These days you can make a friend or a buck by sharing almost anything: your car, your house, and even your dirty laundry. I’m an active participant of the shared economy, and I think it’s great. Here’s a little info about the services I use and why I like them.
You can rent my Prius through the service Getaround, for about $7.50/hr or $210/week. Getaround keeps a little less than half, but covers the insurance bill for renters and gets you customers.
I’ve rented my car a dozen times or so, and every person has been respectful, prompt, and kind. My car comes back in perfect condition, and I’ve gotten much better at getting regular oil changes and keep the car clean with washes and vacuums. Half of the time I’m in another state or another country and I just leave my keys in a lock box beside the house, so I’m not using the car anyway. The other half of the time, it encourages me to use my bike. A pretty big win all around: Renter gets a quick car with good gas mileage, I get some cash, and the environment gets a break. Plus I met a lot of people that work at the company at SXSW this year and they were all cool peeps.
I’ve only actually rented my house out once, but I’ve had a lot of interest, and one or two coming up. Short term house rentals are raising a big stink politically in Austin and even on my Brykerwoods neighborhood list-serve. I understand people’s fears—they don’t want someone running a motel in a residential neighborhood. I don’t plan to. I’ll rent it out a few times a year for the big events—ACL, SXSW, F1.
The crew that stayed the one time was very cool and definitely respectful. Since all of these systems hinge on the social proof of ratings and recommendations (I turned down a couple that had some negative reviews for messiness, even though they wanted to spend a solid chunk of dough), people tend to take care of your property.
It’s another big win if done sparingly. Hotels are sold out months in advance for Austin’s huge events, such as SXSW, so this service helps fill a need for places to stay to bring more visitors in, and gives locals some compensation for all the extra traffic and madness.
When my old band toured around the country, we couch surfed extensively. We probably stayed with forty or fifty strangers over the course of our travels, and I’ve hosted a dozen or so at my house in Austin. I haven’t had a negative experience yet. That’s not to say that there haven’t been one or two awkward moments, but on the other hand I met a roommate through couchsurfing, rock climbing partners, a great community in Austin, and a friend who I traveled with for seven weeks.
Couchsurfing isn’t for everyone, but those who feel called to it are consistently AMAZING people. I’m consistently and pleasantly surprised by the loving, fun, inspiring, and deep thinking people who are willing to open their doors all over the world. It definitely has the strongest community out of all the shared economy sites and groups I’ve been a part of.
I have really positive experiences. I think the shared economy is a great way to split costs and use resources more efficiently. It also allows people to devote like me more time to creative and life enhancing pursuits by providing passive income.