How VRBO and AirBnB Changed my Life, and Can Change Yours

Posted on September 6, 2016


How VRBO and Airbnb Changed my Life, and Can Change Yours

A short while back I inherited a lake house as a result of a divorce.  Ironically, the house was a contributing factor to the demise of our marriage.  The house had sucked the life out of me for years, foisting into juggling multiple jobs in order to subsidize the mortgage, utilities, taxes and upkeep while supporting a primary residence as well.  I had a great amount of resentment towards that house and stressed over what I would do with it.  The numbers on paper made it virtually impossible to sell it and living there would mean commuting multiple hours every day to get to my job in order to pay for it all.  Having endured so many long commutes for most of my career, I couldn’t bear the thought of being trapped in a car day in and day out for so long.  I felt like a rat on a wheel.   I would stay awake at night dreaming of how I could get away with burning that malevolent house to the ground.

And then, I discovered – Vacation Rental by Owner, where travelers can rent an entire house or condo rather than utilize a traditional hotel room.  With nothing to lose, I created an ad and waited.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Three days later a young couple contacted me about renting the house for a weekend so celebrate their anniversary.  Since then, I have had half a dozen anniversaries, two family reunions and a wedding hosted at my home.   What was once a hotbed of anguish and anxiety has become an epicenter of joy and celebration.

The house is now continually rented year round and it completely pays for itself today.  I even make a small profit that allows me to do renovations and upgrades to the house.  I take care of it, and it takes care of my wonderful guests.  VRBO dramatically changed my life, both financially and emotionally.

In the meantime, came the issue of where I would live?  Uncertain of what I wanted to do with my life at this point, becoming burdened with another house was the last thing I wanted to do.  I needed flexibility in my life now.  I considered an apartment but there were few choices near my employer and since all of my current furnishings had to remain at my lake house for my guests, the thought of furnishing a residence I might only be at for a year or so seemed illogical and daunting.  Both my mom and my girlfriend gave me open invitations to reside with them but both of their residences meant even longer commutes.

And then I discovered Airbnb, a truly amazing sight where people rent out their spare bedrooms to potential guests needing to a place to stay a few nights.  There was a lady named Emily who had an apartment ten minutes from my work with a furnished bedroom and private bath in a separate wing of her apartment.  She was unemployed and wanted to bring in some needed revenue.  For one year I stayed three nights a week with her.  Six months into our arrangement she obtained a job which prevented her from getting home until late in the evening due to a horrible commute.  As a result, I agreed to walk her dog when I would get there after work.  I miss walking that dog because Emily moved in order to be closer to her work.

Since Emily’s departure, I have begun staying at a variety of Airbnb’s.  I stay with a host name Kendall, an Uber driver, half the time who lives the closest to my work.  I also reside with over half a dozen other hosts as well.  I will stay just about anywhere that is within 25 minutes of my work and charges between 20 and 35 bucks a night.  I haven’t met a bed yet I didn’t like.  As a result, I have met some interesting hosts and been able to explore parts of the city that I never exposed myself to before.

On the weekends I usually stay with my girlfriend which manages to ground me just enough so I don’t feel like a wandering gypsy.  I have no power bill, no cable bill, no water bill.  I only have one bill – Airbnb.  In three weeks I am taking advantage of a rare opportunity to go to Ireland for a week, and yes, I am staying at Airbnb’s every night I am there.  In a way, I am simply moving my residency to Ireland for a week and since I won’t be paying rent back in the U.S., it will make the trip a whole lot cheaper.

Airbnb allows me to be close to work, save money and remain highly malleable at a critical junction in my life.  It is truly an interesting time to be alive.