Side hustles and gig work aren’t new concepts. But everything is pricey these days, and a little extra income can go a long way.
Enter Spacer, an app that strives to be the “Airbnb of monthly parking” by connecting commuters in need of an empty space with locals who have an unused parking spot or driveway.
It works like this: Someone with an empty driveway can download Spacer, input some personal information and details about the spot, and list it on the app or website for renters to reserve in month-long periods. Renters can then snag the parking spot for their personal use, in similar fashion to Airbnb and other rental apps.
Spacer Technologies was founded in Australia in 2015, before expanding to North America and acquiring Where I Park Inc. earlier this year. With more commuters returning to the office, parking has become a more pressing need — and Spacer has been a beneficiary, with Boston receiving more booking requests in October than any other city on the app.
One factor spurring the increase in Boston users might be oncoming winter weather, according to Spacer. With snow causing headaches for drivers with outdoor parking, some users may be thinking ahead, with booking requests for covered spots in the Boston area up 77 percent since July.
Spacer said it has about 300,000 users globally, and hundreds of rentable spots in and around Boston. It makes money by taking 25 percent of transactions; the remaining 75 percent goes to the users who rent out their spaces.
Daniel Vernick, 25, joined Spacer last year to rent out their driveway in Somerville.
“It was quite straightforward,” Vernick said. “It definitely took away some of the rent burden.”
When Vernick began hunting for an affordable apartment last year, their goal was to find an apartment with an empty driveway to rent out, to help offset the cost. After some Internet searching, Vernick found Spacer, and a renter booked the driveway for a full year.
Vernick was able to net $220 per month. That kind of extra cash is what sets Spacer apart from other parking apps, according to Jeremy Zuker, chief executive of North America for Spacer Technologies.
“You can actually take something that you’re not using, like your driveway or your garage, and you can just turn that into a revenue stream,” Zuker said. “We sometimes joke that we’re like the un-sexy Airbnb, right? Instead of the fancy villa, it’s a parking space.”
Spacer is relatively new to the rental scene and has plenty of competition. Websites like Facebook and Craigslist have long served as platforms for advertising and renting out parking spaces.
But Janelle Emmanuel, who joined both Spacer and Craigslist to rent out her driveway last year, says she feels more secure on Spacer than she did digging through Craigslist.
“I feel like with Craigslist, you don’t really always know what’s going on there,” Emmanuel said. “But Spacer, I felt very safe.”
Emmanuel rented out her driveway in Watertown, capable of fitting up to three cars, after a friend recommended the rental service as a side gig. Emmanuel said the app adds an element of separation between the renter and the host, which made her feel more secure.
Residential neighborhoods like Allston, Brookline, Somerville, and parts of Cambridge are all popular locations on the app. Spots in the downtown and Seaport areas are fewer and pricier, but executives at Spacer hope the app can help with parking congestion in the city.
“This whole idea of efficiency is about both the infrastructure and the spaces,” Zuker said. “But also just in getting people where they need to get without wasting time and fuel.”
Collin Robisheaux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ColRobisheaux.