Life ain't cheap.
Add kids to the equation and life is a seemingly never ending bill.
But at least they're cute right?
Two years ago, my husband and I bought our first house.
It was a grip.
We had saved for a while to be able to make the leap, but it was still a huge amount of money to commit to.
Aside from a new mortgage, there was insurance, property taxes, repairs and more.
How is this going to work, we asked ourselves?
We had been studying the market around us for a while.
Houses were expensive and weren't getting any cheaper.
Money doesn't grow on trees, they say.
At the time, we were living with my in-laws.
It was time to go.
We saw a lot of our friends were using Airbnb as a way to make some side income.
Some were paying their mortgage and making some extra money too.
We loved that idea and started focusing only on homes for sale that we could leverage Airbnb with.
We found a house that we loved, was within our price range and had 2 separate units on the house.
We were just hoping for one, but two?
Have mercy (Uncle Jesse).
We purchased the house and quickly made sure each side was properly setup for guests.
Simplicity and convenience were the name(s) of the game.
Then we studied the rentals in our area to figure out how much we should list ours for.
Airbnb has a cool feature where they'll make suggestions based on your area for the low and high search times. We utilized their suggestions and their price tool where it auto-fills all your available dates with data-backed prices.
Oh Airbnb, make me blush why don't you.
That was helpful.
Our listings were easy to create. We added some photos, made a quick description, turned on the pricing feature and we were ready for business.
I was really surprised at how easy they make the listing part. It didn't require too much 'tech' knowledge and was really easy to navigate.
Well done Airbnb, you know the way to a person's heart.
I love their 'guidebook' tool where you can easily add all your favorite local places, restaurants and suggestions for your guests. It saves TONS of time from answering each person's questions about what's nearby. We'll update ours regularly based on guest questions or new things that pop up locally that we feel would be a good recommendation.
Airbnb also takes care of all the financial part. Essentially, the customer pays them, they take their (small) fees and pay you the rest after the guest checks into your home.
There's nothing better than simplicity.
So, all of that's great, right?
But what about the actual guests?
My biggest issue with the idea, in the beginning, was having people on my property. Do I have to see people all the time and feel the need to host people all day long? Will they be needy?
Do I need to be nice?
And look presentable 24/7?
Having second thoughts here...
We have 5 kids and we're not a very quiet bunch. I didn't want to have to change our lifestyle to accommodate guests. If this was going to work, we needed to find a way to do both, live and pay the bills with the rental units.
Ok really then, how will this work?
Our first guests were honeymooners and they were probably annoyed with how much I checked on them. I'll bet no babies were made during their honeymoon ;)
Why does she keep texting us?!
It wasn't necessary, but guest by guest I learned a bit more and found a comfortable communication style for us both.
It's called less is more.
We've hosted more than 100 people so far, probably closer to 200 at this point.
Overall, our experience has been really positive. We haven't had any crazy guests, police calls, squatters, mega slobs, or stressful situations.
Last year we had a huge Christmas party at our house and had extended the invitation to our guests knowing we wouldn't be quiet. They came and were a HOOT.
I literally can't remember a very negative guest in the couple of years we've been renting.
We have had complaints and people who wanted refunds, but you'll have that when you're running a business of any sort. You just handle it the best you can and by doing that, everybody has left us (we think) with a positive experience.
Here are a few suggestions I have to keep everybody happy both the hosting party and guests:
1. Manage expectations. Your house or space doesn't have to be perfect by any means, but clearly communicate what they should expect. For example, we have kids that are always playing in the driveway. If they want complete silence, our house wouldn't be a great option, so I put that directly in the listing. We also live on a busier road with road-noise, so that is stated and is especially helpful for those that may be light sleepers.
I've seen some crazy listings on Airbnb that do extremely well. It's always their listing that is really well communicated so the guests know exactly what to expect if they book there.
2. Put yourself in their shoes.
If you're traveling somewhere for a few days, what would you like to have in your room or space? A comfy bed? Sink? Fast internet? Extra set of clean linens?
We stayed in each unit to get a feel for them and it helped us set up for guests really easily. There were a few things we knew we needed to add or change around to make them more convenient. We wouldn't have known otherwise or maybe would have waited to hear guest reviews to know there were small things missing that would make a big difference during their stay.
3. Create an easy check-in/checkout process.
We added keyless entries to each unit and give our guests the passcode within an hour of their check-in time. It's super easy and was something we knew we'd want if we were guests. There's nothing worse than traveling all day only to find more stress upon getting go your destination.
It also makes your job as a host a piece of cake! You are busy. This can be a really seamless experience for you both if you allow them to do a self check-in without you.
We rarely see our guests, sometimes we don't even see them during their entire reservation. I appreciate that and have set up our listing in a way to automate it as much as possible.
For us, we have separate living spaces for each rental, but it's not a requirement. I've got friends and family that rent out a room in their house and I know others who rent out their basement. Those are all options on Airbnb, how cool is that?
Overall, I'm so grateful for Airbnb and the way it's opened up a pretty seamless income stream. It's going to require some time to set up and get used to, but once you have nailed down your system, you won't regret it.
We use our guest's payments to pay our mortgage and even have some leftover for additional bills when the month is over. It's been a huge blessing for our large family and is something I'm always sharing with others so they know they have some cool options out there as well.
This article contains affiliate links and is 100% my personal experience. I am an avid supporter of Airbnb and the way they bring experience and ease to everyday life.