I’ve had mixed experiences using Airbnb over the past few months. I’ve had no issues staying in Airbnb homes when the host has been very ‘hands off’, especially on short-term stays. I’ve found long-terms stays to be extremely difficult though, including the one I’m at currently. While I can usually deal with limited initial interaction with the host, I find that anything longer term forces me to have to explain behavior that neurotypical people would find ‘odd’, mainly involving my social anxiety, PTSD and even simply my introversion. In ‘private room’ type accommodation, I’ve felt very uncomfortable with the inflow and outflow of different guests and one has even caused problems for me. These are the ‘problematic’ Airbnb homes that I’ve stayed in, from first to current / most recent, all have been long-term:
English South Coast – March 20018 (5 days):
The location of this particular home was ideal and my room was literally right on the beach and facing the ocean, This was the second time I’d stayed at an Airbnb, the first time was in Toronto for just 3 days and that went amazingly well because the host was a gay deaf guy who not only never bothered me, but left me the most lovely review. But this particular host made me very uncomfortable from the get-go. He was a bald, muscular man and ex-military. He was extremely extroverted and high energy, as in one of those people whose presence you could just feel. I managed to avoid him up until the third day, when he ‘insisted’ on seeing me and inside the room, even though I repeatedly told him I was getting dressed and ready to leave. He seemed pissed off and made a comment about how I’m staying in his out and that he wanted to meet me. After that,, I felt even more uneasy there and it was a multi-guest home and the other guest was kind of creepy. I only used the kitchen first thing in the morning and fortunately, I went out with my friend every day and we generally ate at pubs and restaurants. When I left, he left me a review saying that I should be upfront with how I am with hosts so that they don’t worry about me, whatever that meant. Even in his public review of me, he mentioned that I was shy. I didn’t know that I was somehow obligated to talk to this guy, but I should have read between the lines when he mentioned in his Airbnb profile that he likes to talk to people.
Rochester, New York – May 2018 (entire month):
You don’t have to scroll back too far in my blog to see how awful this particular Airbnb guest house was for me.. For starters, it was in a rather bad part of town and while the street itself wasn’t unsafe, the neighborhood was very noisy and I found it very difficult to go out. The problem here wasn’t the host though, whom I never actually had to meet in person anyway as he didn’t live on the premises. The problem was the inflow of other guests, as there were 2 other private rooms being rented out on Airbnb in addition to mine. The most problematic guests were the 2 that were still there when I ended pp leaving a day early. The first was a Dominican woman who literally never left the house and hogged the kitchen during the day. She made a big deal of me avoiding her and actually asked me why I didn’t want her. The other guest was a young male whose car had a Florida license plate. He seemed stuck up and he used my food once and would leave the toilet seat up and judging by the smell, he’d piss on the floor. When I was home, I felt confined to my room because of these tow guests in particular. The other issue was that the house was a giant heat trap, especially upstairs and in my room in particular. I get that the host didn’t list A/C and was under no obligation to provide it, but I had to go out and buy my own fan because the heat in my room was unbearable. Part of the reason why I left a day early is that temperatures soared into the mid 90’s that week and I just wouldn’t have slept.
St. Catharines, Ontario – June 2018 (entire month):
While this is a safe neighborhood and the accommodation is spotlessly clean and quiet, I didn’t realize that this is also a shared place with one other guest room. While the other room is currently unoccupied, I now have to deal with the anxiety of not knowing if or when a complete stranger is going to show up and stay here for however long and I am extremely anxious. There was a male guest here who seemed extremely indifferent and I never came out of my room while he was here (fortunately, he didn’t stay long and he was gone most of the day). Also, the host is a lovely lady, but she is trying too hard and I think I’ve rubbed her the wrong way as she hinted that I should go out today, but I told her that I don’t go out on Saturdays and she didn’t seem to react too well. She likes to talk and strike up random conversations, but she often startles me. While it was very kind of her to lend me a bike, she’s already asked if I have used it. She also gave me a helmet, which feel very uncomfortable and I simply cannot wear it due to excess sweating from my forehead. I know this is going to sound bad, but I don’t wear bicycle helmets, ever. If get hit by a car, do you honestly think I give a shit about hitting my head and losing consciousness or even being killed? But how do you explain both hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and not giving a shit about cracking my ugly fucking melon head to a person who won’t understand? I can’t even explain my anxiety and PTSD to her. I don’t know how to tell her how I hate the sound of my voice. I don’t know how to explain to her that there are days when I simply don’t feel well enough to go out, especially during weekends. I feel like the relationship with this particular host is going to deteriorate and I’m here for 3 more weeks. I also worry about having to share this very confined space with random guests that could show up at any time.
I feel that anyone with similar issues to mine would struggle with a long-term Airbnb stay, In other words, if you suffer from social anxiety, PTSD, Asperger’s or any other autism spectrum disorder, dyspraxia or even if you’re just a regular introvert, do your research first and be very honest with the host. Unfortunately, I tend not to read between the lines before I book and this is another example of useless hindsight.
I would most likely have had to depend on long–term Airbnb stays if I’d moved back to the UK, so forget that idea. It’s actually worse than living with roommates, because as bad as my last roommate situation was, at least they were gone for most of the day and there was never any expectation to socialize with them. Airbnb works fine for very short stays, such as the places I’ve stayed in Toronto or the ‘introvert cave‘ (as I called it) where I didn’t even see the host and still got a good review out of it for being both clean and quiet.
I’m just fucking tired, to be honest. Tired of having to move from place to place and get used to so many different places, knowing full well that I deal with such changes very poorly compared to most people. I’ve not been able to enjoy my time here as I’m barely adjusting to a totally new town and very unfamiliar surroundings. I just want my own bed and my own rules, without any pressure or expectation to talk to anyone. With the exception of my 5 days in Toronto last month, the past 3 months have been pure hell and chaos. I wish I could have just stayed at a hotel in Rochester and at least had my peace and solitude without having to deal with hosts and random guests. I don’t want to feel pressured to go out and I don’t want to have to feel that I have to continually explain and apologize for being the way that I am.