How Renting Your Home Can Help Finance Your Travels

I’m currently sitting in my small rental studio that measures about the same size of my living room at home.  Although I’ve furnished this apartment with a comfortable king bed and large flat-screen TV, there’s no kitchen and no living room.  Nevertheless one week of rental revenue in our primary residence paid for the entire year’s rent in this letted bungalow.  Remarkably we use the rest of the profit to travel.  Through renting your home, you too can fund your vacations.

As a bit of background, I own a property management and rental company in Mexico.  We let roughly 70 condos and villas along the Caribbean in Playa del Carmen.  Needless to say I’m fully-versed in how to successfully rent properties.

How Renting Your Home Can Help Finance Your Travels

Renting your home. View of my private rooftop terrace with personal plunge pool. Before bed we jump in the refreshing waters to cool off.
Renting your home. View of my private rooftop terrace with personal plunge pool.  Actually before bed, we jump in the refreshing waters to cool off.

1 – Eliminate All the Clutter

First of all learn to live with less stuff.  When we moved to Mexico, we sold or gave away most of our possessions.  Although we’ve acquired more effects since living in Playa del Carmen for the past decade, we still donate or sell anything we don’t need or use.

If you want to rent your home, eliminating clutter is key.  For instance guests want to rent a fully-furnished place that has all the comforts of home without all the excess junk.  Envision your ideal rental and then commence converting your residence into that vision.  Try finding a happy medium between comfortable and congested.

2 – Decorate Well

The better you decorate your home, the more chances you have to rent.  Guests fancy charming accommodations.  Therefore pay attention to your interior design.

Paint the walls, selecting neutral colors other than white.  This is because you appeal to a wider audience if you avoid loud colors.  For example, just because you like bright orange does not mean everyone else does.  Also purchase nice furniture.  As a result, the better decorated your residence the more revenue you generate from rentals.

For your bedrooms, guests usually want a king bed in the master.  For a two bedroom consider two singles in the guest.  If you have additional sleeping quarters I suggest more kings or single beds.

Renting your home. My living room. The elephant we purchased in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Renting your home. Seen is my living room. The elephant we purchased in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

3 – Invest in Comforts

Purchase a good quality mattress with a pillow top.  Guests will crave a good nights’ sleep.  Next ensure you have good working internet.  Many clients either need to stay in touch with home and/or the office.

Next, for television you should have one in the living room and one in each bedroom.  You may not enjoy TV in bed, but many guests and their children do.

The next step is testing all your sitting surfaces for comfort.  Each sofa and chair should feel snug.  No one enjoys placing their rear on hard furnishings.

4 – Clean Thoroughly

Imagine your home as a hotel room.  How would you like to arrive in a rental and find hairs in the bathroom?  Or how about stains on the sheets?  Also please get rid of all that grime!  A pristine residence results in an improved guest experience.

If you are not up to the housekeeping challenge then hire a professional.  You may also consider charging a cleaning fee to your guests which you can then use to pay someone else to do the dirty work for you.

5 – Ensure Everything’s in Working Order

All your appliances, doors and windows need to be functioning well.  Notably, nothing should be broken, chipped, stained or out of order.  Also peeling or faulty paint should be retouched.  Again, you want to create the ideal user experience for your guests.  Universal functionality is paramount.

Renting your home. My master suite with comfortable king bed and large flat screen TV.
Renting your home. My master suite with comfortable king bed and large flat screen TV.  Make sure to have 2 pillows per person per bed.

6 – Have Lock-Offs for Your Stuff

Install a few lock-offs to store your personal possessions. Guests should not feel like they are staying in someone’s home. Rather it needs to feel more like a well-decorated and equipped rental unit.

In the bedrooms and bathrooms all toiletries and clothing must be hidden.  However you may provide soaps like hand, dish and dishwasher detergent.  You may consider installing wall-mounted dispensers in the bathrooms for body soap, shampoo and conditioner.

Next you want to put away most of your personal photos.  We leave our family portraits hanging on the walls in our staircase. But that is the only real tie to us that guests have.

For example Allan and I have one locked closet in each bedroom where we store all our clothes.  Next we lock the bathroom cabinets containing all our personal toiletries.   Lastly we use one large hall closet to store our remaining possessions.

7 – Put Away All Your Food but Leave Out the Spices

Although you may consider providing a welcome basket with some munchies for renters, your cabinets and fridge should be empty.  Of course a welcome case of beer or some newly purchased essentials like eggs, milk and some condiments may be supplied.

Leave out your spices and cooking oils for guests.  Any other extra food items should be stored in a locked-off cabinet.  For instance, Allan and I have two cabinets in our kitchen where we keep our perishable food items.  Additionally we have a second fridge hidden behind a locked kitchen closet where we keep all the items from our main fridge and freezer.

8 – Consider Pets

More voyagers come with their furry friends.  Considering charging a non-refundable one hundred dollar pet deposit.  Ultimately you increase your chances of renting your home if you welcome pets.

Renting your home. My guest bedroom with 2 single beds. Notice the paintings, decor and TV.
Renting your home. My guest bedroom with 2 single beds. Notice the paintings, decor and TV.

9 – Take Professional Photos

There’s a gigantic difference between homemade real estate photos and professional quality pics.  Invest in the best and reap the rental rewards.  If you don’t have a high-quality camera and a good eye for detail then hire someone who does.

Also avoid camera phones.  You need something with a wide-angled lens that captures more of the room.  Your iPhone is not adequate.

10 – Look at the Competition

Research online other rentals in your area.  Survey a wide variety of units and develop your own pricing based on that research.  Next observe popular rental periods and minimum nights’ stay.  Also notice popular amenities.  With all this information, try to replicate your competition.

11 – Marketing Your Home

Advertising your home on the right websites is key.  Below please find the recommend venues.  If you click on each site you’ll see my home and how it’s listed.

a – Airbnb  (Free to list)

b – VRBO  (Pay for the annual listing)

c – Trip Advisor (Free to list)

d – (Free to list)

e – (Free to list)

12 – Rent a Cheap Apartment Nearby for Long Term

Renting your home will be much easier if you have a more permanent nest for your belongings.  Try to encounter something that can be financed with a one or two week rental of your primary residence.  In this way you’re not spending all your profit on a rental.

Plus you’ll have a fixed place to crash.  For instance in our rental studio we have a second pair of clothes and toiletries.  In this way we’ve reduced the need to transport items back and forth when we rent.

13 – Learn to Adapt

Think about the rental revenue generated.  Don’t focus on the difficulties of having to pack up and go.  I’m not saying renting your home is going to be easy or convenient.  However, it does not have to be hard.  Try to streamline the process to minimize the inconveniences.

We’ve discovered it takes us between three to four hours to prepare our two bedroom penthouse for rentals.  Although the process can add some stress to our busy lives, we realize the benefits (money) outweigh the downsides (moving into a small studio).  Luckily since I own a vacation rental company, I have a staff of maids and maintenance workers to do all my cleaning and fixing.

Have you ever rented out your home?  Do you have any questions?

Please let me know in the comments!

Happy travels,

Matt Weatherbee

Matt Weatherbee
Matt Weatherbee

Hi, I’m Matt.  In 2008 I quit my job, sold everything and drove from Boston to Mexico to start a business.  Now I live and work in the Carribean, and spend my free time traveling the globe.  Learn more.

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