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    THE WONDER-FULL WORLD OF AN AIRBNB HOST

    Date:

    By Roslyn H. Wright

    In early 2016 I nearly sold my house in Newport. I was widowed, living in a huge four-bedroomed house on my own, and had estate agents knocking on the door, telling me how much money they could get for me. I nearly signed a contract for a property in the country, had banking and finance in progress and then I pulled the plug. I wasn’t ready to leave the house we had built, the neighbours and friends in the area, and the wonderful western suburbs.

    So what to do? I realised I didn’t particularly want to leave 
the house, with views of Newport Lakes parkland, and the memories of a life shared with my beloved. It was a resource though that should be utilised, and I needed some income. I could take in a boarder or two, but what if I didn’t get on with them and they were here long term? I also pulled back on the idea of having a student who needed meals provided, because I was studying and doing shift work as a pastoral care intern. It was going to be challenging enough to cook for myself!

    Airbnb to the rescue

    Then I remembered Airbnb. I have stayed with Airbnb hosts when I have travelled interstate, and thought about how I could use my space to offer accommodation. Being short term I reasoned that if I had unpleasant guests they’d soon be moving on. I love travelling, and have done a lot of overseas travel. So if I couldn’t afford to get out and see more of the world, maybe I get the world to come to me!

    So over several months I gradually set up

    My house is on two levels, and I largely live upstairs. So the downstairs space had prime development potential. I painted the bedroom, and bought fresh linen, scrounged through the surplus furniture my daughters were storing in the garage to find bits and pieces – a wardrobe, bedside tables, and a blanket box. Then I turned the small bedroom next door into a breakfast-room using an old table that came up a treat when sanded and painted, and a cupboard converted into a breakfast bar with toaster, kettle and a dinner-ware. I kept looking through what I had and how I could use it, and realised I also had a couch deemed surplus to requirements to provide a sitting space in the breakfast room.

    Really cooking

    I went back into planning mode while waiting for more enquires. Time to consider what could be done in the laundry to create a kitchenette. I didn’t have funds to remodel. I went back out to the garage (it is a BIG garage and there is a lot of STUFF in there!), and found a table/desk that just fitted next to the washing machine. I bought a microwave and dug out a 2-burner electric hot plate that I used for camping. Another scrounge through the kitchen cupboards to find cooking gear and we were ready! I decided that I’d provide a ‘welcome hamper’ for initial breakfast, and then people could look after themselves.

    October came, as did my first guests! Two young German men on a working holiday around Australia as part of their gap-year post-university. They came for a few weeks, and were quite lovely. It was a delightful surprise to come home on the weekend and find them vacuuming their space!

    Then a young French couple, visiting from New Zealand, with family close by in one of the adjoining streets. And the ‘family close by’ has become quite a pattern. I have now had three grandparent couples come to stay while they are visiting their children and grandchildren living in Spotswood/Newport. They want a retreat of their own at the end of the day and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Family happy-times are so much more pleasant when you don’t have to be together 24/7, and the grandchildren haven’t been ousted from their beds to accommodate you.

    Build it and they will come

    I have been fortunate that I have had solid bookings since October last year. I hope that continues, and think I might have a niche market for visiting grandparents. I love preparing some surprise welcome treats for guests, and my home-made bread is always appreciated.

    I have enjoyed meeting people. We have shared stories, de- briefed about family (delights and otherwise), and built some great friendships. And now I have some places to stay when I do get to go overseas again. I hope the world keeps coming.

    The welcome mat is out!

    Roslyn can be found at airbnb.com.au/rooms/10571755

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    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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