Airbnb, Choose Topeka to offer professionals free stays in Kansas Capital

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 10:29 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Airbnb has partnered with Choose Topeka to offer professionals free stays in the Kansas Capital.

GO Topeka says its Choose Topeka Relocation Initiative has partnered with Airbnb to provide possible new residents with free opportunities to visit the Capitol City. It said Choose Topeka provides up to $15,000 for those that wish to relocate to Topeka, a city of almost 200,000 people.

“As some consumers think through relocating, local, hosted stays enabled by Airbnb provide a fantastic option to explore neighborhoods before making a decision,” said Barbara Stapleton, vice president of business retention and talent initiatives at Go Topeka. “Through this partnership, potential residents will be able to ‘try before they buy,’ prior to making the commitment to the Choose Topeka program – and can truly experience what life could look like here if selected.”

According to the Greater Topeka Partnership, potential new Topekans will be guided by Airbnb’s ‘Online Experiences’ to introduce Topeka to anyone that may want to relocate and can answer questions regarding local life, events, and more.

“In a new Airbnb survey, 44% of consumers across five countries are interested in trying out a new city before buying a home there, including 47% of Americans,” said Chris Lehane, senior vice president for global public policy and communications at Airbnb. “Specifically, 62% of U.S. survey respondents who identify as Latinx and 50% who identify as Black -- as well as 50% of Californians -- are open to the idea of ‘try before you buy.’”

Currently, GTP said 40 people that make an average of $85,000 per year have participated in the Choose Topeka program, coming from cities across the nation, including New York City and San Francisco. It said 21 workers purchased a home in Topeka and 19 are renting.

According to GTP, Kristy Blake, the director of the New Life Center at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, moved to Topeka in late April with her husband. It said they came from Arlington, TX, and bought a house in Kansas’ capital city.

“It really has been a very good transition for us. It really feels like a family here,” said Blake. She and her husband are getting to know their neighbors. And the city, she added, is a great size — “small enough, yet big enough for what we enjoy doing.”

GTP said the Topeka community boasts a thriving NOTO Arts District, a revitalized downtown district, and Evergy Plaza. It said Topeka is also home to breweries, unique eateries, live music venues, luxury hotels, and top-quality museums.

“Airbnb is thrilled to partner with Choose Topeka, to help remote workers discover life in the Golden City and consider making their new home here,” said Lehane. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic -- and the rise of remote working -- we are now empowered to live anywhere, and many are looking to try out a city before making a move. Working with Choose Topeka, we hope to provide their community with the opportunity to do exactly that, as part of a new vision for flexible living.”

Since the launch of the program in 2019, GTP said it has gotten thousands of requests from across the continent, as well as international requests.

“We encourage anyone that is considering taking advantage of all that Topeka has to offer to come check it out yourself. We think you will be surprised with all that the city has to offer,” continued Stapleton.

According to GTP, the Choose Topeka program will reimburse residents with job offers in Topeka up to $15,000 when buying a home and $10,000 for rentes that sign a one-year lease. It said employees that work remotely for companies based outside of the city can get up to $10,000 if they buy a home and up to $5,000 for a one-year lease.

13 News spoke with Airbnb communication leader, Liz DeBold Fusco about where this idea stemmed from.

“This is actually based on a program that was launched earlier this year with Tulsa Remote which is another remote working program that wants working talent to move to Tulsa. We saw that it was really successful for members who received coupons and in their case they were able to work on making their homes and these coupons allowed them to book stays in different neighbors and helped them see what neighborhood they would like to move to,” DeBold Fusco said.

Topeka is 1 of 9 communities Airbnb has partnered with to help expand their populations. She also says it helps when potential residents are able to get a taste of what their lives can look like when staying in the community.

Airbnb said it has the following listings in Topeka:

To book a stay with Airbnb, click HERE.

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