Airbnb as a Side Hustle? 9 Useful Tips to Get You Started

Tips Gathered From our Experience as Airbnb Hosts (and Guests)

Digital Red Crabs 🦀
7 min readApr 1, 2022

We have been renting our apartment on Airbnb since 2017. Being digital nomads, we go on longer trips all year round, therefore, we are thankful for the extra money that pays for at least some of our own travel expenses. So how do we go about it?

Here are 9 tips we’ve collected over the years.

#1 Clarify if you are allowed to sublet your lodgings to Airbnb guests

If you rent your flat as a tenant yourself, you need to clarify with the proprietors if they allow you to sublet your flat. If that is the case, welcome onboard.

Some metropolises like Paris or Barcelona have strict policies on who is allowed to rent out on Airbnb. If you are unsure, check with your local government if any restrictions apply.

#2 Get clear on what space exactly you want to rent out

Do you want to offer your entire apartment, allowing free access to all spaces? Or do you want to lock particular rooms due to privacy reasons?

Can your guests use the garden? What about the basement or attic?

Get clear on what space exactly you want to provide and lock every room you don’t want your guests to use. Guests normally do need a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and some area where they can sit and relax.

Also calculate how many people you want to host. Are there beds for all of them?

Is your space safe for toddlers? On Airbnb you can indicate exactly how many guests you would host and if young children, pets, or smokers are allowed.

To give you an idea, what spaces other hosts normally rent out, here is a list of the most common disposable places:

  • a single room (kitchen and bathroom is shared with you)
  • parts of the apartment (the guests have the apartment to themselves, but you have locked some rooms)
  • the entire apartment (you are obviously somewhere else during their stay)

#3 Research and find out what can you charge

Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

Look at similar apartments to your own on the Airbnb website in the vicinity of where you live. What do they charge? Do they offer sort of the same facilities?

What are the nightly, weekly, or monthly rates?

Is your apartment listed during some holiday season? The prices will go up.

Always add extra cleaning costs, whether you clean the space yourself or if you hire a professional cleaner. It takes quite some time to clean all the apartment, and extra costs in your utility bill to wash the bedsheets and towels when your guests are gone.

If your flat has a balcony, a terrace, or a garden (possibly with a barbecue area), that’s a big bonus and you can charge more for these extras.

Other perks are smart TVs, private parking, bikes, pools, saunas etc.

Be aware that Airbnb prices normally includes everything. There is no such thing as extra gas bills or extra water bills. You need to calculate a package price. Some regions require hosts to ask for a visitor’s tax. If that’s the case in your area, mention that clearly in your listing. On top of your price Airbnb will ask a service fee from your guest.

Asking for a deposit from your guest is not common, as Airbnb has an awesome host cover insurance that basically pays for every minor or major mishap.

#4 Strategize on how long you want to rent your place

When we first started, we rented the apartment for as short as one night. Today the shortest period we rent out is two weeks. The reason is simple: We both work full-time and do not have the time to constantly clean and wash after guests. There was a time when we sublet the apartment almost every weekend. It turned out, it was way too hectic when you try to work next to your Airbnb hustle.

Based on your current work setup, strategize and figure out how long you want to rent your place. Think of how often you want to clean and vacate your apartment. In our experience, periods shorter than a week rarely make sense.

#5 Take top quality photos of your apartment

Photo by Andrea Davis on Unsplash

Take excellent quality pictures during daylight of your clean apartment. It should look as if the apartment was ready to be rented out. We have seen so many bad photos on Airbnb or stayed at really nice places where we thought, they could attract many more guests if they had just taken better pics.

#6 Create a system for fast cleaning

The first few times we hosted our space, the cleaning beforehand was quite strenuous. Then we came up with a system.

The key to an easy arranging is having closets, drawers, or entire rooms that can be locked. Here you can shove in all your personal things you don’t want your guests to see.

We have two big closets with personal belongings that we lock. The rest of the items in the flat are needed for daily use by either us or the guests. At the beginning we also had two trunks which we could lock, but we have become such minimalists that today, those trunks are empty.

We have bought extra bedding, linens, bed sheets, and towels only for guests. They are always clean and ready to be taken out. (Our bedding is locked away during our guests’ sojourn.)

Photo by Maxim Zhgulev on Unsplash

Once you’ve cleared away your personal items, all that is left to do is cleaning your space before the guests arrive. Cleaning is one of the most important parts of renting out. Nothing rates higher on the reviews than a clean apartment.

#7 Provide a smooth and hassle-free check-in experience

Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

We have been guests many more time than we have hosted, and it is really nice to realize that your hosts have put some love into it. Trivial details, like chocolate or flowers or some local product as a welcome gift will make your guests feel homey.

Some hosts also have several guidebooks or maps ready for their guests. We used to have those as well, but they tend to expire, hence, we prefer sending our guests links to websites of what they can do in our area.

Handing over the keys should be smooth and hassle-free for the guest. If you cannot be there in person, ask a neighbour to hand over the keys or have a lockbox mounted. By no means, ask your guests to meet you somewhere else. That normally involves extra traveling for your guests and is just annoying for the new arrivals.

If you cannot greet your guests in person, make a video where you explain the tweaks and quirks of your flat. We also have an information sheet in which we explain some things regarding the flat and its surroundings.

#8 Do a trial run

This tip is for hosts who rent out an extra apartment where they normally don’t live:

Stay for at least for one week in your own Airbnb apartment, only then can you see what is missing or bothering potential guests. Many times, we stayed in beautifully decorated apartments that were totally unpractical, missed all essential kitchen items, or had crappy utensils. You want to know what it feels like to be a guest in your space. Only then do you know what needs to be changed.

#9 Have an open mind

Last but not the least — be open minded!

Photo by Nicole Avagliano on Unsplash

If you host your dwelling on Airbnb, guests will live in your space. They will touch everything, use your bathroom, sleep in your bed. When they are gone, there will be hair, dirty pans, used towels, the odd broken glass, crumbs etc. You should be comfortable with that, else there is no sense in renting your space, unless you are in the position of having an extra apartment.

The upside is that most Airbnb guests are extremely nice and take diligent care of your belongings. Airbnb has implemented a rating system where not only the host but also the guests are reviewed. Thus, you can see in advance what other hosts have written about your potential guests. If you stay near or even with your guests, you might also make some new friends.

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Digital Red Crabs 🦀

Digital nomadic couple 🗺, minimalists 🍃 | Sharing meaningful experiences from our travels | Support our writing: