Should we try something like Airbnb to help pay for our vacation?

Rent Out Our House While We're on Vacation?

by Dollar Stretcher Contributos

How to Conquer Debt eBook

Rent Out Our House While We're on Vacation?

We will be gone this summer on vacation for over a week. My husband has been considering renting out our home for a week while we are gone through one of the house rental sites such as to offset part of our vacation expenses. I am just curious if any of your readers have ever done this before or any other type of house swapping and how it went for them. It seems like a smart way to cover some of our trip costs but the idea of strangers staying in my house for the week does make me nervous. I'd love any advice on how to make this work for all involved. If all goes well, I could see us doing this any time we are traveling for several days. Thanks so much!

Go with a Vacation House Sitter

Personally, I think this sounds like a bad idea. I would not want someone in my home alone at any time. At one time, I had a rental, and at the end of the year, it cost me more in damages than I ever collected. I quit renting out the place and sold it instead.

If you are concerned about your place being empty, then it is actually cheaper in the long run to hire a house sitter who you know you can trust. Be very careful and enjoy your vacation.

Related: The Vacation Home Renter's Peace of Mind Guide

Avoid Renting Your Home

I have been renting homes for almost 30 years. Don't rent anything that is important to you. Even if you get a perfect tenant (and most are not perfect or even really good), you will see every item moved, scratched, etc.

Talk with Your Home Insurance Agent

You probably need to talk to your home insurance agent to see if there is anything that you need to consider.

Vacation Home Rental Is Like a Job

I have owned vacation rental homes for about 15 years. Currently I own four (paid cash for all) and manage a few for other people. It's tempting to rent out your home in order to make some money, but you need to treat it like a job (yes, even if you do it for only one week a year). First you need to advertise. Airbnb is probably your best bet. You can list for free and then Airbnb takes 3% of the rent. FlipKey is another with a similar set up. HomeAway and VRBO now have a "pay-per-booking" option, but they take 8%. You need to write good copy and have good, enticing photos for your ad. You will not be able to communicate directly with the potential guest or know any identifying information about them until after they book, which makes some people (like me) uncomfortable. All of the listing sites will block out phone numbers, email addresses, last names, and websites.

Assuming that you find a responsible guest, you must make your house "guest ready." Treat this as if it were a job, packing up every trace of your family and locking it in the basement. Remove all clothing, toys, family photos, and valuables and definitely empty out the medicine cabinets. Then you should make the house spotless and organized with clean linens and towels and mattress pads (and bedbug protectors) on all of the beds. The fridge should be empty and sparkling. Hang inexpensive artwork in place of your family photos. It will probably take a good week to prepare the house. Finally, make sure that you have either a security deposit and/or damage insurance. I don't know if I would do it for just a week. Hope this gives you something to think about.

Reviewed March 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • Find out what it costs to list your property on VRBO.
  • House swapping or a vacation home rental can often be a much cheaper alternative to a costly hotel stay. Here's what you need to know.
  • Is debt preventing you from traveling to your preferred destinations? The Dollar Stretcher can help you get to those places you'd rather go. Get the TDS ebook How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have and start working toward the vacation destinations of your dreams.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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