You’ve created countless memories in your cabin and you’re now considering opening it up to rent so that others can make some memories there and you can make a little extra money. With the growth of sites like Airbnb and VRBO, the short-term rental market is more accessible than ever. While the process has gotten easier, there are still important considerations to determine if your cabin is the right fit for renters. Before you start taking pictures for your property or buying more decor and accessories, consider these four things to make sure your time and investment are worth it.
Your cabin may be the perfect location for you and your family, but it may not be perfect for short-term renters. While many travelers want to be off the grid, there are others that still expect easy access to properties, especially as driving conditions worsen in the winter months. Many city dwellers look for an escape, but still expect proximity to restaurants and grocery stores. 74% of renters said the most important amenity at a short-term rental is Wi-Fi. Some renters really do want to get away from it all, but it’s important to pinpoint the difference between quiet seclusion and extreme isolation.
Additionally, your location determines what kind of renters you will attract. Are you driving distance from a college town where students would rent your property to let loose or are you near a family-friendly town with lots of activities for kids? If your cabin is in a well-known region or town, it could mean a lot more out-of-state or even international travelers, who may expect a lot more in recommendations, support, and amenities.
Finally, location is how far you live from your cabin; namely, how quickly you can be at the property. Even something as simple as providing more blankets when requested could be the difference between a great or poor online review.
In tandem with how close you are in an emergency, the other consideration is how available you are for a problem should one arise. Owners with busy lives may have trouble balancing taking care of daily life and their guests. When renters are in your cabin, you may feel the need to be “on-call” for any issue. One way to try to combat this problem is to leave detailed information and instructions on every possible question or scenario you can come up with. Proving more information than your guests need should hopefully save you some time and stress.
You should also assess how much your family uses the cabin. If you’re a family who visits almost every weekend and every holiday, the few and far between midweek rentals may not be worth the trouble. The constant moving of personal items and cleaning and restocking essentials is quite the task, which is why companies exist to do it for you! But if you’re willing to spend the holiday season at home, you open yourself to the busiest travel season and the revenues that come with it.
If you use your cabin frequently, take inventory of how much personal stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. Is the artwork on the walls one-of-a-kind? Is the furniture from a roadside antique shop? Do you frequently play your board games? Renters are not the most careful, and while a security deposit may cover some costs, there are other things that are irreplaceable. If you plan to rent out your cabin frequently, putting these things in storage whether on the premises or in a remote unit may be no big deal. However, if you plan to use your cabin in between renters, you may find moving things back and forth is a hassle, which means you either risk these items getting broken during a rental or you rarely get to enjoy them!
Along with the moveable inventory, you should also consider the appliances and systems of your house. Will the plumbing survive repeated use? Will your guests be fine using a space heater if the heat goes out? Hiring a local support system of workers or looking into a home warranty to keep up on maintenance may be the way to go. While you love your cabin and all of its quirks, there are some quirks that are deal breakers for renters.
Many of these issues listed above can be covered or solved by working with property management companies and other local services. While these services can be expensive, they can potentially be calculated into what you charge your guests. But, gaining support also means giving up some control. If you are very particular about your home, letting a management company run your property or a cleaning service rearrange your things may not be worth the time saved. If you still want to be involved but have less time to dedicate to running your rental or live too far to be as hands-on as you’d like, work with locals and neighbors so you know exactly who is in your home and what they are doing.
Deciding whether or not to rent out your cabin is a long list of trade-offs. But if you take each of these considerations into account honestly and logically, you are well on your way to some extra income. You can also rest assured knowing the role you played in someone else’s vacation and happiness by renting out your cabin!