Supplement Your Retirement Income With An Airbnb
Supplement Your Retirement Income With An Airbnb
© Judy Helm Wright—Author/Blogger/Intuitive Wise Woman
Are you finding that you are coming up a little short each month? Many of our friends and colleagues are in that scary position. The pension or social security is not as secure as it once was. While we were good planners and invested wisely, it still was a shock to find that our savings were being eaten up faster than they were appreciating.
What Are Your Marketable Assets?
Neither of us wanted to return to the dreaded J.O.B. so we had a good look at what other alternatives we could monetize. The number one, of course, is our home. We were left with a big house that was only completely full when the kids came home for holidays.
Our financial planner was the one who told us that the average expected annual profit of Airbnb hosts renting out a full two-bedroom apartment or house could expect to earn about $20,000 annually. She mentioned that we could pay 80% of our mortgage payment by listing one or two rooms in our home. That is way more than having a roommate pitch in, plus we have the added advantage of keeping the rooms open when family is expected.
Steps to Becoming An Airbnb Host
We had some money from the sale of some rental property and decided to remodel the basement a bit. Many friends have just cleared out a separate room or set up a couple of beds in a basement. We wanted to install a complete kitchen, but again, many friends have just put a mini-fridge and a microwave on a table with available chairs.
Be honest and be descriptive. Because I am a writer, by trade, it was easy for me to write the description. Guests will complain if it doesn’t describe the unit honestly. Be transparent and say you live down the street from a bar if you do. That may be a selling point for some guests.
Take good photos, write a description, and come up with a catchy title (ours is “A Wright Place To Stay In Missoula”). Follow the directions on the site.
Because Airbnb gives hosts extra credit or money when they refer others to the system, please use our link https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/13876336 when you sign up.
What We Have Learned Having An Airbnb
1. We were lucky enough to have a separate entrance into the basement apartment. We installed a key lock. Sometimes, we don’t even see our guests.
2. The hardest part has been scheduling a person to clean the unit in the times between guests leaving and arriving. It’s been difficult finding a person to consistently be on-call. We determined early on that we did not want to do the cleaning ourselves. We charge our guests a $30 cleaning fee and require a minimum of two nights stay and then that fee goes directly to the person who comes over to prepare it for the next guest.
3. We have learned to ask for 5 star reviews. They are important for ranking in the community of Airbnb and they reassure potential guests that what we show in the photos is accurate.
4. Speaking of photos, we started out with me taking some random shots with my smart phone, which were not very good. I had a semi-professional shoot a series of photos (I recommend at least 10) of what the guest would see as they came to our home.
5. I figure it takes me only a couple of hours a week to make sure I respond quickly to inquiries and welcome guests. I prepared a “Welcome To Missoula” letter and I just cut and paste it in an email within a few days of when the guest is due.
6. I also wrote out a “House Rules & Suggestions” to send to potential guests and post on the fridge.
7. Be completely transparent in your listing. For example, we don’t want to house loud partiers. We are a quiet, retired couple and want to welcome laid-back, considerate families or couples. We used to be open to pets, until we were burned (or barked, as the case may be) by an inconsiderate and unapologetic pet parent who thought we would enjoy listening to his little dogs howl all day. Check https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/13876336 to see how I handled his negative review.
8. Keep a calendar or planner for your guests’ check-in and checkout dates and times. You do not want to seem unprofessional or lose business because of your inability to be organized. This is very important because you don’t want guests colliding with other guests and you don’t want your guests having to go to a hotel because you forgot to write down their stay. Also, allow yourself some time to get the unit cleaned before the next guest arrives.
9. Many people hesitate becoming an Airbnb Host for fear of having their things stolen or property damaged. This fear is unfounded. Should something like theft or damage ever happen, there is the security of having their card information on file. You can charge them for any theft or damage. You can find more details on Airbnb’s policy page.
Would We Do It Again?
In a heartbeat we would sign up to be Airbnb hosts again. It has been a fun, exciting, but most importantly, profitable venture. We have met lovely people and they have enjoyed staying in our basement apartment and all want to come back (except for the pet parent with the barking dogs).
If you have questions, we can help you make the decision to supplement your retirement with an Airbnb. Call us. Or better yet, come and visit us. We have a great Airbnb we can share with you.
Judy Helm Wright is an author, blogger and intuitive wise woman. She and her husband, Dwain, live and laugh in beautiful Missoula, Montana, USA. Please check out https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/13876336 or www.Facebook.com/AuntieArtichoke/ for more information about them and their community.
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