Increasing our Retirement Income
Being a travel addict is expensive. Our retirement income covers the basics so we started to look for ways to make more money. Holding down a job has absolutely no appeal and is too restrictive. I can hear myself saying “But I don’t want to work next week!” After looking around, we decided to open the front of our house to Airbnb. We are hoping that this additional retirement income would pay our property taxes, the car and house insurance, and put some cash in the coffers for our next big trip.
We’ve stayed in several B&B places over the years. Sometimes just a room in someone’s house and sometimes in a large house with several rooms to let. We stayed on a horse ranch in Palm Springs and in a lovely home in Scotland. Each home has been different, fun, and certainly cheaper than a hotel. We just want a good bed and a safe place to leave our stuff while we explore.
The front of our house is perfect. It has front door access, a living room, a bedroom and a bath. We’ve put in a separating door to the back of the house where we live with the kitchen and the rest of the house. We spent just over $2,000 on new bedding, linen, a small refrigerator, microwave, TV, coffee pot, new towels. The dishes and silverware came from our own kitchen. All set up and ready to go, we listed our ‘guest suite’ for one month to see what would happen and if we liked it. Having no prior guests from Airbnb, we didn’t have any references, so we priced it low.
We got to pick the days we would be ‘open for business’ and block those when we would be gone or needed a break. We picked how many could stay with us, minimum number of nights, pets, etc. Within 10 days, we had 17 nights reserved!
How it works:
Guests have to register with Airbnb and provide photo ID. They set up a profile where you can learn a little bit about them. Guests select where they want to be, the dates and how many in the party. Airbnb brings up all the listings meeting those criteria. If the guest selects our place, they pay Airbnb in advance. After the first nights stay, the money (minus a very small cut for Airbnb) is transferred into my bank account. I get an email with a Request for Booking where I can review the guests profile, maybe ask a question or two and decide if we want to accept.
- We have the space, we’re going to be home anyway, we enjoy meeting new people, and we get paid!
- I’ve always wanted a clean house, but came to realize – a long time ago – that I’m easily distracted. Having our house listed means it has to be clean all the time – including our kitchen and dining room – guests may want to cook something. This has given me the incentive to clean up after myself and keep things tidy. Once it is perfect, it takes little effort to keep it that way. (Why it took me 60 years to figure this out, I have no idea!)
- We’ve met some great people, some of whom are Airbnb hosts themselves, and many are looking forward to a return visit with us. We learn something new with every single party.
- Now that we’ve paid back our savings account for the initial set up, there is very little expense involved
- We now have a killer guest room for when friends and family come to stay for free!
- We had to get a state and city business license. Airbnb adds the tax to the guests reservation and sends those funds to the state.
- At first, it’s kind of strange having someone else in your house. We put locks on both sides of the adjoining areas and a curtain across the door to protect everyone’s privacy.
- At this point, we feel we still need to be home when guests arrive and leave and to provide suggestions regarding dining and answer any questions. However, I recently stayed at a home where I didn’t meet the owner until the 5th day.
- Our area is a tourist destination so we will probably be booked all next summer. We thought it would die down in the fall, but October had 9 nights reserved. We’ll see.
This just might work!
PS: After being open for just one month, Airbnb looked at our reviews and awarded us a SuperHost Badge!
Cheryl is one of the Retirebook editors. Now retired, she is a self proclaimed travel addict, a prolific knitter and somewhat successful gardener. She lives with her hubby of many years and one blind old cocker spaniel in the Pacific Northwest.