Two college students turn to Airbnb for extra income, but end up with much more

We’re excited to continue to tell the stories of our amazing New Orleans hosts. The home sharing community in New Orleans has democratized travel and facilitated a more authentic experience. This allows travelers to live like locals and brings economic gains to hosts—as well as to businesses that haven’t always benefited from tourism and hospitality.

Nathan and Linda met at age 12 in their hometown of Shenyang, China. Eventually, Nathan moved to the U.S. for school while Linda remained in Shenyang.

Who would’ve thought years later they’d reconnect in New Orleans.

“It’s crazy,” Linda exclaims. “We went to middle school together back in China, and somehow we ended up in the same city again.”

The couple lists two rooms of their single-family home in the suburb of Terrytown, right across the Mississippi river from downtown New Orleans.

They’re both Tulane University alums — Linda recently graduated with her Master’s in Accounting, and Nathan is a 2nd-year med student. Being new homeowners and full-time students, they initially turned to Airbnb as a way to generate extra income. “Mardi Gras was approaching and we knew the hotels would be sold out, so we thought we’d try Airbnb to make a little money to cover bills,” chimes Linda.

“It’s been a huge help, covering living expenses and utilities,” Nathan says.

Gu-Stat-GifNathan and Linda have hosted a wide spectrum of travelers. “We host a lot of ‘road trippers’ — people passing by New Orleans as they travel across the country,” says Linda. “We also have a lot of college students stay with us who are traveling on a tight budget. Airbnb allows them to experience the city when they otherwise may not be able to afford it.”

Extra Credit

The couple hosted a few 4th-year Tulane medical students who were scouting houses before their hospital residency or traveling during a break. To Nathan’s delight, these travelers provided an added benefit:

The students gave me advice on how to study more efficiently, and areas of focus for my 2nd year of school. They also shared their experience preparing for board exams, choosing residency and interviewing. In general, we had some good conversation on what to expect during the rest of my med school career.

NOLA Hosts_New Orleans_Nathan Linda Gu_Morrison_2000px-30*(2)The couple also has a loving helper. “My mom is a new immigrant to the United States, and she helps tidy up for guests as well as cook meals,” says Nathan. “She doesn’t speak any English, so having travelers in our home actually helps her learn the language and go-to phrases, and allows her to assimilate to American culture in a safe environment,” he adds.

“Guests love teaching her English!” adds a smiling Linda. “That’s how you learn — by talking to people.”

While the couple initially listed their space to earn money to cover expenses, they ended up gaining much more: friendship, invaluable college advice, and a friendly introduction to American culture for Nathan’s mother.

Nathan and Linda believe a primary reason for the rising popularity of home sharing is the connection to regular, everyday people. “Travelers like putting money into real people’s hands,” notes Linda. “People like us.”

NOLA Hosts_New Orleans_Nathan Linda Gu_Morrison_1600px-26*