Would you (female) stay for a few weeks at a co-ed "share" airbnb?
December 13, 2013 11:42 PM   Subscribe

It's someone's house that they turned into an exclusively-Airbnb house where several rooms are available for short to long term rent. The owner has one of the rooms, and stays there every other day or so. If you were a young female, do you think you would be generally comfortable staying in this kind of place for a few weeks?

It's an exclusively-Airbnb house, so it's like every week there is a different tenant (mostly guys... young to old, job-assignment, moving between houses, etc.)
Every person's ID is looked at by the owner upon arrival. (But who knows if it's a real ID lol)
Because it's winter, the house is pretty empty, so there's only one long-term guy, me (young female), the owner (not every day), and whoever transient person we might get every week-ish.
I wouldn't really worry about it if everyone lived on a different floor, but the transient person usually tends to move into the next room to mine (for price & amenity reasons), and we would have to share the bathroom.
The long-term guy lives on another floor where the owner's room is.
I'm not good looking or anything, so I don't know if I'm just a little paranoid, but I just wondered if living on the same floor with an unknown different guy by ourselves every week is creepy or what or if it's just me. (Before winter when it was more tourism friendly season, it felt less "weird" because there were females & couples as guests, too, besides guys.)
posted by pelu to Society & Culture (14 answers total)
Where is this house? A busy mixed zone neighborhood with apartment blocks and businesses and public transportation, or the suburbs where it actually gets quiet at night, or out in the woods somewhere? Are you currently in regular communication with loved ones, that you could check in with on the phone every day and they could make sure you're okay if you don't check in? Is there a lock on your bedroom door? How are you at taking care of yourself otherwise - would you say you are assertive when you want to be? Is the owner present beyond sleeping there - if there is a problem, would they respond to it immediately if you told them?

Your looks have nothing to do with your safety. I personally would feel fine if many of the above criteria were met, mostly access to public transportation, the owner being responsive to problems, and my feeling comfortable asserting myself to strangers. But if you don't feel safe in that situation, listen to yourself. That's not paranoia, it's you having different priorities than me. Unfortunately your gender absolutely has relevance to this problem. I think it's kind of a grey area and would demand a certain amount of bravery on your part, but if the location and price is what you really need, it doesn't sound idiotic, either. I'd need to know a lot more information if I were the one traveling.
posted by Mizu at 12:04 AM on December 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

What you are describing is like a weird, unregulated hostel and yes that would skeeve me out.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:04 AM on December 14, 2013 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your prompt replies!
This house is in a quiet family residential neighborhood. Public transportation right nearby.
The owner is responsive to problems and complaints... and there's a lock to each room (thank god!)
Also guests can be both local and international, and this is in Canada. (Forgot to mention, but I don't know if it matters!)
posted by pelu at 12:15 AM on December 14, 2013

Just responding to "I'm not good looking or anything, so I don't know if I'm just a little paranoid," don't feel the need to second-guess yourself if you don't feel safe and don't guess that any particular appearance is going to put people off trying anything (assault, harassment, robbery, etc).

Does the owner value your opinion about guests? If you have a good rapport, you might be able to work something out where you can veto somebody who seems really sketchy-- I doubt the owner wants to be liable for anything or have their property damaged, so they might have some incentive to listen to you.

I'd also be a lot more wary if the owner was male, since they tend to have a lot less of an idea of the risks women take in situations like this and are a lot more likely to write a woman in your situation off or dismiss you.
posted by NoraReed at 12:23 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

AirBNB has reviews. Are there lots of reviews? Are there a good portion of reviews from single women? Check those out first. If there are, like, five reviews, all from men, and you have other options, I don't think it would be the worst thing in the world to look for another place. But if you already feel uncomfortable, then I think you should look for something else where you feel comfortable.
posted by greta simone at 12:51 AM on December 14, 2013

The owner is responsive to problems and complaints... and there's a lock to each room (thank god!)

This makes me think your hostel(-eque rental) is pretty well-run.

If you can lock up your room, and there's a lock on the bathroom door, and you trust the owner/manager (i.e., the person who has the keys to those locks), then I would consider the arrangement safe enough. No more dangerous than anyplace else, anyway.

Are you just finding the place eerie because it's so empty, or is something else pinging your radar? If it's just that it's so empty, then don't watch any of the ten million horror movies set in semi-empty hotels while you're staying there, and count yourself as perfectly normal but also probably perfectly safe.

If it's something else, would you mind coming back to update? You usually shouldn't ignore it when your gut tells you that something's wrong or dangerous, so if there's something else that's spooking you, then that might change my answer.
posted by rue72 at 1:02 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd also be a lot more wary if the owner was male, since they tend to have a lot less of an idea of the risks women take in situations like this and are a lot more likely to write a woman in your situation off or dismiss you.

To add on to this : I'm 6'4" and was in the Marines. Not a whole lot frightens me and honestly, it is hard for me to imagine things that would frighten somebody else - you know, the whole thing about universalizing your experiences that everybody does.

I can say that if it were me - and I could take reasonable steps to assure my saftey, I'd go for it. For example, I camp in bear country, but I bring bear spray and an emergency locator, and take other precautions - and I sleep through the night easily. I know I'm not perfectly safe, but, You know, I did what I could. But, even with all the preparations, if I weren't comfortable with a situation, I would avoid it in a hearbeat.

I am not you. If you have more fears in this situation than you can assuage, then, maybe find other places to stay. But to me, if you have a lock on your door and decent cell coverage, then the risks are manageable and you don't have a ton to fear.

All of that said - the rule my wife and I have is - if one of us isn't comfortable, then we aren't comfortable. We'll find another place, and there is no shame in it. Find other plans - safe and wrong is still safe.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:05 AM on December 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Can you ask the owner to, when possible, put the random person in a different room? Or maybe you can switch rooms? Even if the owner is a nice guy, it may have not occurred to him that you're uncomfortable so it doesn't hurt to ask.
posted by acidic at 1:11 AM on December 14, 2013

FWIW, I'm generally a paranoid, conservative girl, and I stayed for a week in an AirBnB a bit like this. It was in a populated and safe neighborhood, and had lots of great reviews. I had a lock on the door too (which I always used). The transient third guest turned out to be a woman, so that helped. It ended up being a pleasant stay, though I didn't interact at all with the other guests. But -- you can't be too careful! If your gut is screaming no, find an alternative.
posted by redlines at 2:06 AM on December 14, 2013

I would not unless I could lock the bathroom while I was in it and my bedroom at all times.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:29 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Every person's ID is looked at by the owner upon arrival. (But who knows if it's a real ID lol)

As far as I know (someone correct me if I'm wrong), the owner gets the money for the room and the security deposit beforehand. Airbnb doesn't permit cash payments, so there's at least some kind of additional paper trail associated with the credit card/pre-paid credit card/paypal they would have had to use to secure the room. This would also have to match with the ID. It seems to me that if someone was planning on trying to assault someone, there would be easier, less incriminating ways to do it.

That being said, the possibility that someone is going to, for instance, get drunk and not take no for an answer, seems much more realistic. I would weigh the risk of that if I were you.

However, you do say there is a long-term guy there in addition to the owner and whatever transient might be there. Is he someone you would trust to have your back if you started screaming at night? Would he hear you on another floor? Is there a way to switch your room to that floor? If it's mostly empty this time of year anyway, the owner might give you the room at the same rate if you ask and express a concern for your safety at night.

But it's all up to you. If you don't feel safe, find somewhere else.
posted by cali59 at 5:36 AM on December 14, 2013

It may be perfectly fine, but what does that matter if you're uncomfortable there? Even problems that are all in your head are still problems.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:41 AM on December 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Considering that there is a lock on the door, I think I would feel as secure there as in a hotel/more official hostel. Is there any way that you could add an additional padlock that you know only you have the key to?
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 6:08 AM on December 14, 2013

I'd go with the idea of asking the owner to place you in a different spot, given your lengthy stay. Tell him/her your comfort level as a single woman would improve if you weren't isolated in an area with guests who pop in and out. I'm guessing this person will want to try and accommodate that if it's possible.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 6:13 AM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

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