A while ago we booked an Airbnb studio on a trip. It ended up being a granny flat in someone’s backyard. That particular host had built a 3 bedroom unit above the 1 bedroom studio we were staying in. It was peak snow season and we were paying almost $300 a night. The 3 bedder next to us was listed for $665 a night. I remember this distinctly because I thought WOW this family is on their way to FIRE if they can get almost $1k a night in Airbnb income.
So I set out brainstorming ways in which we could do the same.
Idea 1: convert the Garage into a studio. This was inspired by a show I’d seen on tiny homes in the US, and the example of a 25 sqm home they used to have (and maybe still have?) in Ikea. I quickly realised it wouldn’t work because the floor of our garage had no foundation, it’d be miserably cold at night, and suspected it was against council rules.
Idea 2 build a granny flat out the back. This was quickly scrapped because we have a tiny backyard and the cost of a granny flat or studio is $100K or thereabouts.
The easiest way turned out to be simply renting out a spare room. It also required the biggest compromise in terms of privacy.
The layout of our home had a few things going for it. Firstly, a second bathroom near the back of the home, close to the room we had earmarked for renting out. Second, there was potential for side access.
So we spent the next few weekends preparing our ‘AIRBNB PLAN’. It was hard work. There was a lot of decluttering that would have made Marie Kondo proud. Plus reshuffling furniture to clear out what was effectively a study and turn it into a host-worthy room.
We purchased a double bed and mattress, some modern looking furniture on the cheap. Plus a doona, blankets, linen. It was quite an investment even though we tried to buy budget versions of everything.
It has worked out pretty well so far. We’ve managed to get a few 2 week / 1 week and even month long stays.
Some tips for renting out rooms and earning income through Airbnb
Make your photos amazing: Photos sell, think about how you yourself search for hotels and shop online. I am usually guilty of flicking through photos and making my mind up quickly. I’ve seen so many crappy photos on Airbnb. Poor lighting, too cluttered. Bathrooms too zoomed in, or angled down at the toilet bowl. Most phones nowadays have photo editing tools, or you can use an app called Lightroom. You’d be amazed what turning up Brightness, Contract and Highlights can do.
Test your own listing by switching to travel mode in the Airbnb App and searching for your listing. I have mine as a saved search so I can review the text from the perspective of a traveller. You can also test a few different dates to get an idea of what sort of pay out you will get, remembering that Airbnb takes a clip.
Make several sets of keys so you have spare copies and backups if your guests lose theirs. We have two sets of keys for our guests but only provide 1 (the other is upon request), then a set each for ourselves.
Be well stocked with the things you’ll provide like toilet paper, toiletries etc. There’s nothing worse than having to rush out for supplies because your guests have run out.
Be responsive. Airbnb recommends responding to questions and reservation requests within 24 hours. I try to reply within the hour and have all notifications pushing to my phone. The most common question we get is how close is your home to the airport or nearest station. Takes 30 seconds to send a response. If you took 24 hours your guest might have booked with someone else.
Maximise privacy: You can create screens or hang an extra door between your living area and theirs. Clearly state in your listing or house rules which areas are theirs and which are for your private use so it’s abundantly clear to guests.
Make check in easy: Rather than waiting around during your check in window, why not write a really clear set of check in instructions then set up a lock box system so guests can check in by themselves? It saves you the hassle of waiting, and saves them the stress of attempting to make contact upon arrival.
Be clever with your pricing: Do your research on surrounding homes. You don’t want to be the cheapest because it might seem like your place is dodgy. But you don’t want to overcharge either. Airbnb has smart pricing too which auto sets pricing. We use a mix of both – auto pricing for general periods with a minimum floor. Then on long weekends we set our own pricing. If you would rather long term stays, Airbnb has a discount feature for week long and month long stays. That way you’ll be changing the sheets less / doing less cleaning with longer term guests.
Hope you found this helpful!