Airbnb fills a midwestern town with hype

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The Future. A tiny town in Oklahoma was put on the map (literally, actually) by a pandemic-fueled surge as an Airbnb hotspot. It was so in demand that the business registration manager at the Oklahoma Tax Commission stated “the town is basically one giant Airbnb.” But with demand plummeting for short-term rentals across the nation, thanks to changing tastes and regulatory restrictions, the rise (and kind of fall) of Hochatown may show the peril of relying on one tech platform for revenue.

Short-term small town
Welcome to Airbnb, Oklahoma… er… Hochatown, Oklahoma.

  • Even though Hochatown only has 219 residents, it has 2,400 rental properties — 2,000 that were built during the pandemic and so quickly that they didn’t adhere to building codes.
  • That put a lot of pressure on a town that didn’t have a police force, firefighters, garbage collectors, paved roads, or reliable water infrastructure — it had been getting some assistance from the Choctaw Nation.
  • But now, with half a million in tax revenue per month, Hochatown’s government (mostly just one volunteer mayor) has been investing in getting everything up to code.
  • And for a while, residents saw multiplied growth in their home values, with some properties doubling in worth.

But all gold rushes end. As Airbnb’s business model hit a ceiling (with there being 5% more supply than demand), Hochatown has also taken a hit — the town’s rentals went from 95% to 40% occupancy this past August. 

That’s left some short-term rental prospectors underwater and putting up a For Sale sign… but at least Hochatown has strong enough pipes for all the hot tubs now.


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