Airbnb allows a friend to earn her property taxes. Right now, as I post this, I’m at an Airbnb quite close to a family wedding which I’m sharing with my siblings at a fraction of what it would cost us to stay in a motel. We had dinner together last night and my dog is at my feet. So much better than a hotel.
Airbnb is a boon to penny-pinched home owners and a delight for travelers seeking homey and reasonable accommodations. The short-term rental has changed the life of both hosts and guests offering a cheaper form of travel and, often, very welcome income. Airbnb is an excellent choice for some people. It’s an easy way to gain the financial benefits of having a shared home.
It is not for everyone, and in fact I worry that some are seduced into using the service for the income and thereby forfeit the potential benefits of having a long-term home-mate.
Why Airbnb Works – Social Proof
The Internet makes Airbnb possible. Both homeowners and renters must have an account to use the service. Anyone can browse the rentals available. The information on a rental includes reviews from guests. When you request a booking, the owner can read reviews about you and either accept or reject your request. This reciprocal review process, also known as social proof, is enforced by Airbnb by the simple restriction that the owner doesn’t get to see their review until they have completed the review of the guest.
Why Airbnb Works – Money
The company handles the monetary exchange. The renter pays on the site using a credit card and Airbnb sends the money to the owner when the booking is complete. So simple. Airbnb then also handles any disputes, should there be any.
Comparing Short-Term Rental vs. Long-Term Rentals
You can make more money in fewer days with Airbnb. But you have to work for it.
For every guest, you are stripping the bed, washing and drying sheets, remaking the bed, dusting, vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom. Having an Airbnb room makes you a hotel chambermaid. It’s a job.
Long-term home-mates do their own cleaning. They share in the tasks of maintaining a home. They are there to help in the many ways that people can make life easier for one another: a ride home from the doctor, feeding a pet cat when its owner is away for the weekend, picking up chicken soup when you are laid low by the flu, and so on.
When you are living with someone who is a good fit, you get to have both income stability and a relationship that creates a home. The family feeling gives you a feeling of safety and security. And that can make all the difference in the world.
Use Airbnb to Experiment with Home-Sharing
Having an Airbnb room is one way to experiment with sharing one’s home. One can get a sense for how it feels to have someone in your space, particularly if you are used to living alone.
Stay at an Airbnb. See how it feels to you to be in another’s home. Talk to the owner about their experience.
Choose to Have a Home-Mate
The long-term benefits of sharing a home with a home-mate or two make the choice a no-brainer for me.
The two Airbnb advantages of ease in handling money and using “social proof” can be had with long-term arrangements as well. Manage money by using direct deposit. This is easy to set up and eliminates worry about getting paid. Use social media to both find and discover who a person is. You can learn a lot by looking at their Facebook, Twitter , Pinterest, and Instagram pages. One person I interviewed learned from Facebook that her potential housemate had been in an accident and her friends had held a fundraiser. That was a good sign and she decided to choose her to live with.
Yes, it takes more work up front to find your good home-mate(s). It will also take longer.
- Start by reading the book.
- Make a list of your “must-haves” and “can’t live withs” (Download worksheet here.)
- Create an “ad” — a statement of what you want and are looking for. (See this post for a short version of what should be in it.)
- Talk to your friends, their friends, and everyone in your community. Network to find people. Join our closed Facebook group Hello Home-Mate.
- Take our classes as we offer them.
- Check references.
You can do it. Be patient and persistent. It’s worth it.
Have you had Airbnb experience? What did you think/feel about it?
Read more about how to make the most of shared housing: Housing Options for Seniors , Why Letting Go of Stuff is the First Step
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