Meet Paul and Lina: Airbnb hosts in Scarborough

Meet Paul and Lina.

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Nestled on a tree-lined street in Scarborough, Paul and Lina’s beautiful brick home of 31 years is a picturesque hideaway for those travelling to Toronto who want a tranquil retreat, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. With a basement suite and a former pool house converted into a studio, the couple have two listings on Airbnb.

After 28 years with Bell Canada, Lina lost her job due to downsizing. “It’s hard to find a job when you’re 50 years old, competing with young people,” she said.

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The son of a carpenter, Paul was inspired to pursue civil engineering. “I’ve worked in home construction all my life for civil consulting engineers, contractors and land developers.” When his supervisor told him he would have to take a 40% pay cut, he ventured out on his own, taking on his own renovation projects throughout the neighbourhood.

Approaching retirement without steady income, the Scarborough duo were seeking creative ways to earn a little extra money to make ends meet.  “Our daughter Dana, an avid traveller, said ‘Why don’t you try Airbnb?’” they said. That was three years ago, and their listings have been booked ever since.

“Airbnb provides a lot of advantages for us. We wouldn’t change it for the world.”

After years of experience as hosts, Paul and Lina have seen how Airbnb has democratized travel around the world. “What other service is out there that allows you to literally pick and choose everything you want? Amenities, location, something lavish or more moderate. It caters to such a wide market. From young to old, from very affluent to those just starting out,” Paul said.

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“In our opinion it’s a win-win for everybody. Nobody’s left out, nobody’s left behind. It’s a people based economy.”

When guests stay with Paul and Lina, they always point them towards local businesses nearby, including their favorite pizza place Pizza L’Amore and local bistro, Vi Pei. “One of our guests actually posted a review of the pizza place and recommended it!” Lina remarked.

Beyond supporting the local economy, encouraging guests to live like a local is a passion the couple shares. They always encourage guests to check out the Scarborough Bluffs, a beautiful landscape that most tourists staying in downtown Toronto would miss. “There are a lot of things to do here that are not advertised by the mainstream media. So many things you’d never see unless you get off the beaten path,” said Paul.