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Should I rent my spare room?

We have a small vacation home that we successfully rent for short term in AirBnB and other websites. We are now thinking about renting a spare room that we have in our apartment. However we are a bit reluctant as guests may “invade our privacy”. What is your experience? Do you do it? Why?

Hello Nym!

My husband and I have three kids and decided to rent out the room in our basement on a whim.

It has been great. For the first 6 months our guests had their own toilet and sink but had to come upstairs to shower. So initially, we primarily had Europeans and Asians as guests - few Americans.

In January the private guest bath was completed so our guests are now from ‘all over’.

It has been GREAT. But I love meeting new people, hearing their stories, hearing about their life & where they are from. The guest that just left was a young woman, born in India but pursuing a PhD program here in the US. VERY interesting story. Before that, the man’s (French) grandfather had been a resistance fighter and they live near famous Dunkirk. Previously before that another Indian group, a husband and wife from different castes who had an ‘arranged’ marriage. Five young women from the UK who tromped out into the icey 19 (f) degree weather just as cheerful as if it had been 70 and sunny. The political refugees from Russia. The four unbelievably handsome and so intelligent and interesting guys from Sweden. OH! The guy from Michigan who is sent photos from Japan of people’s pet prairie dogs and he airbrushes the picture onto a sweatshirt and mails it back to Japan. Seriously. The young couple from Poland with a gorgeous little girl that I’m now seeing grow up via FB.

However, my guests do ‘live’ on a different level. Often they come upstairs and socialize. Often, if they have kids, the kids will play with my kids. Sometimes the parents even join in! The couple from India made us curry. (YUM).

Sometimes they are loud, which I hate. Sometimes I don’t hear a peep from them, which is amazing. Sometimes we drive them to the pharmacy because a child is ill, or we give them ginger from our fridge to make a tea for a son who has a fever.

So yeah, you could say they invade our privacy. And we invade theirs. But it seems to work. It’s great for my kids who are schooled at home. We have guests put a star on a big map so we see where they are from. My kids and I were about to study a History lesson when the man from India came upstairs (he was caring for his daughter while his wife was at a conference) because he was bored. So we put aside history and talked with him about India. He gave us a lot of interesting information about their lives.

SO yeah, he ‘invaded my privacy’ but I chose to take it as a gift. He also watched me as I made lunch for my kids, which was uncomfortable, but I thought “well, he’s seeing what our life is like”.

So think about the type of person you are. My daughter and I are introverts and sometimes I hide from my guests when they are coming and going! Think about what you want, how you will handle situations. For us, it has been great, but I have my calendar blocked off as of October (when our business policy expires) because I don’t want to commit my family to this until we’ve gotten through our first summer.

We could make our guests space a seperate apartment with enough $$ but at this point I want to get to know them and share our lives with them.

Also, I do block off a few days between bookings when possible. Once bookings have come that there’s 1-3 nights between them I block those nights off for a rest. Have to do that. Sometimes I get back-to-backs but that’s ok, I just do what I can to avoid it.

Remember you can always try it. Start with very little investment, block off chunks of the calendar, and see how it works for your family. If you like it you can slowly improve the space, increase your price, and see how it goes!

Any more questions?

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Do you own the apartment?

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Do you have a specific financial goal in mind that would warrant renting out your spare room? I rent out the main bedroom of my home, using the spare bedroom for myself. The upstairs bedroom and bath are for the guests, I use the smaller bed and bath downstairs. The living room and kitchen are downstairs. I started out renting out my whole house, but got really tired of having to stay elsewhere. I initially got involved with airbnb because 6 months after buying the home, I ran into an unplanned issue (the upstairs bathroom shower/tub unit needed to be replaced professionally). I did not want to take out a loan, put the cost on a credit card, and did not want to work overtime to be able to save the money. The first summer I made more than enough to have a new shower/tub unit professionally installed.
Do guests sometimes invade my privacy? Yes, there are times when I find having guests a nuisance, which is why I don’t rent out every single weekend, (I work one weekend a month and love renting out that weekend!).
I continue to do it as it is still a source of income for me, not one that I depend on, but one that puts funds into an account that I normally would not have. So, when my car was recently hit by another car (they drove away and didn’t leave any information), I had the funds for the deductible in my airbnb account.
There are times I meet amazing people! I was hosting a really amazing lovely young couple from France when the Paris terrorist attacks took place, it was very emotional and so many of my friends and neighbors were able to extend kind words and thoughts to them. It was a very unfortunate thing (the attacks), but it proved a sense of community that I nor my friends/neighbors would have experienced had it not been for my guests. And my guests were overwhelmed with the help and kindness Americans showed them.
I decline many guests, (despite that I’m still in good standing with airbnb), and I try to get as much information from guests as possible before accepting them to try to make the best odds of us being somewhat compatible.

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If you have to ask, probably not.

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I been living with stranger for 6 years. Somedays are better than other. The guests that live with me get their own bedroom and living room, which cuts down on the invasion of space.

Nonetheless, we share two bathrooms, kitchen and backyard. The beauty of it is that they leave. They’re only here for a short time and eventually they go bye, bye. Some guests I love, some I love to see go.

Right now, I have these grandparents couple who come to NY every year. I barely see them and we have a great friendship.

If you don’t have to do it financially you can always block of days and time for yourself. Because Airbnb is my main source of income I’m busy all the time. Knowing that there will be a slow season and I will not have guests.

You have to set up house rules and be comfortable setting up your boundaries, know what will allow and not. Remember you can always turn it off.

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You should also be cautious about booking a ton of reservations far into the future until you know that hosting is for you. If you decide to back out a short time in after filling up the calendar, it could get quite expensive to cancel.

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