Airbnb employees abandon their apartments amid pandemic

Tess Pawlisch, right, has been living nomadically in and out of Airbnbs in Tulum, Mexico, since October.

Courtesy of Tess Pawlisch

Tess Pawlisch has worked in San Francisco for the past four years.

But this year, Pawlisch found herself writing business emails, hosting team meetings, and answering guest calls from hotel rooftops, hammocks and beaches in Tulum, Mexico.

“I decided to do something new and went to Tulum, one of the few places that is really open right now but still so lovely,” said Pawlisch, a communications professional. “After a pandemic and having been in San Francisco for so long, I just wanted something easy and beautiful.”

Pawlisch is part of a wave of working professionals who have abandoned their apartments for a nomadic lifestyle, taking advantage of their business decisions to support remote working throughout Covid-19. Many of these professionals have left their hometowns and are now jumping from Airbnb to Airbnb.

“This work can be exhausting at times, but at least it can be so looking at the blue sky in 80-degree weather,” Pawlisch said.

This growing lifestyle trend comes at the right time for Airbnb, which went public on Thursday. Airbnb shares quickly climbed to more than double their initial public offering price of $ 68. The company’s shares closed at $ 139.25 on Friday, giving Airbnb a market value of $ 83.2 billion on an undiluted basis. It is now worth almost as much as online travel mainstay Booking, which has a valuation of $ 85.6 billion, and more than many hotel chains such as Marriott, which has a market capitalization of over $ 41.7 billion. dollars.

Although Airbnb’s revenue in the last quarter was down 19% from the quarter last year as the coronavirus pandemic crushed the travel industry, the company rebounded much faster than its peers as townspeople have fled their closed towns for more rural retreats. The rebound began within two months of the pandemic, Airbnb said in its flyer.

“Make life exciting again”

Trey Ditto never imagined leaving his Brooklyn, New York apartment, but when the pandemic forced everyone to self-quarantine, he found himself sharing a workspace with his wife, who also had to work. at home, and their 2-year-old child. Almost immediately, the couple found an Airbnb in upstate New York that would be near the city but still provide them with enough space for everyone.

“We just couldn’t both work and raise a child in an apartment in New York City and not be able to leave or enjoy the outdoors,” said Ditto, who works in communications. “We were fortunate to find a house that met our size requirements and was far enough from New York where we felt far from the madness but close enough to New York where I could drive back.”

When it became clear that the coronavirus was not going to go away anytime soon, Idem and his wife moved to another Airbnb in Texas in September to be close to family for the remainder of 2020.

“If you had told me at the start of the year that I was going to travel across the country living with others, I would have laughed at you,” said Ditto, who had previously lived in New York City for 13 years.

Aishwarya Vardhana decided she wanted to get away from San Francisco after living locked in a small apartment with relatives during the first three months of quarantine. Vardhana was tired of the monotony and regretted the excitement of seeing friends or going to parties and concerts all over town. She and her friends decided to move to Airbnbs near national parks where they could hike and explore.

“Being locked up in San Francisco was claustrophobic,” Vardhana said. Traveling in national parks and staying at Airbnbs “it was really to make life exciting and energizing again”.

Vardhana was joined on her trip by her friend Anika Raghuvanshi, who said she no longer felt tied to a specific place after her company announced it would prioritize remote working. Vardhana and Raghuvanshi stayed with friends at Airbnbs in Montana, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

“It was really exciting to be able to see and experience the world more,” said Raghuvanshi. “It was the catalyst for me.”

Leona Marlene and her boyfriend decided to sell all of their belongings and move out of their San Francisco apartment in September to live nomadically in Airbnb rentals.

Courtesy of Leona Marlene

Biggest Problem: Unreliable Wi-Fi

Bouncing between Airbnbs isn’t always easy.

Emily Buckley, for example, used Airbnb in 2020 to stay with her boyfriend in Kansas City, Denver, Austin, New Orleans, and Atlanta, among several other cities. She enjoyed the freedom of the nomadic lifestyle, especially not knowing where they will go next.

But the couple encountered a few issues along the way. At one location, Buckley and her boyfriend arrived at an Airbnb considerably smaller than expected in the photos in the ad.

“It has been a difficult month,” she said.

At an Airbnb in Asheville, NC, they planned to meet another couple who are also professionals. When they arrived, they discovered that the internet connectivity was not reliable enough to get the job done. In the end, the four had to rent a second Airbnb for a week and go there just for the internet.

“We just attributed that to the trials and tribulations of living on the go and off Airbnbs – there’s an element of surprise,” said Buckley, a start-up executive.

In fact, unreliable Wi-Fi was the number one complaint among all Airbnb nomads polled by CNBC. Some have complained about dealing with a Wi-Fi that oscillates between electrifying speed and complete disconnection. Another nomad told CNBC he estimated that around 10% of the units he stayed in had poor Wi-Fi.

That’s why longtime nomad James Vaught and Mack Sullivan always sift through reviews for information about a unit’s Wi-Fi quality before booking a short stay. They also make sure to leave detailed feedback on Wi-Fi and internet speeds when they go. Plus, Sullivan and Vaught always rent units where they’ll have the whole place to themselves, meaning they won’t need to share the internet with the host family or other guests. They also tend to look for places that advertise a smart TV or Roku, indicating that it has at least enough internet connection to stream videos.

Nomads Mack Sullivan and James Vaught in an Airbnb where they stayed in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Courtesy of Mack Sullivan and James Vaught

“Between what they advertise and what is real, you just have to hope you have some good people who have written accurate reviews,” said Sullivan, who blogs on his nomadic experiences with Vaught.

Vaught and Sullivan have been living nomads since 2016. At the time, the two were working remotely in a motorhome. Later, they tended to sign short leases for apartments living like “slow fools”, as they call it. But since April 2020, the couple have been leading their nomadic lifestyle exclusively through Airbnb.

They appreciate that when they book through Airbnb, they know the total price they will pay from the moment they book. Unlike a short stay in an apartment, they don’t have to worry about paying utilities, deposits, or anything else.

Sullivan and Vaught also like that Airbnb tends to help customers with issues. They have used competing websites before and in one situation found themselves in a unit that was not as advertised and received little help from the company.

As Covid-19 vaccines begin to flow, some people will return to their previous lives.

Ditto and his family, for example, will move into a rental home at the end of the month. While Airbnb has been good to them in 2020, Ditto said he misses his own furniture and home feeling.

“You lose the feeling of being at home when you sleep in someone else’s bed and sit on someone else’s couch,” Ditto said.

Pawlisch, meanwhile, was able to lock down an apartment in San Francisco that she had been considering for a long time cheaply.

“Tulum doesn’t look real. It’s a fairy tale,” Pawlisch said. “But I’m ready to have a place of mine and feel a little more grounded.”

Others, however, have fallen in love with this lifestyle and plan to continue living it for the foreseeable future.

“Having that freedom is something I’ve never experienced in my life,” Buckley said. “I love this anticipation when we’re about to see our next Airbnb.”

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