Everything about this ‘Airbnb for camping on balconies’ smells like farts

Ever wanted to spend your city trip in a tent in a parking garage? Thanks to this Dutch Airbnb clone, your squalid urban dream might just come true.

After apartments, cars, and tools, it was only a matter of time before the sharing economy would come for the fallow ground of real estate; balconies, gardens, courtyards, and parking places.

The Dutch startup Campspace is charging ahead into that undercapitalized space, by offering owners the possibility to trade their inner-city outside space for handfuls of cash.

The kick-off to become the platform for happy campers is happening sometime next month.

On the 12th and 13th of August, the startup is offering a choice of interesting places to camp in and around Amsterdam to raise awareness for their platform.

To be fair, that night sounds kind of fun, with the startup offering camping spots on the field of the Olympic Stadium and on top of a high-rise building.

Their plan is to be a spot for people all over the globe – so not only in overcrowded cities – to offer camp sites. At the moment, the site shows lots of places still to come, with very few campsites actually available.

This bit might actually be a good idea, allowing people to offer some of their surplus space to people looking to pitch a tent. It’s the bit about them telling local Amsterdam TV station AT5 that they think “a backyard in Amsterdam” is “already cool enough” that worries me. Why? We’ve already seen when people are allowed to rent out their real estate.

Airbnb’s influence on housing prices is well noted – cities like Berlin have outlawed renting out whole apartments to combat rising rent prices, and Amsterdam recently introduced a law to limit Airbnb rentals to a maximum of 60 days a year. Adding gardens, balconies, and parking places to the mix can only exacerbate the problem.

Apartments with outside areas already go for a premium in highly populated cities like Amsterdam. If you add the possibility to capitalize more on those perks, the prizes will inevitably follow.

The sharing economy is a beautiful ideal, incentivizing more efficient use of resources. But like in any capitalist marketplace, these new markets disproportionately reward ownership, giving people who already have resources more options to exploit their belongings.

In the case of Airbnb, this leads to speculators buying up apartments to rent out to tourists, because that’s more lucrative than long-term rental to locals – leading to scarcity and rising real estate prices.

And then we’re not even talking about the real question: Who the fuck would enjoy having a group of campers on their balcony? Where do they shit? Or shower? And from the other side: I can’t imagine anyone enjoying a nice stay in a parking garage.

But who knows. Maybe it’s all just part of our future hellscape, in which we have to rent out everything we own through platforms like Airbnb or Campspace just to be able to pay our bills.

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