5 Lessons from My First Long-Term Airbnb-Style Stay with Complete Strangers

Joseph Whidbey State Park | OMventure.com

After years of living remotely and traveling alone, I was heading back into civilization for a long-term (three-month) stay.  I was excited to take some classes, but housing was hard to come by.

Local apartments were unfurnished and hotels weren't set up for long-term stays.  I also wondered if those options might feel a bit isolating.  I thought it might be wise to stay Airbnb-style—even though I was unsure how safe it would be to stay with complete strangers. 

With only weeks until my arrival date, I searched online lodging sites and found a listing located around the bend from Joseph Whidbey State Park (where one can enjoy/watch kiteboarding!).  This location was within easy distance to my classes, food, and a Laundromat.

I emailed.  She responded.  We talked.  A monthly rate wasn't listed online, so I asked if that option was ever offered (while reassuring her that I'd completely understand if not).  They kindly thought about it...then generously offered one.  I was so touched.  They conducted a background check and a deposit was made.  I was grateful and relieved.  But I was, naturally, still a little worried. 

After driving along a cliff, on a winding road, I turned into a beautiful property.  When I stopped at the security gate, my worries began to fade. 

My Beautiful Bedroom | OMventure.com

I was greeted with such a warm welcome and taken on a tour of their incredible three-story estate, which she had painstakingly refurbished on her own.  (I'm still in awe.)

They provided private guest parking near my private entrance.  This was steps from my own kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom—all located on their lower level. 

Their ability to relax, with a stranger quietly roaming around downstairs, still amazes me.  When our paths crossed on occasion, coming and going, they extended thoughtful conversation plus invitations to join them upstairs for dinner with other guests, which was so comforting.

Their kind understanding of my schedule (to class, to town, to clinicals) at all hours, and my extended stretches of silence (to study), was heartening while in a new place, for a long time.  Not alone. 

You know the feeling of calm and peace that you get when all is right with the world?  That was my experience.  And I'm still deeply grateful. 

Long story very short, this was a special time for remembering important lessons.  Here are just five that I carry with me: 

1)  For those who need privacy, this can really work.  Search for a private room, bath, kitchen, and entrance...or private mother-in-law (MIL) suite.  The description might not initially appear to have these options, so ask for more details.

2)  If a monthly rate isn't listed, gently ask if that option is ever offered—reassuring them that you completely understand, if not.

3)  A secure and convenient location (to activities, food, Laundromat) is priceless.  I love a five minute commute, whether on foot or in auto.

4)  After receiving permission, and while carefully protecting everyone's privacy, respectfully take photos of your beautiful private space upon arrival!  This allows you to remember its authentic presentation, plus exactly how to make that bed before final departure.  Also, if damage is suspected, you have photos to reference so you can handle responsibly.

5)  Complete strangers who gift such kindness...change our life for the better...every moment we think of them.  I often think of, hold dear, and am deeply grateful for their kindness...this (mindful) gift is what keeps on giving.

It would be so special to hear your thoughts—and about your experiences—so we can learn from each other.  Definitely click the share buttons, and leave comments, below.  XO