Airbnb- friend or foe?

For those of you who know me, you might be familiar with my original site based in Moscow, Nothomesyndrome.com.

This is the very first post of Not Home Syndrome- Barcelona edition.

It’s true, I officially moved here 23 days ago. And for 23 days I’ve been enjoying this thing called “sunlight”. How easy is it to pick up and move to a new city? Well, it  depends on the city in question. How about Barcelona, for example? Not as easy as I thought, as it turns out!

Firstly, I was expecting the real estate to be way cheaper than Moscow when it turned out to be comparable. Everyone suggested me to use websites that are the equivalent of cian.ru (but not) to look for a flat.

Websites that I scoured relentlessly for 4 weeks:

  1. idealista
  2. piso.com
  3. habitaclia

No one got back to a single one of my messages or emails. Once I arrived to Barcelona and holed up in an Air Bnb room rental, I started panic. I took on a more desperate approach- cold calling semi-decent listings that had been put up most recently. Barely any of the numbers connected to real estate agents. Those that did pick up were not keen to be bothered to make an appointment for me to check out the listing. I felt like Julia Roberts in the shopping scene in Pretty Woman.

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“I have money to spend on this apartment!”

Except I didn’t, really, because it turns out that real estate in Barcelona is more expensive than I thought. “Thanks, Airbnb, for skyrocketing rent prices,” I mumbled from my Airbnb rented room. “If you wanted to spend 600 euros on a nice flat in the centre of town, you should have moved to Valencia,” my Airbnb host told me. According to the Guardian, rent in Barcelona has risen 23% in 3 years. Flats that are up for rent on the site without a license are vulnerable to getting busted and fined. It sounds horrible that those with extra capital are able to scoop up properties in desirable areas, thus pushing out the  local community.

Yet, there are people like my host, Rosa, who rents out just one of her bedrooms. In addition to earning extra cash for an unused bedroom, she gets to meet people from all over the world. She’s not hogging the real estate market by lending her one bedroom, and she helps poor travellers like me avoid hotel prices. She enjoys meeting people from all over the world, which is apparent by her open and chatty nature.

In the end, I might not have found my own place for a long time if it weren’t for Rosa. I was seriously considering moving into some dives like the ones in this video “Anuncios de Pisos Lamentables,”

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but Rosa swooped in to save the day. She saw a rental sign on a nearby building and rushed home to place the call to the agent for me. Now Rosa and I are neighbours 🙂 Airbnb love story.

It’s obviously unfair that Airbnb’s services are causing rapid inflation of housing markets in cities across Europe. Renters with the extra capital to snap up multiple properties and re-sublet them on Airbnb are pushing out local communities and artificially raising the price of housing. But those who rent out single bedrooms like Rosa does, opening her household to travellers and giving them a real taste of local culture and kind hospitality, are hardly the problem.

 

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