Wouldn’t it be great if you had something that could help you get closer to an early retirement? Something that could help you make extra money to put away towards a life of financial independence? If you own a house or an apartment, you could become an Airbnb host and list out the entire place when you are away or just a room when you're there.
Airbnb properties are now in 191 countries. And did you know that the fastest growing demographic of Airbnb hosts are women over 60? Not to mention they are getting some of the highest 5-star reviews. For those of you who think you need to wait until you can get a government pension (i.e. social security in the US), now may be able to retire a few years earlier with the help of some additional income.
Becoming an Airbnb host is simple. It just takes some preparation to make your guests stay, one that they won’t forget. A memorable stay means a great review. And great reviews are what will drive business to you.
We have a friend who has an apartment in the Los Angeles area who often travels for work. Whenever he’s away on business, he lists his apartment on Airbnb and has guests staying in it 70% of the time. He has a closet with a lock on it where he puts away any valuable personal things. This allows him to make extra money while traveling for work. And he does the same when he’s on vacation. Since he’s in a high priced area, he’s able to pay for his vacation with the money he makes from listing his apartment while away. What a great deal. Free vacations every year.
Affording a Vacation Home
We also have a family member that wanted a second home in a remote area of Maine. They wanted it to be on the ocean but, also in the woods. After a long search, they found the perfect piece of property in Northern Maine. They have three children and, as they were looking to build, they knew they would need something big enough to hold four couples. Their kids were teenagers at the time but, you know how that goes, you blink your eyes and the kids are adults with wives and husbands and possibly children. In order to afford and maintain a home on a big piece of land, they built it with the intention of listing it on Airbnb for the supplemental income.
They have a journal they leave in the house where they ask each guest to talk about their stay before they leave. My family loves sharing their little piece of heaven with so many people. They love hearing the stories and the memories made at their home. There are guests who book and stay with them every year. Airbnb provides a great platform for them to share their family gem with others.
Are you Host Material?
Are you the right kind of person to be an Airbnb host? Well if you like meeting people, possibly engaging with different cultures, an Airbnb host could be really fun. It’s a great way to meet people from all over the world. And guest engagement will result in better reviews. Guests usually love hearing from their hosts about things like recommendations on things to do and places to eat.
Guest reviews on Airbnb are so important. Everyone looks at reviews and, if they aren't good, you'll lose business. For me, the first thing I look at is the pictures. Then, I look at the reviews. If there are a lot of bad reviews, I don't care how great the pictures look, I won't stay there. The more memorable you make someone’s stay, the better the review you’ll get. To make people happy, you can’t skimp on some things. Bed’s need to be comfortable. That means a good mattress or topper, nice linens, and pillows. The bathrooms need to have plenty of toilet paper, shampoo, soap, and towels. Sleeping and bathroom usage are things that people remember. They need to be nice.
It Takes Time
While signing up to be an Airbnb host is fairly quick, it will take some of your time when you’re actively listing. You have to be timely in responding to inquiries. It takes time to do the check in and check out process. Then you have to make sure the room, apartment or house is clean and ready each time you have guests arriving. This is not a set and forget endeavor.
For those of you who don't want to do this type of busy work, there are lots of companies out there that specifically cater to Airbnb hosts. Companies that will dynamically monitor the competition in your area and adjust your listing price accordingly. This ensures you aren’t listing too cheap and that you are competitive so you don’t lose prospective guests. There are companies that will automate the check in and check out process, review responses, promotion and overall messaging. There are even specialized Airbnb cleaning companies that will come in and take care of cleaning when a guest leaves. You just need to balance the amount of work you want to do versus the income you want to make.
Are You Ready?
If you think being an Airbnb host is for you, do your research. There are lots of articles from experienced hosts that will tell you what works and what doesn’t. This will make your Airbnb host experience so much more pleasant. You can easily see what income your home or apartment can bring by going to Airbnb’s site. Remember, those first impressions are everything. When you list your property, make sure you have great pictures, title, and a description. Extra money means extra savings. And that will make your early retirement more achievable.
Be sure to read our other Early Retirement Strategies article.'In June 2010, I moved out of my apartment and I have been mostly homeless ever since, off and on. I just live in Airbnb apartments and I check in every week in different homes in San Francisco.' --- Brian Chesky (co-founder Airbnb)Click To Tweet
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