As mentioned in my previous decluttering post, I have now rented out the spare room in my apartment. As it’s not easy for me to share my personal space, I wasn’t intending to do this until after I left, but I didn’t know how difficult it would be to find a short-term tenant and so decided to advertise earlier rather than later.
If you haven’t heard of it (where have you been?), Airbnb offers an alternative to traditional accommodation options by facilitating the renting of rooms, houses, barns, floors, etc. from individual homeowners. Prices end up being cheaper than hotel accommodation but are likely to be higher than hostel rates. As a renter, I have found Airbnb to be particularly useful in remote areas where there aren’t too many choices of accommodation, for instance, in certain remote parts of New Zealand. Sure, it’s not always the cheapest option, but there are some other benefits to it such as living with a local, staying in a more personal space and paying to live in desirable areas with more space for prices lower than hotel rates with comparable attributes.
Airbnb also make it nice and easy for you to rent out your space and host guests. This wasn’t my original plan when I first thought of renting my flat out, but the more I looked into it and compared the various options available to me, the more I was convinced that Airbnb was the way to go.
Pros Of Hosting Via Airbnb
- I decide the duration of how long I get a renter for, right down to the exact day
- No need to deal with contracts or deposits which can be a deterrent when trying to find short term renters
- Airbnb give a host guarantee of up to £600,000 – a lot more than I would get by renting the flat out by myself to a stranger (I couldn’t find any friends or acquaintances who were interested)
- Flexibility – instead of finding one renter for the entire 3 month duration, I found a series of renters. This worked out well as shorter rent durations meant proportionally higher rates per day meaning that the average rent I will be getting over the two months up to December will be higher than what I expected to get by finding someone via online classifieds
- Airbnb offer a free photography service where they send a freelance photographer round to your place to take photos of your space in the best light (nicer photos = more interest)
- Their iPhone app makes it super easy to respond to renting queries quicky
My First Experience As A Host
I had always thought my first experience would be as a renter, but as Airbnb make it so easy to list your flat, I was very quickly enticed by what was on offer and decided to give it a go whilst I was still in London to understand the process.
As a result of this, I welcomed my first group of Airbnb renters to the flat two weekends ago – a sister and brother pair from France who were visiting London for a long weekend to catch the NFL exhibition game at Wembley. I was a little apprehensive as I had no idea what to expect, but everything went swimmingly. The guys were perfectly friendly, quiet, clean and had plans of their own. Whilst I would, of course, have been happy to show them around, it does make things easier when visitors know what they want and can take care of themselves. 🙂
As it turns out, I seem to have (touch wood) no problems with finding tenants for my space. Within about 2 weeks of listing my spare room, I had 3 tenants lined up to rent the room continuously up to Christmas. The greedy side of me thinks I should perhaps have asked for higher rent, but all in all, I am happy with the price received considering the fact that I was new to the Airbnb community and did not have any reviews at that time.
I am currently in the midst of welcoming my second guest, this time for a significantly longer period of over 3 weeks. My guest is a documentary producer from Canada who has been on the road for a significant number of years (as you might expect, he is a rather interesting character!). Again, nice, friendly and able to take care of himself. Nothing to complain about so far.
Getting Over The Fear Of The Bad
I would classify myself as a cautious personality and did have some reservations at first about effectively opening up my flat (and life!) to a complete stranger. I took the plunge in the end as I decided that having an open mind and faith in others would take me a lot further in my solo travels than having an immediate suspicion of others and walling myself off from the community, whatever and wherever that community may be.
Obviously, as with everything in life, it’s better to go into new experiences with your eyes open and your research done. Know the dangers and what your protections are. Read reviews from the community and do your background checks through your network if possible. And above all, use your instincts.
It’s easy to get side tracked into believing only the negative aspects of anything foreign – be it using Airbnb or travelling solo for the first time. Whilst there are unfortunate cases of bad things happening, the stats are with you most of the time and the risks of such things happening typically tend to be low. I find (for the most part), that taking the risk more often that not ends up being totally worth it for the rewards reaped at the end. 😉
Have you ever tried using Airbnb? What was your experience like? Any other alternative accommodation options you would like to share / recommend?