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Wannabe Host in New York City, Need a lot of advice

So I’ve only recently discovered AirBnB. I used it once in Spain, and loved the freedom of it. So here’s the deal. My folks and I bought a multi-family house in New York City, specifically in Queens, twenty mins. outside of Midtown Manhattan. It’s legally a 2 family unit. The upstairs is rented out by my old roommates and I live on the first floor. The interesting thing about the property is it has a finished basement with it’s own entrance to the outside. No one can access the basement from inside the house itself, only from the outside door. It has large windows facing the front lawn at ground level. It’s a single room, with a finished full bathroom. There’s also a kitchen sink, mini fridge, microwave, and a bit of counter space. Unfortunately there is no stove, so i can’t call it a kitchen. I put in a brand new queens size bed from ikea with understorage. There’s also a large closet. There’s parking available outside, along with a small front lawn enclosed by a fence. The neighborhood itself is residential and extremely quiet. It’s a 7-10 mins. walk to 3 different subway lines, approximately a 15-twenty mins. ride into Midtown Manhattan. The advice i’m looking for is can I put a hot plate in there and just call the place its own unit? Or do I have to state that it’s just a private room? I want to avoid having guests come into the main house, I would rather the place be its own area. What should I look to charge for a place like this? Would this be desirable in the new york city market? I’m sorry for the long text, I really want to be able to pull this off successfully and properly. Thanks in advance.
TL;DR Have finished basement with it’s own entrance, own bathroom, but not a full kitchen. Looking for advice on how to market it

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Yes Kisla!

You can totally do this as an Air rental. I have a similar room in my house-- outside entrance, separate bath, etc. Don’t use the word kitchen, or tick off the kitchen amenity, but you do have a kitchenette there, and that is perfectly OK with many guests. You could call this a Charming, Private Queens Studio… Separate, lockable, and self-catering… any number of words like that apply… PM me, I will share my own listing with you… even though it is in Hawaii, I have the same set up… guests appreciate the privacy of their own space for the same price as what many Airs would charge for a room. They like to be able to cook and they can…

You could buy one of those mini carts from IKEA… put a micro, electric kettle or coffee pot, perhaps a toaster oven… a few dishes…

Another idea? How about putting a BBQ and patio set outdoors? I know it’s only good for the summer… But guests love having this option. And it keeps the “flames” out of the house. :slight_smile:

I think it sounds like a winner! PM me if you are interested in how I worded my place… and you are welcome to steal a few words from my listing… :slight_smile:

Agree with K. Leave the kitchen part out of it. you are in a prime location and can charge a nice chunk without having to promise a hot plate. Being in NYC, there are zillions of eating out options, so guests needn’t expect the option to cook inside. I live in a very urban area as well and discourage guests from cooking in my place. I want them just to use the place to sleep and use my fridge to store their leftovers. ‘Why would you want to cook? You are on holiday’ is what I say in my listing. Creates an expectation while also keeping positive.

As far as what to charge, you can get away with a lot in Queens. Look at similar listings in your neighborhood and that will help you gauge what a fair price is. I recommend listing at a slightly lower price than your competitors and when you get a few positive reviews, then you can raise it up to something appropriate for the demand. now is a great time to start. As you know, the fall and the holidays is a great time to visit NYC…get some stays booked and good reviews before the ugly NYC winter hits.

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I would totally avoid the hot plate – it’s a safety hazard and the last thing you need is a guest burning your house down. As Kona and Jack have stated, most guests visiting a large city don’t use/need a kitchen. They just want a fridge, coffee maker, microwave for leftovers, and maybe a toaster. So you sound pretty covered as a kitchenette.

I agree with all the other options. I think breakfast is the most likely meal to have at home. Both of my places have a fridge, kettle, toaster and BBQ. One also has a microwave the offer which is off the grid solar electricity has a gas cook top. Guests rarely cook. At our farm we tend to cook on the outside pot belly and look at the stars. What you gave sounds great. It isn’t a full house so will be fine.

Welcome, Kisla!

I also have that set up in my house but guests rarely use it - but some do, especially Chinese guests - where the food is so different they are desperate to cook up a bit of soup.

Make sure those windows provide full egress and you have smoke and co2 detectors down there.

An induction hot plate does not work unless there is a pan on it. You have to have the right kind of pan, though. That will be safer than a traditional hot plate - but compare what other properties are offering and see if you need it to be competitive.

Don’t invest to much in kitchen stuff until you see what your guests seem to want. If they need something you haven’t supplied they can always ask to use yours, right?

Be sure to check out all the laws, specifically occupancy taxes, insurance, etc. The trick is to remember that this is a business - it all sounds ‘we-are-the-world-y’ until you are hit with fees for past taxes due and/or are denied a claim on your HO policy because you are having a business in your home.

But don’t let that overwhelm you - just take steps to find out how to do it right and not cause yourself a nightmare. It can be a lovely and profitable experience. There is a significant learning curve and you’ll learn a lot about yourself. It’s an amazing thrill when your phone is bing-bonging with booking requests and can be quite stressful when it doesn’t. Shop around to set your prices, then hold firm. You will be tempted in the early days to change prices and wording and photos like crazy.

I don’t now if it’s the fact that some guests find food strange for them, that’s why they cook, I think it’s more about saving money.
When I travel I see at breakfast at hotels many from Asian and Latin countries who eat everything they are offered.
In my experience only guests from South and Central America cooked in my house. The rest don’t even have coffee. Most don’t even put anything in a fridge.
I rented plenty of separate appartments in Europe without anything at all. Not even coffee maker. One lady took her kitchen down completely, as she said: too much mess and high bills.

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Ha ha, when I served a huge hot breakfast with lots of little extras, I had a Chinese family come and eat heartily. Then they would go downstairs and make soup!!! More power to 'em!

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