Side hustle stories: Airbnb-ing rooms in your house

Anneliese Tanner shares why she loves hosting on Airbnb, how she pulls it off, and what it’s like to have a rotating cast of strangers in her home.
Hostess extraordinaire Anneliese

Anneliese Tanner
Main hustle: Executive Director of Food Service
Side hustle: Airbnb Host

As the food service director of a large urban school district, Anneliese has an intense job. She supervises 650 employees and is in charge of everything it takes to feed the district’s students, from logistics to warehouses to cafeterias.

But that’s not all — Anneliese also rents out two rooms in her home on Airbnb. When I found out that my soft-spoken, introverted friend let strangers rent rooms in her home every week, I was shocked. I was at her house for a monthly book club meeting, and when she explained that her two immaculate guest rooms were actually Airbnb rentals, my response was, “HUH??” Aside from Anneliese’s quiet nature, she’d recently had a baby — factors I thought would make having a stranger in your home annoying and difficult.

So, I sat down with Anneliese to find out why she loves being a bed and breakfast host, how she pulls it off, and what it’s like to have a rotating cast of strangers in your home.

How did you get started hosting on Airbnb?

I was going to grad school in New York City and decided to rent out the home I owned in San Antonio, Texas. Having the empty space seemed wasteful, and I wanted to make some money. I also rented out my bedroom in New York when I went back to San Antonio to visit. Looking back, I can see how this could have been disastrous, but it all went smoothly.

And you kept hosting when you moved back to Texas?

Yeah. I moved to Round Rock [a suburb of Austin] and would stay with my boyfriend whenever I had guests at my place. When we moved in together, we started renting out a room in the place we were renting. Now I own a home in Austin and have two rooms for Airbnb guests.

You strike me as someone who doesn’t want to interact with people constantly. How does that work?

Growing up, my family had a property in New Braunfels, Texas, that we rented, so I feel really comfortable with how vacation rentals work. My job in high school was cleaning the rental house between guests.

How often are the rooms in your home filled with renters?

Generally, the rooms are booked every weekend of the year. We also get some weekday traffic during big events in Austin, like Formula 1 and SXSW.

How much did you invest to get your home “bed and breakfast ready”?

About $2,000, which covered furniture, a kitchenette, a loft in one of the rooms, a keypad for the door, lighting for the side of the house so the guests have a lighted path to their private entry, and amenities for the rooms (towels, extra sheets, robes, shampoo, soap, etc.). This doesn’t include the cost of Hulu, HBO, Netflix or our alarm system, but we’d probably be paying for these services anyway.

Anneliese’s home in Austin, Texas

How does renting out rooms in your home work when you have a baby?

The baby still sleeps in our room because she’s so young. We’re really lucky because she’s so chill — some guests don’t even know there’s a baby in the house.

What do you like best about hosting?

Meeting people we otherwise would never cross paths with. I also like sharing our favorite parts of Austin with others. We’ve met and made friends with fascinating people, including a couple of guests who got us into bouldering, the number two women’s racquetball player in the world and a German sports writer covering Formula 1. We meet people who inspire me — people who make me feel good about the planet.

One of my favorite guests was a young man from China who stayed with us the week before he started college at the University of Texas. He had never left China before. It must have been scary for him – I thought he was so brave. We don’t usually share meals with guests, but he ate with our family every night. I loved introducing him to the U.S. and helping him get settled. It was such a neat week.

We meet people who inspire me — people who make me feel good about the planet.

What’s frustrating about renting rooms to strangers?

Sometimes I can’t wait for guests to leave, but they’re the exception. Looking at our bank account helps me keep things in perspective. Overall, we learn a lot about the world and really enjoy it.

What are the challenges associated with hosting?

Coordinating schedules to make sure the space is clean. My partner and I work full time, so we have a housekeeper come once a week. If a guest needs to check in before she comes, we have to clean the place ourselves. Also, when we have guests who aren’t friendly or respectful of our space, it’s hard for me to be polite.

How do you manage your time to make this side hustle possible?

It definitely takes both of us. My partner does a lot of the interacting with guests when they are here, and I do most of the online management, like quickly responding to potential guests’ messages. You have to juggle things to make sure the house is ready, but it’s part of our daily rhythm now because we’ve been doing it for so long.

Do you use Airbnb when you travel?

Yeah, almost exclusively. The money we make from hosting now goes toward daycare, but before my daughter was born it was all going toward travel. My partner and I went to Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Tokyo, Mexico and Canada in two years – all with money we made hosting.

I’ve gotten really good at picking out Airbnb rentals when we travel. I can tell by photos how attentive to detail the host is. For example, in the bathroom picture, is the toilet seat down and is there a full roll of toilet paper? These details show you the host is putting their best foot forward to get you to book their place, and they’re probably a good indicator of the quality of your stay.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to develop a side hustle?

A side hustle needs to be something that you have an interest in; otherwise, it won’t be enjoyable or sustainable. It’s an experience we enjoy, which makes it doable to have a side hustle on top of working, caring for a baby and being in a book club.

3 thoughts on “Side hustle stories: Airbnb-ing rooms in your house

  1. I love this side hustle story because it really does bring in a good amount of income (my side hustles to date have not). I’m curious if other readers have stories of side hustles they have turned into additional forms of income. I’m currently researching some more passive income potentials while I work and would love ideas.

  2. Alyssa – I coached and refereed field hockey games for a while, mostly because I loved doing it, but it also brought in some side income. Ultimately, I ended up cutting most of this work out because I found that the travel time to and from events was significant, and it was also physically very tiring (definitely not “passive” income, haha).
    I’m guessing that other “gig” type work where you need to be there in person is pretty challenging to balance, but I’d love to hear from other readers!

  3. Alyssa- I tutored for the SAT, which brought in enough income to pay my rent every month when I lived in Dallas. I was surprised by the demand and by the amount parents were willing to pay for one-on-one help for their kids. It has been nearly 10 years since I stopped (conflict of interest with my current job) but at that time, I got $75-90/hour. I would not call it passive though. Tutoring took a lot of preparation, and I had to drive to the students’ homes. More recently, I’ve found being a landlord to be a decent source of income. My goal is in 5 years to have as much income from real estate as I have from my actual job. Check out the Bigger Pockets podcast if you want to learn more about real estate investing as a path to financial freedom.

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