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Sunday, August 21, 2011

After a Night in a Hostel, I'm Back on the Street

My search for housing has not paid off. The room I was renting for a few weeks at a frat house in Madison, WI had to be vacated at Noon on Saturday, August 20. That's when the frat members would start moving into the building. The new semester starts on September 3. I have not been able to find another place within my limited budget.

I left the frat house at Noon, as required. That evening, I checked into a local hostel for one night. My decision to stay at the hostel wasn't so much a desire to put off what now seems my inevitable return to the street as it was an attempt to buy time, just another 24 hours.

There are/were a couple of people who responded to my Craigslist ad, in which I said that I was seeking a place for four weeks and would pay $300 for the privilege. I've not heard back from them.

I stayed in hostels in Austria, Italy and Germany back when I studied in Munich. I was 19, and I hadn't been in a hostel since. I was pleasantly surprised: The hostel I stayed in last night was very nice. Clean, sunny, friendly. They have a few private rooms available, but I chose a communal room with three bunk beds and a private bath. That cost me $25.00, a bargain for clean, safe lodging. My roommates were five Chinese guys two from Nanjing and three from Beijing. In their early 20s, the English they learned in China was nearly perfect.

The hostel I stayed at is part of Hostelling International USA. The HI website is well done and very informative. There, you can find a hostel and book your stay just as you would with a hotel chain's website. They even have links to

The experience was very nice, and I would recommend it. It's not right for everybody, of course, but staying at a hostel is a great way to get decent lodging for dirt cheap prices. Think about it: I paid $25 for a night in a very comfortable setting. That's one fourth or one fifth what a hotel would charge in the same neighborhood. For people who don't mind (or even enjoy) sharing a room with others, hostelling is a budget friendly alternative.

There was one guest, for example, who was from Japan and she was staying for a total of 10 nights. That would cost her $250, which would not have gotten her three nights at any hotel nearby. Why pay for the swimming pool, spa, and other amenities that you just don't need? The experience got me thinking about a cross-country tour that combines camping and staying in hostels.

Sadly, none of my single, childless friends with spare bedrooms have been able to reach me by email, Facebook or phone. I'm sure at least one would offer to let me stay with them for $300 cash, if only they knew how to reach me.

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