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How Airbnb-Ing A Spare Room Is A Better Option Than Getting A Flatmate

Updated: Mar 21

I've always enjoyed having people over, laying out a feast for them, setting up an ambience and just generally being a host. (In one of my posts here, I talked about how to host the perfect house party.) I guess the Cancerian in me just takes this avatar of nurturing and playing mother goose in many different ways and entertaining guests is one of them.

But then, the business manager in me also recently discovered that hosting people for longer periods of time and in a structured way can also be a lucrative business, or in my case a side hustle.

I've been a Couchsurfing host on many occasions. I've had people from across the world crash on my couch or a spare room for a day or even ays at a stretch So I was no stranger to hosting strangers, but Airbnb opened new doors for me by opening my doors to new people.

When I got myself a 2 bedroom house in which I lived on and off, and realised it was one bedroom too many, the first instinct was to get a flatmate for the spare room. And I did too for a while. But then if a person stayed for a while, it'd start to grate and I'd start dreaming about having the place to myself too. I wanted the option to have the whole place to myself and yet have someone else share it once in a while, while of course helping with the costs. Everyone knows having a house is not cheap. There's a the rent which only is half the story, but add the utilities like electricity and water bills, internet, maintenance, and salaries of the househelp and the cook, and suddenly living is an expensive deal.

So I decided to give Airbnb a shot while not expecting anything. Let's be honest. My room wasn't really hotel material. The paint was a lil worn, the bed didn't have the most luxurious mattress, and the bathroom didn't have a shower. It wasn't going to be easy to find a flatmate, leave alone have someone pay to stay there. But then what do I know?

In less than a week of listing the room, my inbox was buzzing with requests. Ok I exaggerate. It wasn't exactly buzzing. But I did receive more requests than I could host the people at a time. I accepted the booking and my first guest had a successful 3 day stay in the room and it ended with a glowing review at that, I knew I was on to something.

It's been 3 years since my first guest, and now around 25~ guests later (because I still am not a full time Airbnb host and I keep my calendar blocked for the most part), I can say that opening up my spare room as an Airbnb space has been one of the most rewarding side hustles I've had.

Not only has it been financially rewarding (on days I host, I manage to recover 70-80% of the living expenses), but also the experience of meeting people from all walks of life has been enriching. At times, when I'm too lazy to step out to socialise, the Airbnb guests walk into the house and become the friends/company I didn't go looking for. My Airbnb experience merits its own detailed post and I'll do it someday. Heck, an article may not cut it and I might have to write a book about it someday, but for now, let me end with 5 tips on

How you too can turn your spare room into an Airbnb

1. Have a full furnished room with a good bed, mattress, a study table and desk and preferably a TV

2. You need to have an attached bathroom or a dedicated one to realistically be able to Airbnb a room in a shared space.

3. To give it a hotel-like convenience, add a hot water kettle, a small microwave (if you can), an iron box, a water can and some refreshments like tea packets, snacks etc.

4. Delight your guests. Offer a breakfast on the house they weren't expecting. Offer to do laundry for them and/or take them out for a dinner.

5. Add life and soul to the space by adding wall art, plants, and other decorative as well as functional additions such as tissue paper boxes, a laundry basket, hangers in the cupboard, room fresheners, candles, what have you.

Here's a more detailed blogpost on how to be an Airbnb host, so do check it out if you too harbour the dream of being a host, making some side income and of course opening your door and your heart to some amazing human connections.


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 I (Monica) am a lifelong traveler, (40 countries), sustainability and veganism advocate, and a marketer by profession. I'm old school in that I still like to blog and document rather than shoot and post.

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