Airbnb for Digital Nomads & Remote Work: Okinawa, Japan Edition

Having been in Tokyo, Japan for a few weeks now, it was time to go exploring somewhere new. My friend and I found a reasonable flight to the island of Okinawa between Taiwan and the mainland of Japan.

With the flight booked, the search was on to find the best way of working remotely from an island in the East China Sea. In most cases, I primarily travel on the weekend but this would need to be changed due to additional travel time needed for the trip.

I knew that coworking and shared workspaces would probably only be available in the larger city on the island which wasn’t where I was going to be. This was a working holiday and I needed to balance the desire to explore during the day with the ability to work through the night due to the time difference between Japan and the United States.

As I started looking through Airnbs, hostels, and hotels in Okinawa, it became clear that my best option was going to be Airbnbs.

When I look for Airbnbs, there are about 4 things that matter to me:

  1. Location
  2. Reviews of the host and space (I don’t book spaces without reviews. Sorry.)
  3. WIFI strength and bandwidth
  4. Cost

Location, reviews, and cost are all self explanatory but the one item that is harder to determine is the WIFI strength and bandwidth. Airbnb is lacking here and most hosts do not describe it well.

WIFI Strength and Bandwidth

If you don’t ask blatantly how the WIFI is, you can make a few assumptions about it based on the reviews and the description of the space. If it is offered in a one or two bedroom place, you should be fine. Once you hit 3 or more bedrooms, start to take into account how many people might be using the connection. Most home routers are not built for more than a set number of devices and often times can be put in really bad locations that also reduce the speed of the connection for everyone. My recommendation is to look at the reviews for WIFI or internet and see if there are complaints. If no one says anything, that is potentially a good sign but I find it is always a good idea to just go ahead and ask the host.

When we found our place in Okinawa on Airbnb, not only was it actually affordable and in a great location, but I was also able to get a mobile hotspot as part of the stay. This is not typical except in Japan from what I have experienced, however, it was extremely convenient.

A few tips when using a mobile hotspot as a digital nomad or remote worker especially in more remote areas:

  1. Most of the time the higher speed is limited to a certain bandwidth. I often had 500MB at the highest bandwidth, however, at the lower speed it did still work fine for normal uses and VOIP calls. Often times, the mobile data companies that tout unlimited speed are almost unusable when you burn through the faster speeds.
  2. Download all of your big files, documents, videos, etc that you need in advance before you need them. These either will take forever to download or will burn your data allotment at the higher speeds. It isn’t worth it so plan ahead.
  3. Keep the hotspot charged! Self explanatory.
  4. Keep your other devices charged. You never know where you might end up and if power outlets are available. In general if I have an option to charge my devices, I do it. It is stupid to have to stress over your battery being in the red if there was something you could do about it. Focus on getting your things done and not on finding an outlet.
  5. Prep your computer / phone and watch your data. When it comes down to it, there are many things running in the background on most devices. If you can, close as many as you can that you don’t need while on these hotspots. This will not only keep your devices running longer but will maintain the speed of the hotspot much longer.

For me, Airbnbs allow me to travel, work, and explore new cultures while staying on a budget. I have stayed in dozens of Airbnbs all across the world and will continue to stay in the them as part of my travels, however, it is always important to be sure that each space will fit your travel and work (if applicable) plans. Do your research and don’t book the the cheapest place. Look for value and a great experience and you should be able to find it.

What other questions do you have about finding the right Airbnb? Do you not like using Airbnb or do you prefer booking through another site? Do you have any other concerns or questions about remote working and the digital nomad life??Tell me about it!

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