The truth about hosting an Airbnb when you have young kids

inviting others into your home can be nerve wracking when you have young ones, but the results might surprise you
sharing your home may seem challenging when you have young ones, but the results might surprise you

It may seem like becoming a parent would make it more difficult to open your home to strangers, but this may be the very best time to do it.

Do you have a spare bedroom or a basement apartment? Or have you considered lending out your home when you travel? Hosting on Airbnb can be a wonderful experience for families, for many reasons. Some of those are financial, but there is also great value in connecting with travelers from around the world. Think of the lessons that come from sharing your space with others. For children and adults alike, these experiences are eye-opening opportunities to grow as a global citizen. Of course, running an Airbnb can be hard work, but you don’t have to go it alone; Airbnb ambassadors here in the DC area can help you get started. Here are a few things to consider when thinking of opening your home on Airbnb.

Hosting an Airbnb in Washington DC can provide extra income for your family

This is likely what most people think of when they ponder starting an Airbnb — it’s a great way to earn extra income. In the Washington D.C. area, a spare room or attached apartment can bring in anywhere from $20 to $150 a night. If you are thinking of renting out your whole house while you travel, you could earn much more. And if you share your home while you are away for fewer than two weeks each year, you don’t have to pay taxes on that income.

It’s not just income; deductions help increase the financial benefit. One of the benefits of Airbnb income is that most hosts can deduct related expenses from taxes they would pay on income from a short-term rental. For example, the can of Lysol you bought to clean that room, new sheets to set up the space, even the percentage of utilities that your guests use, can all be deducted from your income. And it’s not very difficult to do. All major tax software like TurboTax or H&R Block have easy, built-in systems to calculate deductions. Also, if you have questions, your Airbnb ambassador can help you through it.

Sharing your home helps kids grow into global citizens

I love to travel, and I hope to travel with my kids, but being a global citizen is more than visiting other cultures. Sharing your home also teaches children to share their space and respect other people.

Just imagine watching your kids sit on the stoop with a new friend. She speaks Korean, they speak English, and yet they are playing together, sharing their toys. The next week a young woman from Mexico, here on a business trip, shows off her soccer skills while your kids watch in awe. She thanks them for playing with her, because she is happy to spend time with a family while traveling alone.

Of course, these beautiful moments go hand-in-hand with challenges. (That’s how we grow, right?). You may not love everything about your visitors, just as they may not love everything about you. Learning to accept and appreciate differences is part of the Airbnb experience. For example, If you share your kitchen, you may not like the smell of the food your guests cook. Then again, you may get to try a delicious new dish you otherwise wouldn’t have. For families, this can be frightening. We all know how unpredictable kids are. I’ll never forget the first time I saw my own kids reminding each other to whisper quietly because our visitor was still sleeping. It was heartwarming to realize they had developed that empathy by sharing their home with a stranger.

These are real experiences that change the way children see other people.

Being a host means hospitality– and hard work

Yes, hosting an Airbnb can take a lot of work. As Airbnb has grown, guests have also come to expect a higher standard from the places they stay. So, this article would be incomplete if I didn’t mention hard work and hospitality. Hosts need to make sure the place is in good condition and has all the amenities a traveler would need, and you will need to clean thoroughly between each visitor (that’s the hard work part). Your space may also require an investment upfront to acquire clean sheets, towels, some toiletries, etc., or to ensure that the place is well-furnished for the type of visitors you want to receive. Hosts also need to organize everything to make sure their guests can pick up a key and feel welcomed upon arrival. If you are unsure about how to do all that, Airbnb ambassadors can help you get set up and some will even co-host with you.

Flexibility through Airbnb make hosting easy on families

This is the great thing about Airbnb: flexibility. You set the terms for your place. You can choose the dates it’s available, the number of people you host, the rate you charge, and special conditions. For example, if you have an in-law suite in your basement, you may want your in-laws to stay sometimes, and host on Airbnb other. No problem. You simply list it as available on the days when you know your in-laws will not be visiting. This is also crucial to handling the workload. For example, if you are home with kids, you may not have time to clean on certain days. You can create an automatic buffer time between visitors. Fortunately, Airbnb’s system also gives hosts a lot of guidance. It recommends prices based on the type of space you are listing and guidance on cleaning standards and how to set rules for guests.

Hosting visitors is not for everyone. But if you can make it work, it pays off in more ways than one.

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Katherine lived on four different continents before settling in Washington, D.C., to raise her family. She works at a global think tank during the day and raises twin boys the rest of the time. When she isn't working on a spreadsheet for work, she loves walking in the forest with her family, which invariably involves stomping in puddles and climbing on logs. Though she is less of a world traveler these days, she continues to seek out adventures, from exploring D.C.'s museums and playgrounds to taking road trips to national parks. When it's time to unwind, she can be found snuggling with her husband on the couch. Likes: adventures, sleeping past 7 a.m., being surrounded by forests, the sound of her boys laughing, and locally made ice cream. Dislikes: whining, the patriarchy, and people who judge parents.