**If you’re looking to book an airbnb for the first time, use this link to get £20 off your first trip
Last spring, Mark and I made the decision to list our one bedroom flat on Airbnb.
For those who don’t know, Airbnb is a peer-to-peer marketplace for renting out your space. The service is available on desktop and mobile and, according to Wikipedia, it has over 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries, with 8.5 million users.
The most impressive stat, however, is the 7-10% cut Airbnb take from every transaction. But that’s a whole different blog post…
Why I use Airbnb to travel
2013 was the first time I tried Airbnb. My friend Chrys and I were traveling to Berlin for her birthday, and instead of booking a hotel we went for a flat in Prenzlauer Berg via Airbnb.
We narrowed it down to a few places that were: a) available, b) had enough space to accommodate three, c) were in a non-touristy neighbourhood, and d) had a responsive host.
That’s basically your whole Airbnb criteria, right there.
On the whole, we were pretty impressed with the value we got for our money. The flat was very spacious, and could have easily accommodated five should we needed the extra room.
The best value-add for me was the authenticity of the experience and our surroundings. Instead of staying in a cookie-cutter hotel room, with tacky interiors and starchy sheets, we were loungin’ in someone’s cozy Berlin home. And for a fraction of the price.
Why I use Airbnb to host
Here’s the thing: we live in one of the most desirable, most expensive cities in the world.
We have a great space at our disposal, so rather than let it sit empty for five weeks of the year, let’s rent it out. We can recoup our travel costs, and maybe even reduce our rent.
So we starting listing our flat for when we were away. This took some coordination with friends and cleaners, but on the whole it was a fairly seamless experience.
Six months later, we moved from our tiny one bedroom flat to a two bedroom/two bath in the heart of east London.
The story behind the move is a long one (again, I’ll save it for another post). But basically, we wanted a lifestyle change. We wanted to live where all the action was.
But we also wanted to reduce our overhead costs, so we could pay down our student loans and save for a mortgage.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s next to impossible to find cheap rent in central London. If location is one of your top priorities (as it was for us) then the only other option is to live with flatmates.
And here’s the thing about being a couple: no one wants to rent a room to you, because you come as a matching set. It’s an automatic third-wheel situation that everyone wishes to avoid. If you’re lucky enough to find someone who is willing to share with you and your significant other, you can bet they will charge you double the rent, which basically negates the whole reason for moving in the first place.
Our only other options were to find a teeny, tiny studio, or sign up to a two bedroom flat, and worry about finding a flatmate later.
Well count my lucky stars, a colleague had a friend who was in desperate need of good tenants. We moved into her flat in a matter of weeks, and had the spare bedroom up on Airbnb shortly thereafter.*
You can see what the listing looks like here.
I’m proud to say that since we started in November, we’ve had a 75% occupancy rate. This means were we able to earn 46% more towards our rent than if we had a flatmate.
In total, we reduced our rent by 36%, increased our square footage by 50%, and relocated to a hipper part of town. Pretty cool, huh?
But the best part of this experience has been just that – the experience we’ve gained in striving to provide an exceptional service to our guests. Not to mention all the wonderful people we’ve met from all over the world (here’s looking at you, Nadine).
So if you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, I suggest you give it a shot. For your next trip, why don’t you plan to stay in an Airbnb? And if you have a spare room, try renting it out…and let me know how you get on.
*Our landlady happens to be a regular Airbnb host, which is why our lease agreement is a match made in landlord-tenant heaven.