Vacation Arbitrage: Airbnb Diary

We just started. We’re a bit late to the 21st-century party here.
We’re renting out our house on Airbnb when we go on vacation, or whenever want to make some money and we can go on vacation. Why not? So far we’ve made around $13,000. It’s been listed for about two months.
I’m not saying this to brag, although I am proud. I’m lucky too — it was my wife’s idea. We’re both lucky. It’s a great house. We love it. It’s our home.

The most interesting thing…

You’re inviting people into your home. They get to look at your house on a website and decide if they want to stay in your house — among all the other houses. The more I think about it, Airbnb is basically Tinder for vacation homes. And, if they do pick your home (and you pick them), you hope they’ll love and care for it as much as you do while you’re away.
I can tell you, so far, it’s been pretty great.
Our first guest booked six people but had seven in their party. It sounds trivial, I know. I’ve done that too. Back in the day? Guilty. Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 1.05.40 AM
I can also tell you it’s different when it’s your house. It’s not honest. I get it now.
That’s what made us feel so vulnerable. They were in our home — and they lied to us.
Our rules are super clear.
Any person beyond four is an additional $75 per night. At that price we’re still a great value, we think. Actually, we priced it the way because we know it’s a value. Private (heated) pool. Jacuzzi. Ocean views — and — walking distance to a sunset on the Pacific Ocean. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Makes you want to book it right now, maybe. You can — if you want.
And so — those are the rules if you want to rent our home.
It was nice to know she was verified. (Thanks Airbnb!) And we knew her story too. She was from my home state. We liked her. It’s just that, I now realize, if you’re willing to break that pay-to-play rule, what’s to say you’re not going to break another rule while you’re in our home? …Like glassware by the pool instead of the plastic wine glasses we provide.
It was pretty unnerving, to say the least. I am thankful for that perspective. I’ll never do that again.
We noticed this happening because we have a Ring doorbell at the front door.  I would recommend having that, and smart locks, if you’re going to do this. We use the August Smart Lock for our doors. We leave, they punch in a code (extra accessory for $55). Their code starts working 5 minutes before check-in, until 5 minutes after checkout.

click to manifest

The cleaning crew we use, which specializes in Airbnb rentals, will arrive earlier in the morning before our guests arrive and immediately after checkout to leave the house pristine upon our return. They will do this automatically with each booking because our Airbnb calendar is synced with our cleaning crew. They’ll use their code (we’ll be notified when they arrive) and when they’re done — they’ll send us a checklist manifesto report, each time and every time. Easy peasy. The internet of things (and services) is amazing.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch… We felt nervous saying something about her extra guest. We didn’t want to seem like we were greedy. They were our first guests (and our first rating) and we didn’t want to crash the party, but umm yeah… our rules are the house rules, and paying for everyone is the ticket to admission.
We’re glad we said something, too. Airbnb insures us and ensures if this kind of thing happens you can terminate the booking immediately with no refund. We didn’t want to do that, but we did mention that fact. She owned it. She paid, quickly. And, it wasn’t unpleasant. It was a teachable moment for all of us. They continued the party. It’s okay. It’s a great party house. Just be cool about our neighbors, because they’re your neighbors while we’re gone. And, they were cool. There is a bottle of wine in this venture for our neighbors too, because we do care.
After all of that, our guests kept our home nice, as well. They also shared that they were leaving a game of corn hole for our next guests (and us). How awesome is that?
We got 4 stars – because we had the camera.

All’s well that ends well.

The next guests were a family. We went to Point Reyes for a long weekend. Our vacation cost half of what we were making from renting our playa Shangri-la.
From that same camera in the front, we saw the family snuggling; all together. They were enjoying a glorious sunset in our Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 1.05.00 AMfavorite hammocks, under my favorite sixty-year-old Stone Pine.
It was a beautiful moment, honestly; their family, together, truly enjoying our family home. We took in the sites and hiked. We had dinner at a fabulous restaurant with some friends, and our guests were loving our home.
They even left us some yummy hummus, Rocket Pops, and almond milk – complete with 5 stars.
This weekend we’re going to visit a long-lost aunt of my wife’s in San Diego and we’re renting our house again.

It’s not without hassle.

I’ll play the role of the gardener, blowing the leaves off of our back porch and around the fire pit. We’ll empty the night stands before we leave. We’ll move my wife’s jewelry to an undisclosed secure location. We’ll put out luggage racks in each of our bedrooms, because our closets are neatly sorted and occupied. My wife baked cookies, because that’s who she is. We’ll leave a bottle of wine and a thank you note, because that’s who we are.

Welcome to our home.1bbac6e2-5e32-4b8a-acb8-82af4d59603c

Help yourself to anything in our pantry. Use our Nespresso machine, too. Use our Sonos, Spotify, and Netflix as much as you like. The subwoofer hidden under the couch is pretty cool. You can even buy a couple of movies on us, with our Amazon Fire Stick. It’s all in the house manual I spent the time to type up — including, “Alexa, turn off the bedroom lights…” and call me if you need help.
The people staying in our home this weekend will be celebrating a birthday. Six guests. We know their names. We’ll be home when they drop off their bags early. We won’t be ready to leave when they do arrive. It’s okay, they’ll come back later after they spend some time at the beach and wash off in our outdoor shower. We’ll say “hi”, maybe even hug. We trust them. We told them about our first experience. They totally understand. Their family is in the vacation rental business too.
We’re, actually, really looking forward to having them stay in our home.

Because, Airbnb Bonus…

Our home will get to hear “Happy Birthday” being sung while we’re away.
I hope they feel as #blessed as we do. I’m so happy we get to share our good fortune, and that our home will be part of their celebration.
That’s been the most interesting thing…
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What I’m currently consuming:

The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right — Atul Gawande
More Isn’t Better — Joshua Morgan Brown
The Suit Advisors Should Wear: The Importance Of Color — Michael Ferrera  (Lose the suit, but he’s right about the colors)
10 Revelations From Being A Parent — A Wealth Of Common Sense
Real Knowledge vs. Book Knowledge — Morgan Housel
They All Fall Down — Michael Batnick
eSports And Gaming With Blake Street — All About Your Benjamins