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New data: How many Airbnbs are in your neighborhood

Published on Mar. 25, 2020 by Steven Vance

Updated on Mar. 31, 2020

Travel is down drastically, in order for humanity to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Many short term rental operators have no one to rent to. In some places — Dublin, Ireland— it looks like Airbnb apartments are rejoining the housing market. Some are curious if that’s happening in Chicago.

Stay updated on this topic by following this mega thread.

MAP: The density of Airbnb listings as of March 18, 2020, is symbolized by community area. The darker the green, the more listings. Riverdale is the only community with likely zero listings. Data provided by Inside Airbnb.

The short answer is we don’t know. There’s no central registry of apartments (Evanston has one). Zillow is a major source of this kind of research, but it has a bias of considering only the apartments that are listed on its website.

Inside Airbnb is a website that captures data about Airbnb listings on a monthly basis. There is data for February 22 and March 18, 2020, so it may be possible to chart a decline in the number of listings, but that’s an analysis for later. The information, while inexact, is still useful.

SCREENSHOT: The little map on Airbnb’s website that shows you approximately where a listing is, somewhere inside the circle.

Airbnb doesn’t reveal a listing’s location until the traveler books it, and doesn’t reveal it in the data capture either. The data Inside Airbnb captures shows a listing’s location give or take up to 450 feet.

Since the locations are approximate, a listing may be located in a neighboring community area. I chose to analyze the data assuming that the locations are exact. However, the order of magnitude difference in the number of listings between community areas will likely not change.

Show me the data

There were 7,450 listings in the March 18, 2020, data capture, operated by 4,118 host profiles; five host profiles control nearly six percent of the listings.

There are four “room types”, and 5,132 of the 7,450 citywide listings are for an entire home or apartment (68.9 percent). Compare that to the approximately 585,245 rental dwelling units in Chicago (per the 2018 American Community Survey).

Listings aren’t evenly geographically distributed. Five community areas have 42.8 percent all of the Airbnb listings in Chicago’s 77 community areas, per the March 18, 2020 data capture. The West Town community area has the most Airbnb listings for an entire home or apartment with 692, which is 121 more than the Near North Side, which has the second most entire home or apartment listings with 571.

Rounding out positions 3, 4, and 5, are the Lake View (486 listings), Logan Square (403), and Lincoln Park (335) community areas.

SCREENSHOT: A map shows the Airbnb listings that are possibly in the 47th Ward. Due to Airbnb data provisions, locations may be anywhere within a small circle, possibly putting a listing in a neighboring area.

Riverdale likely has zero Airbnb listings. Humboldt Park has fewer listings than East Garfield Park. (I’ll throw out some potential factors, because I wasn’t expecting that: Humboldt Park has a 50 percent denser population, but East Garfield Park has four ‘L’ stations, four more than Humboldt Park.)

Explore the data yourself: View any one of our over 10,800 Places in Chicago. Then, scroll down and click on the “Load Airbnb housing locations” button.


Stay tuned next month when I download an updated data capture and compare the number of listings in April versus March. Or get started yourself and download the data for Chicago from Inside Airbnb.

Check our my Twitter thread from earlier this week with more details.

Question for the data scientists…If you were to normalize the data in the choropleth map above, what addition factor would you use? The area of the community area, its population, the estimated number of housing units, the number of hotel rooms, or something else?

New data: How many Airbnbs are in your neighborhood was originally published in Chicago Cityscape on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.