I hadn’t been back here for six months. We closed this house, left the keys with family, the cars in the garage, and boarded a plane to find better medical care for my husband who had his leg amputated. About a month or so ago, we had the brilliant idea of putting our home up on Airbnb. Well, my brilliant idea. Sounded simple enough. So, that’s the reason we returned. It wasn’t simple.
Several things I hadn’t considered immediately needed to be decided. This was my home and I planned on returning to it several times a year. Where to put all my personal stuff? How best to store it? How to make the house not look cluttered while still storing my items within the house? Do I want to rent out the entire house or part of it? What about my bedroom; will that be off-limits?
Airbnb Short Term vs Long Term Rental
The first thing I had to determine was whether I would rent this as a long-term rental or as a short-term rental. For me, this was simple. I would rent it as a short-term or I wouldn’t rent it at all. You see, this is our primary residence. This is the place we have called home for decades. All of our things are here. The other factor is our intention was never to move and leave it all behind. We wanted to come back as often as we could. This is where we have family and friends that we love spending time with.
Determine Storage Needs
The next thing we did was figure out where we would store all our personal stuff. When you’ve lived in a house for over 20 years and have raised your children in it, you accumulate stuff, lots of STUFF! The wise thing was to review all my personal stuff, donate what could be donated, and throw out what I could. But I was working on a time crunch. I didn’t have much time to do this and a process like that could take months. I had three weeks total to set the house up. If I had the time, I would have definitely gone with the donate, discard, or keep method. I did do a little of that, but not on the larger scale I know I could have.
Preparing the Airbnb Storage Room
So, we chose one of the bedrooms to become our storage unit. My house has four bedrooms (one is a master bedroom and bathroom) and an office. I knew I didn’t want to rent out the master bedroom and bathroom. One bedroom and the office had a split unit in them, so that would make them perfect bedrooms for the Airbnb. The other two bedrooms didn’t have a split unit but one of the bedrooms was big and had plenty of cross-ventilation. So, that one d became the third bedroom. The smaller bedroom with no air conditioning became the storage unit.
I purchased four commercial-grade shelving units and about 30 storage bins with lids. We removed the bedroom furnishings and built the storage area.
To Pack or Not To Pack
This was the hardest part and what took most of the three weeks I had available. Packing what I knew I wanted to keep was first on my task list. Pictures were #1! I gathered all the pictures I found from walls, tables, drawers, and albums and stored them. It took at least three storage bins!!! Who knew I had so many?!?! Going through the clothes was a lot easier. All my daughter’s clothes were donated and most of my son’s were as well. Even though we weren’t going to rent out our bedroom, I did go through our clothes as well and donated what was usable. Any item that was torn, stained or dingy went to the trash bin. All bedspreads were either donated or thrown away. I love to cook, so many of my kitchen appliances, like juicers, and items like roasters, bakeware, and other items were put away. We gave away the food we didn’t finish eating.
Labeling the Bins
Crocheting, reading, and baking are all things I enjoy, so I have a lot of stuff I’ve accumulated through the years. I have worked from home for over 15 years and have file cabinets full of documents, manuals, and so forth. I decided to put it all away for now. While packing each bin, I wrote down what I was putting in each one. I put the list inside the bin right before closing it. On the outside of the bin, I wrote the major categories for what was inside and taped that list to the outside of the bin. When putting the bin in the shelving unit, the label went on the front so I could easily access what I needed.
Set-Up Rooms for Airbnb
After I finished putting away what we wanted to keep, I began the process of setting up the rooms that would become available to Airbnb guests. The bedrooms were set up using the furniture I had. I know that I will probably need to upgrade the beds, but I worked with what I have for now. Three bedrooms were set up with full-size beds, night tables, dressers, lighting, desks, and luggage racks.
I did have to purchase all the bed linens, towels, dishes, and glassware. A full set of my stainless steel pots in the kitchen, as well as several options for brewing coffee, the Air Fryer, microwave, Magic Bullet for their smoothies, and a toaster, were left for guests’ use in the kitchen. I even left baking dishes and disposable plates and cups. I had to keep in mind that what I left would be needed by my guests, but also, equally as important was the fact that what I left available couldn’t be so much that the cleaners couldn’t inspect it for cleaning between guests.
Airbnb with Washer and Dryer? Pets?
My washer and drying are very old. They are definitely more than 15 years old. I wouldn’t mind allowing guests to use them, but would guests understand that these are old appliances or would they complain about them and ditch me in the ratings? I chose to not let guests use them until I get newer models.
Allowing pets was something that I debated. I’ve always had dogs in my home. I enjoy them and they are part of the family. So, welcoming the furry members of guests was a must! We don’t only allow dogs, but I like to make sure they feel welcomed. Bowls for food and water, pee pads, blankets, towels, poop bags are all part of what we provide. I even included the phone numbers of the dog sitter, pet groomer, and vet that I’ve used for years.
Licensing & Permits for Airbnb Short-term Rentals
Just as I was setting up my home for Airbnb rental, the township decided to regulate short-term rentals. I took a morning off from setting up the house to get an orientation on what I needed to have in order to be licensed to run a short-term rental. I scheduled a date in the future to turn everything in. As time permitted, I divided my time accordingly, but lucky for me, my accountant was able to get almost everything that was needed for me.
I had a few days left before my three weeks were up, so I worked on the front of the house, specifically the gardens and pathways. By this time I was exhausted. I had to remove weeds and determine which plants I could leave and which ones would need to be removed. I then ordered a meter’s worth of small white rocks and added them on top of the garden liners. Having a well-lit entrance when the guests came was important, so dusk-to-dawn lights were installed in the entryway.
Doors, Locks & Cameras
Every interior and exterior door in my house has a deadbolt. (Long story short, my house was broken into and I got paranoid and did this to every door.) So, I lock the rooms that I do not want Airbnb guests to access, such as the storage room, the laundry room, and my bedroom. Since the base price in my listing will include the two bedrooms with air conditioning, the third bedroom will be locked unless the reservation has more than four people. Setting my base price for 2 bedrooms helps me be competitive with the many apartments in my area, mainly two-bedroom apartments.
A smart lock was placed on the front entrance to allow for keyless entry and security cameras were added to the exterior of the house and also to the interior rooms where the guests do not have access. None of the interior rooms where the guests have access to have cameras. They can have peace of mind that no one will be watching them. The exterior cameras are important as a security measure for the guests and for me as the owner.
Setting Up on the Airbnb Platform
It was time for me to leave. So while I was away, I worked on setting up my listing on the Airbnb platform. This is probably the easiest of all the steps. I was able to take a bunch of pictures of each room as Airbnb articles had suggested and researched other Airbnb listings picking out what I liked from each. And then, in my own words, I created my listing. I set the calendar to not allow any bookings until I was ready to activate it. In the meantime, I kept tweaking this.
Regulatory Permissions Approved
I returned a few months later for the scheduled appointment for my licensing and permit. Everything was in order and approved. The booking calendar was ready to be activated! Because I was staying at the property, I set it up for dates when I would be away. I only opened my calendar up for a few months at a time. (This was in late September.) I knew we would be back to spend Christmas with our family, so I blocked those dates as well.
I am currently in the process of researching banking options. Because Airbnb is considered a commercial transaction, I cannot use my personal account for these transactions. So, I am currently evaluating where I want to open up a business account.
In the meantime, I have kept all my receipts and a spreadsheet with all my expenses for tax purposes. I am learning what I can include in taxes as I go, since I’m not an expert, but my accountant has given me some categories that I should keep track of.
I understand that most hosts who do Airbnb don’t actually do so with their primary residence. It was actually not easy for me to find blog posts or videos of people who had gone this route. I’m nervous about this entire process. Opening up my house to strangers is stressful, but I have to believe in the goodness of humanity and know that most guests will be great guests. As this new adventure forges forward, I will keep you posted on my progress.
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Are you ready to spend your next vacation snorkeling in clear, turquoise waters, and then come home to lay on the hammock with your furry baby? I hope you consider A House in Jobos as your relaxation spot.
Have you rented out any portion of your house to short-term rental guests? How has it gone? Would you like to try to do this?
Written by Carmen
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