Are you thinking about becoming an Airbnb host? We’ve been hosting Airbnb in our home, as live-in hosts, for nearly two years now. Strangers arrive, and then leave as friends. Not always, though. So why do we do it?
Read on, we are sharing all the dirty details. Find out what we love (and hate) about hosting Airbnb and a few tips and tricks for hosts (and guests) for the best stay possible.
Two summers ago we had never heard of Airbnb. ‘What’s Airbnb?’ But word of mouth got around and eventually, via a colleague, we were introduced to what has become quite the controversial topic these days. Airbnb, Uber… all this disruptive sharing economy technology that puts real people in touch with real people. We sort of like the idea of #OneLessStranger. And we love hosting! Here’s why.
Reasons We Love to Host Airbnb
– Hosting Airbnb can help to earn and save money for your goals
Well, duh. Obviously. So let’s just get this one out of the way.
Yes, it is worth it. We’ve brought in a good chunk of money that is now stashed in our travel savings fund (and investments for early retirement). I am not the primary wage earner for our household, however, I bring in more income for our family by hosting Airbnb in our home than I did working my part-time office job. I also love the flexibility.
– Hosting on Airbnb is a part of our ‘income quilt’
A resilient income is a diversified income.
Because of Airbnb, I am freed up to work from home and focus more time on our other projects which allow us to further diversify our income sources. According to our friends over at NWEdible, where I was introduced to the idea, an ‘income quilt’ is the concept where, “you try to patch together multiple sources of income, any one of which, by itself, might not be sufficient, but which taken together create a cozy blanket of redundant financial security.”
– We host Airbnb because our house is too big!
This is a huge part of what started it. I hate anything going to waste, even space.
When our kids got older and our oldest moved out, our nearly two thousand square foot house started to be a bit much for just the remaining three of us. Our rec room, which is pretty much the whole downstairs of our house, was going unused other than just accumulating junk. We really didn’t need this much room.
As soon as we heard about Airbnb, instead of continuing to let all that space go unused, we pulled together some furniture including a twin bed and a big comfy couch, hit IKEA for a few needed items, and listed our space on Airbnb. We had our first guests within days, and we were hooked.
– Our Airbnb guests are some of the coolest people we have met.
When was the last time you had guests from Japan cook you fresh, homemade sushi? Being a shared kitchen, I gotta say we get some interesting opportunities for cultural observation, right in our own home! It’s really kind of interesting to see how people from around the world eat.
Or, have you ever met a bonafide astronaut? This guy was one of the most humble (and active) people that we have ever met. He is a retired USMC Colonel, that went on to work for NASA, flying four missions to space including the STS-26 Discovery, the first mission to be flown after the Challenger accident. Talk about ‘getting back up on the horse’. Now he is a doctor that volunteers in crazy places overseas. We feel so honored to have hosted this remarkable veteran in our home.
But the coolest is when people just want to come and share in our life. I think the best experiences are when people come and engage with us about life on our little organic farm in the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes our guests will even get their hands dirty with us. There is just something really rewarding about sharing rural country, small-town American life with people who have never had the chance to experience it before.
– Being an Airbnb host can help satisfy your travel bug, if only vicariously (for now).
Hosting Airbnb our first summer also helped us satisfy our travel bug, if only vicariously. Airbnb brought the travelers to us! We have had people stay in our downstairs studio from all over the world. We love sharing the beauty of the Pacific Northwest with visitors and pointing them in the direction of all our favorite things to do and see while they are here. They get a cool local travel experience and we get money to stash for our next trip.
Warning: This strategy only works for a limited time. Eventually, your wanderlust will take over and you will just have to go on a trip of your own.
– Airbnb gives us opportunities to show hospitality
Airbnb may not be for everybody but we love sharing our home with others. We lived in a community living situation while studying abroad in Australia. We got used to sharing our kitchen and living space with other families and really don’t mind it.
In the busy, fast-paced world we live in, hospitality seems to have fallen by the wayside. Airbnb makes it easy for us to open our home to travelers and show hospitality by providing a warm, comfortable, and inviting place for people to stay.
– Guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends.
A few of our guests, we’ve actually stayed in touch with. Some that we’ve really connected with have extended to us genuine invitations to come and visit them in their towns and cities around the world. Uh, yes. I would love to meet you for a beer in Berlin , see you in 2018!
And sometimes people come as strangers and also leave as strangers. It just depends on the experience they are looking for. Either way, we usually enjoy it and according to the reviews, so do they.
But, I’ll be honest. We don’t love everything about being Airbnb hosts.
The question we get asked most often is if we have had any bad experiences. I would not go so far as to say any of our experiences have been bad, but the experience is better with some Airbnb guests than with others.
There are a few things we don’t love about hosting Airbnb.
– When the Airbnb guest forgets it isn’t a hotel, it is our home.
This doesn’t happen very often, but now and then it does. Most people are very polite and make lovely house guests.
We find that simply being personable with guests like they are friends, sets the right mood and helps tremendously.
– When your Airbnb guests don’t communicate much, especially leading up to their arrival.
It is so nice when guests are good communicators! Everybody likes to know when their house guests plan to arrive, as Airbnb hosts, we are no different.
I know it goes both ways, so as hosts we try to be really great communicators for our guests as well. People appreciate it.
– When the Airbnb guest doesn’t actually read the Airbnb listing before they come.
“Oh, you live here?!”
Yes, we’ve actually had a guest say that on their arrival! I’m not sure how she missed that little detail in the listing. Even if you only look at the pictures, it is still only a ‘private room’!
It usually works out fine when guests aren’t prepared for the details, but it is so nice when guests have read through the listing so they know what to expect from their stay. They don’t always do that. That’s why now we always try to confirm that people have actually read thru the listing before they book.
– When Airbnb guests don’t respect the ‘house rules’ (and want us to wait up so that they can check in 4 hours late).
We don’t have a lot of rules, but there are a few.
With an Airbnb listing, the ‘house rules’ are the non-negotiables. With every host they are different. Ours mainly have to do with our availability. It is so nice when our Airbnb guests are aware of the house rules and honor them. They do have to acknowledge the house rules for your listing before they book, but I’ve also learned to subtly remind folks of the important ones just to be sure.
– Poor reviews, for silly reasons
When the Airbnb guest gives us a low review for ‘being nicer than described’… Seriously?! I just don’t even know what to do with that.
Or sometimes, they leave a question unasked until they check out and then mention it in the review. I’ve learned to make sure guests know they should feel comfortable and come to us with any questions at all. We are here to help!
– Hosting Airbnb means a lot of toilet scrubbing and bed making
Yes, it is actually work. I’ve made that bed more times these last months than I have any bed in my whole life. And keeping the downstairs bathroom in such a perpetually clean state is honestly not my norm. But I do it. It’s good, though. It keeps me humble and with a heart of service toward my fellow human beings. Something we might all benefit from a little more of.
So there it is. Everything we love and hate about being live-in Airbnb hosts.
Are you considering hosting on Airbnb? Do you have questions or would you like to talk to someone who has done it? We would love to help! We’ve helped a couple of our friends get started already.
For starters, if you are new to Airbnb you can click here to sign up. When you use our link to make your new profile, we both get an incentive the first time you use Airbnb, either as a guest or a host. Then all you need to do is get your space listed or decide where to stay! You could always get yourself a private island.
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