Wanting to expand: In-home or separate home?

Has anyone branched out from renting a room in their home to actually purchasing a house to rent out on Air? We currently rent out our basement suite and have had great success. Hubby is now thinking of buying a small house nearby to rent out but I’m thinking I’d rather sell our house, buy a bigger one and rent more than one room. Anyone have any experience with either?

As you’ve probably noticed from discussions here, the difference in guest dynamic between in-home renting and separate-home renting is massive.

When guests know the owner’s in the same house as they are, they are significantly better behaved than when they have the whole place for themselves.

I’ve rented my place both shared and whole-house when away, I wouldn’t equate success in or satisfaction of shared-home renting to imply similar in a full house situation.


Well said Fred! I will also add the start up costs can take a long time to pay off. If new regulations come out where you live, it could drastically impact your business in a negative way not to mention all the extra work involved to run two locations.


Both scenarios are “rampant”, and neither is ideal. Depending on where you live, many cities/states are cracking down on “multiple listing” set-ups with Air and other platforms.

As @Astaire says, guest behavior can certainly be linked to the proximity of the host, even if only a block away. On the other hand multiple listing in the same structure can also find you under local legal scrutiny.

IMHO the best strategy is to have a situation like we do – a “cabana” detached from the main house but just feet away. In our case, the structure was originally a “changing house” for pool users, so water would not be tracked into the main house. We’ve seen other variations on this theme – an apartment above a detached garage/barn/workshop; a purpose-built AirBnb “cabin” behind the main house, and a converted 16x20 “Sheds R Us” prefab storage building.

If your current property has space for such an addition, that could be an ideal scenario – more listings but right there at home.

Here’s our listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9747142?

If your “addition” has space for say two listings, plus the one in your house, you should be able to stay plenty busy!

However, as @Mike_L says, the costs associated with “upgrading” to more listings could take a lot of time to pay off. But also IMHO, a “cabin” addition would certainly take less time to pay off than moving to a larger house or buying a dedicated rental house.



@Astaire & @Mike_L make valid points. You don’t have the relationships with your guests in a full home rental that you have in a “room in home” rental.

I’ve ended up with three full unit rentals on Airbnb and for me it depends upon the market.

My Dad & I purchased our coastal Condos for personal use. We rent them in the peak season to help pay the bills. Those homes are dependably booked May-October so the revenue stream is reliable.

I live 200 miles inland. I purchased a condo, two doors away from the one I live in, at a once-in-a-lifetime price and furnished it with used furniture (Craigslist) & extra furniture from my home to keep the start up costs low. My target audience was Medical School Students with 12 month furnished leases. Long story but I ended up in a niche market of 3-8 week rentals for people relocating or needing temporary housing. I use short term rentals to fill in the gaps.

Upside: great revenue, no vacation partying, chance to develop decent relationships, mortgage paying for itself, my personal belongings aren’t on the rental premises

Downside: unpredictable revenue stream with large bills to pay (mortgage, association fees, utilities). Cleaning between guests is time consuming

Since starting on this whole unit rental path in Jan 2017, I’ve earned enough to pay the bills every month. Most months I’ve had a robust positive earnings.

I think:
Whole home rentals offer the potential for a much greater revenue stream and a different market than in-home rentals. However there are greater financial obligations/risks involved.


Great listing, Ken! Those food pictures are making me hungry!


Then my job here is done…:man_cook::yum:


Very personal decision. I’d say that there will always be a market for whole house/whole apartment short term stay and you could also get business clients. I think you would have to be willing to go LTR, and all that entails, if regulatory climate changes, to reduce your risk. Also do some thinking about ROI at sale – none of us has a crystal ball but you can compare market trends on houses vs. increase in value with an addition to your current house.
I’m doing the same sort of pondering and would also welcome any suggestions. My current unit is a 2-person max separate entrance suite (stuck on the back of my house like a big barnacle) that is no-interaction unless I accidentally run into guests while we’re both coming and going. I have room to put a cabin in the backyard, and have kinda always wanted to that for my own enjoyment anyway. Electric could be run from my garage without major work, but a water line – big expense. Like dig up the driveway. Like $20,000. I’m thinking of a glamping approach with a rain barrel shower and a composting toilet. That’s a narrower market niche for sure! (Already picked out the Separette Villa, an amazing, and amazingly expensive, $1300 toilet! I’m also interested in reducing my enviro footprint by testing an alternative to flushable.)
It would also accommodate family bookings – the kids could use the bathroom in the barnacle if the composting toilet freaks them out, but sleep in the cabin.
Option B is to add a laundry room, bath & shower next to the barnacle off the back of my kitchen. Costs more but would add value to the house and no $$$ water line digging. No outhouse behind the shed, and the glampers could trot over to the back of the house to use the bath.
A nice shed would also add value if/when I sell – a scary composting toilet, not so much. I would probably actually remove it and make the “outhouse” a storage shed to avoid reducing the value at sale.

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I have a weakness for home remodeling shows, so anything you share about your projects I’ll heart.

Ugh. Last comment from me was supposed to be nested here. Sigh.

Pretend it is. Thanks.

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Ah, build a cabin! :grinning: I did that, with a Separett toilet (the Separett Weekend is not so expensive!) and an outside shower.

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Oh, I am inspired! How many sq. ft.? So lovely! Unfortunately, I have neither a moose nor a lake nearby; I’m in an urban area. Indeed, soccer balls bouncing off the roof from the playground next door will likely be a problem.

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:rofl: Now I see moose playing soccer :grin:
It is 260 sq feet (6mx4m).

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If you are going to sell your current house and buy another one, I would buy one with a back house or guest house. Then you can still host rooms in the main house and the host guest house as well. The problem I’ve seen from one of my friends who bought another house in her case in another adjoining state is that she has to drive hours between her home and her second home, and now she is dealing with regulations both in LA and Vegas. It’s wearing her out.

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Oh man. A friend whose family does a lot of construction assured me this afternoon that making my basement safe for strangers to live in (second fire exit) is cheaper than I thought. So now I’m wondering if that is something I could do.

I can’t add an out building (ah, small urban lots and regulations and nosey neighbors… One of which I totally am, myself) but I think I could maybe do a shared room down there. (I’ve already got a shared room and a private room. The wait for the bathroom can get interesting)

NYC regs have said airbnb hosts can have multiple listings, but they have to all have the same address, so i couldn’t buy a second property within the 5 boroughs and airbnb it, and i don’t have a car to run one further afield, so it has to be in - home expansion for me.

(If I get tired of strangers in my house, my eldest will need his own room eventually… and then there’s my sister, whose lease is up next year, so there’s no shortage of warm bodies to fill it.)

I think airbnb is a great supplemental income, but I’d be very nervous relying on it to pay a new/ larger mortgage unless you’ve got backup plans for the extra space. (Dog boarding? Cattery?)

Keep me posted – that’s my plan C, if not the cabin. (So many plans, so little cash . . .) Tarting up the basement with an egress window or even dig for a below-ground entrance door. There’s a bath, but it needs a shower. And the walls are cement. And it leaks an ever so tiny bit during a heavy rain. And I’d have to move my washer dryer upstairs? OK, now we’re up to $100,000 or more. But will make it a better whole house rental when I retire to that elegant condo in the city, where my butler will walk the dogs.

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I’ll need to share my hope and despair somewhere!

Just chatting with my husband last night. He pointed out that if we lay out the (heloc) for digging out an entrance, and making the scary basement bathroom less scary (it’s pretty darn scary at the moment), we might as well renovate the whole basement. Not sure I’m ready for that project, yet.

I am also not ready to give up my washing machine, so it couldn’t be a whole place rental. (I don’t trust strangers with their own stove, either, so I couldn’t promise a full kitchen) I think it would be listed as a room, with shared everything else. With their own entrance, we could probably handle a long term tenant. That would simplify my life. :slight_smile:

You go girl! The scariest real estate thing I ever did was buy a run down rowhouse in a slightly sketchy (although we prefer the term “gentrifying”) South Philly neighborhood and fix it up to rent to my daughter. I kept saying to myself “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” It’s been an adventure and I’m learning a lot, makes these other potential projects seem not so intimidating.


I love love love this.


We are renting out two lovely one bedroom apartments in the ground floor. Have not had any issues what so ever.
What I am reading at this forum, the most problems are from guests renting a room from the host.
I could never have rented out a room in the apartment we live in upstairs.