About 5 years ago I was planning a trip to a New York for 3 weeks and was super excited about it. Then I've started to look for hotels and realized the ugly truth - the prices for hotels were above the roof. It was more than 4000$ for this period of time. I was really upset and started looking for alternatives. That's what brought me to Airbnb. And that my first experience with the platform.
When Airbnb units make the most sense?
Before coming to any conclusions, we should realize that every type of accommodation serves its specific purpose. Airbnb makes the most sense for budget-minded travelers, especially who are seeking long-term solutions to stay for a few weeks or even months.
When hotels make the most sense?
Hotels are traditional types of accommodation and therefore are targeted more for a short-term vacation-like stay. That doesn't mean that hotels are not for monthly stays, but still, traditionally hotels are more about the service, rather than a long-stay price. Hotels have a much higher maintenance cost and therefore, serve a different purpose.
How to book Airbnb rooms/apartments at the best price?
First of all, when booking a room or apartment you need to realize that there are ordinary people behind those. It's not a hotel management, but a real people that you could talk to. Of course, it's good and not so good at the same time. It's good that you can talk to the person and ask any questions about the place and it's bad that there is no management behind to protect you better. For example, in order to check in, you need to talk to your host and agree on a time. With hotels, most likely you don't need to do so and can be more flexible about check-in time.
Second of all, since there are real people behind in the case of Airbnb, you could always try to negotiate the monthly price in your favor. You might not succeed, but at least you will be sure that this is the best price you could find. And it's good for a host too, because quite likely they might prefer a longer stay over the short one.
Finally, Airbnb has a management behind as well and in case if you run into any problems, they will help you resolve those. So it's a win-win for both you and your apartment host.
Example of a negotiation letter:
Hello [host name],
I'm interested in renting your beautiful apartment. I'm a quiet and responsible person. I work remotely as an engineer. My monthly budget is [price] a month, so if you are willing to adjust the rate I would be happy to book it.
You would either receive an offer you want, or it will decline. Another option is that they will lower the price, but not exactly to the point you want. Only you can decide if you are fine with the offer or not. Feel free to ask once again.
What level of privacy to expect if you book a room?
When we think about renting a room, sometimes bad things come to our mind. For example, it's easy to assume that the room will not have a separate entrance and no attached bathroom. But it's not always the case and it's not uncommon to see a room with a private bathroom and private entrance. That means that if you care about privacy (I personally do!) you could rent something that would be at an affordable price and without sacrificing privacy too much.
What problems might you run into?
There is no guarantee anywhere in the world for anything, right? So be prepared for the good, but have a backup plan if something doesn't work out. For example, I once booked an Airbnb stay and was standing in front of his house, but he never appeared. I had a backup plan, so I just booked a motel instead and asked Airbnb for a refund. I've got my refund and it all turned out well at the end, but it was not the best experience.
Can you live off Airbnb units instead of rental units?
The short answer is "Yes, sure" and the longer answer "It depends on so many variables".
The platform allows the booking of the apartment/room for up to 6 months. If you are ready to commit to such a long-term, then sure go ahead. Not all hosts will be fine with that, but some would be happy with this length of stay.
Most likely renting locally and signing a least would be a better deal anyway. But you should also consider that you are not paying for the internet, for utilities and don't need to buy any furniture. But when booking for that long every single detail should matter. Does it have a kitchen? How safe is the neighborhood? Is it noisy around the apartment or acceptable?
For sure you can live off Airbnb properties and there are benefits (e.g no need to sign a lease or put the deposit), but evaluating all the details is a must.
Last but not least, if you are willing to rent an apartment on Airbnb, please use my link here. It will give a discount to you and a small bonus for me so I could keep writing new useful articles for you.