Wander is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.
How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.
How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.
To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.Show less
I'm a big fan of Airbnb—you may have seen my 2017 post about the Airbnb hosts I enjoyed visiting the most during our whirlwind year abroad.
In 2018 my husband and I decided we needed to settle down for a while. After spending the previous 12 months exploring a huge chunk of the world, we were ready for some home comforts. We had pretty much drained our savings account too, so we needed to settle down somewhere we could get good jobs that paid well!
With all of Europe at our feet, and family roots in Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Portsmouth, we promptly ignored all of those options and chose to move to London (like every other Kiwi, it seems). The appeals were many:
- Its array of things to see and do,
- Its locality to Europe,
- The number of friends we already had living there,
- Our British passports (meaning we could work without visas)
- And for the massive number of Email Marketing and Fintech roles available for us to pick from.
But, getting set up in a new city isn't easy. We needed a place to stay that didn’t cost the Earth and gave us the best chance at slipping back into office life.
Instead of rushing into the first available flat we found, we considered our options. We had already exhausted our free nights in friends' homes and we hadn’t been paid yet for the jobs we had managed to pick up, so we needed to use the New Zealand Dollars sitting in our ever-shrinking savings account. We turned to Airbnb.
Airbnb offers a bunch of great stuff for someone moving to a new city:
Hosts can offer discounted rates for 30+ days.
We weren’t interested in just spending a few nights in a place. We wanted to stay somewhere for a month or maybe more! We needed a break from carrying around our backpacks, and people like our new bank and our new employers needed somewhere they could send us mail. We were in it for the long run.
This came with some challenges:
- Some hosts only want people to stay for the weekend.
- Some hosts look great, but they have a booking for 2 of the 32 days you want to stay that they don’t want to cancel.
- Some hosts aren’t interested in offering a monthly discount.
But then we found a whole lot of lovely hosts who were willing to open their homes up to us for 30 or more days. And they took the advice the Airbnb offers and discounted our room rate. In fact, we spent a total of 10 weeks across two Airbnbs and those 10 weeks cost us the same amount as our first 10 weeks in our new London flat. Score!
It lets you 'try' a suburb before you commit to renting your own place.
We had a pretty good idea of where we wanted to base ourselves, but we wanted to make sure where we chose to settle down would suit us "in real life." Using Airbnb to find a room in the suburb we liked meant we could see what we thought of the amenities, transport links and nearby spots.
Let's be honest, just because Citymapper says there's a bus from point A to point B at 8 AM doesn't mean you’ll be able to board that bus because it's jam-packed full. These are things you usually learn through experience.
Also, living in someone else's space lets you engage with them and ask them to point out all the stuff they love in the suburb—we asked about favourite cafes for breakfast, favourite wine & cheese bars, the best supermarkets and the streets we should avoid…
It gives you at least one person you know in a new city.
We were lucky to have some friends in the same city as us but while we were getting set up they were still living their normal lives, so it's not like we got to see them every day! Having someone else there in the house with you is a gentle way to make at least one friend while you’re getting used to a new space. And if you’re lucky you’ll stay friends even after you’ve gone. We were lucky to get some great recommendations about places to go, and things to see and since getting our own flat, we’ve even had our old hosts around for dinner! Aww!
It means you can hit the ground running.
Arriving to a new home away from home and being handed the wifi password, pointed to the light switches and fridge, and having a nice hot shower is actually the best. If you move straight into a flat you've got to deal with connecting all those utilities (and the setup fees, wait times, and occasional hiccups that come with) before you can enjoy a cup of tea and a breather. Who wants that stress on top of arriving in a new place?
It lets you still feel a little bit like you're on holiday.
I won't lie. I loved the fact that in our first Airbnb we had a cleaner who changed our sheets once a week and cleaned the bathroom and kitchen. Now that we're in our own place, we are back to sharing the mundane chores (I have found this awesome static mop* to use though...). But in those first weeks, it meant we could go explore the city all weekend and not worry about our life admin. Bliss!
All good things must end though, right? We loved our time being long-term Airbnb guests, but when the chance came to move into our own flat, we jumped at the opportunity.
And now? Well... I'd love to say we're amazing Airbnb hosts who are making the lives of travelers that much better, but our lease says we're not allowed. So we're not.
It has given us food for thought, though, when we go home to Wellington, New Zealand and return to our little house... But that's a story for another year and another international move.
*This is an affiliate link. If you go on to purchase Amazon will reward me without charging you any more. It's win/win!