How to Be a Long Distance Host

My question is for those of you who host from a location that is not right around the corner from where you live. How do you do it? We will be on the opposite side of the country for the winter and it would require an airplane ride to get back for routine maintenance on the place in between guests. We have a cabin on a mountain in Oregon, USA and are leaving to go to the East Coast for the winter. This cabin is semi-high maintenance in that sometimes the oil runs out for the heat and the furnace needs to be re-primed. Last winter one of the pipes froze and there was no hot water for a bit. I’m worried about how to take care of these types of things in the middle of the night should they arise when guests are staying there. Also, how do you take care of clean up in-between guests? Do you have an on-call house cleaning service and handy man? Any advice from all of your experienced hosts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

We live in Sydney and host in Melbourne (about 1000 km or 1 ish hour on the plane). We have a cleaner who we schedule cleans with at the end of the month and she is also happy to go around and supervise maintenance people when required. We have had some issues with maintenance in that we can’t just go over there our self but hopefully have enough trusted companies now that we can use them. One example is the first guests that used the heater at the beginning of winter claimed it wouldn’t heat up. After numerous phone calls, text messages etc, we finally had a handyman go over there just to turn on the pilot light! My husband knows how to do that (and we suspected that was the issue, but hard to explain via phone) so if we lived around the corner it could have been fixed in an instant. I can’t say enough good things about our cleaner- she is expensive but worth her weight in gold- so that would be my number one tip is to have a person or two who are trustworthy and reliable. Everything else can be done remotely with ease.

One last thing- given you’ll be in a slightly different time zone, would suggest you sign-up to an automatic messaging service such as (which I could rave about for weeks). I went to London a few months ago (before I had and had to set myself calendar reminders as the time zones made it really difficult to message and remember to message. So if you automate at least the check in/ check out messages, that would make it much easier.
Hope that helps!


You need a cleaning crew that is reliable and available and trustworthy and can be integrated into your calendar, as well as a handyman at the ready. Since you know you have those issues. Actually it sounds a bit fraught, it’s hard enough to deal with issues when you are right on site.

Or, list it with a local property manager who will charge but definitely make it worth it.

Following great advice already given. Also look at having a local manager who can check people in and out and make sure there is no damage to property. Who can also be on hand in case of any problems with guests, replacing damaged/stained items.

If you don’t have it already. CCTV and short let home insurance.

I am a 4.5 hour drive away from my Airbnb home so my basement unit tenants do the cleaning, washing and are on hand for in person needs. I also have a handyman who is local and familiar with my house who I call for repairs (ac recently went out and he got it fixed asap). Use craigslist or maybe next door to try to find a good person or team for cleaning and house turnover… make sure you research pricing/what to pay and think of all that their job will entail.

There are a few options for remote hosting that can help in this situation.
For check-ins remotely you can use a keypad or lock box, something that allows you to hand over the keys without being there in person. Security cameras etc are also helpful remotely.

But obviously this doesn’t solve the maintenance issues. For that a lot of remote hosts hire property managers, as they can take care of all aspects of managing the place from check-in to communications to organising maintenance and turnover. Or with regards to cleaning you could hire a separate cleaning service apart from or in addition to a property manager.

Finding someone trustworthy can be the hard part. You can do as Saranah suggested and use something like Craigslist, or at Airhosta we list pre-vetted professional services in a bid to make them easier for hosts to find.

Property managers are of course an added expense - but generally they turn out to be worth it since they save you the hassle of having to be physically around to manage the property yourself.

I’m a remote host. 900 miles so I can’t just hop in the car and go take care of things.
Here is how I do it…

  1. I use a lock box for the key. (Actually I use two. The second one is a backup, just in case.) You need a simple, reliable method for guests to get in. Whatever works for you.
  2. Property/Guest Manager. Local person who can take care of simple problems and alert you if it is something more serious. This person checks after the cleaners are done and also checks the place when it is empty for a week or more.
  3. Cleaners. Preferably a professional company with high standards and adequate personnel to handle any cleaning needs.
  4. List of contractors. HVAC, plumbing, electrician and most importantly, handy person. In your case possibly a plow guy for snow?, etc…
  5. Pay these people very promptly. Nothing encourages their loyalty and commitment more than this. Also, thank them and give them praise for their efforts. People love to be thanked and praised for their efforts. (and they should be!)
  6. Make sure you are always(!) available by cell, especially on arrival days. !!! No wiggle room on this one!
  7. WiFi camera at the entrance. I set mine up to email me snapshots when triggered. No video. I don’t know why I waited so long to do this. Use a separate email address for this, you can get a lot of emails.

I will say that you should never, ever run out of oil. Most oil companies use degree days (or whatever) for automatic delivery so no excuse there.
You are a remote host. If you set up your support team there is no reason that your guests should not enjoy a fabulous stay with fairly minimal stress to you.
It does take some time to set all this up but it is important and it does work.


@Laurel_Simpson_Schum We created a free automated scheduling app to automate scheduling of your cleaners remotely - but you still need reliable cleaners that will show up. Feel free to try it out though -

Great post KIKC with sound advice. I was a remote host, living in a different country for years , (but without some of the tech solutions available today) made possible because I had a fantastic network of local people/friends who I paid well. Mind you I still found it stressful as at the time I had a very demanding career so could not make the time to discuss any problems so had to completely rely on my people/friends and happily for me they never let me down. Without a good team, I think remote hosting is impossible.


Did one of you long distance hosts make guests take photos before and after?