Using www.airbnb.com

Airbnb.com

Airbnb is an excellent and necessary tool for the regular traveller, and for the long-term stay in a foreign city. Hotels are expensive, loud, and a pain after a while, so a condo is a better bet, coffee on the balcony, no one disturbing you.

Airbnb offers both commercial and private lettings, but most are private landlords that rent out either a condo or a room.

I have tried renting “rooms in homes” in various places, usually a disaster. The very nice family will greet you with a cheery smile and head bow, then wake you at 6am with screaming kids or with the husband and wife screaming at each other.

The chances are you don’t want to wake to screams at 6am and would like to relax on holiday. If so, avoid renting a room in a home, always click the website box for “entire apartment”.

To use Airbnb :-

  1. Choose your city or region
  2. Choose Entire Apartment
  3. Choose a price range, and upper price
  4. Enter your intended date range to visit
  5. Click the essential utilities
    1. Wifi included free
    2. Electricity included
    3. Swimming pool
    4. Gym

You will then see a grid of photos of suitable places, a map on the right. Browse the photos, narrow your criteria.

Look for shops nearby, not miles away. Have a good look at the so-called pool, is it tiny? Is the gym just two pieces of equipment?

If there are not 10+ photos, don’t trust the landlord. Most offerings will have 10+ photos and will show all aspects of the apartment, pool and gym and surrounding area.

I always look up the place on Google Street Maps, and take a virtual walk around the area. You can often avoid a shit area this way.

Look on Google Maps to check-out the local area, transport, beaches, cafes, laundry etc.

In KL and Jakarta I always choose a condo above a shopping mall, and that way I have everything I want close at hand. Most condos in these cities have shops, laundry, all in the building, so you do not need to walk a mile to get a loaf of bread.

Having chosen your ideal place, message the owner and ask questions, ask about availability, and ask about the mosque noise. In all parts of Malaysia and Indonesia you will always be within half a mile of a mosque and so will be woken at 4am with loud singing, a call to prayers.

That call to prayers happens 8 times a day, more on Fridays, a fact of life in Asia.

NOTE. Everywhere in Malaysia and Indonesia you will be woken at 4am by the local mosques.

You get used to it, you turn over and go back to sleep, and most people can sleep through it. If you are lucky, as I have been many times, you can choose a building condo that is facing away from the local mosque. You will still get some noise, but much less than if you were positioned on the other side of the building.

I once made the mistake of renting a place for 10 days that had a motorway below the condo, plus a massive advertising hoarding outside my window. The hoarding displayed bright colourful video all night long, so bright I could see it through my eyelids. Past midnight it showed movies, with sound, fuck knows why since it distracted drivers speeding past. I often lay in bed watching movies, whether I wanted to or not!

At 10pm the local Chinese karaoke bar started to boom out, and it boomed till 4am. I was sleeping from 5am till 2pm most days.

If you are unlucky, then a condo in Kuala Lumpur can be hell. Ask the questions first about the noise, be persistent. And yes, the landlord will lie just to get the money from you. Look on Google Maps, figure the distance to the mosque and the local nightclub.

I once rented a great condo, best to date and at a great rate, but the pool never saw any sunlight due to the local tall buildings. Everything else was fine, just that lack of sunlight on the pool. I had sunlight on my balcony, so cold sunbathe there at least.

NOTE. Airbnb charges a fee, say $75 on a $500 rental, and the prices are always higher because you and I are stupid Western tourists.

If you rent that same condo for a fixed year, like a local, it will cost you just $300 a month, no $75 fee. Unfortunately, you may not want it for a whole year, and you will have to pay 2 month’s rent up front plus a month’s rent as deposit. If you walk away from that condo, or have trouble with your visa, you have lost 3 month’s rent.

You will find that airbnb offers accommodation in most all parts of the globe, including remote Mongolia and small islands off Indonesia. It is widespread.

In places like Bali you will often see a hotel room displayed, a condo within the hotel. You can get great rates on a room if you book for a month, but you have the same issues as with all hotels, the noise and the slamming doors late at night.

One of the benefits of airbnb is that you don’t normally pay a deposit on a rental, so you could rent an apartment for 3 months and pay no deposit. Also, if there is an issue, you can leave early and get a partial refund, you can also cancel before you arrive.

If you turn up and the place is not as advertised, it’s a shit tip, you can walk off and ask airbnb for a full refund.

NOTE. You pay airbnb the money, not the landlord, then after you arrive and are happy airbnb pays the landlord. You have the chance to cut and run if the place is above the local whorehouse and has a chicken in the room.

I have not had issues with airbnb condos in Asia, but in the UK the quality of rooms offered was always shite. I left a few early and complained.

As a guideline, a good condo in Kuala Lumpur would cost around $500 a month on airbnb, less in Jakarta, less again in Bali. If you want to be in the city centre, in a place with great facilities, you will pay more obviously.

NOTE. Airbnb offers shite places in remote areas, tents, caravans, tree houses, the works. Always check a place out carefully, and I always look at the reviews. If the place has no review yet, let some other poor weary traveller be the first to try it.