House Hacking Through… Airbnb? My 1st Month Numbers!

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I’ve written extensively about my adventures hosting on Airbnb. I’ve always leased apartments, then listed them on Airbnb. That formula worked in New York and continues to work in Dallas.

The Airbnb service is intended to rent space in your primary residence. I’d never done that because I didn’t want strangers in my actual home. But last month, I took a weekend and converted my spare bedroom and bathroom into a private guest room and listed it on Airbnb.

airbnb house hacking

My guest bedroom

And so far… wow! The response is incredible. Guests are loving it. And something that surprised me… so am I!

A nice benefit is I’m earning more than if I had a roommate. And I’m even thinking it could get to the point where it could cover my entire mortgage payment – I could live in my own place for basically nothing!

Airbnb house hacking… for real?

I intended for my second bedroom to be an art studio. In practice, it became an overflow/storage/bric-a-brac room. I hardly ever opened the door. It essentially just sat there. One day, I decided to buy a queen memory foam bed, desk, sheets, night stands, and everything else I’d need to make it a proper and comfortable guest room.

I got a picture hanging kit and added hardware to my paintings. Some extension cords and night lights. And a new doorknob so I could lock my valuables in my own room.

I took some pictures of my creation with my phone and uploaded the listing to Airbnb. (Here’s my series about how to host on Airbnb.)

a bathroom with a painting of food

Guest bathroom

I started the listing for $45 per night. I figured it would net a few hundred extra bucks per month. Even at $300 a month, that’s still an extra $3,600 per year. Not bad for a room that was just sitting there. That’s a few extra mortgage payments!

a screenshot of a computer

I made $500+ in September in 2 weeks!

In my first 2 weeks, I made ~$527. It’s not hard to see how I could earn $1,000+ per month at that rate.

And October looks to be on track for exactly that!

That made me think… listing my guest bedroom on Airbnb could seriously cover my entire mortgage payment. Or at least a huge chunk of it. In essence, Airbnb could pay my mortgage for me.

And a step further, $1,000 per month is much more than I could get from a roommate. In that regard, it’s even better than “traditional” house hacking.

Pros & cons of roommates vs. Airbnb guests

I much prefer having Airbnb guests in my space. The way I see it, roommates (interchangeable with tenants in this case) are fraught with potential problems. Too much potential for interpersonal conflict. Not to mention:

  • Long-term leases
  • Rent collection
  • Possible evictions
  • Having someone around every day

Of course, there are positives:

  • Stable, predictable income
  • You might genuinely enjoy your roommate(s)
  • You might know them personally
  • They might take better care of your property

There’s potential for bad experiences with Airbnb guests, too. But from a monetary perspective, and for the purpose of house hacking, I’m seeing I can make a lot more with Airbnb than with a roommate. A few hundred bucks when you throw it into a mortgage is HUGE. Plus I still get a few days all to myself – although my guests so far are hardly here anyway.

Thinking beyond a room

For real estate, I wonder how else this could work. Many peeps have finished attics or basements – even with private entrances. There are mother-in-law houses, cottages, and guesthouses. It could maybe even work for a duplex or triplex.

To price my room, I ran a quick search for private rooms in my area to see what the typical price was like. I assume 20 days of occupancy per month – you can lower this number if you want.

The average around me is $50 per night. So $50 X 20 = $1,000. And based on my performance this month, that’s exactly right. If your mortgage is $1,000, you’d be completely covered. But every market is so, so different. I’d run some quick numbers and compare them with the expected cost of a mortgage and see what comes up.

All that to say, I’m impressed with the results of my one guest room so far. And it’s interesting to think how it could scale up. Or tremendously offset the cost of a mortgage.

The real reason I like it

Yes, the extra income is nice. But I could’ve easily gone out and set up another Airbnb project off-site and collected similar profits. And I do miss interacting with people. I love having travelers from all over. When I’m not traveling myself, I feel like I can live vicariously. It’s awesome to be part of someone’s travel story. “I met this cool guy in Dallas…” I just love that!

Apart from the human/social connection, I realized there was another lesson embedded: to always look at what’s around you and think about how you can make it even better. I took my empty room and made a fun project out of it. I wonder what else is around me that I can give life to? From that perspective too, it’s been incredibly inspiring.

Bottom line

I’m basically living rent-free because of this new project. And I’m kind of blown away at the first month numbers and how quickly it took off: $500+ in my first 2 weeks after listing my guest room on Airbnb. And based on future bookings, I expect to clear $1,000 per month – which I will use to throw into my mortgage to pay it off faster.

House hacking with Airbnb could even cover your whole mortgage payment, or take a huge chunk out of it, depending on your numbers, market, and demand for a room.

Will this work everywhere? Definitely not. But places with higher mortgages also tend to have more demand for tourism… so it’s really just an issue of making the numbers work.

It’s also more lucrative and (in my opinion) less stressy than traditional roommates or tenants. I’m making more than if I had a roommate and get more time to myself. Plus there’s no worry of arguments, missed rent, or having to evict someone.

So far… I’m loving it. And I love that I’m still having new experiences with Airbnb after being a host for nearly 5 years by now!

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. Pretty awesome! You could always rent out your car through one of the gig websites. And even better you could rent it to your bnb guests for an even bigger value add. If we weren’t in a house where we’re at I’d seriously consider this. I also have a Subaru sitting in the driveway 99.999999% of the time.

    • That’s an amazing idea! Only thing would peeps would still have to Uber/Lyft to/from the airport to my place. But it could work. Huh. I’ll look into it – thanks for the tip!

      How’s life in FW? So close but a world away! (lol kinda sorta)

  2. Interesting! How many nights is the average booking? ( I can’t read the picture of the reservations). We have had a B&B for 20 years on our property, a small log cabin with one bedroom. I have not attempted AirBnB, I didn’t feel like it was the right marketing for us. Now I wonder.

    • You can easily set your min/max number of nights. For this place, I have the min at 2 nights and max at 7 nights. So the average tends to be 2 to 4 (so far). But really it’s whatever you want it to be. For my other places, I have the min at 3 nights and max at 14 nights. It’s really easy to customize. You should try it and see how it goes! There are all types of properties listed on Airbnb now. 🙂

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