For some renters, Airbnb has proven a way to fight off foreclosure, ride out unemployment, and even pay for life-saving medical procedures. Here are 10 of the most dramatic Airbnb stories you’ll ever read.
Airbnb Success Stories
Collaborative consumption pioneer Airbnb
’s ability to transform an extra room into a steady income can be a life-changer. For me
, the room-rental site provided the funds needed to bootstrap my iOS app
. But it has proven to be much more than that for others: a way to fight off foreclosure, ride out unemployment, and even pay for life-saving medical procedures. Here are 10 of the most dramatic Airbnb stories you’ll ever read.
Some of the people interviewed for this story asked that we withhold their last name for privacy reasons.
[Homepage image: Flickr user Foxtongue
Latasha: New York, NY
In 2008, Latasha discovered she had an enlarged thyroid. Even with insurance, the medical bill for treating the condition clocked in at about $6,000. “I funded my surgery through Airbnb hosting,” she says. Latasha also credits conversations with her guests with encouraging her to live a healthier life. “Knowing how super-fit I once was and seeing how healthy and active my guests were, the conversations I had were a real turning point for me.”
Maria: San Jose, CA
In 2007, Maria’s husband was murdered, leaving the unemployed nanny to raise and support their then-13-year-old daughter alone. “I was rather desperate and then one day I found Airbnb through one of those little ads on the side of the Facebook page,” she says. Within a week, she had her first guest. “I have to admit I was rather nervous about letting strangers into our home, but our first couple was really nice and so have all of the people we’ve had since.” The site has since become her primary source of income, and allowed her to make money while going back to school. “Airbnb has been a life-send for us. We couldn’t financially make it without it.”
Liz: London, UK
After 30 years of marriage, Liz’s husband ended their relationship over email, leaving her to deal with a mortgage she couldn’t afford. At age 55, she decided to move to London, enrolled in acupuncture school, and discovered Airbnb. The extra income gave her the money she needed to pay her mortgage and start a new career.
Michael And Eileen: Silver Spring, MD
After Michael was laid off from his job of 16 years as executive director of a ballet boarding school, he and his wife Eileen were unsure how they were going to keep paying for their underwater mortgage. Using Airbnb, they made $26,000 in one year, and have been able to stay in their home. “Airbnb has been a life-saver for us,” Eileen says. “Not only has it had a major impact on our income, but it has given us the opportunity to meet new people from around the world."
Maribeth: Berkeley, CA
After paying off their bills and mortgage, Maribeth and her husband, Tony, found that their jobs in the public sector didn’t leave much left over at the end of the month. But with three kids off at college, they had something else: a nearly empty five-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Berkeley. Airbnb let the empty nesters transform their empty space into a real retirement fund. “We’re finally starting to check off those destinations lingering on our bucket list,” Maribeth says.
Wolfgang: Berlin, Germany
When Wolfgang and his wife divorced, the empty space in his three-bedroom apartment served as a painful reminder of the breakup. Wolfgang credits Airbnb with letting him fill the space with new memories, and giving him the chance to improve his English by chatting with visitors. One of his favorite guests: An 80-year-old man who shared stories from his youth.
Saul And Ekaterina: San Franciso, CA
After a grueling three-year job search, Ekaterina finally found her dream job in San Francisco. The catch: She needed to move right away. But while Ekaterina and her husband Saul found an apartment quickly, it wouldn’t be ready for another month. “We needed a place to live for 30 days and we needed it yesterday, and a hotel would have been an impossible financial strain,” Saul says. Using Airbnb, they found an affordable temporary home almost immediately.
Johna: San Francisco, CA
In 2010, Johna’s husband lost his battle with lung cancer. To make ends meet, she converted her home of 20 years into two separate units, and began renting one of them on Airbnb. The extra funds allowed Johna, who retired in September 2011, to keep her home without returning to full-time work. “It was my husband’s dream to use our property as a trade,” Johna says. “It has changed my life completely. I know my husband would have been proud of me.”
Cynthia: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Cynthia was shy, struggled to make friends, and was rarely seen smiling. She attributes hosting on Airbnb to allowing her to overcome her shyness and build friendships with her guests. Seeing foreign tourists grateful for the attention she gave them helped her to build her own confidence, and be a happier person.
Daniela: Rome, Italy
Daniela felt trapped at her architecture desk job. “It was the same boring duties all the time and few professional opportunities,” she says. So when her job became a casualty of the crumbling Italian economy, she used Airbnb to transform her lost job into an opportunity, and now works from home as a web designer while hosting guests.