One of my favorite side hustles to emerge from the sharing economy is Airbnb. With this platform, you can be in the hospitality business without owning so much as a single hotel. I started as an Airbnb host because we had extra space in the downstairs level of our home.
It’s been a great way to earn extra money without a ton of effort on my end. If you want to know why Airbnb is one of the best side hustles out there and how to get started, keep reading.
You don’t need a house to get started
Most people think you need an entire house to become an Airbnb host. You can actually rent out any type of extra space you have. This could be a spare room, a tent you’ve set up in the backyard, or even a camper. From yurts to igloos and airplanes, and treehouses, Airbnb hosts are pretty creative when it comes to transforming and offering unique spaces for rent on the platform.
For instance, a renter signs a lease with a landlord but due to travel for her job, she’s rarely home. She wants to earn money while she’s not using the space. Though she doesn’t own it, she lets it out on Airbnb for extra money. This is a totally legitimate and common form of Airbnb arbitrage.
Then there are the professional property managers and who lease spaces for the sole purpose of listing them on Airbnb. As long as the arrangement is disclosed to the landlord, this is also a perfectly legal, legitimate form of Airbnb arbitrage.
In both cases, no one has to own anything!
How to get started as an Airbnb host
Getting started as an Airbnb host isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips on getting started.
Assess your available space
Though many spaces can be used comfortably as an Airbnb listing, you’ll want to analyze spaces that tend to do well on the platform. Typically, entire homes do well but single, private rooms are a popular option as well. When people are looking to save money on accommodations, yet have privacy, finished basements can be ideal too.
Overall look for spaces that:
- Have separation and privacy i.e. entrance, bathroom, etc.
- Minimal shared spaces like dining and kitchen
- Have other draws like a central location, luxury amenities, historical landmark designation, etc.
These are ideal characteristics and not deal-breakers. If your spare space doesn’t meet any of these requirements, no worries. For example, shared spaces still get booked on Airbnb for the ultra-budgeting traveler. Just be clear in your listing about the accommodations and what is shared versus private so that your guests are comfortable regarding the arrangement.
Find out how much you can make as an Airbnb host
In terms of earnings, the results can vary. If you check out an Airbnb calculator, it will detect your location, ask you some questions about your property and give you an estimate. You can choose to rent out:
- Entire place
- Private room
- Shared room
Based on these requirements, Airbnb will give you an estimate of the kind of money you can make for your area and listing type. The calculator is surprisingly accurate.
For example, I put in details for our Chicago listing and the calculator told me that I could earn $3,812 per month for renting out our entire home. In August, our listing actually earned about $3,100. I’m sure we could have earned more, but it was a brand-new listing and I know that it takes time (and more reviews) to rank in the Airbnb search engines.
Also, in many locations, the earnings can be seasonal. There are high and low seasons, so this could cause your earnings to fluctuate. In order to further research your earnings potential as an Airbnb host, you can look at similar, nearby listings for the number of booked nights they have for a given month along with their rate.
When it comes to Airbnb hosting, location matters.
For obvious reasons, if you don’t live in a region travelers are likely to visit, you may very well not want to jump into hosting. It would be a waste of time to set up a listing and go through the motions of preparing your space only to find out there is a low demand for your area.
Or if there’s some demand, but the market can’t support pricing that would be profitable for you as an Airbnb host, it may not be the right choice for you.
Airbnb can reduce your living expenses
One of the cool things about collecting rent from short term tenants is that it can help pay for some of your living expenses.
For example, we undertook some remodeling projects and purchased some new furniture in the process. To help cover those expenses, we booked guests in our spare room with Airbnb. It helped cover renovation and furniture costs for the project.
Even if you aren’t redecorating or renovating your place, your Airbnb income can be used to help cover your rent or mortgage. In the case of paying off your mortgage, you can take your Airbnb income and add it to the principal balance so that it’s paid off sooner.
Low barrier to entry
For most people, Airbnb is such an awesome hustle because you can take existing space and turn it into immediate income. You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars to get started.
In most regions in the U.S. and abroad, there are very few restrictions when it comes to becoming an Airbnb host. In most cases, the only thing to do is create your listing and begin accepting bookings.
In some jurisdictions, you may have to register your listing with local government authorities. In other cities, you may need to get a special license or permit to become an Airbnb host. However, the fees and costs to do so are usually nominal and still enable you to earn enough money to clear a handsome profit with your Airbnb bookings.
Airbnb can be passive income
You can choose your level of involvement as a host and it’s perfectly acceptable to be more (or less) hands-on than the next Airbnb host. If you choose the “absentee” host option, there’s no penalty as long as you have goods systems in place to check guests in and out of your listing smoothly. In fact, this is what many hosts do in order to make this income as passive as possible.
Remember once your guests check-in, there’s really very little you’ll have to do from that point. Typically, they are using your space and enjoying their travels which require minimal interaction with you.
Also, for a truly passive income experience, you can start to outsource certain tasks like meetings guests, cleaning and maintenance requests. You might not be able to do it immediately but it’s something to shoot for to make the income as passive as possible.
Airbnb hosting is a great way to meet people from around the world
As an Airbnb host and traveler, I can truly say that I’ve made some precious connections with lots of cool people. The Airbnb platform allows you to come in contact with people and cultures that you might have not without it. One of my very favorite hosts from Cuba has introduced our family to his and we still stay in contact until this very day.
Another one of our guests from Mexico decided to stay long-term in Chicago and we were able to host her family in the Windy City as well. They’ve invited us to Mexico and we are looking forward to visiting them soon.
I can’t think of many things much more enjoyable than getting paid to meet and accommodate people from all over the world. This is definitely one of my favorite perks of being an Airbnb host.
There’s a reason Airbnbs are so popular. They’re a great way for travelers to stay somewhere private for cheap, but they’re also an easy side hustle for those looking to make some cash on the side.
If you have any free space, being an Airbnb host may definitely be something worth considering.
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