When one of my friends started hosting on Airbnb, I asked her what it was like. “You do a lot of laundry,” she said, which was maybe the MOST obvious thing about hosting.
Anyway, I registered my spare bedroom on the site in 2014 and almost immediately had a steady flow of travelers passing through. That year, the room was booked 291 nights. I could tell you how much laundry I did (a lot), how much money I earned (about $24,000 that I split with Bryan) or how many people had loud sex with the door open (two). But I think the most important thing to know if you’re thinking about opening your home to hundreds of strangers is what the mental repercussions are when you open your home to hundreds of strangers.
Especially if you’re not particularly outgoing, like me.
I also asked Bryan and my sister about hosting. They both came to Airbnb with couchsurfing experience under their belts. Bryan is an extrovert who would keep the house full of friends every day if he could, and he worked from home a lot over the past few years. Laura’s an extrovert who doesn’t care as much about meeting strangers as she does about seeing her friends, and she works a pretty demanding 9-to-5 job at a charter school.
Here is how hosting affected each of us.
How it affects day-to-day life in your house
“I focus on guests having privacy. When people are around, I want to make sure my dog doesn’t bark, that when I am walking, I am tiptoeing. Because I want them to be well-rested and comfortable, I am hyper-vigilant about the noise I am creating. And that can get very tiring.” –Laura
“I make a lot less noise and feel kind of bad if I’m making it. I try to figure out if they’re home or not before practicing guitar. Sometimes I’m wrong.” — Bryan
For me, it’s hard balancing cleanliness with quietness. I used to clean in the mornings before going to work, but usually, guests were asleep at that time. So I’d try to quietly unload the dishwasher, quietly scoop out the litterbox, quietly empty the trash. Which is a really tough balancing act.
The most annoying part about sharing your space with strangers
“When I feel like my space is not being respected. I respect their space, but it feels like they have free reign over mine. Some guests feel too comfortable, and as a host, you feel very isolated, like you have to stay in your room if you want alone time.” –Laura
“Some people talk a lot. Sometimes, it’s great. But sometimes it’s annoying because you don’t feel like telling them about the best New Orleans food or what Hurricane Katrina was like. The way our house is set up, it’s very difficult for us to get away from them, but not difficult for them to get to get away from us. So the hanging out happens on their terms.” –Bryan
Tips for dealing with annoyances
“Set up an alternative living space in your bedroom or outside. Feel free to have rooms the guests can’t go in. We have three bedrooms, and one I have set up as an alternate work area, so I can be private. I don’t put pictures of that space on Airbnb, so they don’t think it is part of the house.” –Laura
“You can take a few days off whenever you want. I can go in my little other room to get away from them. We have left the house a couple times. Sometime, I have to say, ‘OK, they’re paying me, I’m leaving, it’s fine. That doesn’t happen that often.” –Bryan
What should people expect going in to hosting?
“It’s easy to think people are annoying, because you have a lot of perfect guests. Every once in a while, you get someone who is demanding or awkward or unpleasant, and that’s when you need to remember that people are paying you for a service.” –Laura
“The range of emotions is high. Sometimes you are frustrated and pissed, and you’re like, “I’ll never do it again.” Other times, it’s awesome, because you’re like, ‘I can’t believe I’m getting paid to hang out with these great people.'” –Bryan
Get used to meeting strangers when they’re in their underwear and pajamas. This has happened so many times that it’s normal to me now. Guests seem embarrassed, but they’re the ones walking around with no pants, so who’s really to blame?