Whenever I travel, I like to book unique accommodations. Whether it’s a converted van in Great Britain, a Glamping Tent in the Sahara Desert, or a Treehouse in Miami, Florida… I’m in! But renting a space for vacation is one thing and sharing your home with strangers is another. Recently I listed my Tiny House on AirBNB and I’ve welcomed my first renters. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
6 Things You Should Know Before Renting a Tiny House on AirBNB
1). The Initial Cost is Huge
Throughout this journey, I’ve always been very transparent about my general cost of living and Tiny House expenses. So when I say that the initial costs of setting up a Tiny House AirBNB blew my mind, you know it’s true.
Here are just a few things I purchased BEFORE I ever rented my Tiny House:
- 3 sets of sheets for each bed (loft and pull out couch). 6 total.
- 2 comforters for each bed. 4 total.
- 8 towels, 4 hand towels, 4 washcloths
- Extra throw blankets
- Large bottles of biodegradable shampoo, body soap hand soap & dish soap
- Large bottles of biodegradable cleaning supplies
- An enormous bin of coconut coir (for changing the compost toilet)
- A bunch of sawdust blocks and kindling for the woodstove
- Emergency lights in case the power goes out
- First Aid Kit (required by AirBNB and just a smart idea)
- Solar lights and motion detection lights for exterior safety lighting
- Porch lights
- Coffee, creamer, sugar, salt & pepper, and olive oil for cooking essentials
- Matches and lighters
- Replacement pots and pans
- Paper towels (by the truckload)
- Toilet paper (by the truckload)
- Vacuum cleaner
- A large outdoor broom for the porch
- DVD player with a extra long HDMI cable
- Multiple phone chargers for guests
My house is actually more liveable than ever. That’s ironic because I spent this money to make it more liveable for other people, rather than myself.
2). You’ll Need Storage
All of the above items and your personal belongings need to go somewhere. But where? A Tiny Home only has so much storage inside. I actually had to downsize quite a bit to make space for my renters, as they need empty cabinets and shelves for their food and clothing.
I have a locked cabinet inside of my Tiny House for my small everyday items, and then a bunch of lockable storage bins underneath my porch. My cleaners also keep my extra sheets, comforters, etc.
3). AirBNB Won’t See the Value in Your Unique Space (At First)
When I first listed my Tiny House, AirBNB’s algorithm calculated a terribly low price suggestion for my nightly rate. I assume this calculation was determined by the number of bedrooms (a loft doesn’t count), bathrooms (1), and the number of guests my home could accommodate (4). Basically, AirBNB considered my house about as valuable as a dormitory bunk room.
They suggested I charge $40 per night. That’s only $10 per person if I rent to 4 people! That’s not a sustainable number for all of the work and money that has to be put in. I ended up listing my Tiny House for $60 a night in the low season and, before I knew it, my house was booked every weekend for 6 weeks straight! I had to raise prices. So, the moral is, you can’t trust the algorithm. A unique space is worth more than a normal space.
4). Unless You Live Nearby, You’ll Have to Hire Help
If you’re like me, renting your Tiny House only works if you can do it while you are away. Therefore, I needed to hire someone to clean and do the turnover between bookings.
While AirBNB allows you to charge a cleaning fee, most rentals I’ve seen do not charge more than $30. Well, it’s difficult to find someone to clean even a Tiny House for $30, especially because dumping a compost toilet is involved. Therefore, I pay $50 for cleaning, which eats into my profits (and is another reason why I needed to charge more than what AirBNB suggested).
5). Renters Will Mistreat or Misuse Odd Items
Since opening my house as a rental, I’ve had more things break or disappear than in three years of living in it permanently. Why? Renters don’t care about the space as much as I do. Not all renters… but in general, people on vacation aren’t gentle with the property they’ve rented. And because Tiny Homes tend to have unusual appliances (such as collapsible homemade furniture and composting toilets), things tend to break from misuse or misunderstanding.
I often imagine a renter becoming frustrated because they can’t figure out how to unlatch my table within .003 seconds of trying, and so they yank and pull until it comes loose from the wall. This fear is why I have dozens of written notes all over my house with helpful tips. Still, things happen.
Once I lost my French Press for almost 2 weeks, and then I found it one day, way back on the shelf above the toilet. In the meantime I had purchased another, assuming it was gone. My couch’s decorative pillows have ripped at the seams… I’m not even sure how that is possible. My compost toilet has overflown onto the floor. The velcro I hung on the wall and the back of my TV remotes have miraculously disappeared multiple times, and the remotes are always difficult to find. And don’t get me started on stains….
Nowadays, whenever I come home, I spend a good amount of time looking for things and fixing things. It’s annoying. But when I read the guest book, I think it’s all worth it.
6). It’s Not Just About Money
Renting my Tiny House on AirBNB has not made me a lot of money, but it has made me happy. I enjoy seeing photos of my house on Instagram, posted by my renters. I LOVE reading my reviews and the comments in my guest book. It’s fun to see which DVDs people watched recently in my DVD player, to notice when a board game has been used, or to observe a new page dog-eared in one of my Tiny House books.
My house is making memories without me now, and it’s heartwarming. But is it worth it? That’s still TBD.