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Is AirBNB Ukraine Any Good?

AirBNB Ukraine is probably the easiest way for foreigners, both expats and tourists, to find a place to stay while they’re visiting Ukraine. There are a few other apartment agencies (we’ll get to that in a minute), but AirBNB tends to be the most popular. It’s also the most “Western-friendly” of all of the apartment agencies (if you can really call it that) in Ukraine.

The nice thing about AirBNB Ukraine is that you get the majority of the Western customer service. Well, at least the apartment owners are held to those standards. If you don’t, AirBNB usually takes the side of the customer in any dispute. This almost forces the hand of the apartment owners to make sure you have a good experience.

AirBNB Ukraine: Prices

Let’s talk shop first. First off, I do need to make a couple of assumptions in regards to this.

  1. You don’t mind paying the “Western tax” that comes with not speaking the local language, and not signing a lease. While some people will scream (locals especially) that it’s too expensive…they forget that AirBNB includes any and all utilities. You’re paying for the easiness of renting.
  2. These prices mostly assume that you are staying in the centers of the city, or at least very close by.
  3. This also assumes monthly prices. The short stays of 3 days will drive the price up significantly. The apartment owners want to set it and forget it, and not have to be hassled to book it up throughout the month.

In a big city like Kiev, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500-$1,200 for an apartment for one month. I’d consider $500 to be a steal and $1,200 to be a ripoff. Probably a reasonable goal to aim for is right in the middle at $700 or $800.

In Odessa (summer 2016), I was able to secure a two bedroom apartment for six weeks for $1,100. Split between two people, the cost of living was incredibly low.

The Downsides…At Times

The problem with AirBNB Ukraine is when you get the locals (who own the properties) who just don’t seem to have a grasp on Western customer service policies. For example, that apartment in Odessa…was not our original apartment.

My friend and I arrived in Odessa that day, and were told we couldn’t have the apartment that we booked. There was a “pregnant lady who didn’t want to leave”. Yes, that was the excuse. Never mind the fact that we’d booked the apartment nearly six months beforehand. It was an absolutely ridiculous excuse that never should have happened in the first place.

Instead, we waited around all day and were then taken to a new apartment. At that apartment, the family was moving out as we got there. I’m not kidding, they left for the summer. Apparently when our original apartment was taken, the landlady called her friend and asked if they’d rent it out for the summer. They packed up and left for the summer cottage in a span of three hours, and gave us their space for six weeks.

It blew my mind.

What’s the Alternatives?

There’s a few AirBNB alternatives in Ukraine, but I simply haven’t had the luck with them that I’d hoped to. Make sure you filter these down to “apartments” only unless you’re actually searching for a hotel.

Where AirBNB has the alternatives beat is usually their messaging system. Booking doesn’t usually let you send private messages and negotiate a rate. Dobovo lets you, but the English levels don’t seem to be as strong as they are on AirBNB.

How to Negotiate a Good AirBNB Price in Ukraine

If you’re renting for a month at a time, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than 25% off the list price. Ukrainian apartment owners know how far Western money goes, so they jack the price up in the hopes that people just won’t care. The amount you can get off also varies by season. 25% is good to shoot for during the peak summer months, but you can get up to 40-50% off during winter.

Below is a template you can use to email property managers about their apartments.

Hi [Name],

I’m a [profession] who is planning to spend a month in [city] from [dates]. I will be traveling [by myself/with someone], and need a home base. I will be working and exploring your beautiful country and city

I was wondering what kind of discount we could get on renting the apartment for the whole month? I would like to pay [your price] if it’s possible

Thank you/Spasibo,

[name]

In regards to saying “Spasibo”, I like to show some respect and appreciation for the Ukrainian culture. At the same time, typing out the Cyrillic letters might send too much of a try-hard feel. Just my $0.02.

In any case, let’s hear your thoughts on AirBNB Ukraine in the comments below.

-UL

PS: If you plan to stay a bit longer, it’s not a terrible idea to meet a Ukrainian girl online and have her help you negotiate an apartment rate. You’d be shocked how helpful many of them will be. To learn more, click here.

  • January 20, 2017
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