Jasper Ribbers is a former equity arbitrage trader who has been living a location independent lifestyle since 2010. He supports this lifestyle by monetizing his skills and assets on several online marketplaces such as Airbnb, Udemy, Fiverr, Upwork and Clarity.
I connected with Jasper last year after following him on Twitter and being intrigued by his lifestyle. At that point he was in Bangkok. Fittingly, when we caught up last week for this interview, he’d moved on to Jakarta! So how is Airbnb enabling this nomadic lifestyle? What led to it? And can others do the same? Jasper tells us all…
Q: How the heck did a simple sharing economy platform help you travel the world?
In 2010 I quit my finance job to pursue a life long dream: to travel the world full-time. At the time, I was renting my apartment in Amsterdam to long term renters, but the rent wasn’t enough to support my travels. When I started renting out on Airbnb, the income from my apartment tripled. I was literally making enough money to support myself! At that moment I realized that I never had to go back to an office job, which felt pretty amazing.
Q: What did you do before Airbnb? Did you hold a steady desk job?
Absolutely, I worked for a proprietary trading firm, first in Amsterdam and later in Chicago. I did like the actual work, but I didn’t want to spend the best years of my life in an office looking at a bunch of flatscreens full of numbers.
Q: Do you think your kind of experience is something others can easily experience? What advice would you have?
It really depends on the situation. I was in a fortunate position where I could pay off my mortgage before I started traveling, which obviously helps. But even if I subtract monthly mortgage payments, I’d still have enough left to live off, I’d just have to be a bit more economical.
This won’t be the case for everyone though, it depends on where you live and what type of property you have. The only way to know is to try and find out, so I always encourage who are interested in pursuing a similar lifestyle to list their place and see how much they can make.
For those who don’t own a house, it’s a bit trickier. It’s still possible though, there are plenty of examples of people who rent several houses long term and list those on Airbnb, often making double or triple the rent. It all just depends on how much you want it.
Q: Airbnb’s success has spawned a huge array of add-on services that improve the guest experience. Is there one that stands out for you?
I personally think that the pricing apps solve the biggest problem that hosts have, namely figuring out what the optimal price to charge is. I used to spend a lot of time trying to figure it out, looking at visitor stats, hotel prices and doing all sorts of calculations. It’s too complex for any single person to solve that problem.
I use Beyond Pricing now, the app connects to my calendar and automatically updates the prices every day, so now I never have to worry about it anymore. I make more money and it saves me time.
Q: I recently came across Very.us. What do you think of total strangers sharing a vacation rental together? There was once a time where people thought renting a room was crazy…
I think this is the next step towards a society where people aren’t scared of strangers. Right now the word “stranger” has such a negative connotation to it, and there is really no reason for that. The vast majority of people on our planet are good people with no bad intentions and they are certainly not going to kill you.
So why don’t we just assume that a stranger is a good person unless we have reason to think otherwise? Why is the default that a stranger is dangerous unless you know the person? This may have been a survival strategy in the stone ages, but in modern society there is no reason to think that way anymore. It’s just holding people back from meeting others and people are probably missing out on great experiences because they don’t open up. So I think a platform like very.us is awesome and I encourage anyone to use it.
As well as enjoying this lifestyle, Jasper is also active in the Airbnb community, and is the co-author of the Amazon Best Selling book on Airbnb hosting, Get Paid For Your Pad – How To Maximize Income From Your Airbnb Listing. He also co-hosts the only podcast on Airbnb hosting, Get Paid For Your Pad. Thanks to Jasper for participating in this series of interviews we are running with Airbnb hosts and service providers!