11 Sep

Making Money With Airbnb in Asheville, NC

We’ve mentioned several times about our foray into the world of hosting strangers in our home overnight; this phenomenon made popular by the online company Airbnb. But how lucrative has it been for us? Over this Labor Day weekend, we hosted a group of five 50 year old guys who were in town for a soccer tournament. They paid us $930 to stay in our basement suite for three nights and were close to perfect guests. Money is certainly the upside, but what are the downsides?

For anyone following our financial story, we’re a beautiful loving pair of very old millennials. We saved up $1M and had the audacity to quit our jobs to travel and live life. I’ve written blog posts boldly proclaiming “Working for the sole purpose of making money sucks! I never want to do it again!”.

We had it all figured out – all we had to do was follow the 3% Rule (our Safe Withdrawal Rate) and live on no more than $30,000/yr (which is 3% of $1,000,000). Considering 80 million Americans currently live on less than this, surely it’s doable.

One year later, we proceeded to buy a $275,000 home in Asheville that was over our budget. By buying this home, we were essentially blowing up our original plans and would have to start hustling to grow our base back up. We essentially blew it and The Jig Was Up.  We need to make more money pronto!

Our portfolio (excluding the house, for simplicity’s sake) is currently $840k and we would be more comfortable if it was $900k. If we wanted to be as wildly conservative as possible, we would ignore the fact that we own the house and build our base back up to our original plan of a $1,000,000 portfolio, drawing 3% from it annually to fund our life.

In essence, our financial life plans have taken a hit. Just like how Bruno got hit last month and had his side smashed up.

No, he’s not looking great at the moment, but by gosh Bruno is still a damned good truck. After he suffered damage, did we simply give up on him? Scratch off his VIN and abandon him on the side of a road? HELL NO.

We did the opposite and proceeded to give him love by changing his oil and giving him new spark plugs. Yeah. Is that all? NO WAY – we then drove to a crazy junk yard in the middle of Trumpland, NC and bought an almost brand-new replacement door off an old junked 4Runner for $200! Bruno is gonna look better than ever!!!

If this Bruno analogy is accurate, then all we need to do is buy a junkyard replacement door for… our financial portfolio? Wait, what?

Junkyard Replacement Door #1: Airbnb Income

So far in 2017, we’ve earned $10,038 renting out our basement floor (2 bedrooms, 1 bath, private outdoor entrance). Asheville draws in weekend tourists, and most of our guests stay Friday and/or Saturday nights.

The average per night income we get from Airbnb is: $14,350 / 68 = $211 per night. And we still haven’t really opened up the calendar for November and December.

Not bad, right? Well, that really depends. How annoying is it being an Airbnb host?

It’s actually been pretty easy. Although cleaning up, making beds, and washing sheets & towels is fairly labor intensive and gets old quick.

I would like to take a moment to celebrate Amanda as the champion of hotel standards. She’s a hard worker who doesn’t allow short cuts to be had, no matter how much I plea. For example, we had a group of peaceful stoner guys from Atlanta who opted to sleep on top of the bed sheets overnight. What a gift! Now we can maybe just gently vacuum the top of the sheets and we’re good to go? WRONG, BUSTER. The sheets must be fully cleaned again, to maintain and ensure quality standards! Of course she’s right. After all, we’re not running some sort of trashy Howard Johnson’s operation here!!

Airbnb guests so far have been friendly, respectful, and quiet. For the most part, people check-in around 3pm, almost immediately go out, then get home around midnight, sleep, wake up around 10am and immediately check-out to go eat breakfast.

I’ll tell you about the worst group so far, since people love horror stories. One lady made a reservation for 4 guests and confirmed this upon check-in. When the group returns at 3AM, they’re so drunk and noisy outside on the back deck that an intervention was required. Upon busting up their outdoor party, I discovered that they were actually a group of 7! THEY WERE CAUGHT! They had committed Airbnb fraud by only booking our basement for 4 people, thereby reducing their total cost by almost $200!!

If instantly tried in a court of law, Judge Judy would surely have given me permission to go ballistic on their asses, by grabbing the nearest fire extinguisher and letting them have it like the filthy animals they are!

So what did I end up doing!? Of course, I politely asked that they move the party inside, due to the City Noise Ordinance rules. They proceeded to deliver a guilty, half-assed effort to correct the wrong and pay cash for the extra 3 people. I hand-waved the offer away and they proceeded to make noise (indoors) until 5AM. In the end, they left our basement relatively clean and – most importantly – without damage. For anyone interested in running this Airbnb scam, the only penalty they faced is the negative review that we left!

All that being said, 95% of the time our guests are wonderful and overall it feels like we’re making extremely easy money!

Junkyard Replacement Door #2: Salesforce Contract Work

On top of Airbnb income, I’ve ended up with two separate work contracts in which I provide remote IT services for different companies who need Salesforce help. Both of these contracts kinda fell from the sky and landed in my lap, and I’ve been averaging about 5-10 total hours of work per week. One contract pays $70/hr and the other pays $90/hr.

By accident, it seems I’ve ended up executing some version of The 4-Hour Workweek, and I must say, I find “work” much more tolerable when you can do it from home for only 1 hour per day. No need to get up early, put on fancy pants, commute into work, sit in a chair for 8-9 hours buckled into a SlaveStation eerrmm, I mean enjoying the office environment with hundreds of other people.

For anyone looking to start their careers and are lazy, I would highly recommend checking out Salesforce. It’s a very easy application to learn, and you don’t even need to know how to develop code. To be honest, I can’t believe the market rates are as high as what I’m getting paid, and I can only speculate that currently there must be more demand than there is supply for Salesforce skills.

So far for 2017, contracting income has totaled $12,000 and we’ve been directing this money into a 401(k) account to avoid messing with our ACA subsidies – we don’t want our MAGI (modified adjusted gross income) to go above $32,000 otherwise our health care costs would skyrocket.

Conclusion

We’re definitely not retired anymore. We consider ourselves to be financially independent, but we do work for money. I can hear the sirens of the Internet Retirement Police.

How long will we keeping working for? Not sure. Will the market drop 20% soon and freak people out? Probably. But we’ll still keep our cool, just like this awesome dog:

  • Nice work on the Airbnb, and congrats on the sweet gigs! I consider myself retired, but if I felt like our portfolio could use a bump, I would do some part time contract work too. More than half of the guys I know from work who “retired” at the traditional retirement age went back part time. Nobody is giving them shit or saying they’re no longer retired.

    I’d say you’re living quite well 🙂

    • Travis

      Thanks Crazy Kicks – btw, I like your blog and it’s good to see you’re enjoying life!

      • Thanks! I’ve enjoyed reading about your adventures for years. Even when I was still stuck in a cubicle and you two were hauling it down to Costa Rica. If you’re ever in CT, you’ve got an open invite at our pad.

  • Love the honesty about the ‘retired’ status Bruno! You guys are doing quite well with the Airbnb and contract work. Despite being well under $1m these days, you’re still living a life of considerable freedom.

    That in itself is miles better than a life of corporate servitude. Give it time, the portfolio will grow again.

    • Travis

      Thank you Tako! Although my previous corporate master used to give me free breakfast on Monday mornings, which I used to enjoy. Nowadays, I’ve got to make that on my own… it’s a tough call.

  • Janice Liwanag

    I love how candid both of you are in your posts, and that you’re doing what it takes to keep living the dream. As far as I’m concerned, if you still have choices, you are free. Nice find on that door for Bruno. Looking forward to seeing pics after his makeover!

    • Travis

      Thanks Janice! btw, we’re still trying to plan a big Europe trip next spring – so hopefully we’ll see you over there!

      • Janice Liwanag

        Yessss! Would love to see you there. We’re scheduled to ship from Montreal in mid-October for pickup in the UK around Nov 1. It’s coming fast!

        • Travis

          Nice! We’ll keep our fingers crossed that Lucky has a safe uneventful trip stuffed inside a shipping container.

  • jchhiminey

    Hello, I’m a bit younger than you folks, and have been following for some time as this is my goal. My question is, where would I start off learning how to do “Salesforce Contract Work”, what type of support are you providing? Thanks in advance.

  • How awesome is that Airbnb hustle? I figured it would go a long way toward patching any holes in your FIRE plans. Sounds like you’re on track to pretty much cover your annual spending. At the least you’re staying in a sweet house for a relatively small out of pocket expense.

    • Travis

      Thank you comrade!

  • Dan

    Hey Travis, been following you guys for some time now. Going back to your post about might needing more than a million and now this one – Do you wish you would have worked an extra year or two to be more comfortable now and not have to do the side hustles?

    • Travis

      Hey Dan, good question. If I could snap my fingers and immediately have $100k more in savings, I guess I would. But knowing that my previous self would need to trudge through another extra year of working, I don’t think it would have been worth the pain. I was pretty unhappy, and going through the grind every day was eating me up.

      One year before we quit our jobs, I had printed off a linear chart with numbers 1 to 52 and I stuck it on our fridge. At the end of every week, I would come home from work and scratch off another number – one week closer to FREEDOM!!

  • B Airford

    Hey guys, I really like your blog. It’s motivating to see two moustachians in action and all the forthright reporting is great. You also don’t often see a breakdown of “what city to live in” from people who don’t need to work much, or be in any particular region, and are evaluating based on cost of living, weather, and coolness of the city! This aspect of your blog is especially cool, in my opinion.

    One suggestion, how about a link that would show all posts since the beginning of time in reverse chrono? This would be really helpful when looking through your blog.

    All the best, and looking forward to future updates!

    LB in Calgary

    • Amanda

      Hi LB! Thanks for reading the blog & the recommendation for a new link on the homepage! It may be time for a sit down with the ol’ website to make some changes… it’s amazing how difficult it is to pencil things in when you’ve filled your time with other things you genuinely enjoy doing! LOL Hope you’re enjoying Fall in Calgary!

    • Travis

      Hey LB, I’ve now added a ‘List of All Posts’ page in the top menu – thanks for the suggestion!

  • Kelly Preston

    Great article. It really hits home for me, we FIRE’d 3 years ago and planned to move to a low cost area. In the end, we now live in a much higher cost area (Canmore, Alberta), so purchasing a home is currently out of the question based on our portfolio size. I’ve since started working again but it’s on my terms and I do most of it from home. I’m now working for a solar farm start up which helps me feel as though my work is going to something positive. Looks like your portfolio is well on it’s way to repair! Looking forward to your next post.

    • Amanda

      Hi Kelly! We were supposed to make it out to Canmore last trip, but never made the stop… It’s gorgeous there, with a great community. My philosophy on choosing a home base was not to settle for somewhere that didn’t have our core criteria – even if it was a little more expensive and forced the side hustle. We still feel FI and that our time is ours. I hope you feel the same way with your work from home! Solar is awesome – and yes, you should be proud – making positive changes in exchange for money is a win-win!

  • Anthony

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