Confessions of an Airbnb Gypsy

Posted on December 27, 2016


Confessions of an Airbnb Gypsy

The other day my mom and I caught an Uber ride leaving the Atlanta Falcons game.  I love the convenience of Uber and I also enjoy talking to their drivers as my inquisitive mind is constantly fascinated with people working in the gig economy.  As I barraged the young lady at the wheel with my usual questions about life as an Uber professional, she interrupted my train of thought with a questions of her own.

“Where do you live?” she asked.

I paused for a moment, not because I felt she was imposing on my privacy or because I didn’t want to tell her.  I sat there in twenty seconds of uncomfortable silence because I didn’t know how to honestly answer her question without a twenty-minute dissertation about my life.  I responded, “That all depends on what day it is,” I said in a humorous tone.  Thankfully she let that one go with just a chuckle.

I answered her question in an attempt to be funny, but I was also being totally serious as well.  I am an Airbnb gypsy.  My residence literally depends on what day it is.  I’m not an Airbnb resident because I’m a perpetual traveler exploring the world.  I have a regular 9-5 job five days a week.  I don’t do it because I can’t afford a place of my own.  As a matter of fact, I own a house that I rent out as a vacation rental or Airbnb hub myself.  People love my home and stay at it constantly all year round, so much so that I couldn’t stay there if I wanted to, which I don’t.  I would sell it in a heartbeat if my house weren’t turning a profit.  My home is an employee to me and it is expected to produce.  If it doesn’t, a “For Sale” sign will serve as its termination notice.  Like a valued employee however, I take good care of it.  Right now it is enjoying a kitchen remodeling.  I hope my guests love the fresh new look because I am doing it for them, not me.

The road that led me to my cynicism of home ownership today was a long journey filled of stress and remorse.  I was married for over twenty years and the majority of those years we owned two houses, just not the same two.  To me they were anchors that were dragging me under, drowning me.  Despite a very successful career, we were always house poor, doling out two of everything in Noah’s Arc style: 2 power bills, 2 cable bills, 2 property taxes etc.  The second house was always plugged to me as an investment but I never witnessed any positive returns from it.  In 2002 I lost my job and was unemployed for nine months and those two houses nearly emptied our savings.  The housing bust of 2007 wiped out that fickle hallucination we refer to as home equity, wiping out any hope I had of selling them and ridding myself of those inflexible moors.  I have turned down magical career opportunities because my houses couldn’t relocate.  We could never afford exotic vacations and never saved enough for retirement.  To me, home ownership meant a life of slavery that constricted our lives.

Today I am free of the chains of home ownership.  For $30 a night I stay in a charming home that is wonderfully furnished.  I have a great bedroom with my own TV and fast Internet.  Every week I enjoy clean sheets and am furnished with fresh towels and toiletries.  The kitchen is fully stocked with every utensil I would ever need.  I have a favorite house I primarily stay at but I rotate locations as I have the privilege to be able to call some of my Airbnb hosts, friends.  Every once in a while I venture out of my comfort zone and try a new Airbnb to stay in a different part of town just to see what it is like.

I don’t stay seven nights a week at Airbnb.  I visit my mom two nights a month.  On the weekends I visit my girlfriend or go visit other friends.  If I were to stay seven nights a week I would be spending upwards of $800 a month.  Yes, you could argue I could have my own apartment for that.  But now consider that I have no power bill, no cable bill, no first and last month deposit and no contract.  My life is fluid and agile.

Because my budget is no longer busted by housing costs, I am able to travel and see the beautiful world we live in.   I was able to take a bucket list trip to Ireland earlier this year where, yes, I stayed at Airbnb homes.  In two months I am headed to Utah to go skiing where I will call a lovely Airbnb right off the ski slope my home for four nights.

This life isn’t for everyone, but it works for me, and in a time in which the uncertainties of a global economy and the impending threat of the vanquishing of jobs by technology and robots, it provides me the elasticity I need to feel secure.

Posted in: share economy