A Summer of Airbnb: 12 Weeks, 12 NYC Neighborhoods

We had an assignment in class to try and come up with an individual creation that we could actually make.  My idea was to see if I could live in NYC for free, meet different people, and write about my experiences.

I’m bracing myself for an amazing summer in New York City, but there’s still one thing I’ve yet to nail down — a place to live.

Let’s face it: even if you have a full time job, an apartment in New York City can be pricey. For a college student, those rates can seem astronomically higher in your mind.

It got me thinking though. Maybe I should just forgo the whole sublet/NYU rental approach every other college student does to make their “dreams come true” in the city that never sleeps.   Maybe I should just push my luck and find a new place to sleep by every week.

I’ve been looking at Airbnb as an option, and while the rates fall somewhere in between getting a hotel and actually renting a place, it could be interesting to see if I can have Airbnb sponsor me in in return for a little exposure.  There’s also CouchSurfing which is free, but I’d prefer to work with Airbnb because there booking process is a bit easier to work with.

I think the benefits of living in other people’s homes for an entire three months could be extremely interesting.  New York City is known for it’s eclectic population and there’s a lot to be learned whether I spend a week on the Upper East Side with a well-to-do family or a few days with a musician in the Village.

Although my main goal was to essentially live in NYC for free, I think there’s a story that can be told from an experience like this. Why not create a web series on living like a local in all of New York’s different neighborhoods?  What if I put myself up to the challenge of learning about NYC from actual New Yorkers?

The rules would be simple:

  • You can’t stay in host’s apartment or home for more than one week.
  • You can’t stay in a particular neighborhood for more than one week.
  • Each borough can only be stayed in for 5 weeks maximum.
  • You must document your stay via video and traditional blogging.

Each week a new episode would be posted online for viewers to watch.  You’d learn about the best places to hang out, eat, drink, and play, all from a local’s perspective.

The best part is that you’d be getting different perspectives on New York City from at least 12 different people in 12 different neighborhoods. And, since they know they’re respective areas best, you’d learn about the best places in Astoria to eat from an Astorian or the best Beer Garden in Williamsburg from a local hipster.

Of course, the hard part would be getting Airbnb to fund this.  I’ve decided to set up a Kickstarter page (note, this is a preview link) to start and raise money.  Those funds would go towards paying for housing as well as some initial production equipment.  If Airbnb would like to help out, they’re more than welcome to as well.

I think a web series like this could be an interesting experiment.  There’s so much to see and do in New York City — you might as well try and do it with the people who know best.