It is actually a viable option. In one of my gigs in the midwest, I stayed in one of the extended stay thingies for 700 bucks a month for 9 months. Free electricity, internet, stove, utensils, fridge and once a week maid service. All I had to pay for was laundry.
CA is probably a bit higher-though I once stayed in San Ramon for 5 months for 900+ -same deal-except the maid service was extra. Oh and a project in Atlanta , did the same for 800 bucks a month.
Actually I'd say DON'T live in a hotel. In Mass that is what we end up doing with homeless people. We have a provision that we are required to house people. Shelters that I know of taken in almost anyone. Reason being is they are non profits and they reject any convicted arsonists and level 3 sex offenders. No one in their right mind would donate to a non profit that allows them in.
For an emergency sure a hotel can be ok. But with some that are homeless it just doesn't make sense. Without a full real kitchen it ends up being microwave meals. Hotels aren't exactly made for children so they might get loud and bored fast.
To the hotels they are making the same amount of money from the state and they don't care. But to those staying there they might. There are some areas that can be cheap on a seasonal basis...say a ski lodge in the summer.
I took a vacation to CA about a year and a half ago. It was in March. Hotel rates were about $65-85 per night on average, even in the LA and SF suburbs. I didn't want anything fancy, I was just driving around the state and exploring. No, the hotels were not in dangerous locations.
I was thinking about how I was paying less for daily shelter than the locals...plus I got housekeeping services at no extra charge.
My work colleague (VP of Engineering at a tech company in the South Bay) has been living out of a hotel for the past 6 months.
They gave him a sizable long term discount, clean his place every single day, provide him with toiletries, parking is included, wifi included, no water bill, no electricity bill, no cable TV bill, no gym membership, no HOA, no property tax, no yard work, no maintenance cost, restaurant and bar downstairs... and all for less than a 1 bedroom rental in that area.
We laugh about it since it was supposed to be temporary but it's become too good to leave. Eventually he wants to settle down, but for now he is staying put.