Do Road Warriors and Digital Nomads Need a Home Base?

By Heather R. Johnson

With the rise of the gig economy and the ubiquity of Wi-Fi, more workers can — and do — work from anywhere, anytime. Not only are more adults choosing careers that allow them to make their own way, they’re making their way while traveling the world. This trend leads to an important question: If you’re rarely home, why keep an apartment?

A survey conducted by welance, a coworking space in Berlin, Germany, found that 61 percent of its “digital nomad” respondents travel to three to 10 countries per year. The majority stayed in other places for months on end but kept a home base to recharge between trips.

Mira Zaki, a photographer who has traveled throughout the United States and Europe since 2015, has lived in short-term and vacation rentals while pursuing her craft, but now she’s looking for a home base in New York City.

“I wanted to feel more grounded,” she says. “I also need to have an address. Things like getting a driver’s license and credit cards and receiving packages become difficult without one.”

Deciding whether to keep a home base or become a complete nomad depends on your budget, your current location, and possibly your lease terms. Rent for an apartment in a small Midwestern town is much easier to cover than rent for a San Francisco townhome. However, that San Francisco apartment could create your own rental income for you if your lease terms allow sub-leasing.

Zaki let go of her previous NYC apartment when she knew she would be gone for a year. She sold everything except her mattress, which is in storage. “Keeping an apartment in New York just didn’t make sense at the time,” she says.

Turn Your Home into Passive Income

Whether you’re a busy entrepreneur who travels extensively for business or a programmer who wants to hold down a job and see the world, it’s nice to have something to come home to. On the other hand, renting an apartment that sits empty most of the year can feel like an expensive indulgence. Some people rent out their dwellings through vacation rental companies such as Airbnb and VRBO to recoup some of the expense.

Travelers based in major metropolitan areas or cities with thriving business sectors fare especially well when renting out their homes. “If the home base is in a desirable rental market, an entrepreneur may be able to cover expenses and even make significantly more if he or she rents it out as a short-term rental,” says Mickey Kropf, COO and co-founder of, a marketplace that helps homeowners find local managers for their vacation rentals. “Short-term rentals in urban markets are also quickly gaining popularity, making them a great investment.”

Make Your Home Marketable

If you decide to sublet your apartment or list it as a vacation rental, you have to make your space inviting for guests. Follow these tips to keep the positive reviews flowing:

  • The bed should be comfortable with clean sheets and bedding.
  • The rooms should look stylish and uncluttered.
  • The entire dwelling should be spotless before you leave.
  • Swap out your couch for a sleeper sofa to increase occupancy.
  • Leave hospitable touches, such as folded towels, travel-size soaps and shampoo, and a few snacks.

Furnish Your Home Well

As a busy world traveler, you may not have much, if any, furniture. If that’s the case, your home base won’t be comfortable for you or any prospective renters. Furniture rental companies such as CORT offer a convenient solution.

Kropf says many clients choose furniture rental as a solution to spruce up an existing space. “Furniture rental can easily pay for itself,” he says. “If a room needs updates, furniture can make it stand out and help drive bookings. We also frequently see homeowners that have cherished family heirlooms. In that scenario, we recommend a rental piece as a temporary replacement that can then be removed by the furniture rental company upon the owner’s return.”

With CORT, you can rent by the piece, by the room, or for your entire home — from wherever you are. Rent that comfortable bed you and your guests want as well as anything else you need to create a cozy home base.

Many of the welance respondents reported having a more fulfilling work-life balance as location independents. Before you plan for your next destination, make a plan for your home base.