Saying our plans out loud seems crazy. ‘I couldn’t let strangers stay in my house!” – That’s the usual response, and while understandable.. there are ways to avoid damage to our property and financially balance our travel expenses by turning our home into an Airbnb. If you’re an adventurous soul… I say it now: Know thyself and set thyself up for success. Why not take what assets you have (your home) and leverage it to travel more?
Since starting to travel together two years ago, Ev and I have realized that not every adventure is going to look the same. Sometimes it’s a spontaneous short trip with friends across the state to find a hidden waterfall. Some are month-long backpacking trips through Europe. Some are six-month sabbaticals, where you up and move your family to experience a new culture. While we love to travel, we also crave putting down roots. This is why we’re turning our home into an Airbnb. The possibilities are endless and give us an opportunity to travel more, with a home to come back to.
PIN ME FOR LATER!
Why Even Own A House If You Plan To be Gone?
This is another question I’ve gotten frequently, and the answer is simple: It financially makes sense. Our goal is to travel more, and that means setting up passive income on an asset we already own. While ramping up our adventures, we also plan on starting a family and traveling the world one continent at a time. This doesn’t mean we’ll be gone always, and, not every adventure will take us 6 months. Some adventures mean we’ll just be gone a short while. Putting our house up for rent while we’re gone offsets the costs of our hotels, meals, flights, etc. Not to mention that when you have people coming and going, the place being cleaned, and certain measures in place for guests – you can be gone as long as you’d like and the house is being taken care of.
Are We Afraid Someone Will Steal or Go Through Our Personal Belongings?
Since I’m not a fan of clutter anyways – thinking in terms of having people in our home has made me incredibly conscious of materialism. You don’t need as much stuff as you think and in reality – your home will look better less cluttered. (The photos of your rental will also look much better!} Not to mention there is much less to dust and take care of/maintain. **This also gives you more room in your budget and time to focus on traveling more.
Are we afraid someone would go through our things? No. To put it bluntly- we bought a house with this purpose in mind. The house has a ton of storage in the basement for all of the things that guests don’t need access to. After staying in a ton of AirBnb’s over the past couple of years – we’ve realized what makes a good Airbnb. Convenience. Convenience means giving your guests what they need to be comfortable, a few extras, and not much more. Comfortable beds, good wifi, and convenient kitchen amenities are all more important than knick knacks laying around.
That doesn’t mean we put bad quality furniture and decor in the house either. Our leather couch for example: We cover the couch with a slipcover and decorate it with good pillows. No one even knows the difference! And in reality- people don’t come to an Airbnb to sit on the couch. They come to be out of the Airbnb and explore the area! Here in Louisville, there are a ton of concerts and events, and one of the biggest events of the year (Derby) needs more AirBnbs! So while you focus on decorating your home, also keep in mind that you’re turning your home into an Airbnb / vacation rental and less is more.
Treat Your Property Like a Business
While many people think that they would want to have an Airbnb and make a bunch of money- it’s not that simple. When deciding to turn our home into a vacation rental, we knew protecting ourselves and our home would give us peace of mind while traveling, and would also ensure a future for our newly blooming business. Your home is an asset that can be used to your leverage when done correctly. You will be taxed etc. on your earnings, so doing it correctly and making the most bang for your buck is important from the get-go. This means having the correct permits, insurance, up to date maintenance, and safety precautions.
Another safety precaution: we have outdoor security cameras. Obviously there will be no cameras in the house while people are renting – that’s illegal and a total violation of privacy. In order to circumvent the possibility of parties etc. – the outdoor security cameras are motion activated and monitor who comes and goes on the property. While we trust our guests to respect the property – we live by the ‘trust but verify’ motto.
Your state of mind is important when considering turning your home into an Airbnb. You are now a business owner and customer service is your business base. The best Airbnb properties are the ones that made it incredibly easy on us when we’ve traveled. Parking, wifi, unit entry, and labels, etc., should all be easy for the renter. Thinking in terms of a business that focuses on customer service will make it easier for you in the long run. From small decisions about decor, to big decisions about the availability of the rental – you are now a business owner.
Screening Your Potential Renters
What are the best ways to avoid damage after turning our home into an Airbnb? Screen our renters. There are a few key things to keep in mind: if you want to protect your home – the instant book function on Airbnb is probably not for you. There is also a setting on Airbnb where we can choose to only accept verified renters. Driver’s licenses and other information are required. This is also how you can go back to Airbnb and make damage claims. It’s much easier for them to contact a real person than Un-Verified Joe Schmo. (Un-Verified Joe Schmo probably used a fake email address to get the rental because he wanted to party/ i.e. destroy your property!)
The other important way to screen your potential guests: meet them at the rental. If something feels off or if there are more people than originally agreed upon – the rental can be canceled before it starts/or you can charge more. (This may affect your ratings – but it’s not worth damage to your property!) For a long term rental – we probably wouldn’t go through Airbnb. There are plenty of companies specializing in vacation-rental management, for people looking to long term rent a home. While 10%-30% of your earnings typically go to these rental/vacation home management companies – the peace of mind would be worth it. Their function is typically to screen your renters and keep up maintenance. Since we’ve already discussed treating your home/ Airbnb as a business- it makes sense to use these companies for long term solutions.
In The Long Run
Overall, turning your home into an Airbnb/vacation rental is possible and can be a great source of passive income! It just requires planning ahead for whatever a traveler like yourself would need!
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