For years we used our spare bedroom as Nate's office, but this past Summer, we began to think about converting it to a second bedroom in order to rent it out on airbnb.
For those of you not familiar with this site, it's a platform that allows you to rent out rooms, apartments, homes, etc. to strangers looking to travel to your city. It's similar to vrbo, but I think the platform is much simpler and easier to use.
Nate and I have been using airbnb as guests for years. Here are just a few of the airbnb places we've rented in Argentina, Michigan, and the Cayman Islands.
We've always had great experiences renting through airbnb. Meeting and getting to know the hosts allows us to imagine what life is really like in a place, and we've become friends with fellow guests as well.
In Mendoza, Argentina, we enjoyed an amazing goat roast in the backyard of our host and drank German liquor with the guests in the room next to ours. In Patong Beach, Thailand, we rang in the new year by setting off Thai lanterns at an intimate rooftop party with our local hosts.
Being familiar with the site and the type of people we felt use it, Nate and I were open to the idea of becoming hosts.
We started by moving his office to our living room and buying some basic furniture for the bedroom. Then we created a simple listing and let airbnb do the rest! I was nervous for our first guest, but we soon got the hang of it, and it was like we'd always been sharing our space with roommates.
Here's the room we rented out:
To avoid having to be home for every check in time, Nate bought a lockbox and made a video for guests on how to access keys and where their room was in the apartment. Guests checked themselves in and out with ease.
Airbnb has a great feature to price your listing dynamically based on the day of the week, search queries for your area, comparable listings in your neighborhood and holidays. Rather than setting one price for our bedroom, we let airbnb price it, which meant it fluctuated from $40/night to $80/night. The algorithm promises to maximize bookings so that your room is booked nearly every night you make it available. That was definitely the case for us.
Some guests came and went quietly without much interaction. Others wanted to chat with us about life in the U.S. and how it differed from their home countries. My favorite experience was when a French couple from just outside Geneva cooked us a delicious meal, and we had the nicest conversation.
Despite our first few guests being lovely and polite, I braced myself for a bad experience. I figured it was only a matter of time before someone broke something, stole something or was generally unpleasant. But in the 4 months that we acted as airbnb hosts, I can't name a single negative experience.
To anyone considering becoming a host on airbnb, I would say that it is a fair amount of additional work, but there's a substantial upside as well!
And in the end, we made $2,695 for our trip.