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Are you ready to retire on AirBNB?

12 May 2016 | Philip Ammerman


Many of you may know that last June, I became an “empty nester”, and found myself in the position where I no longer had to return home every weekend. As a result, I initiated what I call the era of “one way travel”. I simply issue one-way tickets based on wherever my consultancy work happens to take me, and travel from project to project. This means that I actually spend less time in airports, and spend more time with friends. I’m living out of a suitcase, and for now I love it.

So it was with really great interest that I learned of a new trend: retiring on AirBNB. AFAR carried an article on Debbie and Michael Campbell, who recently retired and, rather than deciding to stay at home, rented their house in Seattle and took the first flight to Paris.

They’ve managed to reduce their accommodation costs to about $ 90 per day by using AirBNB, and integrate into each community they live in by taking walking tours, shopping in local markets, and cooking at home.

It sounds absolutely fascinating, and is such a great example in so many ways:

  • The sharing economy is working

  • People can really connect all over the world online

  • There is an amazing possibility to learn and travel at relatively low cost when retired

  • You can still visit your dream destination, even on a low budget but with a leisurely schedule.

This was really an eye-opener for me. Just as so many young high school graduates are taking a gap year before entering college, I can foresee where newly-minted retirees will take a "gap year" from the TV and the retirement routine. There is, in fact, no need to wait until retiring.

Some great quotes from their AFAR interview:

Michael: “What got into my head is ‘If we reduce our expenses to as low as possible, would it be possible for us to travel and live in other people’s houses for the same amount of money that we would spend to be retired on our rocking chairs in Bend, Oregon?'”

Debbie: “Turns out it was! So we got rid of most of our stuff, rented out our Seattle house, reduced our monthly expenses, and bought two one-way tickets to Paris. And we’ve been traveling ever since.”

Michael: “We take turns picking where to go next. We’re working our way to the Czech Republic right now. We just look around and see which way the wind is blowing. We never get homesick. I think the fact that we rented our house has prevented us from saying ‘Oh I wish we were back home.’ We don’t really have a home to go to. We can’t quit, we can’t go home. The last time we were home in Seattle, we stayed at a house on Airbnb.”

Debbie: “The benefits have been phenomenal. We’re more fun, we’re more open-minded—we’re even more in love. We don’t sweat the small stuff. And we’re healthier! We’ve both lost weight because we walk an average of five miles a day. I never knew there were so many stairs in the world. But we never get homesick. We’re proof that you don’t have to let the stuff and the house and the overwhelming task of downsizing delay your dreams.”

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