Chicago: Carrie’s Airbnb Story

“I’m sending my first child off to college in the fall with the money I’m making from Airbnb,” says Carrie Valencia, 40, a mother of three and hair stylist who runs her own salon, K Chula in Ukrainian Village. “I don’t have a magic money tree!”Chicago-Host-Photos_Chicago_Dilts_20160509_1116_RET

Carrie and her kids have lived in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood for the past two years. She started hosting about a year ago, when she heard good things about Airbnb from her salon clients. “I used to host foreign exchange students,” she says, “so I already knew I liked the home sharing idea. I get to meet lots of cool people and generate income for my kids’ education—as well as for my own retirement.”

Carrie lives in a duplex and rents its two bedroom/one bathroom apartment to travelers from all over the world. She uses Airbnb’s review system to
screen all her guests before accepting them, and changes the apartment’s keypad’s entry code after every guest. “I’m serious about safety,” she says, “but I’ve found Airbnb’s guest reviews to be very accurate. I’ve never had a problem.”Chicago-Host-Photos_Chicago_Dilts_20160509_1723_RET

As a small business owner herself, Carrie knows lots of other entrepreneurs in the area, and makes a point of recommending local shops to her guests—especially the ones that sport an Airbnb decal in their windows. “Hands down, Airbnb is good for Logan Square,” she says. “Most of the people I’ve hosted say they would not have come to visit Chicago if there was no Airbnb. They can’t afford a $200-a-night hotel. So all they money they spend when they get here—at our great farmers’ market, at our Cuban sandwich shop, at our local brewery, at our little movie theater—all of that is money that wouldn’t have come to Chicago if it weren’t for Airbnb. It’s just that simple.”