My wife and I are frequent travelers for work, so we must find somewhat long-term furnished housing. Typically we will stay in a city for three to six months at a time. We had accepted an assignment near Los Angeles last spring. We decided on a place through HomeAway in Monterey Park for the first month we were living in the area. This turned out to be extremely unaffordable so we turned to Airbnb.
For nearly half of the price, we found this quaint little home on the northern end of Pasadena. After reading all of the reviews, which were mostly all positive, we pulled the trigger on the place. This is where it gets rather interesting. The specs on the house were very clear: 2 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, shared kitchen. Since the hosts live at the residence, we figured that we would only be sharing the home with the couple that lived there. This didn’t seem like a problem at all, since the hosts were somewhat young and seemed normal enough.
We arrived on a Monday and upon pulling into the driveway, we saw a young couple packing up their belongings. This should have been a sign. As they pulled away, we entered the house and were greeted by an elderly woman and her granddaughter. They lived in the living room, which was enclosed by bedsheets that had been stapled to the ceiling. She showed us which room was ours and from there we began unpacking our things.
Storage was an issue, as the closet in the bedroom was full of the owner’s belongings. As we travel lightly, we made do. The room was very dirty but luckily I travel with a vacuum and was able to sweep up most of the filth. As it turned out, we were to be living with a group of people. The other bedroom was rented out nightly, and the living room (the red room on the Airbnb listing) was inhabited by the elderly woman and her granddaughter on a long-term basis.
We deserve medals for the hell that we put up with. For those reading this, you might be wondering where the “owners” of the house live. I’ll get to why owners is in quotations here in a bit. The owners live in the detached garage. Allow me to tally up the occupants: a minimum of two people in the garage, two in the living room, my wife and I in one bedroom, and usually two others in the other bedroom, which would change every few days. A grand total of eight people per night at a minimum.
This turned out to be pretty awesome with only one full bathroom. Every night, the young girl from the living room would spend 4-5 hours in the bathroom doing only god knows what. If we failed to brush our teeth or shower by 7:00 PM, we wouldn’t be able to until 1:00 AM. Gobs of fun there.
Here’s another amusing fact of our stay. Apparently nobody ever taught her manners, respect, or most of all, energy consumption. Sometime in the middle of the night, the little prick would turn the thermostat to somewhere between 90 and 93 degrees. Because of this we would wake up sweating profusely, angered to a degree with no rival. Between the hours in the bathroom, abuse of the thermostat, and stealing our food, I nearly decided against having children. I understand this is just terrible behavior of another tenant, but amusing nonetheless.
Let’s now discuss the house. Keep your shoes on, because if you don’t your feet will turn black from the dirt on the floors. The yard was something special. The owners kept a large tent in the backyard for storage, since they lived in the damn garage. As far as I could tell, it had never been mown. The grass was roughly four feet tall. Awesome. After staying for a few days, I was quite puzzled as to why anyone would neglect a place like this. Prime location, relative size… they were letting this place turn to crap.
I soon found the answer. The owners don’t own the house. They rent it. They then sublease on Airbnb to make money. This was eye opening. I cannot blame anyone for trying to make money. As far as I’m concerned, go for it. But at least disclose this information on the website. We had to go to the grocery store every evening because there was no storage in the refrigerator. It was full of condiments and crap from previous people’s stays.
Parking was also a nightmare. There were only three parking spaces. This would be sufficient if the house was properly occupied, but it isn’t. At times there would be seven cars in the drive, blocking us in. Often times we would park on the street to avoid any mayhem. Overall I feel like our two-month stay at this commune made us a stronger couple. After living in these conditions we can deal with nearly anything. Here’s a link just in case anyone wants to experience a Pasadena slum.