Wading Into Airbnb

Firstly, I have to start by saying, my mother-in-law was a little mortified that we only posted a “before” picture of our home because, as you can see, it was pretty rough looking! But I can ensure you that the exterior of the house has been painted and we’re continuing to work on its curb appeal. (We decided not to post an after picture for privacy reasons.)

Having said all of that, the main reason for relocating was finances. Because of that—and rising market prices—the amount we were able to spend in Hamilton bought us a “fixer-upper” home. Fortunately for us, we knew that the bones of our century house were in good shape—but we were caught off guard by the amount of havoc cat pee can wreak on a place.

The previous owners had separated the house into two self-contained units, which was exactly what we were looking for. We wanted our house to be able to come close to paying for itself so that we could be freer to stay at home with Asher, look for jobs that we would enjoy, and wander further.

Simple, small-space living is something that we are used to (although we’ve yet to hit tiny home sq ft ratios). Truthfully, we actually prefer smaller spaces because there’s less to clean and more quality time spent together (or maybe we’re a tad lazy?). So the fact that we are sharing one-third of our house’s livable space didn’t bother us at all.

When we first moved in, our plan was to use Airbnb to rent out the upstairs unit. We had heard great things but were quite skeptical and a little nervous.

No offence #HamOnt, but it was hard to believe that there were so many people flocking to the city who would need a place to stay. On the website, Airbnb estimates what you can make in a week based on the space you would be renting out and honestly, it seemed unrealistic. We didn’t have faith, and for that, we’re sorry Hamilton.

If we went the rental route, what if we get horrible tenants? Bad visitors from Airbnb would be gone after a night or two but bad tenants could be the source of nightmares.

After going back and forth about what to do, we ran into some friends of ours who needed a short term lease until they found a house of their own. They ended up staying with us for 5 short months—and we were sad to see them go (not just because they were the perfect tenants!). When they moved out, we debated whether or not to find long-term tenants or to give this whole Airbnb hosting thing a shot.

Some of the reasons that Airbnb was appealing for us were:

  • we would potentially make more money each month by charging by the day
  • we would have a place for family and friends to stay when they visit
  • we would know that it was being cleaned and maintained properly
  • we already had it mostly furnished

We took the plunge 69 days ago today, and have been so happy that we did! Our apartment was listed on February 15th and our first guest arrived three days later. Even though we’ve been extremely picky deciding who we will host, our place has been well occupied—with a 58% occupancy rate as of today. We’ve also been able to block off a few weekends to have friends visit (a luxury we didn’t have before). Our guests have visited from a variety of places—some coming from Singapore and Australia—and have been lovely and respectful. When it comes to compensation, we started at a lower rate because we had no reviews and it has fluctuated a little from month to month, but still, it has brought in a bit more.

While I love staying at home with Asher, it has been fun for me to have this little “job” of communicating with guests and putting some personal touches in the apartment! My goal when I started was to reach “super host” status as-soon-as-possible. I made it a couple months later.

Next post, I will share a few details on what it’s like to be a host, how you’re able to screen guests, some of how we try to offer value, and the little things you can do to become a “super host”.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out through e-mail (attachandwander[at]gmail.com) or Instagram. And if you do decide to fit Airbnb into your lifestyle somehow, they have provided me with this sweet referral link that you could use to sign up (full disclosure, you click that link and sign up for Airbnb, I could potentially get credits to my account if you either start hosting or go on your first trip).

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