Short Stay versus Long Stay

When you go abroad there can be a bit of dilemma in choosing the right timeframe for staying in a certain place. Do you just go for a quick sneak peak in 3 days or do you want the full experience for 6 months? The intricacies of being in a certain place for a short period are quite different compared to being there for a long time period. Both have their respective benefits and downsides. In this post I shortly want to go into the differences between these two opposites, for anyone to take into account with regard to possible travel plans.

The benefits of short stay

When you stay in a place for a short time period it can feel like a holiday. Everything is new and fresh, all the things you experience give you a new energy. Just because you are right there, you can jump into every opportunity without qualms. And just because you are leaving soon, you have a fixed deadline, which makes that you are putting all the fun in this short period.

Furthermore, in case the place is not to your liking you can leave easily to another place, as you are not bogged down in the place with any obligations. You did not engage in any long-term contracts or business engagements.

The benefits of long stay

Staying in one place for a longer period gives you a more familiar feel to it. You start to know the people, making acquaintances, making friends. You get a social network (if you want), which you can use also to further yourself locally. If you are active, you pick up the language a bit, which will make you feel integrated in society.

Another great advantage of being in a place for longer is that everything gets much cheaper. You can rent for longer time-periods, which costs less. You can get the better rental deals through friends. You get to know about the best and cheapest restaurants to eat. You buy stuff instead of renting it.

The downsides

The main downside of short stay is that you miss the benefits of the long stay. That is, you will pay more on average for accommodation and you will be sometimes stuck in the tourist circuit, with its corresponding prices. Your experience at the place abroad will be more superficial and fleeting.

On the other hand, the downside of long stay is the opposite of the short term benefits. You have the tread with more caution sometimes, as you will get known over a longer period. Also, as you need to commit to longer term contracts, you will have much less flexibility to move around and to discover new places.

Another, often underestimated, aspect is that when you stay in a place for a longer period, the initial freshness can wear off and you start to notice small day-to-day things that will annoy you. You are really living there now, so you experience things that a tourist would not; such as slow bureaucratic processes, long lines at the grocery store, blatant poverty outside city center, crime, the humid season, and so forth. Cultural differences become also magnified, especially in case you do not speak the language well. This in contrast when you stay in a place for a month maximum, everything is new, and you embrace the slow rhythm of the place.

My middle ground

Often when I visit a place I have never been before I stay there for a short time period. In this way I can explore the city, the people and its surroundings. I take note of the good places, the possibilities of the place and imagine myself: how would I live here for a longer period? I also try to assess how the spot scores on points as quality/cost of living, internet speed, local attitude and climate. When this is to my liking I plan the longer period. This, and I always try be flexible to be able to leave a place when things turn sour.

IMO, in this way it is possible to get the best of both worlds.