Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where all 7 billion people can belong anywhere. At least a billion of those people are over 60 years old, and their decades of stories and experiences make them some of the best Airbnb hosts in our worldwide community.
A lot has changed in the travel industry over the decades—but it hasn’t all been for the better. Mass-produced tourist experiences and commoditized lodging options have moved us away from our roots as human beings—people who crave genuine interactions with others.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that some of our best hosts are people who grew up when travel was still about meeting people. At Airbnb, these seasoned hosts are not just an important part of our community, but in many ways they are some of its most effective leaders.
Worldwide, almost one million Airbnb users are over 60. Among hosts, 10 percent of our hosts are over 60. These hosts come from all walks of life.
Hosting Can Be a Lifeline for Seniors…
Our seniors host for a range of reasons:
Some of our seniors host to supplement their incomes, since many live on tight budgets. Fifty-six percent of them are retired and 49 percent live on a fixed retirement income. The money they earn from hosting helps them make ends meet and live more financially resilient lives.
The average senior host earns just under US $6,000 a year hosting guests for an average just under 60 days per year – giving them enough spending money to make essential purchases, or even go on a trip themselves. Forty-one percent of seniors have even reported that hosting has helped them afford to stay in the homes where they’ve often lived much of their lives.
We hear so many stories from hosts around the world- hosts like Janice, in Louisville, US, who uses the money she earns from hosting to maintain her home and do basic repairs.
…Yet for More and More Seniors, Hosting has Become a Way of Life
As noted by the Stanford Center on Longevity, isolation can be a serious issue within senior communities. By hosting on Airbnb, seniors can bring the world to their doorstep, connecting and engaging with guests without ever leaving home.
In fact, many of our seniors who began hosting for financial reasons now say that the social benefits have contributed to a renewed sense of purpose, and almost a third of them say meeting new people is the main reason they host. People like Eljiro in Japan, who has lived alone in his apartment since his wife passed away.
More than two thirds of our senior hosts are just like Laurel, an empty-nester in Menlo Park, California, looking to enliven their homes when they don’t have company. And the results speak for themselves: that level of presence and attention leaves their guests with better impressions, and unforgettable memories. In fact, Airbnb 60+ hosts receive 7.5% more five-star reviews than other hosts.
Financial Stability and Flexibility
The money that our 60+ hosts earn plays an important role in their overall financial health.
“Airbnb is a breath of fresh air about the anxiety and worry about home repairs and maintenance.”
Janice is a superhost in Louisville, Kentucky with over 200 reviews. She used her Airbnb income to take out a home equity line of credit and do some major infrastructure repairs to her home, including the roof, gutters, repairs, painting, and fence work.
“I was a widow with no job and no source of income beyond my pension. I couldn’t retire—I have bills to pay and years remaining on my mortgage. The last thing I wanted to do at this difficult time was to leave my home and my city.”
After losing her husband and her job, Rosa’s daughters encouraged her to host in her Barcelona apartment. She’s used her Airbnb income to pay her bills and has welcomed guests from all over the world, including Tasmania, Taiwan, and two sisters from Azerbaijan.
Janice and Rosa’s stories are not unique. Forty-five percent of senior hosts rely on Airbnb income to make ends meet, and spend it on important costs of living. This supplemental income is essential to our senior hosts. Fifty-six percent are retired and live on a fixed retirement income.
For many seniors, their home is their greatest asset (and liability). The average Airbnb senior host has lived in his or her home for more than 16 years, and 68 percent of those hosts plan to stay in their homes for the foreseeable future or through the end of their lives. Forty-one percent of hosts have said that hosting has helped them afford to stay in their homes.
Meeting new guests is a great way to stay connected to community and the world. Although almost half of senior hosts are financially motivated to start hosting, most indicate that the social aspects have provided unexpected and welcome benefits that keep them coming back to host more.
“Because I don’t have any children and live alone, I love welcoming guests to my home and making them feel like part of my family.”
Eljiro is a retired engineer and researcher who lives alone in Tokyo. After the tsunami in Japan in 2011, he remodeled a room in his home to accommodate victims, and then began hosting in 2012. He sends the money from his Airbnb income to organizations across Asia that help children in poverty.
“Using Airbnb allows my wife and I to feel like we’re part of a global village.”
Kalinga in Sri Lanka hosts with his wife. They love that Airbnb allows them to meet people from new countries and cultures without ever leaving their home.
Eljiro and Kalinga’s stories are also not unique. Seventy-four percent of Airbnb’s senior hosts live alone or with just a partner. Hosting is a great way for them to bring the world to their door when they can no longer travel themselves. In fact, 28 percent of senior hosts noted that the primary reason they host is to meet new people, and 15 percent of hosts welcome guests into their home primarily to keep themselves active.
However, even hosts who aren’t primarily motivated by social or mental engagement benefit from hosting:
- 78% of hosts said that hosting on Airbnb has helped them stay more physically active than they would otherwise be
- 83% of hosts said that hosting on Airbnb has helped them stay more mentally engaged
- 82% of hosts said that hosting on Airbnb has helped them stay more socially and emotionally connected
- 31% of hosts say that hosting on Airbnb has caused them to trust strangers more.
At Airbnb we’re excited to see all of the ways that our growing community has embraced home sharing and we look forward to continuing to learn more and to enhance the experience of more seasoned hosts and travelers in our community. We were thrilled to participate in the recent White House Conference on Aging and are committed to greater enhancing accessibility and the user experience for older populations in America and around the world.
Here’s to many more golden years ahead.
Host photography by Anna Huix, Christian Hansen, James Horan, and Julie Glassberg.