Airbnb Long-Term? Never Again: My Shanghai Experience

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Airbnb Shanghai is part of the TPOL in Shanghai Trip Report.


Prior to this Airbnb experience, I have only used Airbnb three times. The first time was when I moved to Puerto Rico (see My First Airbnb Experience: Old San Juan). The second time was also in Puerto Rico when I lived in Ocean Park. The third was in Grenada after Carnival in Trinidad. Because there are so many Airbnb’s available, I will not to write reviews about individual Airbnb’s unless there are exceptional circumstances. This is one of those circumstances.

Using the last second booking trick, I haggled a price for 27 nights at an Airbnb in Xintiandi, right in the heart of Shanghai. The owner sent me an invoice for $70 for the entire stay. Not wanting to lose the place, I confirmed. Upon arriving, the owner brought the mistake to my attention. He said I would have to pay the price he was offering now, or I would have to find another place. Feeling powerless, I called Airbnb’s US number. They said the owner could not kick me out and said he would have to call the Airbnb Asia number to find someone who could mediate a solution.

The Airbnb Asia representative contradicted the first representative’s assertion and said that he could terminate the contract if I didn’t pay. With no place to go, I agreed.

The apartment was in a traditional Chinese neighborhood. To get in, I had to manually scroll through a code on the outside door, get the key, unlock the door, and put it back in the lockbox. That was not convenient.

The pictures of the places looked far better than the actual place. This is to be expected but not to this degree.

TPOL’S TIP: When choosing an Airbnb for a long term stay, read the reviews and see if anyone has stayed there long term. If you see ‘great for a short weekend’, look elsewhere. Also, visualize the place at its worst and think if you can live there.

A week into my stay, some nice neighbor began construction at 6AM with drilling that sounded like it would come through the wall. That was the last straw. I contacted the owner and said I wanted to cancel. I packed and got the hell out of there.

Overall

For long term stays in Shanghai, I will not use Airbnb. The lists are overpriced, the ones I found didn’t include maid service, and the hosts’ idea as to what guests need left much to be desired. Next time I deploy myself on an expat assignment, I will pay to live the way I do at home i.e., luxury lifestyle. This means anteing up and paying a premium for a serviced apartment. That will cost more than Airbnb but less than a hotel. For the sake of my sanity, it will be well worth it. As far as this Airbnb shakedown is concerned, it’s not over. Arbitration to follow.

Airbnb Necessities

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