Have you ever stayed at a vacation rental through a service like Airbnb or VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner? I have, and I’ve really enjoyed it! But have you ever considered what a whole town full of vacation rentals does to our sense of community? My friends at FaithStay, a new a trust platform connecting the world to Christian hospitality, asked me how my experience living in a town dominated by vacation rentals affects neighborhoods.
How to Love Your Neighbor in a Sharing Economy
Guest post for FaithStay by Amy Lively
When I first had the inkling to start a neighborhood Bible study, there was just one little problem: I didn’t know my neighbors. I shelved the whole idea for months as I argued with God about why this was such a horrible idea. Didn’t He know I was too busy, not spiritual enough, and certainly not a great enough housekeeper to invite my neighbors over for coffee? But He was relentless, and soon I found myself with a houseful of neighbors and new friends.
Our neighborhood Bible study grew into an international ministry as I helped other women share coffee, conversation and Christ with their neighbors in their homes. A book was eventually written about how each of us can love our neighbor in our own unique way without being weird, pushy, rude or aggressive.
Loving our neighbor is God’s idea, and it’s not going away:
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37–38
My reluctant obedience has revealed the sheer brilliance of Christ’s #2 command. When we get it right, our neighborhoods are safer, people live longer, and God gets more glory. It’s a win-win-WIN!
So when we moved to a new town in a new state, I was disappointed that there aren’t very many homes on our street. To make matters worse, several of those homes are used exclusively for vacation rentals. Many of my “neighbors” are absent homeowners or fleeting wanderers, making it hard to make connections, start relationships, and build community.
Having lived and loved in this new neighborhood for a couple of years now, I’ve learned there are ways we can mitigate the loss of a sense of community as a sharing economy takes over.
How FaithStay Hosts can be a good neighbor:
- Get to know the permanent residents. Listen to any fears and concerns and assure them you’ll be an attentive host. Stop in often to say hello and maintain contact.
- Make sure residents know how to reach you in case there are any issues with the property or your guests. Make sure your guests know how to reach you so they don’t pester your neighbors if anything comes up during their stay.
- Consider offering a discount or special offer to residents’ friends and family. Could you waive the cleaning fee? Offer a free night with a booking? Extend your off-season rates? Residents could be your best referrals!
- Clearly post and enforce house rules regarding trash, parking and quiet times. Encourage residents to let you know if your guests aren’t staying in line.
- Obey all local ordinances regarding vacation rentals. Keep up with zoning and pay any lodging tax that may be required. And always make sure your place looks great!
How residents can be a good neighbor to FaithStay homes:
- Greet guests cheerfully — it’s even easier to offer hospitality without grumbling when it’s not at your house!
- Recommend restaurants, attractions, churches, etc. Be prepared to suggest urgent care centers or mechanics.
- Share your contact info in case of an emergency, or encourage guests to come on over if they need anything.
- Share generously, whether it’s your grill or a coveted parking space.
- Politely and promptly communicate any issues to the host.
One neighbor who’s lived on our street for the past 50 years has embraced the vacation rental property next door to his family home. He’s on a friendly first-name basis with the home owner and housekeeper, and he’s become good friends with a family who rents the property every year. Now he accompanies them on their day trips!
My unique neighborhood makes it harder for me to have those borrow-a-cup-of-sugar end long-talks-over-the-picket-fence relationships with my neighbors, but it also gives me an opportunity to love new neighbors every week.
Learn more about FaithStay:
- Host – Show travelers the meaning of Christian hospitality by sharing a room or your entire home with a welcoming heart. Earn money, fund missions and ministries and build community as you connect with others from around the world.
- Travel – Stay in safe and loving Christian homes while you travel. Explore, fellowship and connect through new, enriching experiences.
Give Back – FaithStay enables hosts to directly tithe to their home church. In addition, we have partnered with regional, gospel-based rescue missions to support them in providing hospitality to our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness.