Living in an Airbnb – the Easier Way to Relocate?
As soon as I began thinking about moving back to the UK after 15 years, my main concern was where I would live.
Much as I love my old home in the North-West, I have fallen in love with the weather and colours of the South. The Channel Islands would always be my first choice, but housing laws there make the islands difficult to settle in.
As a child, I had holidayed in Devon and Cornwall, and always wanted to go back as an adult. Plus, the South West counties are the closest I can be to the Channel Islands whilst still being on the mainland.
It is difficult to move back after so long. My credit is pretty rubbish after not being here for so long, so renting would be difficult without a guarantor ( a lot of letting agents are asking for these anyway in an unpredictable post-Covid world). I had a lot of frustrating rental experiences in the UK when my child was little, before we moved to Herm. We were lucky enough to have some lovely places to live, but more than once, homes were sold out from under us, and we struggled to get more than a 6 or 12 month lease.
We moved 8 times between January 2002 and January 2007. That was frustrating enough, but the worst part was that with every move came new accounts for gas, electricity, water, TV license etc. A lot of landlords and letting agents dictated the providers that we needed to use, which made even more stress, as often we had several different utility accounts in the process of being opened or closed at once.
Figuring out where to live would be difficult enough, but I have no patience for these other ‘adulting’ issues that are necessary in order to privately rent. I have lived in everything from one room to a huge house with a dressing room and writing studio, so size is never the defining issue.
Also, after years in ground-floor staff accommodation with no privacy, all I wanted was an upstairs window with a view! I missed houses and upstairs windows and backyards!
I have had nothing but positive experiences with Airbnb, and so for a year or so now, I have wondered about using it as a long-term alternative to renting. This is a relatively new lifestyle choice that is growing increasingly popular, but I read the few articles I could find, watched You Tube videos, and gleaned all the information I could.
I have used Airbnb in England and the US, and always successfully. It is important to research the listing, read all reviews, and the reviews of other properties the host may have. I find this information is a good way to figure out the accommodation address, and you can then walk around it on Google Earth to check out the neighbourhood, imagining how safe you would feel there, if it has good public transport connections, or if there may be options for work nearby.
Read the listing thoroughly and scrutinise pictures. I find that sometimes Airbnb has a weird lack of photos, but if you put the listing title into Google, you can often find the same accommodation on other sites with more information and more photos. Imagine fitting your daily routine into the place and if it would fill all your needs.
Airbnb also allows you to keep ‘wishlists’, so it is worth saving the listings that fit your needs so you can compare price and facilities etc, all in one place.
There are many benefits to Airbnb living (I know there are other similar sites, but Airbnb is the one I always seem to come back to).
It is perfectly legal to live out of Airbnb accommodation. It’s really no different to private renting, except that your agreement is just for nights, or weeks, or monthly.
All utilities and costs are included, with no additional cumbersome agreements, including heating, hot water, and wi-fi. Additionally, there are no security deposits to save for, and it is very freeing to have paid everything up front.
Many Airbnbs (depending on the listing) are furnished to a very high standard, with nice linen, fittings, kitchenware. You can have all the comforts of home without removal costs, and can just pick up and leave at a day’s notice (although if you do leave within the agreed rental period, it may be non-refundable, so make sure to read the cancellation policy also before booking).
Some places have a 7, 14 or 21 night maximum booking period. If you like a place, though, it is always worth contacting the host to ask about a longer stay. Your guest feedback from previous hosts is important, as future hosts could take this into account when considering a longer stay.
Airbnb tends to automatically discount for stays of 28 days or more, but contacting a host directly can get even more knocked off the price. Booking far in advance can also reap some good discounts.
I’m currently living in a lovely studio apartment in Cornwall. There are two of us sharing, and we have a bed, a sofa/fold-out futon in the lounge area, a dining table and chairs, a kitchen with hob and combi oven, and a bathroom. Most importantly, we have our own front door, and stunning sea views. We even look directly at a castle and a lighthouse!
The host lives next door, and she has another listing downstairs from us. We have use of a utility room downstairs, and the host provides new linens and towels whenever we need them. She even drops us a message now and then to let us know about community events that are going on in town that she thinks we might like. Although we have complete privacy, it is definitely helpful to have a local on hand to advise on good nearby restaurants and shops. It probably saved us a lot of time.
Although our apartment is beautifully furnished, I tend to nest and do my writing on the bed throughout the day. We asked our host if there was any chance of a little table for coffee, notebooks etc to have beside me, and she turned up 5 minutes later with a cute little stool that was perfect.
We are living on a very quiet road, with a large cemetery, lake and nature reserve right across the road from us, a beach right at the bottom of the road, and another about ten minutes’ walk away. It is winter, so we are hardly out sunbathing every day, but the walks and the views are stunning, and very conducive to creative pursuits.
Cost-wise, it is quite expensive, but that is because of the area we chose. Apartments to rent in this area start at £950 a month, unfurnished, up to £3000 a month for sea views. We are paying about £1250 per month for a prime location, fully furnished and equipped, with all utilities included. I know this is more than most can afford, but we had saved for this trip to be able to pay accommodation up front, and that was a huge help.
I work in hospitality, so I wanted a location that would have lots of work opportunities around. I have picked up part-time work in a hotel literally 6 minutes’ walk away. I work weekends there to help pay for our living costs, leaving weekdays for exploring and writing.
It is worth noting that I was honest with the hotel owner from the start. I told her I was living in an Airbnb, and literally just wanted a few weeks’ work over the festive period. There is no point pretending you will stay longer, and then leaving them in it. Transient and seasonal work is more common than ever before, especially in the hospitality industry, and it really isn’t something that puts employers off anymore. They are just grateful for the help.
Anyway, back to my point – Airbnb allowed me to move back to England with no hassle and no furniture. I brought two bags with me, but honestly, I have only unpacked one. This has been the easiest move of my life, physically speaking, and no additional red tape or paperwork. Just a 2-minute process to book online and pay via Paypal, and it is done.
We are currently researching options for next year. We’ll be looking for something a little less expensive, and pet-friendly (so Carl’s cats can join us), and although private renting may be cheaper, the freedom of a fully furnished month-to-month Airbnb is pretty difficult to resist.