How to Use Airbnb to Live Anywhere
I’m so grateful to be able to do my nomadic business in an era when there are irreplaceable travel resources like Google Maps, TripAdvisor, WiFi, and Airbnb. They make what I do quite possible. With Airbnb, I can navigate and create a new home base in different countries with a few clicks of a button, and I don’t have to pay a ton of money for a hotel room. No doubt Airbnb was one juicy giant cherry on top of my sweet travels.
This post originally appeared on FY! The S .
I’m going to share with you the things I’ve learned using Airbnb to help you choose the right and best Airbnb for your needs anywhere in the world. As a fair warning, much of this is for long-term rentals on Airbnb, which means you intend to stay for at least a month.
But wait, are you familiar with Airbnb?
If you’re unfamiliar with Airbnb, get ready to have all your wanderlust explode into tiny bits of joy, my friend!
Airbnb is a site that allows you to rent (as well as rent out) living space with the locals of the destination you plan to visit. So think informally and run hotel-style places informally. You can rent dorms, an entire room for yourself, or an entire apartment, or a house, or a cottage, or a cardboard box, or almost any living space. Just search for the location and the dates you are going to “check in” and “check out”.
The coolest thing is that the hosts of Airbnb, as the tenants of these establishments are called, are often very welcoming and cordial. It’s like visiting a good friend who lets you stay in his house, only you have to give him money to be your friend (less sad than it sounds).
Why use Airbnb for extended stays?
Clearly Airbnb is a great setting for a short getaway or a weeklong vacation, but what if you plan on staying one or more months at a time? They are also ideal for long term rentals!
Generally, when you are in the country on a visitor visa, it is almost impossible to convince a landlord to let you rent a space, let alone a room. Apart from Airbnb, your choice is hotels and hostels.
Hotels can pretty much set your bank account on fire and dance around its ashes. Even if your cash flow is healthy enough to be okay, despite this, I believe that you don’t need to spend so lightly. Hostels, on the other hand, are the exact opposite: they are affordable, but you never have privacy. Or the feeling of being at home. It is also a very horror movie.
Airbnbs are simply more cost effective, understandable, and simpler. What I love most about this is that I meet cool local people who are friendly and familiar people in another foreign country.
Treat Airbnb monthly like you rent your monthly apartment in your home. The nice thing is that it is already fully equipped with everything you could possibly need if you know what you are looking for. Utilities, including the internet, are usually part of your fees, so you usually don’t need to worry about that. Not to mention, there is no lease.
This is, of course, good. Also, there are bad things like location in a bad area, inaccurate images, false reviews, etc. I’ll cover it all in the tips below to ensure you get the best experience possible.
1. Make sure your profile is complete
Let’s talk about your Airbnb profile first. Do you have a photo? Looks friendly? Do you have good reviews from other hosts? Are you new? Can you prove that you are not a robot? Believe it or not, the completeness of your profile, as well as the way you interact with your potential host, can really impact the success of your booking.
In the Airbnb world, you must first submit a booking request to someone else’s apartment. Basically, this is a place where your credit card is not charged immediately, and your seat reservation is not guaranteed until the host of the place also accepts. Some hosts offer an instant book , denoted by a lightning bolt symbol, which is fast and painless.
There are times when the owner shoves money back in your face. It’s not that they don’t need your money as such; They have something to worry about: they are probably just as nervous about letting you into their home as you are about going into a stranger’s. So yeah, they won’t let the person behind the new faceless Airbnb profile waltz.
If you’re new to Airbnb, add a pretty picture. Tell a little about yourself so that the potential owner, looking at your profile, does not think that you are a psychopath. ( Everyone thinks the other person is potentially some kind of psychopath.)
Basically, you want to give your master enough things to convince him that you are not a threat and that you are not going to destroy his home.
- Have you added an avatar and a small promotional video about yourself?
- If your account is new, be prepared to provide additional information for your host. Most are generally susceptible, but if you get a lot of rejected reservations it is most likely due to your profile.
2. Research, research, research. Seriously.
Explore different areas of the city in advance. Go to sites like TripAdvisor and enter the name of the area to see what people have to say about it. Use Google Street View (if possible) to get a feel for the area.
Also, check out the locations and get ready to comb through the host’s reviews. If your host has multiple listings, read these reviews as well. Read them all, and if there are many, read the reviews with three stars or below to see what the common complaints were. You have the right to be suspicious of you if all your reviews are five stars, but they don’t say anything. They could be fake.
Airbnb is cool, but since it is run by almost all ordinary people (both guests and hosts), Airbnb has its hands tied when it comes to resolving issues and disputes such as refunds and cancellations. I cannot stress enough that research, preparation of questions and skill before booking is very, very important . Just watch the stories on Airbnbhell to scare yourself and force yourself to be extra careful.
Recently, I also learned this the hard way in Paris. I relied too much on star ratings and reviews because I was in a rush and neglected the actual surroundings. It was only when I got there that I realized that I was in an extremely shady area in which I was uncomfortable walking. For example, imagine the quirky outskirts of a city marked with graffiti, litter scattered on the streets with many shadowy characters, a few signs to keep out the pockets, and so on.
I made a big mistake considering that I was in a foreign country, couldn’t speak French, and now I felt stressed coming to and from Airbnb. I was only partially able to resolve this issue by talking to Airbnb and the host, but note that in these circumstances, Airbnb will emphasize that you basically have to ask questions and know what you’re driving at, including your surroundings. Airbnb cannot do a diddley squat unless the issue is directly related to the listing itself.
So yes, research.
- Have you visited sites like TripAdvisor to explore a local area or area?
- Have you read the reviews?
- What about reviews of the host’s other offers?
- If there are less than five reviews, proceed with caution.
3. Check your weekly / monthly rates
Many hosts are willing to offer weekly or monthly discounts. This means that if you book at least a week or a month in advance, you get a certain percentage discounted from the subtotal. This amount does not include an intermediate fee for the service, which is usually not negotiable. The discount offered usually reads right in the Pricing section:
You will be able to see individual host discounts by setting Check In and Check Out dates to include a minimum of seven nights for the weekly discount and 28 nights for the monthly discount.
I’ve seen weekly / monthly discounts ranging from 3% to 50%. It all depends on a couple of factors:
- Location: Of course, I’m talking about the country or the city itself, but the price also depends on the area. If it is known to be very touristy or in a good area, prices can be expected to be higher than in less popular areas; therefore, hosts may be less inclined to host regular guests.
- Season: Airbnb hosts typically set prices based on the season. Expect prices to be higher or discounts lower (or both) during the tourist hot season. If they get a lot of orders, many hosts experiment with setting prices slightly higher; and as with hotels, the prices you see may change depending on which days you check in and check out.
- Host Popularity: The more popular the host, the less likely it is to offer a decent discount.
- Host: Some presenters just don’t do it or don’t know about it. It doesn’t hurt to ask, though.
Okay, if you think you are dealing with higher prices than usual, or even if the discounts say 0, it’s always worth sending a message to the host and asking. We’ll look at this in the negotiation section below.
- Have you set your check-in and check-out dates for seven nights to check out the weekly discount?
- Have you set your check-in and check-out dates for 28 nights to check your monthly discount?
- Have you reached out to your host to inquire about weekly / monthly discounts if they are not on the page?
4. Compare the position of the host with what you need.
Often times, people end up confused: is the place cool enough? It’s comfortable? Will I have access to great food and restaurants? Is it thigh? Is this place ?
I understand all these feelings and the attraction of “shiny things”, but the problem is not, “Is this place amazing?” and much more “Is this place right for me ?”
To find out, you need to know what really defines “cool” for you. Take a moment to write down your biggest needs. If you are going to live somewhere for a while, what amenities and things will you need in the place of residence (or nearby) to make this temporary home more like a home? Do you mind sharing an apartment (a separate room) or do you want privacy (an entire apartment)? Do you smoke? Do you need to be able to bring guests? Do you need to feel safe?
Write them down and compare these important needs with the host’s description and the amenities listed. Read it carefully so as not to ask unnecessary questions. Experienced hosts tend to hate this and see it as an alarm (lack of attention to detail) to reject your booking.
Take my own needs, for example. My job is completely connected to the Internet, so the main thing I need is reliable and unlimited Wi-Fi at home. Second, obviously, since I spend a lot of time at the computer, a comfortable workspace would also be ideal. (I used to try sitting on the floor, leaning against a cardboard box with my laptop, and it was a lean city).
Then my important order: full access to the kitchen with kitchen equipment, refrigerator, dishes, etc., as well as to the laundry. Coffee machine bonus points. Then I need relative proximity to the grocery store and transportation. Extra glasses for a nearby gym or park, but not absolutely necessary if I can use public transportation.
So any place that is in a good and safe area has a lot of positive reviews, has wifi, a good workplace and kitchen, good enough for me to contact the owner. When choosing an area, I prefer to avoid the tourist areas, but I also need to make sure that it is safe for me to walk day and night.
- Have you made a list of your most important needs? Wi-Fi, laptop workspace, hairdryer, washing machine, kitchen, etc.? You don’t always have everything, but list your top 5.
- Have you read the description carefully and what the host provides?
- Don’t think too much about things that you cannot predict until you see this place.
5. Always have questions.
The description and amenities provided sounds like “Little House on the Prairie”, but there are always more questions to ask.
Here’s the thing: It’s important to understand how an Airbnb host treats their room, apartment, or home. Is it some kind of quick extra money, legitimate business, or something in between? This detail is important because if the host is really serious about Airbnb, they won’t risk your reviewing below four stars (as this could damage their rating and search visibility).
More importantly, however, it helps to improve the credibility of the photos, the credibility of the reviews and the area in which the place is located. For example, some Airbnb hosts might add a bunch of photos of nearby restaurants and cool travel photos to draw you in; or they get multiple corners of the same small room to hide the “flaws” or that it can be darn tiny. Here’s an example of observing different corners of the same room:
Ignoring this listing in particular, but you can see the sofa and lamp appear differently!
Just keep this in mind when evaluating a site. If you ever need to check the size and number of people that can fit comfortably in a room / room, ask the host. Ask clearer questions such as “Will the room / space be big enough for me to do yoga / flip / river dance every morning?” or something like that.
Since you cannot see the location until you arrive, it is very important to study the photos and think about the questions to ask the owner (which have not yet been included in their list). For example, ask if it’s safe to walk at night. Remember to show respect, because the owners are real people too.
- Have you read the reviews carefully and looked at the pictures?
- Have you forgotten that sometimes the owners are dishonest with the photos?
- Have you asked very specific follow-up questions?
6. Negotiating with the owner.
A huge number of successful hosts refer to their Airbnb as legitimate businesses, but most are not quite masters of hospitality or business. They are just your regular homeowners or apartment tenants, so they might be open to negotiations.
This Lifehacker article explains some of the intricacies of negotiation . As influential financial blogger JD Roth wrote, successful negotiations require three things: strength, time, and information. But since we work over the Internet, time doesn’t matter, but these two rules still apply:
- Strength comes from a good hand of cards: you have the right attitude, empathy (understanding what your master needs / wants and his or her problems), persistence and legitimacy.
- Information is no less valuable. “The more you know, the better your position,” writes Roth, and I cannot agree with that. Gather information by reading reviews, a little about the area, location and culture, and a description of the host; it is also the knowledge that you can yield if the owner pushes you away. We’ll get back to all of this shortly.
In general, these are your leverage, and as a guest, you automatically gain more power. On Airbnb, hosts usually want their space to be occupied by carefree and polite guests. Of course, every owner wants this. The hosts also strive to obtain financial security from the room they occupy. Your main advantage is offering a huge amount at once and a promise that you will behave.
Once you’ve determined that the area, location, and host suits your needs, contact via Contact Host (not through a booking) with four Ws in the following order:
- WHO? Name who you are and what you do (business trip or long trip) for a short reason. If you are a writer like me, for example, suggest a quick link to your blog / letter / portfolio.
- When? Let the host know how long you need to stay. (They already know when you will arrive based on your check-in date.)
- Which? Based on what you’ve read about host reviews and the like, pick something you like here and express your interest.
- Why? Here you can tell why you are interested in this place. For example, I like bright rooms with lots of natural light and a writing desk. If I see it in the picture, I will say so and add “… because I write and work better in this environment.” Because it’s important.
All of these help solidify your legitimacy, build trust, encourage empathy because you are a real person, and also make the host feel good because you complimented their place.
Make a request
Before making an offer, be sure to calculate the total from item number three and check the average rates of several similar Airbnb in the area. You collect information about Airbnb’s average monthly rental market so you can rebuttal or accept a fair offer. Mark the lowest price for such a piece and keep it in your back pocket. Here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- Mention that you are shopping and have found a couple of good places, but you really like the place, so you thought you’d get in touch first to see what they are capable of.
- Don’t be frugal enough to squeeze everything out, especially if you live with the owner. Otherwise, it will make things really awkward.
If you are not happy with the price or the Airbnb host is not playing catch, you can continue or continue. For the last game, include a link to another Airbnb that is cheaper, and indicate that you appreciate that they accepted your offer and questions, but your budget allows you to use <link to another Airbnb>.
In about 30% of cases, they can respond with a lower offer. Or you can make concessions: see if they can provide you with various amenities throughout your stay (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, towels, coffee, etc.); or lower cleaning fees (if that’s ridiculous).
Your success rate will obviously vary from host to host. Some people don’t need your “business”, especially if they are active and have a high booking rating. So I am very early in negotiations.
He responded by saying that he was giving me a 10% monthly discount.
It was a little more aggressive on my part. Expect hosts to resist negotiation attempts or ignore you, but that is the nature of negotiation. Fortunately, in this example, my host replied that he could do his best and gave me a reasonably reasonable estimate that I accepted.
After talking with many hosts in person, I know that more experienced hosts usually discourage this because they think the guests who are negotiating are creating more problems than they are worth. The point is also that most hosts know that they can make a lot more money if they acquire as many new Airbnb customers in a month as if they only accept one who takes care of an entire calendar.
While I can definitely understand their point of view, we, as regular guests, have slightly more advantages: length of stay and guaranteed reservations. They are especially strong, especially if the tourist season has already arrived. We can make the deal more enjoyable by making sure the host isn’t trying to cheat them, while remaining cordial and understanding. Here’s a scenario you can try:
I’m Stephanie from California. I am a travel writer who writes on my own blog FY! S and on Lifehacker.com (here’s a sample health article!) And I visit <any city> to write more and hope to live like a local. in the same time.
I am planning to stay X nights and found that people have a lot of good things to say about your home. I especially like the look of the room. The window table is perfect because I can concentrate and write.
With my length of stay, would you suggest a special [or “better” if they already have a discount rate] weekly / monthly [select one] rate? In my experience, some hosts kindly agreed [we’re setting a precedent]. I’m not going to create problems, but I have never been to <town> [only say it if it’s true] and am looking around to find a quiet, suitable place for myself for a long time.
Let me know and thanks for your attention!
Keep your message as short and to the point as possible. You don’t need epic yarn here. And as the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs on one Airbnb. Send messages to a couple of hosts and compare.
- Did you explore the area to find out what your overall speed was?
- Did you make sure you were cordial when negotiating? Do not try to throw everything in nickels. It will be embarrassing.
- Have you posted a couple of hosts? It’s rare that your number one pick is always in order.
7. Should you choose “superhosts”?
Superhosts are identified with a special icon. They earned this special status because they received great reviews and met several other requirements listed on the Airbnb site here . Basically, these hosts are popular and quite experienced. Airbnb reviews the host’s performance from time to time to see if someone becomes a superhost or loses status. Think of superhosts as “employees” who do their best on a regular basis.
Bad: Superhosts probably have really high churn rates. It is more likely that Superhosts will not give up on extended stays. As always, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Good: It makes sense to go with Superhost most of the time, especially in unfamiliar areas. You can count on them not to be scammers and to answer your questions in a timely manner. You can also use their listings as a reference and research to learn about the area or when you talk to other hosts.
One thing that can be played to your advantage is knowing that maintaining superhost status can be very demanding and tiring. Your possible leverage would be to let Superhost know that you are calm (assuming you are), can guarantee reservations for a specific period of time, and let Superhost sit back and relax a little.
- Not all superhosts are suitable for extended stays, but it’s worth asking!
8. Avoid transactions outside Airbnb … in most cases
There are scams, when you try to book something, they might first deny your credit card payment through Airbnb and tell you some kind of nonsense. Then they drag the external link and ask you to pay there. This should immediately sound suspicious to you. Do not follow the link!
Airbnb’s policy can (but not always) protect the guest and the host, so whenever possible, keep everything on Airbnb itself. This way, you can easily use Airbnb for disputes and also have a proper case for the credit card company in case something happens.
On the other hand, if you know the host for a while and both agree, you can get around the Airbnb service and other fees by contacting the host directly using Paypal or some similar payment service. Of course, you do this at your own risk, but I have done it several times to extend my stay without paying any additional fees.
9. First of all, don’t be an asshole.
Even if you are renting someone’s place, you are a guest in a good friend’s house. Make yourself at home, but treat things with respect.
Tell your host about everything you need in advance and he will let you know if he already has it or if he can somehow provide it within reasonable limits. It’s more just a courtesy so that you don’t surprise the host or make unfair demands. Yes, you pay for your room and food, but then again, these hosts are not a multi-million dollar corporation to obey your every whim.
Whenever possible, leave kind feedback for the host so everyone wins. Hope this all helped.