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Survey Says: Airbnb Is Great! (Until the Neighbors Start Doing It)

When it comes to Airbnb, the room-rental hotel alternative, a new survey by travel industry website Skift shows that Americans are, by and large, fans of the service. That is, with one notable exception. A considerable portion of people in favor of renting out rooms to strangers are decidedly less enthusiastic when the room in question is in their own neighborhood.

Skift, using Google Consumer surveys (methodology here) administered two surveys to over one thousand internet users in the final week of December, 2014. The surveys were nearly identical, save for a change in the keystone question. One survey asked:

“Should anyone be permitted to rent rooms in their homes for a few days at a time to strangers, similar to a hotel?”

The other was slightly more specific, asking:

“Should your neighbors be permitted to rent rooms in their homes for a few days at a time to strangers, similar to a hotel?”

While the percentages of respondents who felt that either the practice should be regulated, or didn’t express an opinion one way or another held steady in both cases, results for those who either fully supported the company, or wanted it banned entirely, saw a noticeable shift.

In the abstract, more than a quarter of respondents voiced unmitigated support for room rentals:

But, once respondents were put in hypothetical proximity to an room rental, that number dropped to barely over 17 percent:

Of course, the further into the data one drills, the more nuanced, and interesting the results become. For example, Skift found that suburban respondents, who were more inclined to oppose room rentals in the abstract “anyone” question, doubled their opposition when faced with the “your neighbor” specific scenario. Factors such as gender and age also played a role. Even a person’s income, and whether or not a they had children seemed to affect how they felt about room rentals. The full data set (which admittedly, as an online survey, is probably more of a nicely textured indicator than a perfectly balanced snapshot) is well worth sifting through.

Ultimately, this all seems similar to the ”not in my back yard” incongruities often found in regards to construction or land development. Now, though, the friction between agreeing in principal, and having reservations in the abstract, seems to be appearing in the rapidly growing sharing economy, as well.


I started an AirBnB after realizing the noisy party house across the street from me was an AirBnB. The difference is I live in the place I rent rooms out in and I would never allow the kind of frat party noise that comes out of the house across the street. It all boils down to what kind of hosts you are living next to. If people are renting it and causing a nuisance in their neighborhood because they are too greedy to turn down obviously inappropriate guests then they are ruining AirBnB for everyone.

I think it can impact on close neighbors no matter what kind of guest. If you have an extra car (or two three even four) in front of your house or apartment every weekend, inevitably they will at times park in front of the neighbors at some point or cause crowding that wasn’t there before if things are tight already. The endless parade of suitcase arrivals and departures creates a strange feeling for neighbors who take notice, even without noise issues. They somehow just don’t feel as safe, especially if they have kids, with all the strangers suddenly entering and leaving the community. And I do understand it, faced with dealing with the issues of having the strangers, although ‘mostly’ decent ones, in my actual home. They don’t really need to be making a racket or causing the police to come for these subtle shifts in the community to be felt.

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I live on a dead-end with 2 parking spaces and in a non-kid neighborhood. I feel safer with the guests that visit than I do with the people in my own neighborhood, ironically enough.

Lol CS. Of course there is plenty of variation for circumstances, although I will point out the survey was how neighbors felt about having all these temporary paying guests in their neighborhood, not the hosts. It’s possible it is unnoticed where you are and nobody cares, but the survey shows 83% of people would not like their neighbors to do it.

I know some of our neighbors find it very distasteful. But we live in a snooty area where everyone spies on each other and minds each others business!

I’m sure my immediate neighbors don’t like it. The neighbors on both sides of us have young kids and while most of my guests are older couples (like grandparents), I’m sure they find it unsettling to see people with suitcases going in and out of the front of our home. I’m not sure how to address this situation.

Although I must say many of my guests are actually related to my neighbors since my guests are coming to stay with us because their kids’ guest rooms have been replaced by a nursery. So if everyone in our neighborhood actually knew each other, they wouldn’t think of my guests as strangers, but as so and so’s parents…

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That’s pretty funny CH. You’re really providing quite a service for all those displaced inlaws! But yes, I do understand the prying eyes and glances. It’s not fun to be the one in the neighborhood being talked about; seeing the curtains rustle :wink:. It is difficult to address. In our neighborhood, the big old mansions are weekenders owned by the NYC rich or people struggling to maintain them due to hugely increased taxes a few years ago, as well as ever increasing utilities. The costs of heating or cooling a large historic place does get astronomical in the north east. We choose to put extra money into home updates, including a beautiful exterior paint job that is going on as we speak and was long overdue, knowing most neighbors appreciate the costs involved, and the improved appearance of the street. We’re happy to get the paint job, but I fear like most hosts, our days of dealing with too much more of it are numbered.

An old topic, but worth reviving I think because of the new hosts who have recently joined us here. I was once an ‘Airbnb neighbour’ and now I’m a host so can see this issue from both sides.

The apartment next to mine used to be a STR. I HATED it. Then another neighbour started doing the same and I was really annoyed by that too.(Our rental had long-term tenants at the time). People were trundling their suitcases right past my window all the time. Because I work from home they assumed I was some sort of building manager and were frequently knocking on my door with questions.

The two places had one thing in common - no manager. They were remotely hosted and there was no-one to meet and greet the guests or to keep them in line. So we had drunken people, barking dogs, guests that complained about various things (to me!)

I would mutter that I was tired of living in a hotel :slightly_smiling:

So when our long-termers moved out, I decided ‘If this place is going to be a hotel, it’s going to be properly run’. Sort of, if you can’t beat 'em, join ‘em. Crossing fingers here, but to date all our guests have been good and I believe that it’s because they know before arrival that there is an ‘onsite’ manager’ who will be keeping a close eye on them!

This is an interesting thread. I have to say that I would not like my neighbor doing it (before I knew what ‘it’ was). I wouldn’t like strangers coming and going. So far my neighbors have not complained, and I’m very open about what we’re doing. I just never thought about it from the other perspective before.

I wish my neighbors were interested in doing it, then would finally have to put in some effort and clean up their eye-sore properties. I am fortunate at this time to have amazing renters one of the two neighboring houses and in exchange for being so generous to my guests (and just wonderful people all around) I let them use my Airbnb free of charge when they have family in town.

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