The End of an AirBnb Era
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- December 13, 2019
The first day we ever tried hosting on Airbnb was Friday the 13th. Three years later, it’s now Friday the 13th again, and our last guest checks out. Spooky, right?!!
A new law in Seattle goes into effect on December 15th, 2019 that will require all short term renters to have a short term rental (STR) license. You cannot obtain the STR license unless you own the property. We thought we had a work around since we were in the rare position of our landlord being okay with us renting our units on Airbnb. But no dice.
Still, we hosted 444 reservations between the two apartments since January 13th, 2017, and we almost have a 5 star (4.8) rating. So, while we can’t run these particular properties anymore, I’d like to think we are pretty good at it. We will definitely host again!
The dream is to move to the Olympic Peninsula and have a house on a piece of property with container cabins sprinkled about that we can rent out. We could turn that one into a real bed and breakfast too. My husband has been a chef for over 25 years and could keep people well nourished before their daily adventures.
After hosting 2 apartments on Airbnb since Friday the 13th of January, 2017, here’s what I’ve learned:
- It was the ULTIMATE side hustle. My husband did the “flips” (getting the unit ready for the next guest) before he went to work and I could do all the concierge services via the app. I helped guests on my phone in lines at grocery stores with one kid on each arm, and even between takes during some big voice over sessions. It was, for the most part, totally on our own time. This is amazing for artists who don’t know when they are going to be tied up with a gig! Granted, my husband (Dis) and I are good at this stuff. He’s meticulous about the flips and I am the ultimate customer service rep + tour guide. We are both good decorators. We like to create a great space for people to have a fabulous vacation. We also had a killer location that was close to the stadiums and downtown and the waterfront and the train station and the light rail and, and, and…! So not everyone will have these results. But we brought in about $25K/yr for each unit and we had two.
- Having this side hustle allowed me to have my BEST year with voice over work. Even with a 1 year old AND giving birth in March to a new baby boy, I still had my best year as a voice over talent this year. This came as a big surprise! But, in retrospect, I can see how starting a family, and this lil side hustle called Airbnb, made me at prioritizing my time and outsourcing. My fave quote of 2019 is:
“You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are.” (Anna Quindlen)
This has been especially clear for me in 2019! I could afford to take more risks. I was never in panic “need to pay my bills” mode. So I could take a step back to look at the big picture and make more calculated decisions.
- While a great option, AirBnb IS still a job at the end of the day. There were still days when we wanted to do something with our family but couldn’t make it because we needed to take care of something with the apartments. This was a very small price to pay for what we got in return compared to other jobs but it is worth noting that this is not free money. We viewed it like we were running a hotel for each apartment, occupancy of 1.
- For the most part, guests are great. Every once in a while, you get an occasional douche bag that gives you trouble in one way or another. In those cases, I found that AirBnb really had our back. The trick was to not get emotional about any individual reservation. Even if the guest tells you your place is “fooking disgoosting” [this actually happened]. I quickly learned to step back and look at our bookings for the year from a birds eye view. Literally every other reservation gave glowing reviews and noted we had stylish decor and were sparkling clean. So that one jerk was just a blip on the radar. If I ever had any kind of feedback more than once, I saw the pattern and fixed the issue. But I made sure to never wrapped up my emotions in any of it. Because no matter how rude they may have been, or messy they left the place, there was always a new reservation the next day with great people who loved their stay.
Anyway to summarize, AirBnb is a great side hustle if you can make it happen. We are now hatching plans for about 17 other side hustles – we will see which ones stick! – until we can host a listing on AirBnb again. C’est la vie, AirBnb! Or shall I say, “hasta luego”??