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Cashing in on Couchsurfers

Have you thought about renting out extra space in your home to couchsurfers? Domestic CEO has 4 questions to ask yourself before you advertise your space. 

By
Amanda Thomas,
September 6, 2012
Episode #027

Page 1 of 2

Cashing in on Couchsurfers

I’ve had a dream for as long as I can remember to own a bed and breakfast. I love hosting friends and family in my home, and I thought it would be super fun to play hostess professionally. I could be a professional housewife for all my guests: making their beds, cooking breakfast, packing picnic lunches, helping them find all the fun places to go in the area, and maybe even doing some of their laundry. I love doing all these domestic tasks and I love meeting people, so putting them together just sounds like a dream job to me.

But, like most dreams, reality gets in the way. Purchasing a big home and converting it into a B&B would be really expensive. Plus, who would run my Moxie Girl business while I’m spray painting chairs and choosing contractors? For years, I’ve put aside my dream and continued telling myself “Someday…”

See also: How to Buy a Home in 10 Steps

Well, that “someday” has come a lot quicker than I thought it would, but it looks a little different thanks to websites like AirBNB.com and Couchsurfing.org. These online communities allow users to rent a couch, a bed, or even their whole house for days, weeks, or months at a time. The decision to host strangers in your home isn’t for everyone, so before you decide to open your own mini-B&B, make sure you consider these 4 questions:

Question #1: Can You Trust a Stranger?

If you are going to post your space on one of these sites, you have to be willing to trust someone you have never met before based on what a few people say about them online. Some of these online communities allow you to learn about your future house guests by posting reviews, recommendations, and links to their social media accounts. But when it comes down to it, you are going to have to trust that everything they post online is true. It’s good to keep your guard up a little, but if you don’t think that you could possibly be comfortable sleeping with a stranger next door, then this isn’t a good option for you.

Question #2: Do You Live Where People Want to Be?

These couchsurfing websites allow people to advertise living spaces all over the world, no matter if they’re in Manhattan or Morocco. The more people want to visit the area you live in, the more likely you are to get a lot of traffic. It also means that you may be able to charge more for the same amount of space.

When I travelled to New York, I stayed with a young couple in Brooklyn. They had a small place and, while it was clean, it was nothing special. The downside was that I had to ride the subway for about 20 minutes to get to my meetings in Manhattan, but the upside was that I paid only $25 per night to stay in one of the world’s most expensive cities. The day I left, another girl was coming in. She and I talked while I packed up and it turned out that she lives in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District. She was staying at this couple’s place because she was able to rent her apartment for $300 per night on the same website. Every night she rented her apartment, she made $275, which she told me averaged about $3,000 a month of profit. Not too shabby, as long as you’re OK not sleeping in your own bed for half the month.

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