Nice or Guatemala?
That’s the burning question. Once I pack up my life in Taiwan, where to next? Nice, France or Antigua, Guatemala?
They’re very different places. But as I continue to throw darts at a world map, these two darts seem to stick.
I’ve never even been to Guatemala but from everything I’ve read and rave reviews from friends who’ve been there, it sounds like an ideal place. Boasting a low cost of living, interesting culture, and breath-taking nature, it was on the top of my list.
Until I spent a recent week in Nice, France visiting my blogger-friend Maureen (Moe’s Atlas). By the end of the week, I was in love with the Nice lifestyle and was actually picturing myself fitting in there nicely. Jazz clubs. Happy hour with the girls. Hiking in the Alps.
My biggest concern with Nice – cost of living. After a little google research I found, surprisingly, apartment rental in Nice (a very small apartment) is comparable to Guatemala. But what about the rest? What about important things like beer prices? (Guatemala $1.63USD vs Nice $2.20USD)
In order to make my dream life in Nice a reality, I needed to find a way to fund this fantasy.
But what could I possibly do to fund a life in Nice without being able to speak French?
Pole Dancer? (Nope, too old.) Dog Whisperer? (Ugh. No.) English Teacher? (Been there, done that.)
When I mentioned my Nice infatuation to my other friend Maureen (UK-based expat Maureen, not to be confused with Nice-based expat Maureen), she suggested finding a way to become an Airbnb host or property manager.
Maureen has a flat in Bath, England that she rents out on Airbnb and makes a decent income. She suggested I try something similar in Nice or Guatemala. But the idea of renting a 3 bedroom apartment and then renting one of my bedrooms out to strangers was a little bit creepy. (And possibly slightly illegal?) I could manage someone else’s property, but how could I find someone with the need for a property manager?
So, determined to find a way to fund my fantasy life in the South of France, I turned to Google. (Thank God for Google!)
In the search box, I typed in something like “Airbnb hosts and cleaners”, just randomly shooting in the dark.
Amazingly, Google popped up the answer to my prayers – Airhosta!
What does Airhosta offer?
Airhosta tagline: “Unlock the potential of your Airbnb and vacation rental.”
Digging deeper, I learned they’re a start-up company with a very simple concept: connecting vacation rental owners with service providers. Although they’re not officially connected to Airbnb, they provide services to Airbnb owners as well as short-term vacation rental properties.
A huge smile lit up my face! Now THAT’S something even I can do – from anywhere and on my own time! A perfect fit! No Pole Dancing or Dog Therapist in my future!
Some of the services that interest me include apartment cleaning, meeting & greeting guests, key exchange, food/drink concierge, and property booking. There is also a need for services like handymen, interior designers, and other things.
How does it work?
The Service Providers (like me) have a profile on the Airhosta website including background information, services provided and various levels of security checks. There is also a review process (to be rolled out soon) allowing the homeowners to rate the performance of the service providers they’ve used.
How do you get the gig?
Airbnb or vacation rental owners will list an open gig that will become available to anyone in their geographical area. Service providers bid on the gig and the owner will select the best fit for the job.
Another option (to be rolled out soon) is a Service Directory which will allow owners to browse profiles of service providers in their area and select them directly without going through the bidding process.
Great concept! How did this idea begin?
This company seemed like a dream come true for funding a semi-nomadic lifestyle and I wanted to learn more, so I contacted the company and got an immediate reply from Ingrid Holstrom, Service Provider Specialist. She was so helpful and responsive to my emails and suggested I contact the Founder and CEO, Rian Chapman, for an interview – so we set up a Skype chat.
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Rian explained the origins of the company (demonstrated by a cute stick figure cartoon on the website). He was looking to buy an Airbnb property but wanted to hand off management to someone else. But who? He contacted Airbnb and found they didn’t have a department handling subcontracting. Next, he contacted local realtors in his area, who also told him they don’t deal with Airbnb properties.
Rian saw a need, a gaping hole in the marketplace, and Airhosta is the result.
“We view it as an opportunity for anyone with the time, a skill set, and availability in a local area to find work. We consider ourselves the Uber of the vacation rental service providers,” he explained.
What does this mean for travelers looking to fund their nomadic lifestyle?
It means that once you set up a Service Provider profile on Airhosta, go through the background checks and possibly a phone interview, you can work from almost anywhere! Your profile is flexible, allowing you to update your geographic location and availability.
The perfect complement to house sitting!
Recently, I spent over a month in Bradford-on-Avon, England in a house sitting gig arranged through Trusted Housesitters. I spent 32 days doing nothing more than walking the dog, writing, reading, relaxing. I had plenty of time, I have the skills, and I could’ve connected with Airbnb owners through Airhosta to make some money while house sitting. But, sadly, I hadn’t discovered them yet.
Luckily, I’ve got another month-long house sit lined up in Antigua, Guatemala in June and hope to use Airhosta to get some gigs in that area.
The discovery of Airhosta gives me hope for funding my fantasy life in Nice! Or maybe Guatemala? That’s a question yet to be answered. We’ll see which dart actually sticks!
Editor’s Note: The dart stuck on Nice. See “An Expat Tale of Beginning Again – Living in Nice” for the rest of the story.
(Globe Photo via <a href=”http://visualhunt.com/re/b7edf4″>Visualhunt.com</a>)