Discovering Airbnb

Story by Jeanne Everett

I didn’t expect to find my apartment from a stranger over the Internet before I flew from Charleston, S.C. to the middle of Manhattan. I had scored a remarkable fashion design class to further my education at FIT and needed a place to stay close by. After doing some research, I stumbled upon airbnb.com — the home-sharing site that connects people providing personal lodging, and people looking to rent it. I found an adorable studio apartment with a 50-foot garden in the middle of Manhattan, and a few online messages with the owner later, and it would be mine for a little over a month. A few weeks later, in the middle of a muggy Manhattan day, my taxi cab pulled up in front of this tiny brick building in Chelsea. It was like a scene out of a movie: me, playing the Southern girl in the big city with huge aspirations, Frank Sinatra's “New York, New York” in the background as I danced in the street, waves of hair blowing in the gentle breeze.

Okay, so fine, it wasn’t quite like that. There was no Sinatra playing. My hair was in a hot messy bun with beads of sweat collecting on my forehead making my bangs flat, rather than fluffy. However, I pulled up and the owner of the building I had been chatting with was there to greet me, help me with my bags and show me around. Success.

My studio apartment was adorable and the garden behind it was even more charming. I loved sipping on Riesling, listening to the street noises and relishing the idea of life in the big city — including the plusses and the minuses. I learned to cook and clean in my tiny, but stunning tiled kitchen that was about 3 feet by 3 feet. Coming from Charleston, this was hilarious. Cooking on a stove while being able to put my foot on my bed was humorous, to say the least. Where else do you pay a few thousand dollars for a tiny space where over a million people are competing for the same job you dream of having?

But the opportunity to stay in my own apartment in New York taught me that I could live in the middle of a huge city — far away from my roots in South Carolina — and make it. Even if it means having to carry 5 grocery bags home in the middle of a rain storm. Even if the use of “ya’ll” incites laughter while at a beautiful rooftop bar and the paisley printed dress you’re wearing is makes you stick out like a sore thumb...

In the end, I realized that I am definitely a Southern girl at heart, but that I can handle New York City-life and all the chaos it brings — with a little help from Airbnb.