He Said She Said – AirBnB

Today we’re bringing you another round of He Said/She Said.  These posts are really your chance as readers to hear how discussions (and sometimes disagreements) play out when managing our lives with each other.  For a look at some of the past He Said/She Said discussions – check ‘em out here.


The Background On Today’s Conversation

If you’re not familiar with AirBnB, here’s the blurb from their site.

Airbnb is a social website that connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.”

Basically, you can either rent out space in your own place, or rent space in someone else’s place on a nightly basis.  Like staying over at a friend’s house, except you don’t really know them and you’re paying them for the privilege.

A couple of weeks ago, I screwed up our hotel reservations and got the PoPs caught in a jam where there was literally no room in traditional hotels nearby a race that I was running. Okay, there were a couple of rooms.  But they were about $600/night and weren’t actually convenient.  So not really an option.  In desperation, I turned to AirBnB, which we had never used before.  I ended up finding a place to stay that was fairly convenient and actually cost less than the hotel we were originally intending to stay at.  Nice, right?

Now, as I mentioned on our January Income Statement, I’ve booked one more race for the running season, but I’ll be traveling out of state for this one so will be gone a couple of nights.  After our success with AirBnB the first time, I checked and I could save about $120 ($60 per night) by using AirBnB to stay with a random internet dude (we’ll call him RID) who has pretty solid reviews from a few folks who have stayed there in the past.  But unlike the last time we used AirBnB, I’d be by myself without Mr. PoP as an escort.

So, do I stay with RID and save us $120?  Or is Mr. PoP going to lose too much sleep worrying I’m going to fall madly in love with RID and leave him forever?

He Said

There is a fine line between “Frugal” and “killed by an axe-murder”, and I’m not really convinced that AirBnB is on the right side. We used AirBnB in a pinch before, and Mrs. PoP assured me that we were staying with a med student who worked nights. Awesome! Except that the med student turned out to be a stripper with lots of weird bruises and a boyfriend who came back at 10AM after the race and offered us post-race tequilla shots.  [Mrs. PoP here – I don’t think she was a stripper, and I said I *thought* she was a med student.  The bruises are true, as is the offer of post-race shots.  Though I think it was rum.  But they were nice people!]

I mentioned the possibility of an axe murder this during our first foray with AirBnB. Mrs. PoP told me that there was an insurance policy for using the service, and that if either of us survived the other one would get a million dollars in compensation. I haven’t done a discounted cash-flow on her lately, but I would rather have my wife rather than a million bucks.

AirBnB invites what Taleb calls a Black Swan – an improbable event with huge consequences. Sure, its unlikely that anything will happen to Mrs. PoP if she uses AirBnB, but the small chance is outweighed by how bad it would be if something did happen. I say pay the hundred and twenty bucks…

She Said

If it were all the same to Mr. PoP, I’d totally do AirBnB.  Seriously, I could save $120!  (God, I am cheap…)

It’s more than the money, I swear.  Honestly, I think the idea of AirBnB is pretty cool.  It’s like those old-school travel clubs (like this one) where members stay on the cheap with other members strippers.  [Correction courtesy of Mr. PoP.]  You get to meet like-minded people and get the inside track on what’s hot (and what’s not) from a local person’s perspective.  At this point in our lives, we don’t have as many vacation days as we’d like for travel, so anything that we can do to get more authentic experiences in the limited time we have is pretty sweet.  This will be my first visit to the town where I’ll be racing and I’ll only be there for three days, so local tips on what’s neat will definitely be appreciated.

There’s also the fact that, IMHO, I’m a pretty awesome houseguest.  (Anyone who lives in St. Louis want to test the theory out for FinCon 13 this fall?)  I’m pretty laid back when it comes to staying in someone else’s space.  When I visit friends, I totally get that I’m invading their space.  Heck, they do it right back when they come to visit me.  So when they want to hang out and talk with me, that’s cool.  If they need some space (or have to work while I’m in town), I’m totally okay doing my own thing, too.  Air mattress on the floor of the living room at a friend’s place?  It’s all good.  And I know AirBnB hosts aren’t friends in the same way – though who knows, maybe RID and I could become BFFs! – but I’m pretty sure it being a business transaction wouldn’t change my general houseguest-MO.

Lastly, I’m super trusting.  I think it’s because I have trouble putting myself in other peoples’ shoes (part of those aspie tendencies).  I know if I were an AirBnB host, I would never think about stealing from or harming the person staying with me.  So until Mr. PoP said, “they’re going to kill us in the night!” about our last AirBnB hosts, the thought had honestly never occurred to me.

But, since it bugs Mr. PoP and seems like something he would lose sleep over, I’m conceding this one.  It’s just not worth $120 to make my husband worry about me unnecessarily for 3 days.


What do you think?  Do you think Mr. PoP’s being too much of a worry-wart?  Or that Mrs. PoP is a little too trusting of RIDs?

72 comments to He Said She Said – AirBnB

  • CR

    I’d heard of Airbnb before but I’ve never looked into it. I am taking a business trip to New York City in a few months and I am going to stay an extra day to check out the sights. All the hotel rooms are $200+ so I’m definitely going to think about Airbnb now.
    Regarding black swan events, if you really look at it from a statistical perspective, you are way more likely to be murdered by a family member than a stranger you meet on airbnb. Although I guess staying in his/her house probably shakes up the probabilities quite a bit.
    CR recently posted..Impulse Investing Beats Impulse Shopping EverytimeMy Profile

  • Greg wouldn’t let me stay with anyone we didn’t know alone either!!! And I’m not sure I would want to. I don’t want to end up on a Dateline special!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Catastrophic Events That Will Keep You Up at NightMy Profile

  • In my twenties, I totally would have done something like this. I used to think “Eh, what’s the worst that can happen?” Luckily, the worst never happened, but I had enough bad experiences that by the time I hit 30, I stopped taking so many chances. Every year I feel like I become a little more paranoid and a little less trusting of others. I’ve seen a lot on personal finance blogs about AirBnB, and have to admit the idea makes me uneasy. Me personally, I think it’s entirely too big of a risk for this single young(ish) girl to take. I’m siding with Mr.PoP on this one. But hey, you have an awesome story to tell from your one experience!
    Ms. W recently posted..I’m in the negative. Now what?My Profile

    • I know I definitely took more chances when I was younger – heck when I was younger (and unmarried) Mr. PoP’s opinion on something like this wouldn’t have mattered.
      I look back at some of the sketchy places that I lived and neighborhoods that I walked through at 2 in the morning and realize I played the odds with my safety more than I thought about at the time.

  • There’s nothing guaranteeing you won’t end up at Norman Bates’ hotel either…

    Does Air BNB provide (genuine) reviews, and if so can you pick one with a long list of reviews? Presumably any axe murderer in waiting who has waited long enough might skip over you too.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Academia is just a jobMy Profile

    • Going by AirBnB’s website/marketing, all the reviews are confirmed reviews from people who have paid through AirBnB to stay there. For the places I looked, there were only a handful (maybe 4-6?) reviews for each. Maybe the service will get better as more people use it, much like Angie’s List.

  • Like most things, both sides have a point.

    From a purely “pennies planted” point of view, I’d look at the $120 as an insurance premium on the risk that something bad can happen. “Something bad” in this case covers a whole host of events, from getting hit on to (shudder) physical harm. And it’s (unfortunately) worse for a woman alone than either a couple or a man alone. (No sexist innuendo, just a statistical calculation of risk.)

    I get the delight of saving $120, because I’m as cheap. But in balance I’d side with Mr. on this one. $120 is a cheap insurance premium on this one. If the Mr. went along I’d have gone for the savings, but the missus alone, no.

    • I like the idea of looking at it as an insurance premium.
      And you’re right – it is unfortunately worse for women traveling alone. But I tend not to focus on that or get scared about it unless someone asks me about it. When I lived in an awful neighborhood (blocks from “the projects”), I remember one day walking home with grocery bags when someone pulled over and asked me if I was lost, scared, or needed help. Not lost, didn’t need help, and wasn’t scared until you reminded me how bad the hood was, thanks!

  • Well if it meant that much to Mr. POP’s peace of mind, I’d follow his lead. I’d probably do it myself, although maybe research another option to stay with a female? or have a private entrance/space of my own/guest house type thing so I would feel safer. In this case though, I’m going to side with him. :)
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Longing for the Simple TimesMy Profile

    • I did look for female hosts, but it looks like female hosts have realized they can charge a premium and do! In the city I checked female hosts bthat only accepted female guests were right around the price of a low-mid range hotel – like a Hampton Inn. I’m glad that the ladies are being capitalistic about recognizing their market demand, but sure makes it harder to defend staying there when Hampton Inn is just $10 more.

  • We’ve used Airbnb before and we really loved it. I don’t think I’d ever rent out my current house (and I do live in St. Louis :) ) just because I am not trusting of other people haha.

    I don’t think I would stay in a place where you’re just renting a room in a house though, I’d be too afraid! I’ve only ever rented the whole place.
    Michelle recently posted..#Tag: Getting to Know the “Person” Behind the Personal Finance BlogMy Profile

  • Sounds like a great way to end up staring in the “Voyeur” section of Youporn.


  • We rented a room with a bathroom in DC for a week. We…welll I researched a lot and read many reviews. I went with my husband so I felt safe. Plus, I love surrounding myself with locals.
    If I were to go on my own, I would probably not stay at Airbnb on my own unless it was a female host.
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..I Filed our 2012 TaxesMy Profile

  • My fiance and I are going to Paris in April, and we drew the line at hostels. I love saving money, but I agree with Mr. PoP. I’m too much of a scaredy cat to try out the service.
    Tina @ My Shiny Pennies recently posted..How I Save on GroceriesMy Profile

    • I did hostels when I was younger, and they were great when we were traveling in groups. Usually 4-6 of us in a group could get one room together and were only sharing sleeping space with people we all knew. I think some hostels have smaller private rooms that they charge a small premium for.
      Have fun in Paris! I’ve never been there, but would love to see the Louvre.

  • Love the idea of AirBnB. But I don’t think I’m sold on it. There’d be too many questions swirling around in my head. “Were these sheets washed? Do they have cameras installed in the bathroom? Will they leave a mint on my pillow?”

    And in this case, not even a remote chance I’d let Joanna do it solo. Sorry, Mrs. PoP.
    Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget recently posted..Getting Personal About Personal FinanceMy Profile

    • See, those are the questions that would absolutely not occur to me. In my mind not washing sheets for guests isn’t an option and who installs cameras in the bathroom? As for the mint on the pillow – thanks for the reminder. That’s just what I forgot to provide for our current house guests. (long time friends – not random internet dudes.) =)

  • Hilarious article! Love your humor! If both of you were traveling together, I’d say go for it and save the money. But, since you are a female and traveling alone, spend the $120 and stay in a name brand hotel :-) :-)

    • I think that’s going to be the game plan. Though even if we were traveling together, I think Mr. PoP would want to be pretty involved with the research to stay with random people again. =)

  • I can see both sides of the story. I love the savings, but who knows what you’ll be walking into. I’d probably have to side with Mr. Pop on this one simply because I know that I would lose the fight with Mrs. Frugal Rules on this issue. :)
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Taking the Plunge: Why I Hate Being Self-EmployedMy Profile

  • I have used couchsurfing and airbnb a lot, and pictures/references don’t lie, especially in the case of airbnb. On CS, since you don’t pay, people are often afraid to put a bad reference, and it is hard to have a bad ref removed. Whereas as a paid site Airbnb offers that peace of mind. I would go with RID.
    Pauline recently posted..Installing a water pump: costs and tutorialMy Profile

    • Thank you, Pauline! Love the perspective from someone who has been there and used both. =). I think couch surfing is cool, but the lack of reliable reviews is a little sketchy feeling. Does your boyfriend ever worry about you on trips like that?

  • I wouldn’t do it and I wouldn’t like my wife doing it either. There are too many variables out of my control.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..America Saves Week – The Dwindling Savings RateMy Profile

  • I just think it’s a little inappropriate for a married woman to stay in a house alone with another man–call me old fashioned. I know we had Eric’s best man from his wedding spend the weekend with us, and one night Eric had to work the night shift, so his friend ended up spending the night somewhere else, and we didn’t even tell him to! I think he felt a little weird about just being there with me, which I sort of agreed.
    That being said, I also see the safety thing. I feel safer with my husband doing the AirBnB thing but definitely not on my own.

    • Hey Old Fashioned ! Jk =).
      Did Eric ask your friend to leave, or did you guys just know each other well enough that he knew it would make you feel weird.
      Now that you mention it, an old friend of Mr PoP’s was in town a few months back, and he chose to stay at Mr PoP’s parents’ place rather than ours when Mr PoP went out of town overnight. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but maybe he got the same memo your friend did. =)

  • I would definitely try Airbnb. I don’t think we’ll be using it as we travel as it’s not really a budget option, however. I’d also be keen to use it to rent out a room when we buy a place (beats having permanent flatmates)!

    If I was travelling alone, I would still definitely be open to couchsurfing and Airbnb a’la Pauline. But I’d be stringent about checking ratings, go with my gut and be very choosy.
    eemusings recently posted..Why travel abroad? Four reasons I want to travel the world…My Profile

    • I think if Mr PoP wasn’t in the mix, I’d probably be like you and Pauline, too. If/ when you do start renting out a room, I’d love to hear about it!

  • I’m with Mr. PoP on this one. From what Mr. PoP said in your V-day post I’m led to believe that you’re an attractive woman. So who knows if Rid could control himself alone with you.
    Plus, I’m not sure if the savings would be worth Mr. PoP’s sleepless nights or the possibility of something horrible happening. Think of the extra money spent on a hotel room as an emergency fund for your safety.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..Profit From Your Passion: It’s not always possible.My Profile

  • I’m confident bf would be completely paranoid and would not want me to stay with someone I didn’t know. Even going with him as an escort, I’m still not sure I’d feel totally comfortable. Sometimes I don’t sleep well even when ‘m at hotels, so I probably wouldn’t sleep well at a stranger’s home.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Financial Lessons Learned From My 80 Year Old GrandmaMy Profile

    • I slept like a baby when we tried AirBnB a couple weeks ago. The bed was actually more comfy than many motel beds. =).
      Sleeping is rarely a problem for me.

  • I’m using AirBnB for a trip right now, but I’ll only pick from places where I get the whole house. I’m with Mr PoP on this one. The last thing I’d want is for Cheryl to go stay with “some nice dude” who ends up being some “not-so-nice dude.”
    AverageJoe recently posted..How To Increase Your Yield Through MicroloansMy Profile

    • I get that, and if I were traveling with a bunch of people or a whole family, the whole place might make sense. But so far in my searches, getting the whole place neglects any cost savings over a hotel, and they tend to be further away and require a car (making it more expensive for me).
      So hotel it is.

  • I think sites like these are a great way to save some $$, but I’m not sure if I could stomach staying WITH someone, especially alone. Could you not find an apartment all to yourself? Or at least take a friend or Mr. P with you.

    Not to be a downer, but there are a million other horrific scenarios that could happen to you in this situation aside from being murdered! And I would rather have you than a million dollars as well, lady!
    Lauren @ L Bee and the Money Tree recently posted..Insurance Stinks Until…….My Profile

    • The trip is at a bad time for Mr PoP’s work schedule, otherwise he’d be there. He’s my race support team and has met me at the finish line of every marathon I’ve ever run. This will be the first where he won’t see me cross the finish. =(.

  • I love the idea of AirBnB and am definitely planning on using it this summer, that said, I don’t think I would rent a room by myself, maybe an entire apartment, but not a room. I’m one of those people who hears a bump in the night and thinks it’s an axe murdered. :)
    Jordann @ My Alternate Life recently posted..Dealing with Debt as a MillenialMy Profile

    • There are bumps in the night? When I sleep, I am dead to the world. The irony of being an RA was that one of your duties was to run the halls and wake people up if a fire alarm went off. More than once, I was the last person on my wing to wake up to the fire alarms and I was running the halls that were already empty. =).

  • I probably wouldn’t have to worry about the wife because there is no way she would do it even to save some money. If it were an entire home or apartment that might be different.
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..Daycare-You Are The Voice For Your ChildrenMy Profile

    • Not going to lie, I thought more people would be all about it! Definitely didn’t realize I’d have so few in agreement with my view on AirBnB. Maybe this doesn’t bode well for AirBnB as a business venture… =)

  • I’d have to agree with Mr. PoP on this one – it’s stressful enough with race jitters, don’t want to tack on “hope I don’t get murdered” jitters, too. Good luck with the race and holler if you ever do an SD one (I’m almost always out there running or cheering on my friends)!
    anna recently posted..Tokyo, JapanMy Profile

    • I’ll definitely holler if I’m ever out in SD for a race, but living in Florida, I don’t get out to SoCal all that often anymore. You do the same if you ever run a FL race =)

  • When I lived downtown Chicago I debated about listing my place on airbnb to make a little extra money but I was too worried about someone stealing all my stuff. I hear good things about the site but would never stay at a place by myself.
    Kasey recently posted..My debt story… Part oneMy Profile

    • I think for hosts that’s why they have the insurance policy – so you’re protected if someone steals or breaks your stuff. Still a hassle, but you’ve got some coverage.

      • Karen Anne

        Some property money can’t replace, though. Still missing some things my parents and brother gave me that got stolen from my apartment decades ago.

  • No, no, no! Don’t do it! The mister is right! There’s just too many ways that could go wrong…my mind’s racing and I’m even thinking, “Maybe he created ‘visitor’ profiles to give himself positive reviews as a host!” Even though I’m sure that’s not what’s actually going on. I wouldn’t stay any of those places by myself, period, but especially not as a woman staying with a man.
    femmefrugality recently posted..The Bible: A GiveawayMy Profile

    • See, these kinds of thoughts would never race through my head. Just wouldn’t happen at all! I guess this is why Mr. PoP and I are good for one another. We even each other out.

  • We considered renting out our spare room with AirBnB a couple of months ago, but ultimately decided against it for the same reasons you’re concerned about. You never know who you’ve inviting into your house, and they could be there when we’re not. I’m sure most people are completely normal, but that one bad egg could spoil the whole experience. Even if they were totally cool and normal, they could forget to lock the front door, allowing someone else to break into the house. I’ve also read that their insurance policy isn’t quite as easy to deal with as you’d expect. In the end, there are just too many unknowns for my taste.
    Lyn @ Pretty Frugal recently posted..Adventures in Short Sales, Part III: Falling Up (In Price)My Profile

  • I have to rule with Mr PoP on this one. My husband would flip if I stayed with some unknown male stranger. Not that he wouldn’t trust me, it just seems a bit weird. I like the whole idea of Airbnb, but I don’t think I could stay with a stranger, man or woman, by myself.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Money Memories-Canon Rebel T4i DSLR GiveawayMy Profile

    • Not gonna lie, I’m surprised that so few people were on my side with this one. Really makes me question the viability of AirBnB’s business strategy if this many people are pretty adamant against using it.

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  • Kelly

    airbnb doesn’t freak me out as much as the people posting on here saying they wouldn’t let their wives/girlfriends use it. That’s kind of weird that some women have to ask their husbands/boyfriends to do things, and it makes me pretty damn happy I’m single.

    “I’m with Mr. PoP on this one. From what Mr. PoP said in your V-day post I’m led to believe that you’re an attractive woman. So who knows if Rid could control himself alone with you.”

    That is fucking creepy Justin. Rape is about power and control, not an uncontrollable sexual desire.

  • Sara

    Hey Mrs. Pop,

    I have been using couch surfing a lot and just this summer stayed with a lovely couple in Edinburgh together with my boyfriend.

    My feeling was that the hosts from air bnb were very professional, this was their side income acting as an enabler for them to pursue musical careers. Thus, I would definately be comfortable staying bu myself at another host. But I would also advise you to read and value the reviews. From my experience with couch surfing I learned that a lot of information is given between the lines in a review.


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  • Simeon

    A bit late for a reply, but I actually rent out a room in my house. I was a bit worried when I started since I am a male host and I completely understand the apprehension a women might have booking my room. I actually get quite a bit of bookings from female travelers, and from what I could tell and from the reviews they left me, they enjoyed there stay and felt safe, which isn’t a surprise to me since I do my best to be respectful. But, still, at least when I started with no reviews, I was a bit surprised how many didn’t really communicate much with me before hand to get a sense of what type of person I am. So, what I’m saying is airbnb is great—I use it myself when traveling and have never been disappointed—but do a bit of research: If there’s reviews, read them to get an idea what it’s like being a guest. Once you book, you should receive the host’s full name so do a quick google search of the name since these days most are heavily connected to various forms of social media (you can find out quite a bit with social media these days; as a host, I do this for every guest new to airbnb who don’t have reviews yet). Basically, airbnb is good when you know how to use it correctly.