Spare Room, Spare Cash? CouldVacation Rentals be Your Side Gig?

Every friend group has that one person who knows someone who is making twice the cost of her mortgage by renting out her place on Airbnb. Sure, she has friends or parents she can stay with when her place is rented, and everything about her life sounds way to good to be true, but the idea of that extra cash is very tempting isn’t it?

Person-to-person vacation rentals has been an exploding business model over the past few years and it doesn’t seem to show signs of stopping soon. In fact, Airbnb itself has had over 500 million customers. From the rental of a shared room to the weekly leasing of an entire home or apartment, there are many options and pricing models to choose from if this sounds like the right kind of side gig for you. And it’s not just Airbnb anymore, either. Now companies like HomeAway, Tripping, VacayHero, and VRBO are competing for home-share vacation rental business as well. But how can you tell if you’d be good at it?

You need to be organized.

Well, it goes without saying that you’ll have to learn how to keep track of a calendar to start your own vacation rental business. You’ll also need to be aware of any local rules, statutes, and regulations regarding short-term rentals, and you’ll need to be aware of any co-op, building, or HOA rules you need to abide by as well. It’s going to be important for you to accurately gauge how quickly you can turn around your rental space between renters as well. If you need a full day to clean and do sheet and towel laundry, you’ll need to factor that into your booking guidelines.

You need the right property.

We’re not saying you can’t list any old room or house or apartment on a short-term rental site. We’ve all seen listings that made us cringe a little. You will need to adjust pricing if the standards of your digs aren’t up to snuff, though. Of course the appeal of vacation rentals as a side gig starts to diminish if the profit margins become smaller.

Ideally to start a successful home-share business, you’ll already have a nice place in a good location and all you’ll really need is some cheap but trendy Ikea furniture to give it a little panache and some perfectly staged photos to show it at its best. If you’ve got bigger issues however, like you need to paint, re-grout the tub, or replace the chipped and rusty bathroom sink, well your start-up costs may mean you should rethink your attempt to jump into the gig economy.

You need to be able to share.

This might seem like it goes without saying, but we’re saying it anyway. If you’re going to let out a room in your house, you need to be able to live in a way that makes people feel at ease being in your place. No loud tv until midnight, no random friends dropping by at all hours, you’ll need to wash and put away your dishes the minute you use them, and you absolutely cannot under any circumstances leave your dirty underwear on the bathroom floor after your shower. You’ve got to be able to neatly and discreetly share your space. Even if you let your whole place out, you’ll have to live with a level of cleanliness and efficiency that even Marie Kondo might find difficult to maintain.

If you can handle all of this and still think home-share is for you, we say go for it!