to work from remotely in his newsletter.