I’m not sure where the idea started. If I had to really search myself, I would say it probably started when I was asked to leave my home just over a year ago.
For the first time in ages, I had rented a house for many years. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was mine. It was a nice part of town. Quiet, safe, unassuming. Next Door were Tommy and Becky, an older couple who were good neighbors and watched out for me. On the other side was a man whose first name was basically “Lieutenant.” Nobody messed with a house surrounded by neighbors like that. The biggest problem I probably had in that neighborhood was the occasional barking dog.
My landlord was a private owner, not Corporate Annoyance. He even mowed my lawn! And in the seven years I lived there, he never raised my rent. That was important because I worked for a small state university where my salary didn’t rise much either. Thus, I was able to work side jobs, travel all over the world on that income, and still afford my rent and maintain a modest lifestyle. People thought I must be somehow making a fortune to travel all over the world, but I began to read travel blogs and find out about how the other half really did live. By keeping my expenses low and my side gigs high, I was able to establish excellent credit without carrying any balances, and earn points to taste how that half lived. I liked it. At this point, I have completed my childhood goal of placing my feet in all 50 states—the story for doing that in Delaware is pretty funny, but I actually visited most of them for long enough to tell you about them. I have also managed to visit five of seven continents. The two left are Oceania (I wasn’t taking chances with lockdowns this year) and Antarctica (I need to generate some serious side gig cash before that one is a reality). Travel became my true joy and freedom. As a single woman with no family, travel was mine. No one tells me when to wake up, where to go when I visit places, what restaurant to visit, or what show to see. I want to see the world, and having low rent for a house helped me do that.
I was just ramping up this blog when the pandemic hit us. And it was during that time, on a frigid day during the southern winter storm of 2021 that my landlord sent me an email, apologetic but unquestionable, explaining that he needed to do what was best for his grandkids. Family always trumps everything on this earth, and that was the one thing I did not have.
There was another grandchild on the way; his son had poor credit, and needed a house. He asked for mine. Because, of course, it was not mine. It was my landlord’s. He had been generous enough to let me live in it for the exact same rent every month for seven years. My time was up. I asked him if I could stay until the end of the school year, which he agreed was fine; he was helpful in working with me. I didn’t even have to clean it since I had to leave so suddenly to help him, which was especially nice. But of course, with the pandemic, also came an massive inflation crisis and a housing crisis, unparalleled in recent history. Not even terrible small houses could be found for my small rent now.
That led to my moving temporarily to my college town—College Station, TX (WHOOP!) because a dear friend, sort of a surrogate aunt, was able to help me with a temporary place while I found my own. I had already booked two summer trips—Cairo for continent 5 and Anchorage for state 50—so it made more sense to do that than pay all the utilities and such for the summer anyway. But that meant storage units, moving out of one place, looking for another… and did I mention a shortage of housing? Eventually I found a corporately run apartment where my rent with the mandatory associated fees were close to double what I had been paying, yet my income remained exactly the same.
In between the housing psychosis that was my last year, I actually almost bought a house—in a complete 180º of what this blog is about now. I think what I learned in that process also played into my decision here.
At the end of it all, I ended up moving about four times, both temporary and permanently, during about a one-year period, And the only times I felt really happy by the end of it were when I was on a plane to Chicago to spend two weeks at Christmas in my favorite city in the nation–in hotels. When it was time to come home, I didn’t want to go back to where I lived–the last place I lived before finally moving away. I was scared of it, truth be told, which is another story in itself. That little house and I didn’t get along.
The constant moving, after years of stability, the realization that owning—the only escape that would provide a real out from that was in my worldview—more a bondage to my lifestyle (I do certainly realize for most others this is not the case at all and if I were married, had children, or planned to retire and remain in a place after that one day, I would likely view this differently) made me see that maybe I wanted something absolutely opposite.
In mid-spring I was offered a new position at a new university. With that position came a substantial raise, but also a substantially high cost of living in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. When I began pricing rents in the area, and adding in electricity (a bill which would be quite high in summers due to the heat and the fact I have some physical issues that make me unable to tolerate very warm temperatures, so I pay for it—happily! Ha!), gas if it’s in the place I would rent, water/sewer/trash, other utilities, and a base rent that was 2-3 times what I was paying, I realized something: The cost of a hotel in such a competitive market would be about the same.
And with that, I made to move out of permanent housing altogether and into a hotel indefinitely.
Of course, not all hotels are created equally. I began my focus on those with whom I have status, so I can build on it. I also am focusing on those with full kitchens, for obvious reasons. I also start with base prices and negotiate from there. I have had some great success already (wait until you see my room now!), but have found a hotel perpetuating tax fraud, though I am sure when the Texas Comptroller addresses them, they will try to ‘splain their way out of it (don’t worry; I will be publishing those emails alongside the law itself here too). I have had a storage crisis, and a storage success—and learned a whole lot about storage. And accessibility. I have learned a lot about accessibility in hotels and how seriously—or not—hotels take it.
This blog, originally entitled, The Doc is Out because I am a “doctor of philosophy,” a PhD—and a professor—out traveling the world, when I’m not under contract to a university (summers, holidays, etc.), literally, means the doc is out. Out in a hotel, not in a house, not in a fancy apartment, where a good chunk of rent is going to funding a corporate advertising budget for the amenities. Every time you see an ad about the “free tanning bed” and “four pools with waterfalls,” check the rent.
Therefore, I am now shifting gears as I post to this blog on a more regular basis know what it’s like to say à bientôt to a permanent home for some length of time.
I do have some travel reviews–many travel reviews, actually!–I will be posting. I also have a long trip to London, Cambridge, Glasgow, Belfast, and Dublin coming up in a few weeks (almost all on points, which obviously explains why I need so many more points).
That’s all for now, though.
Reporting from a hotel that is as large as a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of north Dallas,
This Doc Remains (happily) Out