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A Different View

Is your house still a castle with a tenant in the spare room?

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Room for rent sign

It used to be that your home was your castle – but that was before the credit crunch. Now it’s a place you can rent out a room for six grand to students, or open your door to complete strangers for a couple of euro a night.

The problem is that there are times I’d prefer to close the door on people I actually know, so perhaps the Airbnb concept is not for me.

Neither is house swapping because while the benefits might be a free gaff overlooking Central Park, the downside is some nosey Yank poking through your smalls in your absence.

But beggars can’t be choosers and in any event there are millions who either earn money or enjoy affordable holidays by making the best use of their own house.

Airbnb – the online company that allows you to rent out a bed, a room or an entire house to visitors – started out as a short-term solution to those having difficulties with the rent.

Just seven years later, it is estimated to be worth around $20 billion with over 1,000,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries– so clearly someone is doing something right.

Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were roommates in San Francisco in the middle of the last decade – and they were struggling with the rent for their loft.

At the same time the Industrial Designers Society of America was staging its Industrial Design Conference – and the two boys realised that there were a number of attendees who couldn’t find a hotel room.

So they married supply to demand and made their living room into a bed and breakfast, accommodating three guests on air mattresses and providing home-made breakfast.

How they took it from Air Bed and Breakfast to a €20 billion company is a longer story – but clearly, given their number of listings, at least a million people bought into it.

And in a way we were doing this in Galway long before anyone else even thought of it – remember when families moved away for Race Week and rented out their homes for a price that more than paid for their holiday?

Airbnb doesn’t equate to couch surfing because while some people do just offer a fold-out sofa bed, some of the more luxurious listings would include, for example, a three-bed Manhattan apartment near Times Square at a cost of $575 a night, which generated an estimated $172,500 for its owner last year.

Clearly then not everyone is in it to try and earn a few extra quid to pay the college fees or budget for the heating oil – but a lot of people have just come to realise that they are sitting on an asset that’s not making any money.

Theoretically it is of course, because house values are again on the rise, but the only people monitoring that are your children and Michael Noonan – the kids so they can estimate their inheritance and the Minister for Finance so he can tap you up for the property tax.

Thus for those living in a University city, the rent-a-room scheme makes sense because you can earn up to €12,000 a year tax free.

But do you really want a student in your spare room – or more precisely one who isn’t related to you by virtue of you being one of his or her parents?

Think of the sweaty waft that comes from your own kids’ rooms – and they actually leave them to scatter their detritus downstairs.  In this case, the paying student would be largely confined to their room.

So you can multiply those odours by two or three – and we all know that opening the odd window won’t undo that.

How do you react if they decide to bring home a guest? Given that you’re already in the rental business, presumably you charge – but do you really want to meet strangers on your way to your own loo at four in the morning?

That said, at least you might get to know your guest if it’s a student for the academic year – but some stray who can’t afford a hotel room? Different kettle of fish.

All of the registration and references in the world cannot guarantee that your iPad isn’t off to Mexico on the next part of your guest’s world tour.

And what do you do when voices are raised in some sort of domestic dispute – or that cold silence chills to the bones?

Do you have to act like you’re one of the Waltons or The Brady Bunch every time you have a house guest?

I know of people who were reared in B&Bs – their families owned them, they were not in temporary accommodation – and they are still haunted by the tension that is created when you cannot say what you want to say in front of the paying guests.

One particular friend of mine, who grew up in a holiday town in the south of the country, spent every summer sleeping in a shed at the bottom of the garden because his room was worth more with him out of it than in it.

And that cuts to the crux of the matter – is your house a means of making money or is it a home?

Admittedly not everyone has the luxury of making that call, because some have no option but to harness every cent of potential income to avoid having to hand the house keys back to the bank.

But isn’t there something about stretching out in your own seat in your own room watching your own telly – wearing whatever you like in the privacy of your own home – that money simply cannot compensate for?

Good luck to the boys from Airbnb and fair sailing to the landlords and landladies of students – I think we’ll keep the drawbridge up and the moat in place for a little while longer yet.

Connacht Tribune

Sporting rivalry doesn’t have to mean segregated supporters

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Three sporting teams whose boundaries come up to the back door of each other’s patch were all in action at the one venue – two of them against each other – at the weekend.

If it was the Premiership, it wouldn’t – and couldn’t – have happened because there would be carnage either inside or outside the ground . . .or both.

But this was Pearse Stadium and the county senior football championship, an afternoon’s entertainment that might not have been on Sky Sports’ radar, but which was no less crucial for those with a vested interest all the same.

First up, Oughterard were up against their nearest neighbours Killannin for a semi-final place, while the other leg of this local stool saw reigning champions Moycullen successfully put their crown on the line against Tuam Stars.

It goes without saying that the crowd was in the high hundreds or low thousands; this wasn’t Old Trafford or Anfield with 60,000 or 70,000 fans congregating from all corners of the globe, never mind the country.

So it wasn’t Celtic and Rangers or City against United; it was neighbours and families and friends intermingled all in one place, albeit wearing different colours.

And even allowing for the intensity of local rivalries, the ties that bind are infinitely stronger than the boundaries that divide.

Half the Killannin team went to school in Oughterard. The Monaghans, who line out for Oughterard, are sons of Terence who was steeped in Moycullen football before moving parish.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Homework only goes to prove parents haven’t all the answers

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Anyone fortunate enough to be a parent will always remember the moment when their child transitioned from unqualified hero worship to thinking that ma and da, if not quite clowns, at least possessed feet of clay.

And that moment often coincided with the time you could no longer make head nor tail of their homework.

You were grand with addition and subtraction, even multiplication and basic division – but when theorems or algebra or physics or foreign languages came into the equation, suddenly your infallible status took a nosedive straight into the nearest bin.

The consolation is that we are not alone – because most parents admit they’ve forgotten even the basics from their schooldays, leaving them cruelly exposed when the teenagers come looking for help.

A recent UK survey asked 1,500 parents aged over 30 what they had forgotten from their schooldays.

Top of the list was algebra – forgotten by half of them – followed by trigonometry and Pythagoras’s Theorem. About a third of respondents could no longer remember how to do long division – or name ten or more elements from the periodic table.

A quarter didn’t know the difference between an isosceles and a scalene triangle, and almost a fifth had forgotten how to use a protractor. Most of those probably thought a compass was for pricking the back of the student sitting in front of you.

Other classroom classics now lost in the sands of time included a failure to recognise cloud formations, identifying an oxbow lake, remembering quotes from Shakespeare, or explaining the difference between volts and amps.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Everybody knows a Dave – but it still don’t make a storm

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It’s been a tough week for Ireland’s Daves and Davids – ever since we found out just how close we were to having our own storm, only to have it snatched away from us by a public vote that inexplicably went for Dudley instead.

It doesn’t matter than Dudley hardly even sounds like a gust of wind, let alone a gale force storm; it just conjures up an image of a drunken Dudley Moore in Arthur, meandering all over the place – more of a danger to himself than the roof of your house is.

The only consolation is that, if it wasn’t Dudley, it still wouldn’t have been Dave – because in compiling the shortlist, our own Queen of the Weather Forecast, Evelyn Cusack, made a stronger case for Storm Diarmuid, ahead of Dave, David and even Dafydd.

The Brits were keen on Storm Dave, but part of the reason that there is an annual debate among the Met Offices is to ensure a disparate selection, with something for each of the participating nationalities.

That’s why we got Barra, Pól, Seán and Méabh, and the Welsh got Arwen and possibly Gladys, and the Dutch got Vergil and Willemien, with a couple of crossover names like Jack and Kim and Ruby in there for good measure.

But when it came to Storm D, our Met Éireann boss wouldn’t even entertain Dermot as a compromise over Diarmuid, according to the correspondence on this year’s storm-naming process, as revealed under Freedom of Information this week.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter in the end because the people decided anyway. They were given a choice of Duncan, Dudley and Dafydd. . .and Dudley was the winner, perhaps – the commentators think – because of Dudley Dursley, erstwhile star of Harry Potter. As opposed to Dudley Moore.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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