A group of innovative young Aussies have cracked the code to getting their rent covered whenever they want to jet off on holidays.
Four students at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have created Nesteek, an Australia-only rival to Airbnb designed specifically for young renters.
The founders of the platform say so many Gen Z have been excluded from travel as a result of soaring rental prices, rising airfares post-Covid and the cost of living crisis.
Short-term rentals on Airbnb, which were originally touted as a low-cost alternative to hotels, have also risen in price, with people being stung by massive cleaning and service fees on top of the advertised rate.
With rising rental prices far outweighing increases in wages – a 25 per cent jump per year compared to just 3 per cent for wages – these young Aussies say people in their generation will soon have virtually no disposable income.
Nesteek co-founder and CEO Keith Schembri says Gen Z should not feel like they have to miss out on key life experiences like travel – nor should they have to pay their rent while they are getting these experiences.
“‘Do not pay rent while away’ is our rallying cry, because most young professionals and students I know cannot afford to travel and pay rent simultaneously,” the 21-year-old explained.
“My generation is virtually penniless after paying their rent, but we deserve the same opportunities as any other generation, to enjoy life, create new experiences and explore other cultures.
“The pandemic robbed us of our gap years, our festivals, our holiday romances. We want to move on but travel still seems out of reach.”
This is where Nesteek comes in.
The platform gives young people an opportunity to travel without having to worry about paying rent by having a guest stay in their property for the duration of their trip.
All renters need to do is list their property, whether it is a full home or even just a room, on the Nesteek website.
They can then chat to potential guests to find someone suitable.
However, Schembri warned the platform was not a “side-hustle or business opportunity” and listers should only look to cover the cost of their rent while they are away.
“To protect the lister and their landlord, the funds are automatically deducted from their guests’ bank account in advance of each week of their stay, and they are also protected by a bond payment,” Schembri said.
On the flip-side, young Aussies who want to travel but can’t afford the high costs associated with Airbnb have more affordable accommodation options available.
To make the process even more affordable and hassle-free, only one guest is allowed to book a listing to eliminate the need for paying cleaning fees and managing multiple people.
A quick search of the site shows a number of listings are already available, ranging from $280 to $1600 a week.
Schembri believes Airbnb is broken for young people, claiming the service is now catering primarily towards homeowners who want to run a professional B&B.
Global Airbnb prices increased 25 per cent in 2021, with the average cleaning fee around $100, according to analysis from NerdWallet – though the figure can be significantly higher depending on the size of the property.
The platform also introduced a flat 15 per cent host service fee to simplify the pricing for hosts, further removing it from the original “couch surfing” ethos of the brand.
There are alternatives for young people like posting an ad on Facebook Marketplace but this can be high risk to both renters and hosts.
Schembri claimed Millennials weren’t faced with these dilemmas when wanting to travel in their late teens and early 20s.
“Travel wasn’t an issue for Millennials, because flight prices fell sharply and Airbnb arrived on the scene to make accommodation more open and affordable to all. This is no longer the case today,” he said.
“Airbnb is increasingly geared towards rich homeowners and landlords who want to turn their property into a business.
“Facebook Marketplace is often the only viable alternative for renters, but it can be a high-risk proposition due to scammers, missed payments and untrustworthy tenants.”
Of course, all of this is based on the assumption that one can even find a rental property, something many Aussies are struggling to do.
Social media has been flooded with pictures of crowds waiting to inspect a single property, along with stories of people applying for hundreds of rentals and still being knocked back.
Those in Sydney in particular are feeling the pressure, with the median weekly rent for a house being $630, followed by $530 per week for a unit and $560 for a dwelling.
In regional NSW, the median rents are still quite pricey, sitting between $420 to $500 a week depending on the type of property.
With renters unable to keep up with rising rents in conjunction with leasing contracts ending, Sydneysiders are seeing more people lining up for rental inspections across the suburbs than ever before.
Cameron Kusher, PropTrack director economic research and author of the December Market Insight report, said rental costs will be “something to watch” this year as the lack of rentals is likely to continue driving prices up.
“Vacancy rates in Sydney are still very low,” he told news.com.au.
“Inquiries are still very strong for rental accommodation, the number of properties available for rent is still very low and the properties are leaving the market very quickly.”