Collaborative consumption pioneer Airbnb’s ability to transform an extra room into a steady income can be a life-changer. For me, the room-rental site provided the funds needed to bootstrap my iOS app. But it has proven to be much more than that for others: a way to fight off foreclosure, ride out unemployment, and even pay for life-saving medical procedures. Here are some of the most dramatic Airbnb stories you’ll ever read.
Some of the people interviewed for this story asked that we withhold their last name for privacy reasons.
Liz: London, UK
After 30 years of marriage, Liz’s husband ended their relationship over email, leaving her to deal with a mortgage she couldn’t afford. At age 55, she decided to move to London, enrolled in acupuncture school, and discovered Airbnb. The extra income gave her the money she needed to pay her mortgage and start a new career.
Michael And Eileen: Silver Spring, MD
After Michael was laid off from his job of 16 years as executive director of a ballet boarding school, he and his wife Eileen were unsure how they were going to keep paying for their underwater mortgage. Using Airbnb, they made $26,000 in one year, and have been able to stay in their home. “Airbnb has been a life-saver for us,” Eileen says. “Not only has it had a major impact on our income, but it has given us the opportunity to meet new people from around the world."
Maribeth: Berkeley, CA
After paying off their bills and mortgage, Maribeth and her husband, Tony, found that their jobs in the public sector didn’t leave much left over at the end of the month. But with three kids off at college, they had something else: a nearly empty five-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Berkeley. Airbnb let the empty nesters transform their empty space into a real retirement fund. “We’re finally starting to check off those destinations lingering on our bucket list,” Maribeth says.
Wolfgang: Berlin, Germany
When Wolfgang and his wife divorced, the empty space in his three-bedroom apartment served as a painful reminder of the breakup. Wolfgang credits Airbnb with letting him fill the space with new memories, and giving him the chance to improve his English by chatting with visitors. One of his favorite guests: An 80-year-old man who shared stories from his youth.
Cynthia: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Cynthia was shy, struggled to make friends, and was rarely seen smiling. She attributes hosting on Airbnb to allowing her to overcome her shyness and build friendships with her guests. Seeing foreign tourists grateful for the attention she gave them helped her to build her own confidence, and be a happier person.
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