Matt and I have officially been living in Airbnb's for over 7 months! Ever since we left our last long term home in Phoenix we have been living in other people's furnished homes for three months at a time. Choosing to use Airbnb to book these stays has been incredibly simple and rewarding - I wrote about some of the advantages in a recent blog post.
One of my first jobs out of college was at a startup that specialized in finding housing for traveling medical professionals where I honed my skills at finding housing in the most obscure, remote and unlikely of places. That's probably why I have so much fun looking for housing for Matt and I - my favorite part of each new contract is the thrill of finding a new home, new start and a great new location to explore.
On the Travel Therapists Facebook page, I recently got some questions about finding housing on Airbnb specifically, so I thought I'd write a post on my tricks to finding and working with owners to get the best deal possible for both parties.
1. Tell them who you are and why you are there!
Many hosts are used to vacationers using their units for rent. Your position as a traveling healthcare or medical professional sends a strong message that you are employed, trustworthy and business oriented - all character traits hosts look for in a tenant. The phrase "looking for housing for a traveling medical professional" on a voicemail got us 3 times more call backs than "looking for short term housing."
2. You only get what you ask for. So ask for better than what you actually want.
When I first land on a city or area's page Airbnb, I ignore the prices and look through the pictures for the size, quality, and location of an apartment that I know could realistically fit my budget and personal taste. Then, regardless of the daily or monthly price that is automatically generated by the Airbnb portal, I directly message the host and introduce myself. Don't forget to use the handy phrase I talked about in item 1! I tell them a price that is approximately 15-20% below my monthly budget for everything included (rent, utilities, cable, internet, parking, cleaning fees, etc.) and ask them if they would consider that for a short term (3 month) stay. Most savvy owners will come back with a counter argument that is right AT our budget.
Our ACTUAL budget for a 2bed/1bath with basic utilities, internet, cable, etc. = $1,300/month
Our offer = $1,100/month
Most owners prefer the long term occupancy to frequent turnover or inconsistency, so they will usually be open to taking a bit of a cut on their end in order to make their lives easier.
To the right is an actual conversation I had with a listing in Boise that was listed at $2,400/month.
3. Listings aren't the limit.
When you make your initial offer, be sure to mention WHY you like their unit. Is it the location? Furnishings? Size? Letting them know that you like their style opens up the conversation to ask if they have any other units that are similar that they don't have listed or if they personally know of anyone who has a unit that is similar that might be interested in renting it out. This works especially well in small towns where those renting properties have a referral network.
It never hurts to ask - the worst thing they will say is "Nope, sorry!"
4. Be clear on your budget.
Airbnb tacks on additional taxes, admin fees and cleaning fees that may be added on TOP of the monthly/daily rate that is readily advertised. When messaging hosts, be sure to be clear that the price you offered INCLUDES all of those additional costs, as well as utilities. Hosts are always able to lower their prices so that you are able to still book through the Airbnb portal that takes those fees into account. You meanwhile, pay only the price you offered to pay.
I always recommend sticking with booking through Airbnb rather than circumnavigating the process and paying the host directly. Airbnb's customer service, cancellation policies and general portal provide protections for both the host and the guest while building trust and encouraging safety! You never once have to hand over cash, make a deposit or even share your credit card information with the host.
Here are some of the benefits to booking through Airbnb:
- Verified ID: www.airbnb.com/help/question/450
- Transparent and honest review system: www.airbnb.com/help/question/13
- Guest Refund Policy: www.airbnb.com/help/question/324
- Cancellation policies: www.airbnb.com/help/question/149
- Host Guarantee: www.airbnb.com/help/question/279
5. Always note that there is a possibility that you could extend your contract, and ask if you could extend your rental agreement as well.
This makes you even more favorable in the eyes of the host. 3 months is a great amount of time to have an occupant, but even longer stays can give you that extra boost of desirability in the eyes of the host. Especially because by the time you will be extending, they will know what a great and respectful tenant you are, and will be thrilled to continue to rent to someone so responsible!
6. Get those sparkling reviews.
The "transparent and honest review system" that Airbnb provides can definitely work in your favor. Write thank you notes, leave a bottle of wine, and respect the space you stay in! The hosts will write you glowing public reviews which will serve as your rental references when you begin looking for your next stay. By the time your reviews are built up, people won't think twice about negotiating with you on price and duration.
Any other ideas for making the most out of Airbnb? Share them with us! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you in any way!
ABOUT THE AuthorS
A Travel Therapist and Remote Worker documenting their professional travels and pictures for family, friends and other wanderers.