A few months ago, I read a post on the EA forum titled EA Houses: Live or Stay with EAs Around The World, a new airbnb-like platform for EAs.
I thought it was a neat idea but got the strong impression from reading the post that the platform was intended to support those working in EA jobs/projects. As that does not describe my situation, I did not bother thinking about investigating the platform further.
Many weeks later, I came across the platform again and out of curiosity, scrolled through the list of housing options available.
To give some context here: I work remotely, love exploring new places and am currently testing/sampling new cities I may potentially want to live in.
To my surprise, I saw someone offering accommodation in Boulder, Colorado… and they said they routinely have 2-4 rooms available. Boulder is one of the cities I was most excited to spend time in and is otherwise very expensive for short-term rentals.
Despite my previous reluctance, I thought I’d reach out to the host and be honest about my situation and see if they would be willing to accommodate me.
I wrote that:
- I do not work for an EA org
- I only rarely attend EA meetups in my home city
- Aside from giving to AMF and reading the EA forum, my life only minimally involves EA
- I wanted to see how I enjoyed Boulder and this visit would be for my own personal benefit and not part of some broader EA goal
The host set up a brief call where we talked about EA and life in Boulder; after about 10 minutes, he invited me to visit for as long as I wanted (less than one week stays would be free, any longer would be $1000 per month pro rated).
I visited in July for just over two weeks and had an absolutely wonderful and enriching experience.
From my perspective:
- I had a really lovely time
- I got to experience what life is like in Boulder, which was very valuable for me
- I had lots of stimulating conversations/experiences that helped broaden my worldview
- Two other housemates shared the same profession as me, which lead to lots of beneficial career related conversations
- Being around so many other EAs helped make me feel more connected to EA, be more comfortable with EA aspects of my life and inspired me to consider having greater involvement with EA (whether that be through direct work, attending EA Global etc) [since organizing my visit, I have already volunteered to contribute to two EA related projects, which I doubt would have happened otherwise]
From the host’s perspective:
- I think that everyone staying at the house enjoyed my company
- I was able to provide rent money for a room that would have otherwise been unoccupied
- I contributed to the house in various ways
- Given my professional background, I was able to provide some specific targeted advice to some of the people at the house
Given my positive experience, I wanted to signal boost the EA Houses platform and speak to why I think others may want to give it a chance, even if they do not spend their day working on EA related projects.
There are lots of EAs working remotely, who may otherwise enjoy visiting new places or connecting with more EAs. This platform seems specifically well-suited for them.
One of the reasons why remote working EAs don’t travel more is the prohibitive cost of short term housing.
One of the reasons for the high cost of short term housing is a lack of trust. People with extra space do not trust strangers to be kind, interesting and gracious guests. I believe a platform like EA Houses greatly mitigates this.
I believe EAs are likely to be highly trustable, and also likely to be compatible with and interesting to other EAs. Given this, it seems a platform like EA Houses creates a huge efficiency for prospective guests and hosts.
For those with extra space considering hosting, beyond facilitating more direct EA work, you may also feel excited by potentially receiving additional rent, partaking in interesting conversations and helping strengthen a guest's sense of involvement within the EA community (and potentially your own as well)
As a remote worker, I feel excited to reach out to EA Houses hosts in other parts of the world for future visits :)