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How Airbnb Saved My Life, Literally

“Are you f*cking serious you stupid c*nt?”

No, I was not in a foreign city in some seedy neighborhood. I was in my own apartment, being screamed at, yet again, by my Craigslist-sourced roommate, who, not surprisingly, I’d recently found out regularly enjoyed a stiff cocktail of cocaine, heroin, and vodka.

My go-to was a spicy margarita, but I guess we all have different tastes.

My crime for inciting Joe’s* wrath was turning off a light switch — in a room he wasn’t in — because he liked the extra glow the kitchen luminescence poured into the living room. A normal person may have just said, “Hey, Jessie, do you mind leaving that light on?”; instead, Joe decided to react as if I’d murdered a small child and then stabbed a puppy.

What was crazy, literally, was Joe’s complete pendulum shift in behavior. He once came into my room (uninvited), sat on my bed, and told me how he was going to turn the backyard into an organic garden. The next day, he tried to break down my bedroom door while screaming “you f*cking b*tch!!!!” for texting him at 10:30am on a Wednesday that he owed me $75 for utilities when he had a chance. Apparently, the text had woken him up from his precious beauty sleep. As you can probably tell, along with not mentioning his drug use when he moved in he lied about having a job.

The next day, I found him curled up in the fetal position crying hysterical about a girl who had broken up with him… eight months prior. He looked me in the eyes and, in a completely serious tone, asked me if I could call her — I’d never met this girl — and beg her to call him. The next day, he screamed like a baby over a cockroach before telling me he was a “ninja” who could “kill people with his bar hands.”

The icing on this very disgusting and terrifying cake was when he told me he made copies of my keys and handed them out to his friends to “murder me in my sleep.”


Enter the New York City Police Department!

“I’m calling 911 so if I am killed in my sleep there’s a record that you did it!” I screamed, thinking this was a great comeback.

He watched my fingers shakily but speedily hit the 9-1-1 keys on my phone. He raised his fist as if he was going to punch me, veins popping out of his bright red and bead-sweating head and, I kid you not, punched the air and shouted, “you’re a f*cking psycho!!!”


Anyway, I wish he had punched me because then I would have had an actual case. By the time the police came he’d collected his belongings (i.e. drugs) and fled the scene. The cops checked everywhere, even the roof and backyard, but in the end they said a verbal threat, even one involving murder, wasn’t enough for them to do anything; if I wanted something to be done he needed to physically hurt me (umm, WTF?) or go to the court and get eviction papers, which would cost me money and still meant I had to live with him for 30 more days.

Not happening.

Luckily, I had a boyfriend at the time who Joe was afraid of, and together we were able to get him out without any violence ensuing.

I was too terrified from my experience to even think about getting a new roommate, but I was too broke to pay for a 2-bedroom place myself. I also hated the idea of being scared out of MY apartment that I’d lived in for over a year and loved.

I gave myself a month off from people and then made the decision to rent the spare room on Airbnb.

My friends, of course, thought I was out of my mind. “But what if you get a complete psycho?” They’d all ask.

I’d laugh. “Nobody can be more psycho than Joe was. Also, anyone I hate will be out in a week.”

I can happily say it’s been over a year and I’ve not had one weirdo. Some guests stay more to themselves while others want to hangout, but I’m happy with either type. As long as you’re not cursing at me and threatening my life I consider you an A+ roommate. Hey, my past has lowered my standards.

Rooftop wine with the lovely Legendary Adventures of Anna and my German Airbnb guest, Michi

What’s really amazing is getting to meet people from all over the world, essentially traveling even when I’m not on the road.

Many of my guests even bring gifts like chocolate, wine and poetry from their home country, allowing me to have a cultural exchange right on my couch (or, more likely, on the roof with said wine and chocolate).

It’s also made living in insanely-expensive-NYC very affordable. For me, summer is super busy, while winter is less so, so it basically evens out to half my rent being paid for the year. To put that into perspective, I pay the same amount annually I did living in fear of my life but can live alone 50% of the time and with interesting travelers the other 50%.

In short, my life had changed dramatically…for the better.

Rooftop fun in Brooklyn with my Airbnb guest from Sweden, Jorgen

I also use Airbnb when I travel, which allows me to stay in a local home on a budget. While I love CouchSurfing, I typically use it for the forums to plan and attend meetups. This is because I feel like if I don’t pay someone I’ll be expected to hangout with them a lot. While outgoing I’m actually an introvert and really value my alone time (not to mention I need to update this website). Staying in private rooms in hostels and Airbnbs have allowed me to be both social and anti-social depending on my mood, which I’m happy to pay for — on a budget, of course.

What have your experiences been hosting or staying in an Airbnb?

*Featured image courtesy of Chris Sardegna/Unsplash

Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

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  1. Ian [EagerExistence] on at 10:47 pm

    Glad it worked out for you in the end, and you havent been murdered in your sleep.

    Im renting a room on AirBnB as we speak. Have done for the past 2 weeks.

    • Jessie Festa on at 6:33 pm

      @Ian: It’s been a lifesaver for me, literally 🙂

  2. Wow! What an INSANE story. I’ve had some friends with crazy roommates, but you definitely (unfortunately) take the cake. I have been using AirBnB exclusively lately and I love it. I wish I could rent out my place but I am explicitly not allowed to. One day! Thanks for sharing your story with everybody. 🙂

    • Jessie Festa on at 6:33 pm

      @Amanda: From here on out I don’t think I’d sign a lease that said “no Airbnb.” It’s such a great experience meeting all these people from around the world, plus it’s nice to save that cash 🙂 That being said, it’s awesome you can use it as a traveler!

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