I heard about AirBNB from my best friend, who travels a ton and uses it to save thousands of dollars a year for her business expenses. I thought it was awesome, but figured it would never work for us because most people wouldn’t want an entire family in their house. When Ian got hired for his job that moved us here to West Virginia, and then got laid off just before we moved, we went into panic mode. We’d only just then reached our $1,000 emergency savings and that was all we had to our name. We decided to to whatever it took to make the extra money so we could afford to pay our living expenses, get moved to West Virginia and then pay for our rent at the new place as well. AirBNB provided the bulk of the money that allowed us to keep some of our emergency fund intact during the move, and we’re looking forward to living in a house where we can have a guest room full time again, because we loved being hosts so much.
How we paid our rent with AirBNB
We had three separate listings for our home. The first had been my office. I packed it all up one night after the kids went to bed and listed it the next morning when I could take good pictures in the morning light.
Prices, Fees and Payments for AirBNB Hosts
We setup our payment to be no less than $25 a night, and had a cleaning fee of $15 after the guest leaves. There are two reasons we had a cleaning fee:
- we kept fruit and water bottles in the guest rooms, as well as a few other light snacks for them when they arrived. We also welcomed them to use any of our teas, coffees, and even though we did not have to, sometimes invited our guests to join us for dinner.
- because we were new hosts, there were small things we purchased for the rooms, and that helped us recoup some of our costs.
We also charged a $15 fee for any additional guests over one guest.
I would like to make it a point to say that you are not obligated to feed your guests, but we enjoyed ours immensely and it was fun to have them, especially when we had things like my daughter’s birthday dinner and had three extra people there to celebrate and east cake with that night.
The office was the easiest room to rent out. I just took everything out except an end table with a few decorations, the curtains and then an over-the-door hanging rack for towels, jackets or whatever guests may like to hang there. In this room we stuck an air mattress, threw some extra sheets and soft blankets on it and some pillows. We booked this space within days of putting up the listing.
Our listing clearly states the bed was an air mattress, but none of our guests minded. Both of our guests who stayed in our bedrooms were happy to have an inexpensive, safe, friendly place to sleep for the night. Another “feature” you can add to your listing is that the door locks, which I don’t know that the guests ever used, but our female guest said it made her feel better knowing she had the option, which is part of the reason she booked with us.
The decorations weren’t anything terribly special, just little things we had that fit into a theme and would be easy to pack up when we were ready to move, after our guests left. I also left some basic toiletries on the table, in case our guests forgot anything. I also had the bathroom cabinets stocked with a lot more sample and travel sized toiletries, which I told our guests when they checked in. They all appreciated that, but only one of the toothbrushes got used.
This was the only bathroom available to guests, so it goes with all three of our listings. It worked out perfectly because all three guests left for their jobs at different times, so no one needed to use the shower in the morning at the same time. In hindsight, it could have been inconvenient having three separate guests sharing the same bathroom, but luckily it worked out just fine.
The Second Bedroom
The second listing we put up was this one, which was also an air mattress. Here is the funny thing: we knew we wanted to list the space but didn’t actually have an air mattress yet. We ended up putting the original air mattress from the office in here for the picture just before our first guest checked in. Then when we got this room booked, we bought the air mattress just before the guest for this room arrived.
A nice feature of this room was the dresser, because it’s nice to have the extra space in your room for an extended stay. We had this room rented out for a month, which was about half the income we made. When we setup the room initially, we discounted the room 40% for month-long bookings, which we later regretted. Firstly, having a stranger in your house for a month is a long time. Secondly, we made a lot less money and we were already significantly cheaper than staying at a hotel, so we really didn’t need to discount so much. The only reason we did was because that was the recommended price discount by AirBNB’s automatic pricing software. That was one lesson we learned from.
Ultimately we decided not to discount for monthly bookings again, and to limit our bookings to 2 weeks, which we could extend on an as-needed basis if the need arose.