Over the last year, I have been working and traveling across Europe. In April 2019, I left Los Angeles and landed in London for work. Growing up in Greenville, a small town in Kentucky, I have always struggled to get accustomed to the urban sprawl and the endless traffic jams of Los Angeles. And that is why even London was not the place where I felt at home.
In October of last year, I was offered an opportunity where I could work while traveling. Since then, I have been living a nomadic lifestyle. Moving city to city, town to town, Airbnb to Airbnb almost every month except a couple where we had a nationwide lockdown. The past 365 days have been crazy for me but I have never been more content with my life. Giving up a lease and living in different Airbnbs for over a year was not an easy decision to take. But if I get a choice today, I‘ll choose this life over the former in a heartbeat. It does come with challenges but that is what life is, right?
As a blogger in Los Angeles, I wrote a guide on ‘how to use Airbnb’ with some handy tips to select the right neighborhoods and increase the acceptance rate as a foreign guest. That helped. With just two suitcases and a referral credit, I began my Airbnb journey. Here are the good, the bad, & the ugly experiences I had in the past year with Airbnb.
There is a reason why both hosts and guests love Airbnb. The company’s success has largely been attributed to the ease and comfort it provides to travelers. With both hosts and guests benefiting, it offers a great opportunity for hosts to make money and travelers to save some and stay more comfortably. Since I gave up my lease and started living in Airbnbs, life has just been so simple. In numbers, I save about 45% of my accommodation cost every month with Airbnb. For a person like me who likes to move around, this is perfect. Especially when I am traveling and writing, I get to meet so many people. I get to actually live in their homes and become a part of their lives. Once I was in Brighton for a week and I got myself this cozy Airbnb in Seven Dials. The room was really nice but it had no separate entry. I had to walk through their living room to get to mine. And the relationship I formed there with the host was completely different from the other Airbnbs that I have stayed. It was more of a guest or a flatmate than a customer.
Some places are hotels, some are homes where people live and some are properties where it’s just you and all the space. It is not all bad when you are all by yourself in a property, sometimes you need that space especially when the world is fighting a contagious virus. I too have lived in some and not all were bad. When you are living all by yourself, you are also responsible for the property as well. I was staying in an Airbnb in Cheltenham, a town in Gloucestershire all by myself. I stayed there for about 20 days. One week into my stay, the kitchen pipe burst to flood the entire room. Luckily, my neighbor helped me contact an emergency plumber in Cheltenham. It was quite a day. Incidents like these keep happening but then when you are living in such houses, you need to account for incidents like these.
There is not much ugly about Airbnb but there are certain things that I would want them to mend. Like as a guest when you are booking with Airbnb, you do not get insurance while the host does get one. That means if the host cancels on you unreasonably, locks you out, or steals your belongings, they are not liable. All you can do is post a bad review. When you are living in people’s places, you should expect that one in ten places you will have some problems. But I like to believe that these are isolated occurrences and does not tell the whole picture about Airbnb. Definitely from safety standards, Airbnb has a lot of responsibilities as a company and it must ensure public security especially during stays at private places.
Last week I wrote a thank you note to each host I visited in this previous year, often with a photograph of my stay there. The love and joy on their faces make me feel that my year was worthwhile. Yes, about 400 days after I gave up my lease, I still don’t have a postal address.
If you want to have a closer look at my adventures do check out this post as well.