How to Live Almost Anywhere in the World… For Free

What would you do with the extra cash if your rent was paid for you every month?

A few months ago, Emily and I moved into the most luxurious apartment that either of us have ever lived in: a spacious, 1000 square foot, two-bedroom apartment with cathedral ceilings, a balcony overlooking a gorgeous pond, and even an in-house washer and drier. Outside, we are treated to resort-style lounge chairs, large hammocks, and BBQ grills that surround a swimming pool and fountain. Within the large community grounds lay tennis and racquetball courts, a hot-tub, two saunas, a gym and a clubhouse with couches and a large flat screen TV.

We have it good… to say the least. And I’m not going to lie; I really, really enjoy living in nice places. The only problem with living in nicer places is that it’s hard to cough up more money for what is usually a person’s largest monthly expense.

How much in rent will we be paying this month?

A whopping  $45. Yes, 45 US Dollars. How is this possible?

AirBnB

I first heard of AirBnB a couple of years ago through a friend who was traveling abroad. After doing some research on the company, I stumbled upon this article about a guy who uses AirBnB to not only pay his rent, but to also earn an income on top of that. I had to try this idea for myself and it was perfect timing. Our lease was about to expire and we were in the market for a new place.

Instead of settling for another closet in the center of the city for a princely sum of $900 a month, we decided to go big and get the large two-bedroom apartment on the city’s outskirts that I just described to you. Our expectations for our new AirBnB business were quite low to start. We expected to shave a couple of hundred dollars off our rent; maybe making enough to bring our rent down to what we would normally pay for a studio, nothing more.

To our great surprise, business exploded. Within a month, we had booking requests from over 20 people from 5 countries across the globe. In our first full month, 8 guests over 22 nights brought our first month’s revenue to a grand total of $1300.

The best part of all is that running an AirBnB business comes with very little additional work. We simply throw dirty sheets in the wash when a guest leaves, and replace them with a clean set before the next guest arrives. Cleaning is something that has to be done regardless, and knowing that we are hosting guests actually helps us keep the place much cleaner than we otherwise would.

We are currently hosting a couple who is in town visiting from Belgium and last night, over dinner, we had an incredible conversation about world travel and the differences between various cultures. Not only have we paid for rent in a beautiful apartment, we’ve been forming friendships with the travelers who decide to stop by for a night or two.

How Does it Work?

The concept behind this rent-paying machine is so simple. As long as you live under a roof, and charge less than a hotel, which can run up to $300 a night depending on the city you are in, you will make money. People who are traveling will ALWAYS need a place to stay. Even if your property is just as expensive as a hotel, perks such as a kitchen, free parking, and a pool can land you high-paying business travelers. Today, with more and more people looking to travel the world, it’s never been easier to attract guests.

Besides travelers, we’ve hosted a handful of guests who simply needed a place to stay for a few days before moving into their more-permanent housing. We charge a nightly rate of anywhere between $50 and $90, depending on the number of people and our availability.

Below, I’m going to address many of the concerns with the business model that I’ve come across:

1. What if the Guests Damage My Property?!

AirBnB insures all hosts up to $1,000,000 for property damages. If your apartment is worth more than $1 million, you probably don’t need the extra money from AirBnB anyway. Additionally, you may choose to only host guests that have been verified and who have numerous reviews. More on that below.

2. What if my Guest is Super Loud, Noisy and Obnoxious?

If you are concerned with how guests will behave, or with safety, only accept requests from guests who already have several verifications and reviews on their profile. AirBnB makes it easy to see who will be visiting you, where they’ve been, and what their rating is.

3. I Don’t Want to Buy a Second Bed Just to Host Guests. This Sounds Like Too Much Work And Money Up Front.

You don’t need to buy a second bed. As long as you currently sleep on a bed, you’re good to go. Buy this air mattress from Amazon for $50 and sleep on it while providing your guests with your real bed. We’ve been sleeping on it for months with no problem.

Instead of buying additional beds for groups who prefer two beds, buy this $200 futon from Walmart. It paid for itself in only three nights. We use it as a living room couch 90% of the time and fold it into a bed when we have big parties who may not like sharing a bed.

4. What if My Guest is a Serial Killer?!?

Really? What if your Über driver is a serial killer? What if your neighbor is a serial killer? What if the guy standing in line next to you at the grocery store buying Froot Loops is a serial killer? What if your co-worker is a serial killer?

Why on earth would a serial killer pay money in escrow to kill you?

Types of Travelers

On a more serious note, the AirBnB community attracts a certain kind of personality. It takes someone who is open to new experiences and has a broad cultural view to travel using AirBnB. You aren’t likely to get requests from rich, corporate ladder-climbers who require a $3000 mattress and golden toe-nail clippers. Most travelers will be in town for a reason and likely won’t sit in their room during the daytime. Many just need a roof to sleep under for a night or two.

How Can I Get Started?

Overall, our AirBnB experience has gone much better than anticipated. We are making money, making friends, and are enjoying all of the luxury amenities of our new home at almost no cost. If you’re looking to do the same, I highly encourage trying it out for yourself. We’ll be writing a detailed guide on how to get started using AirBnB in the coming months.

For now, experiment a little. Put your room up for a night you know you’ll be out of town, or rent out your couch for the night. The earlier you start, the earlier you can rack up great reviews and start getting paid even more for being a great host. To anybody looking to get started as a host – sign up here.

To the good life.

P.S.  If you are looking to get started as a host - sign up here.. 
         If you are a traveler - click here for $20 off your first trip!