Mar 25, 2020 - Economy & Business

Rural areas see short-term rental boom amid coronavirus spread

illustration of homes as increasing bars of a bar chart

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While the travel industry and accommodations are taking a major hit amid the coronavirus pandemic, short-term rentals in U.S. rural (and suburban, to a less extent) areas are seeing an uptick, according to new data from AirDNA.

The big picture: People are fleeing densely populated areas, especially on the coasts, and taking up shelter in isolated rentals in rural and more "destination" type of locales.

By the numbers:

  • Airbnb revenue in rural areas: $1.32 billion in March 2020, up from $1.04 billion in March 2019.
  • Airbnb revenue in urban areas: $631 million in March 2020, down from $706 million in March 2019.

Even on a local level, AirDNA's data shows similar patterns between dense city centers and outer areas.

  • New York: Most of Manhattan and parts of bordering New Jersey are collectively down 66% between March 2019 and March 2020, while Connecticut and the Hamptons are seeing a boom in bookings.
  • Boston: The city of Boston is down 66%, while Nantucket and other vacation areas are seeing a huge off-season uptick.
  • Chicago: Chicago is down 11% while lakeside areas in Illinois and Michigan are getting two or three times the bookings.

Yes, but: There's no evidence this will be enough to help the company cruise through the current crisis, especially if travel doesn't resume sooner rather than later. It's in discussions with potential investors for new capital as it decides what to do with its IPO plans.

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