Airbnb living - The pros and cons

Moving to NYC has its complications… not least of which is finding somewhere to call home. While we went through that struggle we stayed in Airbnbs, and this is what two months of Airbnb living (plus a couple of prior experiences) taught me in the form of a trusty pros and cons list.

Pro - You get to feel like you’re living the lifestyle, not just being a pesky tourist. So many times people come back from holiday saying ‘we had an amazing time but I’m so happy to be back home’. With Airbnb you get the creature comforts of home life as well as the exciting new destination.

Con - Other people’s taste. If you’re looking for a hotel, great, there’s plenty and most won’t be too offensive in style as they don’t want to alienate customers. I don’t feel that this applies to Airbnbs. Our first Airbnb experience, some time ago, brought us face to face with a massive, framed black and white photograph of a child soldier holding a mahoosive gun. I could appreciate the story and the stunning photography, but no matter what the statement I don’t want a gun on my wall.

Pro - A more personal experience. You know the location is approved because this person lives there and if you’re lucky you’ll also get tips on living in the neighbourhood. The lovely people at our last Airbnb had us over for coffee beforehand to exchange keys and to let us know that, since they’re away all summer, we should feel free to help ourselves to the treats in the cupboards and the delicious homemade cookies in the freezer…mmm.

Con - Why aren’t they there? In a lot of cases this doesn’t matter at all: they’re living with their partner; they travel for half the year; they’re on a sabbatical etc. However, a place we stayed in in London was a new renovation - so new that there was work going on in the not-so-finished flat downstairs, with the shared front door permanently propped open for the builders (I presume, we didn't actually see any builders…). It didn’t bother us too much as we were only there for a night… however, I’d have had a strop on had it been any longer.

Pro - Washing. Unlike hotels, Airbnbs often have laundry in the building (not always in NYC, but most places). I never thought I’d be so excited about washing, but if you’re somewhere and you’ve got the weather all wrong, you don’t need to go out and buy something new (although it’s a great excuse) you can wash things if you’re wearing them more regularly than you thought.

Con - Unrealistic expectations. Our first Airbnb (years ago) was in Nolita, a super hip part of Manhattan, and despite it being teeny tiny the area was so gorgeous that I was instantly sold…was it worth researching? NO. No it wasn’t, the rent down there is insane. 

Pro - Food. When you’re on holiday eating out all the time can become the most expensive part of the experience. At the end of an exhausting/expensive day it’s easy to pop home and cook up an old favourite with the ready-made pantry. However, the food in NYC is amazing, and if you're staying in an Airbnb, the owner will usually leave recommendations in the area so you can hit the jackpot first time.

Con - The weird stares. Again, this might be NYC specific, but there’s a strong possibility that you’ll be staying in someone’s home in a building with lots of other people’s homes… If they don’t recognise you, you’re going to get some judgemental stares (NYC equivalent of curtain twitching). To make this worse, the Super and the rest of the building might not know they’re renting it out through Airbnb and you might have to pose as their friends looking after their plants (do cacti really need looking after?)

Pro - Cost. They are more cost efficient than hotels. If you stay for a long period of time a lot of Airbnbs have a weekly/monthly discount (thank goodness otherwise we’d have had to pack our bags and move back to the UK as it took so long to get our NYC home sorted.)

It was the best and only option for us, and we really enjoyed the luxuries that the Airbnbs had to offer (currently we still don't have much furniture so a bed is a luxury... I hear that hotels have them too), but now we’ve finally moved into our teeny tiny apartment I am glad to be free from the cons.

Any more to add to the list? What are your Airbnb experiences?