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From Zero to Wealthy in Two Years – With AirBnb?

Zeona M. enjoys a recent day at the office.

By this point you probably know all you ever wanted to know, and more, about Mr. Money Mustache’s long-ago path to early retirement. But my story is only one of an infinite number of possibilities, which means it is valuable to look around at how other people are doing it.

Because of that, I’ve been sharing more reader success stories recently, and I’ve been particularly excited to share this one for quite a while because it comes from a completely different direction.

I first met Zeona McIntyre just over two years ago, on a warm early summer day in Boulder. Without my knowledge she had created a Facebook group called Boulder Mustachians and already amassed a substantial collection of fun people before I even got word of it. We coordinated to hold a gathering in a beautiful riverside park downtown.

Late that night, after the main party and a smaller afterparty at a pub with a group of diehard survivors, the two of us were walking and talking the two miles across town to get Zeona back to her apartment, and me to the main road so I could bike back to Longmont. And she mentioned something vague and slightly mysterious about how much her life had changed, due to a new rental real estate business. I didn’t understand the details in full, but it sounded significant.

Fast forwarding to the almost-present, I encountered Zeona again. This time she was leading a session on real estate investing at the Camp Mustache Florida event in January*. By this point, she had the relaxed demeanor of an old pro. She owned at least four extremely profitable properties, bought at low prices and bringing in high rent due to the magic of AirBnb. She had more income and opportunities than she had time to think about. By my definition, she was already just about to hit semi-retirement at age 29, which means she had done it both younger and faster than I had.

Note: I have enjoyed AirBnb for years, replacing bland, expensive hotels with more interesting local flavor for both personal and business travel. But I only recently learned from Zeona that they give out substantial travel credits to both traveler and friend via their referral program. So here’s my link for $40 off of your first AirBnb stay.

Since Zeona’s story combines a bunch of hard work, sound business principles, relatively fearless thinking and involved some techniques that had never even occurred to me before, I thought would we could all get some benefit of having a little conversation with her. So let’s see what she has to say:

An Interview With the AirBnb Entrepreneur

MMM: Let’s start with a leading question on the basics first: your Mustachianism story. What was your financial and work life before you encountered this blog, what led you to it, and what changes did you make first?

ZM: My mother got me interested in personal finance right around the time I headed to college. I remember being home on school breaks, watching The Suze Orman show with her and renting books like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, from the library. Although I had already begun to amass significant financial aid debt, I already had the concepts of snowball payments and index fund investing, ingrained in me early on.

Sometime around 2012 after stumbling across your blog a few times, I became convinced and converted to hardcore Mustachianism at the ripe ole’ age of 26. I didn’t know how I was going to retire by 30, but I held the vision fiercely.

At the time, I was in massage school, working at a dispensary for $12 per hour, with something like 50K+ of student debt left in a Parent Loan. So I started to bike everywhere, trained my friends to cook meals with me instead of going out to eat, started a massage practice in my living room, lived with my mom for a bit, and put every extra cent towards debt paydown.

MMM: At some point you veered off the standard “work hard, save, invest” path and took a bigger jump into hosting a short-term rental as a source of income. Where did you get that idea?

ZM: My best friend from high school was living the high life in New York City with a stressful career and an expensive apartment, then suddenly found himself laid off. At a friend’s suggestion, he decided to try renting it out on AirBnb while he went off to travel for a while before starting again. His little vacation turned into a year living in Spain and South Africa and by the end of it, he told me that he made $50,000 off renting his apartment!

I decided I had to try something similar for myself.

MMM: What did your own AirBnB financial stuff look like initially? And from that point, how long did you let it ride and what did it feel like?

ZM:
First, a disclaimer: I stumbled into Airbnb during the earlier days of the platform and with no knowledge of the rules. These days, things with AirBnb are much more formal. So some of this stuff (renting out rooms from within a rented apartment) is a gray area.

I began my Airbnb journey in August 2012. My mother decided to move back to Hawaii, so I got a two bedroom apartment and a roommate who could help with rent. I furnished it with all the stuff my mom and I had, knowing that I could sublease it for more to a roommate if it was furnished and because I was curious about trying out Airbnb.

My new roomie was only around part-time, which allowed me to test the Airbnb waters a bit while she was living there (I gave her a cut) and then see if I wanted to get another roommate after she left. I never did.

I started by renting my room, renting hers when she was away, and renting both when she moved out. I would stay in whatever room wasn’t rented, stay with friends, basically whatever I had to do to make it work. I also did all the cleaning myself.

The rooms rented between $45-90/night each including the cleaning fee, and my portion of rent was only $575 so it covered it rather quickly. At the time, I had begun a massage practice by donation, out of my living room, which covered food/gas/bills and Airbnb covered my rent/utilities.

Luckily, I knew how to live frugally; I’m a bit shocked looking back at how little my earnings were to start and proud that I figured out a way to live job-free. I remember feeling so rich with freedom during that time in my life.

In September, after just a month of sampling AirBnb entrepreneurship, I knew I wanted to expand. So I took on a lease on a second apartment, furnished it in a weekend and I was off to the races. That place  was basically training wheels. I made a ton of mistakes and only made a couple hundred a month after expenses. And in December, a neighbor alerted the landlord to what turned out to be a violation of the lease policy, and he asked me to leave.

Although the apartment was relatively painless to dismantle and I got my entire deposit back, I was really shaken up from the experience and thought I might be done with the whole Airbnb experiment. Luckily, my father insisted that I pick myself up and try again, so I did.

My next place was a one bedroom condo that I was renting for $1025/mo, and this experience was much better. I averaged $500-1500/mo. profit from this location, while continuing to rent out rooms in my own home, going to school, doing all the turnover cleans, and doing some massages on the side. Although it sounds busy, it was really fun and flexible. Every day was different, and I only worked a couple of hours a day.

MMM: What was the next step in the expansion? What tricks did you learn and use to make it successful?

ZM: My experiences taught me that there was more profit to be made renting a home as a whole unit, instead of renting single rooms. At the same time, I found myself traveling more often, which forced me to seek out a cleaner that could cover me when I was away.

Looking back, this was a huge and somewhat obvious move towards expansion, and yet it took me awhile to realize. I was very focused on being a “true” mustachian: not hiring out if it was something I could do myself**. Although there is merit to this way of thinking, if you are attempting to scale up, at some point you have to let go and delegate.

I also tested a new vacation rentals software company that responded to guest inquiries/emails/questions if I was out of range for too long. This was the beginning of the automation that presently rules my business, and that same company is the one that I circled back to years later when I pushed to 5+ properties.

Although I mention specific settings that can be used to optimize your Airbnb listing on my blog, I don’t know if there are many “tricks” and I want to be clear in saying that I think it is a very accessible profession for anyone who might have an interest in hosting and hospitality. Thinking of it as a hospitality business rather than a turn-key real estate investment was a significant perspective shift I learned along the way. It is important to consider what sort of experience you are creating for the guest and how you can continually work towards improving that.

MMM: Did you notice any significant change in your life, once you realized how different a semi-passive income like property rentals can be, when compared to a purely active income like a massage practice?

ZM: Yes. In the Fall of 2012, just a few months after I started dabbling with Airbnb, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I was pulled away by my mother’s illness and started taking multi-month leaves of absence to support her. Near the end of 2014, I knew I could no longer be away from home so I brought her back to Colorado to live with me.  The grief of losing my mother and one of the closest people in my life forced me into a sort of the “early retirement”. This is when Airbnb saved me, because the rentals were still working for me when I could not work myself.

MMM: That’s a sad story, but I remember feeling the same way when my Dad was on his way out last winter. It would have been much harder to make those international trips on short notice, and to deal with the sad times, if I also had to maintain a chipper and productive face, managing a team of software engineers back at the cube farm.

So anyway, as with any type of success, it takes a certain type of personality and skillset to build a successful business of this type. What general skills, traits, and unusual passions do you think you ended up having, which in retrospect are making this thing succeed.

ZM:
1. Flexibility, I would say is the number one skill that really made this work. For years, any booking took priority over my plans. If someone was willing to pay for my house, I was out. I would either move over to my other apartment (I lived between two condos for 3+years) or stay with a friend. It sounds easy enough but it was ungrounding and quite exhausting.

2. Organization – Scheduling multiple cleans and juggling bookings from multiple sites, gave me a crash course in building systems. My former weirdo obsession with spreadsheets helped me keep track of all my earnings / expenses.

3. Optimization – I was careful not to waste time, resources, supplies, etc.

4. Negotiation skills – Everything is life is negotiable: rent, airbnb rates, cleaner fees, etc. I did my best to maximize earnings.

5. Communication skills – As a manager I really need to listen and keep a cool head. I am frequently responsible for sorting out the needs of guests, property owners, cleaners, you name it. I lean on the side of over-communicating, as I need to check in with everyone to make sure we are on the same page.

6. Believing / Visualizing – I have a uniquely limitless outlook on life. I like to believe that anything I put my mind to is possible and I feel challenged rather than discouraged when someone tries to doubt me or project their limitations on me.

7. Being a Risk-Taker – For as long as I can remember, I have had a large appetite for risk. The way I see it is that I am really thorough in doing my research and after checking out all the possible outcomes, things that look risky from the outside feel like a safe bet.

MMM: What’s the current state of your operation?

ZM: I now own four properties in St. Louis Missouri – single family houses purchased for an average of under $70,000 each. Plus an apartment in Boulder bought long ago for $162,000. On top of this, I manage another 10-20 properties for other property owners for a fee (a practice called co-hosting).

To handle it all, I have hired a team of several people: an assistant, receptionists, management software, cleaning teams, co-hosts working under me, etc. My goal is to take myself completely out of the picture.

After just a year of co-hosting other properties, my business went from $4,000-$6,000/mo. gross, to today, my biggest month to date: a whopping $18,000 (likely $13,000/net). I work about 8-10 hours a week now and I’m excited to ramp down.

Although I have built my business to a place of near automation, I am still called on sometimes and I have a few jobs left to outsource. I am happy to no longer be pulling the 40+ hour work weeks that I did for a few months during the build and I see Early Retirement coaxing me over to her spacious arms again.

MMM: So what’s the future? Have you given up other sources of income? Faced an existential dilemma of what to do with your life if there is no point earning additional income?

I find that as the “earning and spending money” side of life becomes solved, it opens up a whole new can of worms. It can be a very joyful way to live, but you have to be careful because it also gives you the option of sitting around doing nothing, which is not joyful at all. Seen any pitfalls?

ZM: The future is getting myself as close to full retirement as feasible, ASAP. I am still the big boss so I expect an occasional problem to come across my desk, and yet, I feel the key to happiness for myself is having the lowest amount of stress and responsibility on my plate as possible.

Last November, I finally gave up my massage practice in totality. It was strangely difficult to do. I was only making a couple hundred dollars a month and yet, it felt like some sort of safety net. Now, I am experiencing that same fear in letting go of taking on new clients myself (I defer them to my team for a smaller percentage) and running this Airbnb business directly. Although I have hit my “enough” number with my investments, transitions can be scary to make.

At the moment, I am looking forward to more space and time with myself. The two years that I spent essentially retired, gave me great practice at keeping myself entertained. I quickly realized that I had to find another way to derive meaning from my life than working or productivity. I was fortunate enough to find that being there for the people in my life gave me that.

I now travel nearly five months out of the year, have a good social circle and a lot of interests to keep me delighted for years to come. And the worst case scenario? I can always create some new business to tinker with down the road.

Looking forward, I see finding a compatible partner and creating a family as my next challenge to embark on, as well as developing creative pursuits. I really love writing. I would like more time to dedicate to my blog and am toying around with the idea of writing a book at my own leisurely pace. I am also quite terrified of public speaking, so the idea of doing a TEDx talk, sounds like a healthy way to confront that.

(note: you can find Zeona’s personal/business blog at ZeonaMcintyre.com)

MMM: One of the unusual things about you is the number of interesting trips you take. Can you tell us about some of the most interesting ones, and how this plays into the house-sitting and informal sharing economies?

ZM: I just got back from a birthday month away. I dog sat in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands for 2.5 weeks, had a layover in NYC with some friends, sailed for a week in Greece, then caught up with a friend who just moved to Portugal and did a road trip in her Sprinter van from Lisbon to Porto.

I bought the flights with miles, stayed for free everywhere except on the boat, which I got on a half price, last minute tip; all while renting out my homes and car to support my eating out habits.

I guess you could say I am a poster child for the share economy. When I’m out in the world, I rent my car on turo and my homes on airbnb. I travel hack to cover the flights. Promote Airbnb for travel credits. I’m a huge fan of house/pet sitting which still seems to be underground and I use that method to stay in awesome homes for free (and sometimes even get paid) all over the world.

MMM: Thinking about the bigger picture, what is your own definition of a life well lived, and what (if anything) do you think people in your peer group might be overlooking, if they don’t happen to encounter the right teachers early in life?

ZM: I’m all about quality of life. I believe a life well lived is one with lots of love and laughter. People to hug, share delicious food with, and have adventures with. I believe creativity is born out of free time, which Americans especially are deficient in. I think it’s important to spend a lot of time in nature and with the unique opportunity of discovering yourself. The real work is within. I find that people especially my age, are so distracted with things outside of themselves / needing to prove something.

The biggest set back I see around me is limiting beliefs. I see a lot of people telling themselves old stories that keep them stuck in patterns that aren’t serving them. I really enjoy sharing my experiences to show others what is possible. I think the biggest compliment I can ever receive is that I inspired someone, if I’ve done that for even one person, my job is complete. Nothing I’ve done in my career is out of reach to the average person, you’ve just got to believe.

MMM: Thanks for sharing your life with us Zeona!

—–

*Yes, you may be noticing a one-dimensional theme to my social life these days, but hey, it’s hard to beat Mustachians if you’re looking for interesting people to hang out with.

**For the record, Zeona was actually being totally Mustachian here – hiring employees to expand a profitable business. My policy is that you’re not allowed to hire people just to facilitate your own convenience and consumption at home, because you could probably benefit from the extra exercise and learning – along with the extra money.

  • Myfiinthesky August 16, 2017, 9:03 am

    My wife and I are buying a house now that has a two bedroom one bath unit in the back yard. We’re planning on putting it on air bnb to make a little side income. We’re in Los Angeles, so the demand should be fairly high. I’ll try to keep you all updated about how it goes.

    Reply
    • Anirudh August 16, 2017, 4:36 pm

      Isnt there laws prohibiting airbnb rentals.. here in the bay area you cant rent your single family house more than 9 0 days a year on short term rentals.

      Reply
      • Jim Wang August 18, 2017, 5:59 am

        This is so highly dependent, they tried regulating short term rentals in my home state of Maryland earlier this year and it never got past a committee.

        Better to ask for forgiveness…. right? :)

        Reply
        • Car Free Mark August 23, 2017, 1:54 pm

          Forgiveness may mean violating your apartment lease and getting kicked out of your apartment or accruing thousands of dollars in fines for violating local ordinances.

          Reply
        • jestjack August 27, 2017, 5:30 am

          I was watching that too Jim, It seems MD is regulation crazy as long as there is a fee for them attached. A very interesting story and I had looked into abnb ….but could never get the numbers to work for me…

          Reply
          • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance September 7, 2017, 7:11 am

            I used to live in MD and can attest to the amount of taxes and regulations that they have. However, MD does have a great school system and great public resources (i.e. elderly centers, libraries, community centers. Some of the best public schools in the DC area are located in MD.

            Reply
            • phred September 18, 2017, 12:43 pm

              There may be a correlation here. The more taxes, the more public services.

              Reply
    • Stockbeard August 17, 2017, 1:22 am

      Although I’m all in favor of the entrepreneurial spirit of things like AirBnB, I’m also worried at the recent trend of people who buy property just for the sake of going to AirBnB, which is much more expensive for people than rents.
      In big cities, this kind of business reduces dramatically the availability of “rent” units, which drives the rents up. This makes life even harder for young people trying to live close to the office and whatnot.

      As a now rich mustachian, this does not have a direct impact on me anymore, but I don’t think things like “professional AirBnB” are helping younger folks. I also don’t think this is the spirit with which AirBnB was initially created.

      Reply
      • Dan August 17, 2017, 7:43 am

        Yes, this exactly. Air B’n’B is distorting the rental market in many urban areas to the detriment of lower-income residents of those areas. I live in a recently-annointed-as-trendy neighborhood in Portland OR, and the minister and her family who lived next door to me were evicted to make the house an Air B’n’ B rental.

        The landlord has likely doubled his rental income; the neighbors put up with a significantly diminished quality of life. That minister was the social glue that held our block together, and has been replaced with a succession of noisy jerks who don’t care to be good neighbors because they’re leaving soon anyway.

        In short, Air B’n’B allows individual landlords to play Wall Street Banker: privatize the profits and socialize the losses/costs. People will make their own decisions, but I see this business model as immoral and will not participate, even though I could likely profit handsomely by imposing these kinds of costs on my neighbors (disruptive guests) and the community at large (distorted housing market).

        Reply
        • Eric the Bicyclist August 17, 2017, 11:59 am

          I also live in PDX, and what you’re describing sounds like it is unlawful. While I’m not an expert at the AirBNB rules, I know the city has cracked down and is taking violations seriously.

          If the house you’re describing is being rented out for less than 30 days at a time, my understanding is that the owners must live in the house for at least 270 days each calendar year. Also, the owner must have a permit and post the permit number in all AirBNB adds.

          If you don’t think the owner is following the law, Portland recommends that you talk to them. If that doesn’t work, you may submit a complaint to the BDS Enforcement Program or by calling (503)823-2633 (BDS = Bureau of Development Services).

          Disclaimer: Again, I’m not an expert. I could be misinformed. There is lots of info available via google on the website portlandoregon.gov

          Reply
        • Austin August 17, 2017, 12:51 pm

          This is only a problem if you live in a city that severely restricts new housing. In a more normal world this would just lead to construction of new housing and make the city wealthier overall without greatly increasing rents. This is why everyone is moving to Texas, it’s one of the only places with big cities where you can still build housing whether it is in the city center or ‘burbs.

          Reply
          • Jibba August 27, 2017, 9:41 pm

            It’s not just in liberal-leaning areas. Housing in urban areas is one of the great economics conundrums, and always has been. We are drawn to cities because we want the convenience and available jobs. More people but finite housing units equals higher prices. With higher prices (inflation), present dollars buy less and less over time, so businesses must pay people more to keep them in the area (the other side of affordability). Higher wages require higher prices for goods and services to remain profitable (the rest of inflation aside from rents). Now everything costs more, and people are paid more. This doesn’t create any real benefit in the long run, as the spread between pay and costs move in unison. Having a more productive city though, does improve things dramatically for everyone.

            To keep inflation in check, and embrace productivity increases (the best of both worlds), would require the number of housing units to increase with population growth and demand for particular types of housing. Many cities regulate this building, and often create shortages of the type of housing that people want/need. Cities should be embracing row houses, tiny houses on standard lots that actually have green space and privacy. Instead, most new construction is large apartment buildings, since those are more dense and profitable.

            No home builder would dare build a 800-1000 sq ft home on a 5,000 sq ft lot in a city, let alone the burbs. No one wants these houses in the new home market. Average new home prices are above $300,000 nationwide, because they are being built larger and fancier than ever before. They are built for the high end of the market. No starter houses are built any more. People buy condos.

            Reply
        • ann August 17, 2017, 4:13 pm

          “privatize the profits and socialize the costs”. i’m using that.

          Reply
        • Alain Guillot August 17, 2017, 4:15 pm

          I live in Montreal, Canada

          In my neighborhood, Airbnb keeps the local economy going. Local bars and restaurants are always full, boutiques are constantly updating their inventory. Plants get planted outside, houses get painted.

          There are lots of tourists coming, but they are not Jerks, they are young families who keep to themselves. People vilify Airbnb, but in my neighborhood it’s bringing a lot of prosperity. Thank you Airbnb. :)

          Reply
        • Howard August 17, 2017, 6:31 pm

          Similar problem occurring in the ski/mountain bike resort of Breckenridge CO. Investors are buying homes and renting them by the night or week on AirBnB. Unfortunately if you live full time next door the noise from the hot tub at 2 AM isn’t conducive to sleep. You’ll get to be on a first name basis with the local police and the HOA’s property manager, because short term rentals are also governed by the HOA rules. The only potential good news is this concept has driven up property values so when you are forced to move by the boorish behavior of your “investor” neighbor you’ll get a bit more when you have to sell to find peace and quiet somewhere else.

          Reply
        • Tim August 18, 2017, 1:33 pm

          Interesting reading the replies to this. I’ve certainly read analyses of AirBnB that show it as problematic in certain cities–and that is likely true. And yet, that probably isn’t always true. I also don’t think that has much to do with liberal cities vs. conservative cities.

          This is just another instance of that old maxim “think global, act local.”

          So, short-term rentals may be problematic. This may not be the case everywhere. A few questions to check (again, not universal here):

          Could a middle income employee (teacher, nurse, fireman, postal worker) afford rent in a given area? How about buying a home?

          Could a lower income afford rent?

          What about minimum wage working 40 hrs a week?

          The more of these that couldn’t afford rent, the more likely it is that short-term rentals are problematic.

          There is probably a similar calculus to determine if short-term rentals are profitable.

          These are also questions local governments should ask themselves too.

          Reply
        • Nick August 23, 2017, 4:04 am

          I agree with you completely with regards to privatizing the profits and socializing the costs, and would go so far I feel the same way about most of the ‘share’-economy.

          For me it comes down to principles: I want to be financially independent, but not at the expense of other people. I could buy cheaper meat, but I don’t want to support unethical farming practices, I could buy cheaper clothes, but I don’t want to support child labor. AirBnB isn’t as bad as all that, but it still wouldn’t feel right for me.

          Reply
        • Jack September 8, 2017, 3:58 pm

          Very interesting point of view; I honestly never thought of the impact short term renters may have in a residential neighborhood because any time I have used AirBnb I would consider myself relatively low impact on the neighborhood but now I realize this probably isn’t the case with everyone.

          Reply
          • Mark September 11, 2017, 4:24 pm

            I imagine it may be only 5-10% of the Airbnb renters that are the bad apples. But that percentage is still high enough to piss off a neighborhood. It’s a shame.

            Reply
      • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 4:44 pm

        This is why it is better to co-host than to own all the airbnbs yourself. St Louis uniquely has a large percentage of vacant homes due to people moving to the coasts after the boom there in the early 1900s. People like myself who go in and fix up homes actually drive traffic to the local shops and restaurants. It’s a boost for the local economy. In a lot of ways airbnb creates housing as it puts spare rooms on the market within peoples homes, who would never consider renting those previously.

        Reply
        • Jibba August 27, 2017, 9:53 pm

          Alluding to this supply/demand concept is critical in understanding the market effects of AirBnb/HomeAway/VRBO/etc. Most units are not taken off the market by speculating landlords. Most are derived from an existing unit that is already full, but not being used all the time. Airbnb increases available housing units, but simply tailors them to tourists. The only real disrupted market is hotels, since they are now competing with larger amounts of units. Scarcity has been key to keeping room rates high. Rooms rent for less and less as the date of vacancy gets closer, or else go empty.

          Another massive benefit of this type of business is that anyone can do it, if they have extra space. This additional income potential should be desired by citizens and their local governments, as it draws money from outside the area, into local shops and local pockets. This means higher tax revenue, and greater public goods for permanent residents.

          We just visited McCall ID, and 80% of the homes are vacation homes/second homes. They pay 4x the property taxes, and the town has wonderful infrastructure and services due to the revenue. Anyone who lives there year-round, gets to benefit from the outside money.

          Reply
        • Scott September 8, 2017, 5:58 pm

          > In a lot of ways airbnb creates housing as it puts spare rooms on the market within peoples homes, who would never consider renting those previously.

          They would rent them, just longer term (30 days or more). I’m living in one now, not found with AirBnB. So really what it’s doing is reducing the supply of rental rooms available– and that’s assuming you’re only sticking to renting out rooms, and not entire houses. Which you’re not.

          That said, I have no problem AirBnBing individual rooms. In a place you yourself live, you have a right to have a lot more control over how you use your space. But a whole house? That just destroys the local real estate market, making prices more expensive for both buyers and renters all in the name of personal profit, so out-of-towners with zero attachment to the place can save $10/night on a hotel (which is located in a commercial district, so their noise isn’t bothering any neighbors). I can’t get behind that.

          Reply
      • Matt August 17, 2017, 5:47 pm

        Your point is valid, but we should remember that the real problem is artificially constrained supply in many housing markets. San Francisco has notoriously high rents because the landlords pushed through legislation to prevent the construction of more housing. AirBnB businesses wouldn’t matter if there was a strong political push for cities to increasing housing.

        In more rural locations like where I live, we have the opposite. Everybody is convinced that building themselves a McMansion in Nowhereville will make them rich and yet I see 3 bedroom houses for rent for like $1100/month because there’s so much housing and only one major employer, restricting demand.

        Reply
        • Scott September 8, 2017, 5:40 pm

          This is true only to an extent. The two primary limitations to increasing housing supply are bureaucratic red tape and physical limitations. SF has both. Meanwhile a city like Houston has neither, and as such housing is plenty affordable (median $289k) despite being a city of 2.3mm people. (For comparison, SF has just 864k people, yet the median price is $1.4mm.)

          New construction definitely helps, but only to the extent it’s physically possible. Honestly, the best solution is to create brand new cities, but obviously there are a lot of obstacles to that.

          Reply
      • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance August 18, 2017, 9:21 am

        I agree with you that AirBnB might make housing unaffordable for a lot of young people. However, I have to say that if average people like myself didn’t invest in this successful and lucrative business, wealthy people and big corporations would.

        I have heard about hotels complaining that AirBnB is hurting their businesses and are trying to lobby the government to crack down on AirBnB. If there were no AirBnB, local hotels would benefit at the expense of travelers.

        At the end of the day, someone is going to have to make some kind of profit somewhere. I rather it were spread out among folks like myself and Zeona than big hotel chains and real estate moguls.

        Reply
        • Dan August 18, 2017, 11:24 am

          A thought experiment: what if instead of “short term rentals” we were talking about another profitable activity that is harmful to the neighbors, like operating a garbage dump on your property? Would you still say “if average people like myself didn’t invest in this successful and lucrative business, wealthy people and big corporations would.”

          Where do we draw the line? Some people actively invest in tobacco and alcohol stocks, others choose to abstain, etc. There is room to disagree on the morality of this business, but I’m taking the Golden Rule on this one – I dislike what the presence of short term rentals has done to my neighborhood and won’t seek to profit by inflicting that on other neighborhoods.

          In my opinion, like the hypothetical garbage dump next door, this is a problem that should be solved by regulation. AirBnB is actively lobbying to prevent that. I have no special attachment for the hospitality industry, but they are much better members of the community than AirBnB landlords — at least here in Portland. I would be happy to see a 4-week annual limit or something like that as a solution that balances property rights of the landlords and the neighbors…but Air BnB wants the whole enchilada.

          Reply
          • Stephen August 23, 2017, 7:35 am

            I understand what you are saying, but it’s worth acknowledging that AirBNB (or any short-term rental) is simultaneously meeting a need for travelers, breaking up what were essentially hospitality cartels in certain areas, and shoving profits downstream from massive multinational firms like Marriott or Starwood to individuals and very small businesses.

            To the extent that regular people are being priced out of their own neighborhoods, that should be a signal to the city and to the market that they need more housing. Some of the areas hardest hit by this phenomenon are cities that have such restrictive building codes that new housing can’t legally be built to satisfy market demand that everyone knows exists. Cities need to be more nimble about their housing regulations. If the median worker can’t live within an hour of the median job, they need another 1,000 units in that neighborhood, STAT.

            To me, it’s clear that AirBNB unlocks tremendous value for both sides of the transaction. If the city thinks short-term rentals come with unique problems for the non-participants, they should work to address those problems rather than seeking to restrict a beneficial activity. Noise ordinances, littering, vandalism, tax collection, etc. are all problems that can be managed without trying to kill this business.

            Reply
            • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance August 23, 2017, 11:59 am

              I think you made a great point here, Stephen! AirBnB reminds me of Uber and how it’s been banned in various countries in Asia and Europe.

              This ban happened because Uber hurt the local cab market, and the local authorities just couldn’t figure out how best to regulate it. But who have been the biggest winners of Uber so far? It’s the Uber drivers and customers.

              Reply
              • 728huey August 26, 2017, 8:15 pm

                Customers have been huge winners under Uber, but not so much the drivers. After taking out Uber”s fees, gas, insurance, and maintenance, many Uber drivers are getting paid less than minimum wage. Some drivers in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other big cities may make some decent money, but that’s not the case in smaller areas.

            • Scott September 8, 2017, 5:45 pm

              > it’s worth acknowledging that AirBNB (or any short-term rental) is simultaneously meeting a need for travelers, breaking up what were essentially hospitality cartels in certain areas, and shoving profits downstream from massive multinational firms like Marriott or Starwood to individuals and very small businesses.

              Thing is, those Marriots and Starwoods were located in commercial areas and built tall and dense to be as efficient as possible. These landlords are buying up perfectly good housing stock in nice quiet neighborhoods that *could* be going to some nice family or first-time-buyer couple, but are instead going to people with no incentive to treat the property nicely because they’ll be gone in a couple days anyways. And only the landlord stands to profit. It’s sick.

              I have no problem renting out spare space in your home, but when you’re buying up entire spare buildings just to make a personal profit, we have a problem.

              Reply
            • Brett September 14, 2017, 2:02 pm

              As someone who has done some urban engineering (primarily linear utilities – storm and wastewater sewer, potable water distribution), I can guarantee that it’s never as simple as “allow developers to build more housing”. Greenfield sprawl is one of the least sustainable ways to construct because the majority of these developments require more roads, more sewer, more electricity, more more more. That’s not only new construction, but more areas to manage. More assets to depreciate and maintain. And those developments not only require new connections, but frequently require upgrades to existing assets. Then we run into a lack of space – roads can’t get any larger or they have to get dug up to build larger sewers. Sometimes there’s no space beneath the ground for larger sewers. Brownfield development has similar issues, but has benefits in that it doesn’t necessarily require increase lengths of assets, just larger assets. But Brownfield has higher initial expenses. You have existing land you have to buy that typically more expensive than greenfield. You have demolition costs. You have traffic mitigation. You have disruptions to people who are already living or working there. Where I’m going with this, red-tape exists for a reason. Sometimes those reasons are not always immediately apparent. Sometimes those reasons are 15 miles away from the development.

              Reply
          • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance August 23, 2017, 12:01 pm

            I’m sorry to hear about your not so positive experience with AirBnB rentals, Dan. I understand your concern about the community safety and spirit. I myself wouldn’t appreciate random strangers coming in and out of my community so frequently either.

            I agree that AirBnB should be better managed to not let it cause problems to local residents. I hope the situation will get better where you live.

            Reply
      • Cory August 23, 2017, 3:45 pm

        Seems to me that another way to look at this new “problem” caused by Air BnB would be as an opportunity. If there is a lack of low-income housing your area, that means there is a demand for low-income housing in your area.

        Maybe this is an opportunity for you to invest in some form of low income housing (apartments, mobile home parks, etc)? This could be a good investment for you, and a chance for you to help mitigate a problem that you seem passionate about by providing high quality low income housing, which is apparently in short supply.

        Just an alternate way of looking at it.

        Cheers!

        Cory

        Reply
        • Dan August 23, 2017, 4:25 pm

          Well, you’re right about the demand for low-income housing, but it’s like saying there’s demand for low-income housing in Manhattan: demand exists, but there’s no way for private industry to build it and break even because the land is too expensive. So…not an opportunity, but an area where the city needs to make things happen.

          Reply
          • Jan August 26, 2017, 3:52 am

            Your entirely correct Dan. What’s worse, in the city I live (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) the state actually provides affordable housing to low income earners (albeit not enough to keep up with demand – there is a 8-12 year waiting list) but people are actually airbnb-ing this housing. They pay around 700 a month to the state (but really even less than that, because there’s rent subsidies on the subsidized housing) and rent it out for (at least) 100 *a night*. You cannot build additional housing in a 14th – 18th century city center. It is just not possible. There are new houses being built, just not where ‘travellers’ who use airbnb want to sleep. The result is entire Disneyfication of entire neighborhoods.

            Reply
        • Scott September 8, 2017, 5:48 pm

          > Maybe this is an opportunity for you to invest in some form of low income housing (apartments, mobile home parks, etc)?

          Like this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZZrAdNoXB8

          Because that’s not ethical either.

          Reply
    • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance August 23, 2017, 7:53 pm

      I look forward to the updates!I think if the local laws allow AirBnB, it’d be a great opportunity for you and your wife to make a great income. If not, you can always rent it out for long-, medium-, or short-term. My husband and I are also very interested in house-hacking.

      Reply
  • Dividend Growth Investor August 16, 2017, 9:16 am

    I have routinely saved over half of my income for a decade. I guess I have been Mustachian or Jacobian for a good part of the past decade. ;-)

    Two years ago I started saving my entire salary, and tried living off dividends and side income. This exercise helped me look for creative solutions that enabled me to further eliminate unnecessary costs and be extra mindful on spending.

    I cannot beat the story of going from zero to wealth in two years however…

    Reply
    • Paul August 17, 2017, 6:59 am

      Mustachian you may be, but you’ll need to pick a different adjective than Jacobian (Lund-Fiskian?). Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi already claimed that one :-)

      Reply
  • Cubert August 16, 2017, 9:17 am

    Bravo! You’ve given me food for thought on whether I need to convert my rental homes into AirBnBs.
    Fantastic story of taking a good idea and applying hard work to get it all stood up (and growing). Feeling really motivated now to “do something”. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 4:45 pm

      So glad to hear it. Thank you for your positivity and enthusiasm

      Reply
  • Wendy August 16, 2017, 9:17 am

    Thanks for sharing the story, very inspiring.
    As someone not yet FI and I’m their 40’s, the comment about the ‘stories we tell ourselves’ really resonates… Going to have to poke around the mental nooks and crannies some more, see what mental junk needs cleaning out

    Reply
  • Mike August 16, 2017, 9:19 am

    Cool story. Hard-working woman. A little exhausting for me, but hey she made it work!

    Reply
  • Gwen August 16, 2017, 9:21 am

    I love that you were in the right place at the right time and could jump on the opportunity that Airbnb rentals presented. Well done! Very inspiring story.

    Reply
  • Mrs. Picky Pincher August 16, 2017, 9:26 am

    Wowza! Thanks for featuring Zeona’s story. I’m fascinated by the Airbnb short term rental game and this is awesome. I’ve always been tempted to lease out extra space in our house, but I guess I’m afraid of strangers. ;) Also, I do think the profitability is higher when renting out a whole house, too.

    Reply
    • killer kiki August 17, 2017, 7:07 am

      I took the plunge of renting out a spare room on Airbnb in the summer of 2015. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve made financially and socially. We have earned upwards of $5,000 a year of mostly pure income (they don’t take out taxes so itemizing is your friend) with very little work. To date we haven’t had a bad guest. They are all just regular people like you and me. They just want a cheap, clean, friendly place to stay when traveling. Not to mention, I live in a smallish midwest city- this isn’t just for NYC or LA. A lot of people stay with us when visiting family, internships, or looking to check out houses to buy. I can’t recommend becoming a host enough!

      Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 4:48 pm

      It all depends on how much income you are needing, in Boulder, friends of mine make 18K a year on their spare bedrooms. Definitely not chump change!

      Reply
  • Juan August 16, 2017, 9:31 am

    What a great story! Further proof that thinking outside the box and acting on such unconventional ideas can lead to amazing things.

    Reply
    • CuriousGeorge August 17, 2017, 8:02 am

      I agree that this sounds like a great story… I do have a question though. On her blog Zeona says that she received a payout from the insurance company after her mother passed. Zeona used some of that money to pay off a risky loan she took out to purchase one of the properties in her portfolio. It would be great to include the details on that to paint the whole picture. It sounds like that happened within the 2 years of “zero to wealthy” so it may be an important detail in the story?

      Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 4:48 pm

      Indeed!

      Reply
  • Mr Crazy Kicks August 16, 2017, 9:32 am

    We just got back from Spain, and our favorite lodging was a $23/night Airbnb in a tiny wine making town. It was a huge apartament, and was in a town with no hotels and no tourists. That’s probably my favorite aspect of Airbnb – it’s cheaper, hyper local, and they exist in places you wouldn’t otherwise find a room.

    We did see some protests related to Airbnb when we were in Girona, Spain. Some people living around the old city weren’t happy with the entrepreneurs picking up apartments and turning the neighborhood into rentals for people like ourselves to stop in. I can see the point that a neighbor would have, but at the same time I’m much happier spreading my money and staying locally. But we also don’t stay in the cities often, and I think most of the places we go, the locals are happy to see visitors exploring their culture :)

    Reply
    • The Roamer August 16, 2017, 12:24 pm

      This is a great case study and I’m glad you cleared up where the rentals we’re at. In the beginning of the interview I thought they were located in Hawaii.

      However Airbnb kind of confuses me. I haven’t had the chance to stay in one because when ever I check it out it doesn’t actually seem better priced the. A hotel. I fell like it’s a great way to earn an income as the person hosting. But all the prices I come across are never better then a hotel. Maybe I’m doing it wrong pointers are welcomed.

      It honestly seems like prices even in other countries are based on American rates. Which really blows my mind when you are headed to some Pueblo. Also every time I see a listing it has it stating that it can sleep 4 people but later in the listing it says the price is for 1 person and each additional person is $10 more. Which I feel defeats the purpose of renting the whole place.

      Sorry went off on a little rant. But I really want to try it out but prices dont seem better. Anyone have a link or answers to the right way to book an Airbnb to get the best deal.

      Reply
      • Frugal-Investor August 16, 2017, 1:27 pm

        About AirBNB pricing. I tried an AirBNB room for the first time in Omaha Nebraska for the Berkshire Hathaway and Markel meetings. My own lack of planning drove me to explore the shared economy. I found the pricing BELOW hotel rooms in a city that had variety and competition among AirBNB hosts.

        I had looked to book a hotel about 4 months out and found both super high priced options downtown and lower priced but sketchy-looking options well out of town that would have required that I book a rental car. If there were business hotel rooms with reasonable rates near the center of the city or B&B rooms nearby, they had been gobbled up much before I planned my trip.

        I ended up with a room in classic old house (and a friendly host) in a area of aging suburbs that had great big trees, pretty houses and real character. I shared access to the kitchen, other common rooms and a backyard garden with my host. The cost was about $150/ day which seemed pricy but was at least 1/2 of the cheapest available business hotel alternatives. I used Lyft (also for the first time) and found the drivers to be prompt, friendly and really pleasant. As a consequence of using Lyft I was able to avoid the rental car which oriented me more towards exploring the city and some suburbs on foot. I found the trip more interesting as a consequence.

        The other insight I had about the trip was about my own introversion. A business hotel room offers me a distinct way of cutting off social interaction and gaining a zone of silence between meetings that helps me recharge or do heads down work. AirBNB is less oriented towards this…it would have seemed a bit abrupt to not engage a bit with my host when I was coming and going or using common space.

        Reply
        • neonlight August 17, 2017, 12:43 am

          Places I travel to overseas mostly have the place reserved for myself and my friends, except while in SF. So if you are traveling certain places it might be easier to have privacy.

          Reply
        • MAD Wealth August 17, 2017, 11:04 am

          When even the Oracle of Omaha is recommending it for their meetings you know it’s got legs. I’ve been recommending this to clients and friends as an idea to generate income for awhile. Not everyone feels comfortable letting anyone worldwide use their house/room. However completely separate homes/apartments are a great opportunity. There are plenty of ways to make money if you want to hussle. My wife uses the service, she’s had some hit and miss experiences so far. In one situation an overseas landlord didn’t want to do much about the massive ant problem in the unit. So quality can vary widely unlike a reputable hotel chain. But otherwise she’s mostly pleased. I’m currently exploring the possibility of putting units on it too finally.

          Reply
      • Rae August 16, 2017, 1:38 pm

        Hi Roamer —

        I think it often comes down to the amenities and size as much as price.

        Here’s just my little experience. 9 adults and 2 toddlers spending 4 days in a tourist destination. We saved between 15 and 25% going with Airbnb versus a Best Western but we were short 3 beds so the single adults were on the floor and that might have made up the discount…

        But we also had (1) all 11 of us in one house so (2) games, conversations and cooking could all be a shared experience, and (3) the kiddos could be loud. We had (3) a yard and (4) a fully stocked fullsize kitchen and saved $$ by hauling groceries instead of eating out. Beyond that, the cozy cabin was airconditioned and decorated in a fabulous ski lodge style (5), much more personal than hotel decor, and there was (6) a great hot tub on the back deck that (7) we didn’t have to share with strangers.

        Reply
      • DJLove August 17, 2017, 4:09 pm

        I believe if you take a closer look, you’ll find that airbnb rentals are usually less expensive than COMPARABLE lodging at hotels. In other words, if you’re renting a place with a full kitchen and separate bedroom then you need to compare it to s luxury suite at a hotel, if such a thing is even available. Also, keep in mind that individually owned short term rentals are just another form of rental property. Normal market forces will dictate availability, profitability, etc.

        Real estate markets vary widely from location to location as we all know. The airbnb thing is subject to the same economic forces as all other forms of real estate.

        Reply
      • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 4:51 pm

        Sometimes it’s cheaper, sometimes it’s not. I find most hosts are open to negotiating, especially if its last minute. I also much prefer it to a hotel because I can cook my own meals which can be a huge savings. Lastly, I find it fascinating to see how people live in other parts of the world. Hotels are frequently cookie cutter and devoid of culture.

        Reply
    • Polar August 16, 2017, 12:57 pm

      Airbnb have recently received a lot of bad press in the UK for encouraging professional landlords with multiple listings to illegally avoid local property / business rate taxes. For example, this in London http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-4763990/Our-rates-steep-say-hotels-Airbnb-booms.html . Whilst I don’t know the exact T&C’s, I was lead to believe the aim was to empower people to rent out their OWN home, and not to support property entrepreneurs to make a full time living.

      Reply
    • Bill August 16, 2017, 2:53 pm

      That’s my preferred mode of travel anyway. I don’t want to be in a cattle call for a noodle-swimming catamaran that never even flies its sails. I want to meet locals and fellow travelers, preferably in a pub.

      Reply
    • EvoInvestor August 16, 2017, 11:14 pm

      That is why spain has very strict laws on short term rentals. You can not rent your place unless you get a permit (Vivienda Vacacional). And some cities/locations (Barcelona, South Tenerife) do not give the VV permits anymore.
      The 90 day limit that some states in USA have is more clever and it is a balance between consumption (building more hotels) and chaos (Barcelona only for tourists)

      Reply
  • Cory August 16, 2017, 9:33 am

    Wow Zeona just wow!

    Starting off small with Airbnb just making around $1500 to making $18,000 is amazing. It’s a great success story to show others there are different ways to make a living.

    I’m finding more people are having success with Airbnb but they are not expanding their business like you have. They are content just renting out a room or two but they can grow beyond that.

    Reply
    • Mr. Freaky Frugal August 16, 2017, 10:03 am

      That was my reaction well – just WOW! Zeona is a very impressive lady.

      I’m FIREd so I’m a frequent user of Airbnb, but I’m always fascinated to hear the story from the Host perspective. I wonder how many other Airbnb hosts own multiple properties.

      “I believe creativity is born out of free time, which Americans especially are deficient in.”

      Yes, 100%. Everybody seems to think it’s better to be “crazy busy”, but it’s really unhealthy mentally and physically.

      I also strongly agree with her idea of limiting beliefs. For whatever reason, people just can’t seem to think outside the box. I see it over and over again. I guess it’s just easier to continue on as an Oblivious Wage Slave. So sad when there are other happier options!

      Reply
      • West Coast Runner August 17, 2017, 3:18 pm

        I live in a condo building that is about half Airbnb rentals. One individual owns 10 units in the building and rents them on Airbnb, I am sure she owns units in other buildings too. There a few other vacation rental companies that own more than one unit in the building.

        Airbnb has gotten a load of negative publicity here and is a significant contributing factor in the extremely constrained rental market for people that actually live and work here. Rental vacancy rates are currently around .5% and the current median rent is $1,100/$1,480 for one and two bedroom rentals respectively with the rental application process routinely turning into a bidding war.

        Reply
      • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 4:53 pm

        Yay just yay! SO glad when someone sees and gets my message.

        Reply
  • Mrs. Adventure Rich August 16, 2017, 9:46 am

    This is amazing! I love how Zeona’s mom first introduced her to finance when she was heading to college… way to go mom!

    I remember hearing Zeona interviewed on Radical Personal Finance and I was fascinated by her story. What an incredible combo to fast track retirement (frugality + AirBnB management). Thank you for sharing another inspiring story!

    Reply
  • Tara August 16, 2017, 9:47 am

    While I like Air BnB to stay in while traveling, I do know in fact that is is completely illegal to rent out an entire place in NYC on Air BnB. Why you may ask? Because in areas like San Franciso and NYC, where rents are crazy expensive and affordable places are hard to come by–nefarious land lords will choose to rent out their apartments on Air BnB as illegal hotels instead of offering them to long-term tenants. They do this because it makes them more money than renting out as a 12 month lease. And when you take away housing in an area that desperately needs more affordable housing, it actually causes rents to increase as there is less supply of available housing. So while Air BnB tries to claim, locally in NYC, that they’re helping the little guy–they’re actually hurting her.

    So please, if you are interested in doing this with Air BnB, be sure and follow all local city, county and state laws. And also, make sure you’re not taking away from the housing stock in your area if it’s a high stakes, expensive rental area.

    Reply
    • Emma August 16, 2017, 11:14 am

      I really appreciate your comment, Tara. While I was reading this I was struck by the fact that she used long-term rentals to get this business going. I understand why and I’m glad that she appears to be using property that she owns now, but as a renter in a high cost of living area it stings!

      Reply
    • MarciaB August 16, 2017, 11:29 am

      Thank you for mentioning this. I heard a lot about this recently when traveling in BC, both in Victoria and Vancouver. A lot of condos, apartments and houses were use for AirBnB purposes, making it harder for locals to find places to rent.

      I live in Portland (Oregon) and this is a controversy there as well.

      Reply
    • HeadedWest August 16, 2017, 12:08 pm

      I absolutely agree that, generally, one shouldn’t rent entire dwellings on AirBnB in an area with high rents. However, I for one propose that we cut some slack to anyone who was recently earning $12 an hour.

      Reply
      • DJLove August 17, 2017, 4:27 pm

        wait a minute….why SHOULDN’T someone in a “free” economy rent their property out, as they see fit, within the law?

        You could also say “one shouldn’t charge very high rent in an area with high rents.”

        If she lives in an area with high rent then SHE is paying more for the property, in taxes and dealing with generally high cost of living. We are talking about normal economic forces here people. What about hotels increasing their prices during busy times? Isn’t THAT immoral???

        Reply
        • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 4:56 pm

          Just to throw some thoughts into the mix: recently in our high demand rental town of Boulder, Hyatt threw up a huge hotel in the middle of town. No one batted an eye. My argument is why wasn’t it condos? People are voting with their dollars and it seems like housing are where people want to stay. No one can argue with that.

          Reply
        • HeadedWest August 18, 2017, 7:18 pm

          Interesting point. I don’t think charging high rent is quite the same thing – when demand for rentals in an area exceeds supply, we need some kind of tiebreaker, and other commenters are correct that money is as fair as any other. It isn’t any less fair to tell one would-be renter that they are out of luck, just because they have less money. If an unknown artist and a radiologist are fighting over an apartment, it is going to go to the radiologist every time, and that’s fine.

          But when you put an entire dwelling on Air BnB for short term rentals, you’re making it unavailable for any long term renters. That leaves a smaller pool of apartments for those renters to fight over. In coastal cities where properties are already scarce, this can have quite an effect at the margins, forcing some to leave town, become homeless, or some other outcome that I think we could generally agree is less than ideal. Is it legal? Sure, in most places. But I wouldn’t feel very good if I did it myself.

          Note that I have no problem with people renting out rooms in their own homes on a short term basis. I think that’s great and if it cuts into hotels’ business, well that’s too bad for the hotel industry.

          P.S. I don’t understand the analogy with hotels increasing prices during busy times, at least from a moral standpoint. The need to travel and stay in hotels is different (lesser) in kind from the need for shelter in the city or town where you live.

          Reply
    • Andrés August 16, 2017, 12:41 pm

      Is it illegal or is it immoral?

      Reply
      • Carl August 16, 2017, 1:13 pm

        Illegal, not immoral. The rent control laws are of questionable morality.

        (The market would provide sufficient affordable housing in these places were it not for progressive [sic!] legislation that restricts development. Of course, San Francisco wouldn’t be San Francisco if they opened the floodgates to development. “Progressive” housing policy is like Trumpism but with better hair.)

        Reply
        • Tara August 16, 2017, 7:19 pm

          You obviously don’t understand how real estate development works. In NYC, they NEVER build affordable housing. It is always $500k+ for a studio and up (and that’s in BK and Queens…even more for Manhattan). Why do you ask? Because you don’t make money building affordable or middle class housing. Gotta love that “free market”! So all those “progressive” protections exist for a reason–corporations don’t give a shit about people, all they care about is profit. And if they could get out of rent stabilization (which is not why there is a housing crisis in San Fran–blame the plethora of silicon valley salaries for hurting the fast food employee’s chance at reasonable rent) they would do it in a heartbeat so they could build more millionaire housing. And no, they’ll never run out of millionaires– because of lax shell company rules regarding real estate ownership in US, there are plenty of BRIC country billionaires looking to hide their ill-gotten gains in US real estate and cities like San Fran and NYC are prime market for them.

          Reply
          • GailNYC August 17, 2017, 8:17 am

            Yes. Thank you for saying this.

            Reply
          • Matt August 17, 2017, 9:52 am

            I have to disagree here. You can definitely make a ton of money building middle-class apartments. Even in Brooklyn, where there are many 1-2 story houses, shitty 1-bedrooms go for $2000+/month. Buying a lot, building a 10 story building and renting all units for $1800 would make you a huge profit.
            The problem is that zoning laws and regulations are so strict, and they have to reserve a huge portion for public housing, so it’s not worth it. The only developers willing to deal with NYC politics are the ones that make luxury condos, since they can rent those for $5000/month – only at that price point is it worth it to the developer.

            Reply
          • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 4:58 pm

            Oooh this adds more to my previous example. In Boulder, all new housing has a law of 25% being designated permanently affordable. With the new Hyatt none of those rooms are “affordable”

            Reply
    • John N August 16, 2017, 12:43 pm

      “Airbnb boom is ‘emptying’ historic Italian cities”

      “Nearly 20 per cent of Florence’s housing stock is listed on Airbnb”

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/italy/articles/airbnb-boom-is-emptying-italian-cities/

      Reply
    • Marcia August 16, 2017, 1:28 pm

      I also live in a very HCOL area with high rents and low availability.

      I think that it would be better to regulate it, rather than ban it. Regulations could include:
      – limiting the locations
      – limiting the total # of allowed units per person
      – limiting the total # of allowed units per geographical area
      – allowing any homeowner to rent their primary residence out for up to 4 weeks a year
      – requiring a permit, and doing an annual lottery (if there are 50 allowed units and 200 who want to do it…)
      – allowing homestays

      I rent in HCOL areas when on vacation – I’m not married to the idea of an Air-BNB. I’d be happy with a vacation condo or vacation home – but not all locations have these.

      Reply
      • stellamarina August 20, 2017, 12:00 pm

        I believe the US federal govt. allows everybody to rent out their residence for two weeks a year tax free. This helps to give accommodation at special events in cities etc. I have heard of one family who would go camping for two weeks every year and do this.

        Reply
    • Rae August 16, 2017, 1:44 pm

      And also watch out for the insurance laws and find a carrier with an endorsement or product for short-term rentals. Airbnb has some coverage I believe, but not for everything, and most home policies will deny claims related to a business exposure, or they’ll drop you like a hot potato next renewal.

      Reply
      • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:02 pm

        Airbnb & Homeaway/VRBO offer 1 million in coverage and in 6 years I have not had to use my insurance for a short term related claim.

        Reply
        • Heidi August 17, 2017, 10:58 pm

          Isn’t that Airbnb coverage just for liability?

          Reply
          • Zeona McIntyre August 19, 2017, 7:39 pm

            No it covers damage as well. We also designate a security deposit to cover damages.

            Reply
            • dpfromva August 28, 2017, 9:06 am

              I too have had lovely Airbnb guests and only what I would call expected maintenance and minor damages (broken flowerpot, bloody pillow, taking apart a washer filter to remove some sediment, etc.). But a word of caution, Airbnb manages reimbursement or coverage in its own way, if you go by 1) results reported in host forums and 2) Airbnb’s Terms of Service. I’m not dinging Airbnb as being less than forthcoming — like any business venture, it is up to the host to read the TOS and educate themselves. The security deposit to my knowledge is not collected on your behalf. First Airbnb asks the host to try to get recovery or negotiate a settlement with the guest. Airbnb customer service may ultimately side with the guest, split the difference, or award you, but Airbnb determines the amount out of the security deposit that the host gets. (Same with guest requests for refunds, sometimes it’s he says/she says on the condition of the rental, there were bugs, host didn’t make clear it was a third floor walkup and stairs were unsafe, etc.) With the damage coverage, my understanding is that hosts have 48 hours to document damage after a claim, including providing copies of original purchase receipts for e.g., a sofa bed and/or professional repair estimates for the damaged floor, and must make a claim before the next guest checks in (so Airbnb can correlate the correct guest with the damage). This could be difficult when you have a few hours between turnovers or are a remote manager. Then Airbnb decides on the amount. Of course you could have similar issues and potential disagreements on documenting the amount of damage with a homeowner’s claim. The host’s ultimate recourse is the arbitration they agreed to under Airbnb’s Terms of Service. Some insurance professionals who have reviewed Airbnb’s coverage for damage and liability have concluded that Airbnb is technically secondary after other property damage or liability insurance you may have (although regular homeowner’s, landlord, or renter’s insurance generally will not cover short term rentals or sublets anyway.) Some hosts have suggested that Airbnb has grown so fast that their customer service team is playing catch up, others recommend posting on twitter or facebook to Airbnb rather than calling or emailing customer service for a quicker response; there are many tricks and tips out there. I’ve found Airbnb hosting personally rewarding (and am now a germ-defeating cleaning expert!), but the jury is still out on the financials for me, 6 months to go in my Airbnb Experiment year. Just go into it with your eyes open, including, as another poster pointed out, the regulations, potential future regulations, and market saturation in your area.

              Reply
    • Andres August 16, 2017, 3:05 pm

      There’s also data showing that AirBNB is actively raising rental prices, especially when used to rent out entire units (as opposed to extra rooms in a home).
      https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/08/where-airbnb-is-raising-rents/535674/?utm_source=feed

      Reply
      • MarciaB August 16, 2017, 6:39 pm

        I think this is the crux of the matter – is the rental a room in someone’s house (meaning the host would be living there whether or not there were guests) or is the rental (of an entire home/apartment/condo) displacing long-term renters who now have to fight for living space in a market with fewer options?

        Reply
        • Andres August 17, 2017, 2:29 am

          To be fair to AirBNB, it’s scarcity of housing that’s ultimately driving the rise in rental prices. AirBNB is making it worse, but modernized zoning/land use that encouraged building more housing (and not just by for-profit developers) would nullify any effects seen by AirBNB.

          Reply
    • ES August 16, 2017, 5:22 pm

      “nefarious land lords”

      Are homeowners nefarious for taking the highest offer when they sell their home thus driving up housing prices? Are workers nefarious for demanding the market value of their services thus driving up costs for employers and raising the price of consumer products?

      Clearly the AirBnB guests renting from the nefarious landlord are deriving some value from being able to rent the place on a nightly basis. The landlord is deriving value from being able to use owned property in a way that advances the owner’s interest. That all of these gains are not your gains doesn’t make them less valuable.

      Reply
    • David Zetland August 17, 2017, 4:29 am

      Here’s my op/ed on this, with a suggestion that (1) neighbors get to rate guests, (2) Airbnb cooperate on tax matters and (3) some $ goes to the neighborhood.

      https://waag.org/en/blog/airbnb-harming-amsterdams-communities

      Reply
  • Matt August 16, 2017, 9:52 am

    I’m a long time reader but not a usual commenter here. I just had to say that is an amazing story. I’m totally in awe of Zeona’s resourcefulness. That’s certainly one of my favorite articles I’ve ever read on this blog. Bravo!

    Reply
  • Kayote August 16, 2017, 9:54 am

    For those who do AirBnB what do you do for insurance? I might be willing to take on property damage risk, but I’m not willing to self-insure for liability.

    We are trying to rent our old house as a normal rental, but I have wondered about AirBnB’ing it instead since there are quite a few local events & sports teams that draw significant visitors through the year.

    However, every insurance company seems to require 6+ month leases. Where are folks finding liability and property insurance to cover properties used for short-term rentals?

    Reply
    • Mary Ellen August 16, 2017, 11:11 am

      I just converted my basement to an AirBNB rental suite this spring. Getting insurance was a huge headache, and for a couple of weeks I wondered if I had made a big mistake with the renovation. I called so many places without luck. Most insurance companies explicitly do not cover AirBNB activity, and in fact consider it to invalidate your policy. They are nervous about offering coverage because they don’t have much underwriting data. But finally I found out that Safeco has just started offering AirBNB coverage. They offer coverage for Lyft drivers too. The rates aren’t even higher, so I switched all my policies to Safeco (I have umbrella coverage and coverage on another rental property and don’t want to get caught in a dispute over which insurance company should pay a claim). And I highly recommend giving AirBNB a try. It was a scramble at first, but I found a reliable cleaner and things have been going really well. I am planning to build a backyard cottage and operate it as a second AirBNB next year.

      Reply
    • Rae August 16, 2017, 1:47 pm

      Safeco, Foremost and American Modern. (at least in WA State)

      Reply
  • Greg August 16, 2017, 10:16 am

    Hi Zeona,

    Any advice on how to get find the 1/2 price sailing trips in Greece? Sounds perfect.

    Reply
    • Bill August 16, 2017, 2:59 pm

      If there is any sailboat racing in your area, those are the people to talk to. They will have the inside inside line. If you volunteer to crew with them (and commit to it long term) you will eventually be asked along on sailing trips all over.

      Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:08 pm

      I went with Enlightened Globe Trekker adventures and they just had a cancellation so I nabbed it “last minute” at 1/2 off. I have a ton of friends who post ads at yacht clubs to work on yachts for free. There are also tons of jobs for young people on booze cruise sailboats. All depends what you are looking for.

      Reply
  • Mrs Simplest Happiness August 16, 2017, 10:17 am

    Very inspirational story of what is possible. Zeona will inspire many people through this post, including myself so a job well done. Along the lines of stories of others who have reached FIRE early on…. I’d like to hear more about somebody who FIRED and then did something related to the advancement of science, of reducing poverty (this whole FI movement is doing that but more at the middle class level), somebody who truly has a great impact in their community (besides yourself :). Those stories would be quite inspirational also and it’s hard to come across them. Although it’s very exciting to spend more time with our kids, in nature or traveling I’ve been reflecting on all of this a lot lately and I’d like to think there’s more that society can benefit from wall of us Mustachian people, who will find ourselves with kids in college at some point in our lives and a higher purpose.

    Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:10 pm

      Check out what my friend, Daniel Epstein, has created at Unreasonable Institute.

      Reply
      • Mrs Simplest Happiness August 18, 2017, 8:47 am

        Very intriguing – love the basis of how it is all set up! I’ll have to look into it more.

        Reply
    • Eliza September 5, 2017, 5:56 pm

      Hi there, I am also hopeful that Mustachians’ altruism will guide the work or projects they embark on post-retirement. That is my personal ethos. I currently work in development in a third-world country. My ultimate goal, in becoming financially independent, is to enable me to pursue the most impactful work I can, regardless of any income attached to it, or lack thereof. Determining which field of work within development is a whole other debate. For me, I think women’s empowerment (through education, health, access to contraception, and economy opportunity) is the keystone to unlocking that change, but each to their own area of interest, skills and capacity. If more people were pursuing the most altruistic work they could imagine, because they were no longer dependent on any income derived from that work, I think the world would be quite a different place.

      Reply
  • Mr. Tako August 16, 2017, 10:42 am

    Awesome story! I have a old co-worker that started by renting out a room in his home on AirBnB. I think he’s up to his second property now.

    I’d call that a modest success, but I he lacks the time to expand the business further. He still has a full time job, a fancy lifestyle and a mortgage to pay that AirBnb can’t cover.

    Zeona lacked those constraints and made the leap to freedom by living frugal. Love it!

    Reply
  • PoF August 16, 2017, 10:42 am

    Great to learn a bit more of your story here, Zeona. If you hear from JL Collins, I paged you when he had questions about AirBNB (see the comments http://jlcollinsnh.com/2017/08/04/kibanda-part-2-negotiating-the-deal/)

    We’re in the planning stages for building our “retirement” home, and we’re designing a portion of the house as a self-contained suite than will at different times be used by family, friends, and quite possibly AirBNB / VRBO guests. If we travel extensively as we plan to do, we may very well rent out our portion of the home, as well, or use it as an attractive option for home swapping. Love the growing sharing economy.

    Best,
    -PoF

    Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:11 pm

      Yes indeed, I am working with Jim on his current rental project. Let me know if you need pointers when you get started. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • Mrs. Frugal Hacker August 16, 2017, 10:45 am

    This is an awesome story! I feel like Frugality is the common denominator in nearly every FI story. It opens up so many different opportunities and lets you take risks because you don’t have the weight of your own lifestyle bogging you down.

    Reply
  • Dave C August 16, 2017, 10:51 am

    So, the intro is her renting places on AirBnB but in reality her income is from co-hosting, i.e. taking 10% of peoples rents to “run” them, which she further outsources. Basically a middleman. I’d love to see her taxes and I’m sure she has all the required professional insurances. “Poster child of the shared economy” I guess, making money off other people’s assets. $18,000 for 32-40 hours of work? Good for her that she can do it, but my alarm bells are ringing.

    Reply
    • Deva August 16, 2017, 1:26 pm

      A co-host seems to me to be the new age name for property manager. Whether it’s AirBnB or your standard full time rental on a house or apartment, many owners hire property managers to take care of everything for them and the going rate is 10%. Don’t we all make money off other people’s assets in some way or another when we’re working for them?

      Reply
    • Greg August 16, 2017, 2:38 pm

      I was wondering the same thing. AirBnB is out of control in some ways where I live, with friends having vastly differing experiences on a pure case by case basis; I mean from having a room to themselves to quite literally a pull out couch in a shared apartment’s living room (and they were home).

      I think it’s awesome she really embraced it as a hospitality service vs. making a buck by giving up her bed, but I’d put hard money down that represents an extremely small fraction of all people renting their rented space. That doesn’t even touch on the larger economic impact of renting places for short term occupancy at the expense of permanent occupants, along with how that kind of “consumption” affects the local rental market as a whole (ie. pushing rents up).

      Reply
  • Justin August 16, 2017, 11:05 am

    I’ve always heard there are three ways to wealth: stocks, real estate, and a business. AirBnb is a great alternative to the normal rental game if you are up for the work. I would say it basically takes the real estate category and turns it into more of a business. Basically supercharging your real estate returns! Excellent interview MMM. We’ve stayed in a few AirBnbs in the past and have always enjoyed them over stuffy hotels.

    Reply
  • Nicholas August 16, 2017, 11:05 am

    Any concerns about the role of AirBnB in gentrification?

    https://davidwachsmuth.com/2017/03/13/airbnb-and-gentrification-in-new-york/

    Reply
  • Brian Y. August 16, 2017, 11:07 am

    Wow, this is a great post/interview. I just wrote a post about my housing expenses on my page today and I’ve often wondered if airbnb could help with my housing expenses and my journey to financial stability. There are several airbnb’s in my neighborhood and they seem to have pretty good occupancy rates. I just talked to a guy the other night that grossed $11k on 49 rental days for his full house. Thanks for the interview MM and Zeona.

    Reply
  • Davin August 16, 2017, 11:08 am

    What is a massage practice by donation?

    “At the time, I had begun a massage practice by donation, out of my living room, which covered food/gas/bills and Airbnb covered my rent/utilities.”

    Is this a way around a business license and taxes? If so what are the pros and cons?

    Reply
    • Rae August 16, 2017, 1:49 pm

      the insurance ramifications here are crazy too…

      Reply
    • David August 27, 2017, 3:48 pm

      Most states require you to have a license to practice massage therapy. As she had not finished school she was not licensed so it is a way of getting around the law. Basically you say you were just giving a massage for free and they just happened to give you a donation.

      Reply
  • Marcia August 16, 2017, 11:18 am

    That was a very interesting story.

    AirBNB is very tricky. Where I live (Santa Barbara), they have made it illegal. No short term rentals allowed if under 30 days, unless in a hotel zone (R-4).

    In practice, that doesn’t work either. For several years, they ignored AirBNB, allowed owners to get licenses, and collected hotel tax. Then they made it illegal due to the extreme housing shortage (0.5%). Even though it is legal in hotel zones, they have continuously denied every AirBNB application.

    Two years ago, I put my stepfather up in an AirBNB (6 months before they enforced the law), and it was great. A small studio unit attached to a house. $99 a night, versus $179 for Motel-6.

    In any event, it will be interesting to see how it shakes out. I have a friend who does home share with AirBNB (rents a room in her house) – but also not legal. They are considering making it legal. The town just south of us uses a different tactic – namely, they have “zones” based on how close you are to the beach. A certain percentage of homes can be STRs in each zone, and you have to apply for a permit each year. It’s a lottery system.

    I understand the concerns of neighbors not wanting STRs. (A lot of them become noisy party houses.) I understand the concerns of local officials when housing is limited and costs are very very high. Rents are out of reach of most now. On the flip side, I *love* AirBNB. I’ve only used them once on vacation (we don’t vacation often), but it was a fantastic experience. I would have used it again this last trip (to Colorado), except the available rentals were 2.5x the cost of a hotel.

    I think *any* homeowner should be allowed to rent their primary residence out for up to 4 weeks a year when they are not there.

    It’s pretty crazy this town. I think of moving all the time. In addition to the no Air-BNB, now CA is forcing granny units in residential areas. “Homeowners can do what they want with their property”. Yeah, like add a second 2BR apt to a 2BR house that has no garage and only 2 off street parking spaces. Lather, rinse, repeat, and that residential area is no longer residential.

    Reply
    • Aaron August 18, 2017, 6:10 am

      From my research too after trying to do this in Minnesota, you need to be licensed. MN requires anyone taking a fee to manage real property for another to be licensed. To be a property manager you need to have your real estate sales persons license which is required to be held by someone who has a broker’s license.

      I think this is the case for many areas too. While this is a clever way to make a buck, I’d dot your i’s and cross the t’s.

      Reply
  • Johnny August 16, 2017, 11:53 am

    Airbnb is still a young business by most standards. Regulations will undoubtedly limit the amount of Airbnb’ing one can do in the future. It’s already the case in many of the big markets in the US (NYC, San Fran, etc.) and around the world. Of course, people still do it illegally, in massive numbers at that, but even the illegal market for Airbnb’s will dwindle in the future. Nonetheless, I applaud this woman’s hustle and building an Airbnb business!

    Reply
  • Bill August 16, 2017, 12:04 pm

    It’s ironic that the people who are the very best at being productive and organizing productivity into replicable business units are the ones who enjoy it and derive meaning from it, to the extent that they are able to easily optimize themselves out of a job. Then they are left with the conundrum mentioned.

    Reply
    • Dannielle August 16, 2017, 4:17 pm

      Then it’s time for a new project :)

      Reply
  • Andrés August 16, 2017, 12:49 pm

    Zeona, I understood you slept at your friends couch while renting your apartment.
    I’m curious to know what your friends thought about sleeping at theirs for free while you were profiting from yours.

    Reply
    • Sharon August 16, 2017, 4:50 pm

      I’m very interested in this as well, from a slightly different angle. I can imagine any number of possible return favors that friends can exchange over the course of a friendship, but the frequency of exchange here must be pretty impressive.

      What I’m interested to know, is about the sheer breadth of network and organization of that network required to stay with people so often. This does seem to be key to the building portion of this story. As someone with a relatively small close network and knowing the exact living situations of all my close friends, I would find it difficult to overcome feeling like I was “imposing” or asking to stay with people too often without something of tremendous value to offer. I imagine looking at my calendar and contemplating “Hmmm well I stayed with Alex & Alice last month, is it too soon to ask again?” I imagine most weekends out of the year would require finding housing.

      I freely admit these are my own fears and mental limitations, but seeing the practicality of a situation laid out helps me to overcome, so I ask. :)

      Reply
      • Nakia August 16, 2017, 8:59 pm

        I had the same thought. But I’m 40 with kids. At 20 something, I think most friends wouldn’t have had a problem with it. It’s such a social time of life. But I’d like to hear how it was for her.

        Reply
      • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:19 pm

        Haha, so much doubting. I love my friends. I cooked meals, treated people to restaurants, traded babysitting and massages. My friends are way too smart to let me off the hook that easily. ;) We had spreadsheets to keep it straight and friends were eager to have me back because of the freebies.

        Reply
        • Andrés August 18, 2017, 7:17 pm

          Thanks for the answer :)

          Reply
  • CashFlowDiaries August 16, 2017, 1:02 pm

    Very inspiring! I actually bought a house specifically to turn into an AirBnB in Indianapolis, the problem was that it came with a tenant and the tenant renwed and wont stop paying!! Ha, its a good problem to have so for now ill just keep it rented normal. Eventually I will turn it into an airbnb though.

    I really like how Zeona scaled her business and got it mostly automated. Something I will look into if and when I ever get to that level of airbnb hosting. For now I have 7 normal rental properties and that is going well for me still.

    Reply
  • StephenH August 16, 2017, 1:20 pm

    Excellent story and very inspiring! One question I have is how do you work it out with landlords of places you are renting to allow you to rent out the room or do you now own all the apartments you rent? I already subscribed to Zeona’s blog so I’ll hunt for the answer there too.

    Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:20 pm

      You can ask, make sure to have subletting in your lease contract.

      Reply
  • SMM August 16, 2017, 1:22 pm

    Awesome story and going from 8-10 hours a week to practically nothing will truly be amazing! Although it already is. I love the travel hacks you mentioned too; house sitting and such to save on travel costs; good idea to share. I wish you continued success and ease in your airbnb business and kudos for not giving up after that first property didn’t work out :-)

    Reply
  • Neil August 16, 2017, 1:32 pm

    Im glad a number of comments on here are talking about the issues of AirBnB on communities and the regulations around them.
    To me this story reads as “here is a person who found a loop hole in the legality of something, and even though it guts communities, reduces availability of rental units, inflates both rent and property values, drives neighbors/ stratas/insurance companies and local authorizes nuts, and makes housing into an investment vehicle rather than a home and a right…. she made a killing on it by getting in early…lets celebrate!”
    I have a pot grower/dealer friend who did the same thing before legalization/regulation… made tons of cash, didn’t pay taxes, ignored regulations, didn’t have insurance, lied to landlords/owners…and it sure is not a great success story from the local communities perspective… but hey he got rich!
    Can you please post case studies/stories of people being financially successful through activities that contribute to society and/or are good for the world/people/planet. Like people who create a new product that increases energy efficiency, or a medical practitioner or teacher who found a new model of service, or…. hold on… that doesn’t happen…. your all about making wealth by limiting expenses and living lean (but then secretly getting rich of the real estate ponzi bubble)… impressive

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache August 16, 2017, 4:15 pm

      There have been quite a few comments to this effect, both here and on the MMM Facebook page. Maybe I can repost my comment on the issue here:

      I’m not a hardcore libertarian or anything, but I do think that new peer-to-peer services like Lyft/Uber and AirBnB should be given a free run and not suppressed too much.

      Sure, every new idea comes along with some new problems, but if we fear innovation to protect the old industries from competition (often disguised under the banner of “Protecting JOBS!!”) we are locking in even bigger problems.

      Human nature is to grow stagnant and complacent – and thus we need frequent change to keep things healthy and stirring.

      The fundamental role of AirBnB is a good one: it lets YOU rent out some of your own living space, to new people. A fantastic way to empower people to start new businesses, and also a big efficiency boost for our society, because we are reducing the amount of wasted space in our cities.

      Instead of building more houses and more hotels, which both sit empty most of the time, we combine the functions into a single building. And we shift income from big hotel corporations to individual entrepreneurs – also a good thing.

      — And from another comment I wrote about AirBnb’s effect on property prices:

      It sounds like there is a balance to be had, but either end of the spectrum of options sounds too extreme for me. For example, suppose that rentals and visitors drive up local prices. Is this a bad thing? No, this is called “prosperity”, the same thing that prevents me from renting an apartment in Manhattan for $300 a month. You cannot and should not legislate away prosperity just so nobody ever has to find a new place to live!

      I think one of my more capitalist tendencies is that I don’t see permanent never-changing housing in a single neighborhood as a human right. People need to have the ability to move around, and if many of them want to live in a single area, we need the price mechanism to help allocate that demand.

      Sure, affordable housing programs can be good tools to help ensure you don’t have all the rich people clustered together and universal poverty everywhere else. But it is unrealistic to insist that everyone just live peacefully forever wherever they want, while houses and prices and rents never increase.

      As a separate issue, if Airbnb executives, hosts, or renters are demonstrably behaving like dicks to their local communities, that needs to be addressed. Noise, pollution, cars – all potentially bad.

      On the other hand, I personally love meeting visitors to my city. They bring life to the place. I’d be happy to live next to an Airbnb rental place and in fact my commercial building is adjacent to several.

      Reply
      • Tara August 16, 2017, 7:37 pm

        Your comment is very misguided when you say that people who can’t afford an area should just move. While yes, I agree that development is good, especially when it’s terrible areas that were previously crime infested that become safe, but there has to be control so it doesn’t happen to the detriment of the many of the of law-abiding and rent/tax paying previous inhabitants.

        You are so removed from poverty that I highly doubt you could understand how NOT easy it is for someone to move from their neighborhood and livelihood because they could no longer afford their rent as a result of real estate inventory dropping significantly from the short term rental industry (emotional and physical cost). I highly recommend volunteering in- person (more than once) at a social service non-profit, one that deals with low income adults (like one that offers adult education, GED courses, ESOL, etc). Get to know the clients and what their life is like. It might give you some perspective.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache August 16, 2017, 8:24 pm

          I disagree Tara – through my construction projects, I sometimes get to employ and work alongside exactly such people. These are guys who can barely hold it together long enough to make it out for a day’s work, and their paychecks (which must always be in cash because they don’t have bank accounts) go straight to booze and drugs that same night. And for those with a bit more luck, the money still gets burned, but on doodads for a pickup truck. But I still try to help and provide a role model and some good, healthy work and food.

          I know the confusion and hardship they feel, and it must be really frustrating. But I think stuff like restricting vacation rentals is not what will solve the problem. A bigger safety net of well-paid life coaches and safe places to eat, sleep and learn might work better.

          But you’re still right – although I see plenty of low income lives, solving the social problems is not at all my area of expertise. This blog is meant to reduce the consumption of higher-income people. I’ll leave the mental health and social/poverty issues to those who are better qualified than I.

          Reply
          • Nicholas August 17, 2017, 8:48 am

            Yikes, this is basically the conservative “welfare queen” argument. Not a good look to suggest that all poor people are poor because they spend all their money on booze and pickup trucks. This blog is meant to reduce the consumption of higher-income people. It would be nice if that didn’t come at the expense of the poor.

            Reply
            • Eric the Bicyclist August 17, 2017, 12:13 pm

              I disagree that it’s a “welfare queen” argument. The crux of the welfare queen argument is that someone is happily gaming the system by profiting from what others pay in taxes. Also dog-whistle racism is a potent component of the welfare queen argument. I see no trace of either of these elements here.

              Reply
          • Ingrid August 17, 2017, 3:55 pm

            Mr. MM, this is a horrible comment to make, throwing all poor people into one pot and call them drug and alcohol addicts and insinuate that they all waste their money on stuff they don’t need. I understand that your blog is written mainly for rich people who waste their money instead of living within their means and I understand that you’re not a social blogger. I’m just wondering though what else lurks in your “not hardcore libertarian” heart.
            All of us, striving for financial independence, should never forget about people who aren’t quite as lucky as us, and who really try but cannot quite make it for a lack of education and opportunities.

            Reply
            • Mr. Money Mustache August 17, 2017, 9:42 pm

              Whoa dudes.. I didn’t imply this is ALL poor people – nothing is absolute. My example was just a specific story of a few of the carpenters/laborers I happen to have employed.

              But I do assert that most money problems are caused by poor spending decisions. At ALL levels of income.

              If this were not true, consumer debt would be nonexistent, cars would a niche product for the very wealthy, SUVs would not have even been invented, and financial independence in our 30s and 40s would be normal.

              Remember the stats: even middle-class and above income people in the US (among the richest few percent of people in the world) don’t even have enough savings to make it through a single month without work.

              So don’t take my views on personal finance and incorrectly twist them around to label them as poor-person-bashing views.

              Reply
              • Emmy August 25, 2017, 12:30 pm

                Have you ever thought of teaching, locally, the MMM mindset to anyone curious? The long-term difference in quality of life & your ‘golden years’ in making decisions like deferring vehicle accessories in favor of a savings account (baby steps), and eventually investing… it could change lives. So many people I’ve met have no idea & give no thought to 10-15 years from now, much less beyond. Even if you got just 1/10th of the curious to really THINK, it would be a positive impact.

      • TedC August 18, 2017, 10:36 am

        >The fundamental role of AirBnB is a good one: it lets YOU rent out some of your own living space, to new people.

        If this was all AirBNB was, I think it would have a lot less impact on communities and rental markets. People renting out a room in their house, or even a granny suite are more engaged with their guests, and are strongly incentivized to keep disruptions to a minimum. Once entrepreneurs start buying properties just to rent them out on AirBNB, either wholly, or subdivided into multiple units, those incentives are no longer there, their impact goes up significantly (one host can take 10 or more rental units off the market) and AirBNB can become a real problem.

        I also do wonder what black sheep risks these hosts are taking with possible losses that won’t be covered by insurance. There are lots of limitations and exclusions in standard insurance policies, and there are going to be a small percentage of hosts who are totally ruined by a single incident that they weren’t expecting or prepared for.

        Reply
      • Matatoes August 24, 2017, 12:52 pm

        Uber is a horrible example to use. As are most app-based service industries.

        It fundamentally takes the burden and overhead of a business venture and shifts those liabilities onto the backs of its employees who are considered “contract employees”. As a business, it skirts municipal regulations, and offsets the capital requirement of equipment by demanding its employees use their own cars. This is what gives it the advantage over traditional yellow cabs, not the “superior” business of being mobile-phone friendly.

        AirBnB is very much the same. It skirts local regulations and encourages people with surplus means to “rent seek.” It reduces housing stock, which drives up rents. And just like most “app based” business, is profitable for the simple fact that it is a “hotel” business that hires ZERO hotels, and employs ZERO maintenance staff.

        Congrats on your subject for capitalizing on an emerging market that blossomed through the cracks of an un-regulated industry, I guess. But this example you provided is NOT encouraging. Here, we have a person who owns multiple properties in an economy where many people cannot afford basic housing and is using that housing to cater to tourists and other transient populations.

        Fundamentally, we have a wealthy person who is making money off of those who can afford to travel at the expense of those who cannot afford a place to live.

        Reply
    • GU August 16, 2017, 4:48 pm

      “Drives local authorities nuts”

      That’s a feature, not a bug. Politicians hate the sharing economy because they want you to have to ask permission to do anything or make any money. If they can’t regulate something, they can’t personally profit off of it or dole out “special favors” for future quid pro quo.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache August 16, 2017, 5:13 pm

        Careful GU – I appreciate all your past comments but just getting into political ideology for its own sake can lead these discussions quickly into the shitter.

        Instead of criticizing the moral character of the politicians or the role of government itself, I find it’s helpful to just talk about the actual activity at hand. In this case, property owners renting out their own properties, and whether that has positive or negative effects.

        If there are big external negative effects like pollution, then government might well have a role to play. But in general, I’m with you in the “try to let people make money however they like, as long as they’re not hurting others more than they are helping in the process”

        Also, in many cases the solution to bureaucracy is to just ignore it. A government that fusses over itself trying to overly restrict private business may well be too disorganized to actually notice the people who are out there peacefully making a living without their permission. In that case, our energy is better spent conducting the business rather than complaining to Mr. Money Mustache about the imaginary restrictions :-)

        Reply
        • GU August 17, 2017, 7:26 am

          I thought I was making a non-partisan empirical statement that people on all sides of the political spectrum would recognize as having at least a kernel of truth in it. And I thought my comment was a lot less partisan than the “airbnb is bad” comments on this thread. But I see your point.

          Reply
    • Moshen August 17, 2017, 2:45 pm

      Thanks, Neil, for posting this.

      AirBnB has fought every step of the way the idea that property owners need to pay lodging taxes on money earned through their platform. They are still fighting this in many jurisdictions. They enable hosts to easily evade following relevant laws and charging guests applicable taxes, which in turn enables these hosts to list their rentals for lower prices than those of law-abiding property owners and/or pocket more profit.

      Specifically, other short-term rental websites (like TripAdvisor and VRBO) have a line item for taxes, so that it is crystal clear how much guests owe for taxes. AirBnB requires hosts to fold taxes into the total amount charged (if they believe in paying taxes, which many AirBnB hosts don’t). Those who have no intention of paying lodging taxes to the state or municipality get a big break, courtesy of bad-boy, no-law-is-a-good-law AirBnB.

      I am not saying that Zeona was skirting the law, but when you factor in lodging taxes, it’s hard to give travelers the big break they expect from AirBnB.

      Like Neil, I would like to see case studies that explicitly addressed not only the element of making money but doing good in the world and being responsible to the community.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache August 17, 2017, 9:47 pm

        A reasonable point Moshen, but in the bigger picture, are lodging taxes really a fair thing? It’s a tax that cities force hosts to charge on accommodating visitors. It’s almost as if they are sticking it to visitors, just because they know they will have no vote in the matter. Despite the fact that visitors (both business and tourists) bring wealth to cities in other ways.

        I definitely get that the visitors put a strain on city infrastructure, but to me it would be more economically sound to place these taxes on the relevant places instead – road and parking use for example.

        Reply
        • Jerry August 18, 2017, 12:49 am

          I own a vacation property on Cape Cod. I would say the local lodging taxes there help pay for the extra police, infrastructure, etc needed to maintain our community during the summer vacation season. Visitors don’t have a vote in the matter because they vote in their own communities.

          Reply
      • Tyler August 18, 2017, 6:44 am

        Maybe check your facts? Airbnb collects taxes (maybe all by now) in most markets and most definitely has a line-item for it.

        Reply
  • Mr Wealth August 16, 2017, 1:32 pm

    Great little story thanks for sharing.

    Never thought AirBnB could be completely passive but great to know there are options to do it. Miss Health and I own two properties and we might look to do this to boost the income too.

    Reply
  • Nina August 16, 2017, 1:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing MMM! Please continue to share more success stories like this one.

    I’m curious which topics Zeona would speak on and what types of volunteer work she does.

    I enjoyed the last question and answer the most. She’s describing growth mindset vs fixed mindset. Growth wins every time. I also really enjoyed her description of trait #6 Believing / Visualizing.

    Reply
  • Hernan August 16, 2017, 1:37 pm

    I saw a video of Zeona on a different website. She was explaining her Airbnb business. The first time I was checking out the video I was blown away by her cheerfulness, positive outlook and hustle! This young lady can’t be stopped. Thanks MMM for the great interview.

    Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:27 pm

      After reading some of the heavy comments here, I appreciate your lightheartness so much!

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache August 17, 2017, 10:11 pm

        Yeah, you should see the ones that are NOT making the cut! There are some real grumps that have joined our normally thoughtful and polite base readership here and I’ve had to delete quite a fuckload of negative junk.

        For people considering chiming in with criticism and complaints, remember these guidelines:
        1) Read ALL comments first, to see if your point has already been made. Too many to read? Great, I guess that is a sign that we don’t need any more comments on this article.

        2) Rethink your criticism, assume our subject is a great person, then address any issues in the form of a polite question as you would ask it to your mother or best friend.

        3) For any assertion about negative outcomes (property prices, neighborhood impacts, etc.), first spend at least 10 minutes Googling both sides of the story yourself. Don’t just chime in with what happens in, say, Vancouver, because that’s just one isolated and very unusual city. Support any claims with links to useful things like articles in the Economist.

        … And thanks again for keeping this comments section worth reading!

        Reply
  • WageSlave August 16, 2017, 1:40 pm

    I’m far from an expert, but I did some research into being a landlord. My conclusion was that you can certainly build up a passive (or at least semi-passive) income stream. But the *building* part is real work. In particular, long before you purchase an income property, you have to have a basic feel for rents and demand; likewise, you have to stay on top of the market so you can grab up good deals as soon as possible (because likely others are out there doing the exact same thing). I don’t think these things aren’t particularly hard, but they are time-consuming. (This research was for “traditional” rental properties, though I assume much applies to AirBnB as well.)

    I’m curious about Zeona’s strategy/path for finding ideal properties. I get the impression she’s a Colorado native, yet four of her properties are in St Louis—how did she find out about these? How did she know they were a good buy?

    Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:33 pm

      My blogs and the podcast I’ve “guested” on touch on this subject. I have been getting this question a lot so I will likely flesh it out in a blog post soon. Stay tuned!

      Reply
      • Ben Trutter August 22, 2017, 10:30 am

        Hey Zeona,

        That would be great. I live in Boulder now but am from the greater St. Louis area and was shocked to see Boulder money being invested in St.Louis. St.Louis needs any love it can get to revitalize it.

        Reply
  • chad August 16, 2017, 1:43 pm

    very interesting concept.. If someone could help me out here.. Im 37 and i remember buying my first home was tough when i was 21.. getting appoved for a loan while making about 30K a year.. how does one purchase several homes to do this?? i have a long term rental house and a primary.. when we where buying our current home we said we was going to keep the other one and rent it out.. had a great income and still had a tough time with it.. would love to get another smaller home in a good location and rent it out on airbnb just don’t know for one that i would get the loan, nor do i think i want to have more debt.. thanks.

    Reply
    • Jeff August 16, 2017, 7:26 pm

      She goes into this on the BP podcast, I believe financed with hard money and building relationships vs using bank note(s)

      Reply
      • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:34 pm

        Yes it is explained in detail on that podcast. Hard money loans, cash, and buying with partners. Lots of creative ways to invest. BiggerPockets is a great resource for ideas.

        Reply
  • WeWillBeHeard August 16, 2017, 2:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing Zeona’s wonderful story! We built a small cottage designed for weekly rentals several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We did all of the cleaning and advertising, met the guests, and served as local experts in recommending destinations, activities, and restaurants. We sold the cottage after a few years, but it was a great experience that I’d like to repeat now.

    Reply
  • Oldster August 16, 2017, 2:09 pm

    Great case study. While I can’t see myself being an AirBnB host (just don’t have the temperament for it) I do appreciate the type of out of the box thinking Zeona exhibits. That kind of creativity is fascinating and instructive. There are many roads that could lead to FIRE. She found hers.

    Reply
  • Mr. FWP August 16, 2017, 2:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing the encouraging story, Zeona! (And what a cool name!) My wife and I are looking into doing something similar as a home purchase/investment property idea, so this is really encouraging. I’ve been doing research on it and I think it’s a feasible way to substantially offset our living costs, especially where we’re at. Thanks once again!

    Reply
  • Greg August 16, 2017, 2:17 pm

    Congrats on your success, and kudos on your canny exploitation of a disruptive business, but I’m curious to know how “on the level” you were with the people who actually owned the properties? As a property owner and resident of NYC, there’s no shortage of horror stories, not the least of which revolve around landlords and residents not wanting a revolving door of strangers in their property/building.

    Reply
  • mmmKrispy August 16, 2017, 2:24 pm

    Great post, I loved hearing how successful the B&B business can be, as I’ve been planning for some time to dip my toe in it – I love staying at B&B’s, and always choose that way when I can. I have a fairly ambitious fixer-upper that with a few modifications could be well set up for renting out the master BR suite (it has a separate entrance already), and it’s in a popular vacation spot in the summers. I probably should step up my renovations pace at least for that part – I suspect (or perhaps it’s just a fear?) that at some point there may be a saturation of the B&B market. I can’t wait to try it and see how it goes though – my house is too big for just me, and I’ve had hit-or-miss luck with roommates so I’m not keen on that again, but renting it on the weekends & meeting new people here and there sounds just perfect! And the extra income should mean I’ll hit my early retirement goal pretty fast, too =).

    Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:38 pm

      I don’t think you should fear saturation. Sure more places may change pricing, but the fact is each home and offering is unique and people are drawn to yours for its own special traits. Don’t live in fear, be excited about the possibilities! I also love how you can choose to rent is less often since you make more than a long term rental. So many options.

      Reply
  • Kelly Monaghan August 16, 2017, 2:41 pm

    I have decidedly mixed feelings about Airbnb. I have used them and similar operations in the US, Canada and across Europe. I divide Airbnb locations into two categories: spare rooms or “mother-in-law” suites in someone’s home and full apartments used exclusively for short-term rental and owned by entrepreneurs who may own dozens of such flats. Looking back, my favorite experiences have been with the extra rooms, where my wife and I got to meet some charming people. With the other model, I found the accommodations to be (with some exceptions) bare-bones with poorly equipped kitchens; the rental experience was decidedly impersonal; often we never met the owner and when problems arose it was difficult to get help.

    My deeper concern is philosophical and since I seem to understand that the ethos of Mustachianism has a great deal to do with what used to be called “right livelihood” I think it’s something worth considering. By taking apartments off the long-term rental market, Airbnb makes it difficult for the average working stiff to find a place he/she can rent at a reasonable price. And this is not just a problem in high-rent places like NY and SF. It’s happening where I am now, Stratford, Ontario, a city of just 32,000.

    I don’t mean to cast stones (he who is without sin and all that), but I think the ethics of Airbnb-ing is something that this community especially should give some thought to.

    Reply
    • Bill August 16, 2017, 3:22 pm

      Well put. I say that as a person who kind of pooh-poohed the moral angle at first.

      Reply
    • Jonny August 16, 2017, 4:22 pm

      Thanks for sharing this perspective Kelly. My Air BnB experience and feelings align very closely with yours.

      Everyone has to make their own evaluation about how what they do for a living affects the world around them, and what their level of comfort is with that. There is certainly a lot of data emerging that the shared economy has both benefits and some serious unintended consequences, some of which are pretty negative. All we can hope is that however people choose to pursue FIRE, they are mindful of “right livelihood” and aren’t operating from a place of ignorance about the consequences of their economic actions.

      Anyone looking to emulate this business model should certainly think hard about whether they are contributing to a really significant problem in certain communities just to “get theirs”.

      Reply
  • Mao August 16, 2017, 3:31 pm

    It is crazy how much opportunities the sharing economy has brought. As a matter of fact I am working with a crowd-funding startup that is specifically targeting buying real estate for Airbnb purposes. It is going to be a big market.

    Reply
  • Curro August 16, 2017, 4:50 pm

    Hi Pete, hi Zeona,

    In first place, thank you a lot for sharing another entrepenurial story.
    I have being reading MMM blog since a couple of months now and trying to optimize my lifestyle to be ready for ER in 13 years (only 2 years of work experience in Germany, where taxes are higher than 40% and make the run a bit longer, with the good effect of having healthcare and free university for every citizen, etc. ).

    I come from Spain (please, forgive my spelling mistakes) and we have a problem with rental AirBnB flats. The gentrification effect is so big in some places that we are having a little “bubble” with rental prices at the same time as having a low salaries (50% of unemployment for ppl under 30) is making the life in Spain something very difficult in relation with the work-life balance.

    I see the benefits of the arrival of AirBnB, in the way that provides flexibility to rent a room of your house, to profit from leaving rented your home during holidays and also for the customers, who can have a local-perspective of the stance at the house, while saving some money at the same time.

    But, when you start speaking about renting properties that are not yours, in neighbourhoods were people need affordable rental prices for a living, not adding almost any extra value to the “product” but earning a bunch more money, I see it more a way of speculation, and we Mustachians aren’t speculator, are we? I thought that, we the mustachians, invert our money to accomplish some goals (my completely personal opinion, 100% subjective):
    -)Save ourselves from the rat race or at least reducing work hours (and dedicating them to meaningful activities)
    -)Save the world out of consumerism and promoting investions (not speculation) which drive the world to better high efficient systems, adding value to our society (and making profit meanwhile).
    -) Follow a philosophy of life that can be universally applied to everyone, and if so, everybody would benefit from it.
    (I based my opinion on some magnificent articles as “If everyone became frugal”, “How to be Happy, Rich, and Save the World”, etc).

    But this case-of-study about getting rentals and re-renting them at higher prices than the typical monthly rental price (being not holiday-flats, luxury flats, etc.), goes just in the opposite direction. Even that, she is going to be free of work because some people is going to do the hard work for her in the future, all externalized, while doing a “semi-speculation” with a first necessity good, etc. (in Germany and Spain, the right to have a shelter is written in the constitution), if only her AirBnB houses were another kind of houses, like luxury ones or second houses at a beach zone…

    For me there is a different between investing and speculating, between providing a good service to the society and profiting from it, and speculating with first-need goods. Check the rental prices of Munich for example, where I live right now. The people in the mid-low income range can´t afford to live in Munich and have to move to the villages around (increasing conmute time, increasing pollution inside the city) because of the rise of the rental prices, and it is not good for the average people (not engineers, not executeives).

    Despite the incredible history and the merits of creating such a business and her skills for business development while being frugal, this history does not sound to me as a Mustachian Rockstar, it sounds to me much more like the recommendations of the “4 hour week” by Tim Ferris and make me think that I am not so aligned with MMM philosophy (maybe it is good to have different tastes of same realities :)) and I stop writing by quoting you MMM, when you wrote about that book:
    “But eventually the book goes off into a new direction: outsourcing your entire life. Ferriss describes his experience with hiring Indian subcontractors as “Virtual Assistants” – people to book his meetings and travel, do his online research for him, even organize social events and help his business with special projects. The idea is that for under $10 per hour, you can hire really clever people to do a good chunk of your work for you, so you can do your even more important work.

    It all started sounding very practical and clever until I realized that I don’t need assistants, because I have taken the opposite approach and designed simplicity right into my life. I have plenty of time to take care of anything that needs doing by myself, with plenty of time left over. Sure, I still automate away some of the busywork using computers and other gadgets (automatic income deposits, bill pay, bank account transfers, financial tracking, online calendaring and documents, etc.), but with those bases covered I find there is not much else that needs doing.”
    PD: Dear MMM, I am a fan of your blog and lifestyle, and I appreciate a LOT the good work you are doing here, reading your blog has changed my mind completely and it has been such and eye-opener thing to me that I will be grateful to you in my entire life :) Keep doing it !!, I just wanted to put my two cents sharing my view.

    Waiting for the next post!

    Reply
    • Diana August 17, 2017, 11:15 am

      Great comment. I agree that this feels more Tim Ferris that MMM, and yes, to your thought on speculation.

      I don’t know if I’ve ever disagreed with MMM before. I don’t really like it!

      Reply
      • Swish August 18, 2017, 3:09 pm

        If you only hang out with like minded people and only do comfortable things life is pretty boring. You know everything. You never are challenged. You never change. You never enjoy the value of different world views.

        Shared economies are here to stay. It is easy to sit and throw stones but why did blockbuster, taxi’s, hotels, and banks become obsolete? Why did the need for Netfilx, Uber, Airbnb, Lendingclub arise? Because those other large corporations treat people like shit. Once again the market has told industry that they are no longer relevant and it will be interesting to see who listens and adapts and who doesn’t. #blockchainisthefuture

        Reply
        • Andreas August 21, 2017, 2:15 am

          Hi, nice input but banks, hotels and taxis are not obsolete, not yet anyway.
          They do have heavy competition these days, but are in no way obsolete.

          Have you seen the money big banks still make? Do not count them out yet due to bitcoin (heavy volatile etc) and smaller competitors (lendingclub etc) and Uber (still loosing tons of money I recon?). Hotels are not going to disappear due to Airbnb, but will maybe be less frequent.

          I agree that shared economy is here to stay. But the big companies are not gonna roll over and play nice, they have certainly learned the lessons from “startups” and the fast changing world. They are adapting as well. As for banks the bigger ones are now taking an interest in smaller banks and their lower fees etc and are following (at some extent anyway). And to get a mortage you are still have to go to big banks since the smaller are not that interested, yes?

          Netflix is due to a change in technology and logistics (internet), from actual dvds and tapes to digital streaming.

          Uber is still “just a taxi”, a car going from point A-B.

          I love the thought of shared economy since there is so much to be done. And hopefully more of sharing than of getting payed. (Airbnb “sharing” is actually rent, nothing else).

          Reply
          • Swish August 23, 2017, 9:41 am

            Blockbuster hung on for a long time and the technology facing the banking sector is just as disruptive. They do have more resources but if they do not adapt they will follow the same path. I don’t think Bitcoin is going to eradicate currency and banks. I do think blockchain tech will change lending practices by facilitating peer to peer lending. The only reason we need the current system is to facilitate trust between borrowers and lenders. How long does it take for a bank to go bankrupt? Why is it not a long drawn out process?

            2/3 of my mortgage renewals this year went to private lenders who had lower rates and better T&C’s than my bank.

            Uber is not regulated forcing artificial costs. Technology is facilitating relationships between strangers. If it really was “just a taxi” why didn’t you pay random strangers who were not part of a cab company for cheaper services before Uber?

            It is all about trust.

            Reply
    • Andrés August 18, 2017, 8:17 pm

      Hey Curro, nice comment!

      I get what you say, I lived close to Munich for a year, couple years ago. Also I understand what can be the feeling of “being expelled” from your hometown, when prices arise because an unpredictable and fast effect such as AirBnB.

      Your comment made me think what causes you and other people react so negatively to it. I think it comes all to expectations. When you moved to Germany you were happy to have a job that you couldn’t find in Spain, and probably a job in your field. While applying for it, you were happy to know how much money you’d make, that was a lot compared to Spanish wages. Then you arrive to Munich and would like to live in front of Marienplatz. You discover it’s not so cheap and maybe you can do better things with your salary. But you expected you could live close to “where things happen”. Well, because of AirBnB, you had to move even further the city Zentrum.

      While you moved to Germany expecting to have THE lifestyle, you discovered it wasn’t as cheap as hometown in Spain. And it got worst when you discovered a specific service may be the source of the problem.

      Once it was students (who are not locals) that were raising rents. Now you have rich Russians and Brits that buy second houses at historical centers and famous beaches. In one way or the other, you’ll find that the rent in the city center is always more expensive. AirBnB is just the current scapegoat. But you’ll never escape from this law, unless you move to another neighborhood, or a smaller town.

      I know it’s daunting, but the fact is that you alone can not stop the raising rental rates of living downtown. Even if gov do something for it, changes are so slow, that you better adapt to it and go look for opportunities elsewhere instead of fighting a fight lost from the start.

      My 2 € cents.

      Reply
    • Lauren August 19, 2017, 2:44 am

      Consider this a “like” for this comment!!!

      I’m with Curro (and many others) on this one. Never before have I disagreed with an MMM post (there are some posts that I haven’t embraced out of choice, but this is different). My parents were mostly a financial example of “what NOT to do”, but I did learn two positive takeaways from them: 1. never live beyond your means (theirs were, despite their hard but not smart labor, very little); and 2. never get caught up in an AMWAY scheme. #2 isn’t as Zeona says “a limiting belief” system, it’s the ethical and real recognition that get rich quick pyramid empires either roll over you, or let you prosper by rolling over others.

      As to the earlier discussion regarding poverty, I feel that Frugalwoods’ couple has done a great job acknowledging the privileges they had in their pursuit of FIRE, while discussing how these steps can be (more slowly) pursued from any level by changing one’s mindset: http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence.

      Reply
  • Anita August 16, 2017, 5:25 pm

    Woot, Z!

    Reply
  • Eye Gee August 16, 2017, 5:33 pm

    Renting out rooms in a leased unit is not a “gray area” — it is usually addressed in the lease. With the advent of Airbnb and other “sharing” services many landlords will be updating leases to ban this practice, if they haven’t already.

    I’m happy Zeona can lead a life of leisure thanks to her Airbnb acumen. But as many others have pointed out, short-term rentals via “sharing” have a variety of effects, including crime, gentrification, employment impacts, etc.

    Many municipalities are just now catching up and legislating home “sharing”. (The reason I am putting quotes around “sharing” is because it is not “sharing” in the definition we all learned in kindergarten. It is renting out property for money. )

    This is a sore subject for many people in cities with housing shortages and others in heavily-touristed cities (like Florence, Italy) where short-term rentals have driven out families who have lived in those cities for generations.

    There’s a lot more to Zeona’s story than meets the eye. Put me on the list of people who read this blog who would appreciate a deeper consideration of the ramifications (philosophical too!) of this type of economic activity.

    Reply
    • Diana August 17, 2017, 11:12 am

      Yes, this whole “turns out this was against my lease agreement!” thing got lots of side-eye from me. So you didn’t read your lease agreement when you decided to take on this “business opportunity” that directly impacts your landlord? I won’t even buy a washing machine because my lease says “you will not wash clothes on the premises” and I’m not an asshole.

      I’m in San Francisco and the tenant’s rights protections are stringent as hell but if you are caught doing this there is no fucking sympathy from anyone and you will get evicted immediately.

      Reply
  • Bike Bubba August 16, 2017, 5:55 pm

    My family has had two wonderful experiences renting homes, once with AirBNB. You get much more space than a hotel that one can share with a lot of people–between my brother and I and our father, we take 15 people to the homes each summer–and you get a kitchen so you don’t need to eat restaurant food for a week. Saves on money and health. I would love to spend a little while in some city in Italy or Germany in a little flat down at the center of things where…quite frankly…a lot of people who work there don’t want to live.

    Reply
    • Ellie August 17, 2017, 8:29 am

      Twelve years ago, I rented an apartment in Rome for myself, my sister and two nieces through RentVillas.com. It was a fantastic experience. There are several similar companies that manage short-term rental properties all over the world. I have been wondering how their business has been affected by AirBNB.

      Reply
  • Bike Bubba August 16, 2017, 5:58 pm

    Regarding the disappearance of New York City rental properties to AirBNB, keep in mind that New York City has had a housing shortage since they put rent controls in place right after WWII. End the rent controls, and Airbnb taking 12/16/21k units out of circulation (out of what, 3 million total units in Gotham?) will not matter.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache August 16, 2017, 7:49 pm

      And I might add, loosen the rules on adding new high-density buildings, make building permits and inspections a pleasure rather than a root-canal to get, and (where they still exist) remove the requirements for car parking.

      There are lots of builders out there just rearing to fill in the housing shortages and bring prices right back down to the marginal cost of new construction. But our acceptance of restricted zoning and “not in my back yard / I never want my neighborhood to change” causes the shortage.

      This is fine, if it’s what we consciously decide. There is some benefit of wealthy cities overflowing to bring up neighboring communities once the rich places get too expensive. My own city of Longmont now prospers purely due to overflow from uber-rich Boulder!

      But you can’t really have it both ways: affordable housing AND drastically regulated/restricted supply.

      Reply
      • Bike Bubba August 17, 2017, 8:04 am

        Interesting thought, but high density housing is limited by cost (pilings, elevators, sprinklers, etc..) and the externalities—lots of shade on the neighbors, people park through the neighborhood instead of a dedicated space, etc.. There is also the reality, expressed by residents of high rise apartments throughout the world, that once you get beyond 3-4 stories in height, you’re socially isolated.

        That noted, 1000sf. apartments or condos stacked three high with a parking space per unit is a lot denser than most housing, and they’re a lot cheaper to build than high rise. There probably is a happy medium.

        Reply
        • Scott Blasiman August 24, 2017, 8:20 pm

          I live on the 10th floor in a 18th story building in Guangzhou china, and far from social isolation, higher housing density means that I am in the center of everything. 200 meters from a vegetable and meat market and about 40 restaurants within a 10 minute walk. I live next to a metro station and have another 200+ restaurants within 15 minutes of inexpensive travel.

          On the ground level everything is lined with trees and the shade from the buildings provide additional needed shade in such a hot sunny environment. The density also limits the need for cars, as anyone who has lived in a dense urban environment can attest you will spend more time and money parking your car than you would on a public convenience.

          I can understand how Americans love cars and single family homes but there are costs to those, . I used to feel isolated sitting in my car bubble for incessant 30 minute time slots.

          Reply
      • Jwheeland August 17, 2017, 8:26 am

        Affordable housing is more housing. Supply and demand 101. I can’t seem to find it, but there was a great article on embracing luxury construction (dense, multi-family units, but expense) because even though that new construction wasn’t affordable, it had the market effect of making the remaining housing cheaper through increase supply and older housing being not as desireable and in demand.

        Okay found it – https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2017/8/1/how-luxury-housing-becomes-affordable.

        Reply
      • CapitalistRoader August 17, 2017, 12:58 pm

        “My own city of Longmont now prospers purely due to overflow from uber-rich Boulder!”

        A glance at satellite view of Boulder shows a city surrounded by a very fat band of “open space”, space that will forever remain unavailable for housing. Hence, the stratospheric housing prices. I imagine that most of the people who do the professional toilet cleaning and grass cutting for those uber-rich Boulderites are commuting from Ft. Lupton or thereabouts.

        But, darn it, the Boulderites retain their great views and close by recreational opportunities.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache August 17, 2017, 9:52 pm

          Yup, you got it. The green boundaries and limited housing supply are a beautiful thing – they keep the cities livable and bikeable, and when one city gets full, the others get the chance to have their own growth.

          For a peek at the alternative, scroll that satellite view down to look at Denver, then Broomfield, Westminster, Thornton, and the rest of the car-clown urban planning hellscape.

          You’re right that there is still a commuting-into-boulder problem. And their restriction against high-rise buildings is silly too. A truly enlightened small footprint city would embrace the efficiency inherent in stacking stuff a little higher.

          Reply
    • TMack August 17, 2017, 3:25 pm

      Yes, but as a New Yorker who lives a beat-up, old rent stabilized apartment. What would be more Mustachian than to live in a reasonably priced home? The apartment across the hall is market rate at $1000 more per month! It boosts my FIRE goals, gives me more to contribute to my community, shop in local stores and green markets that I carry home, and bike 25 minutes each way to work. According to the NYC Rent Guidelines board over 10,500 apartments were deregulated in 2015 alone. This is decimating neighborhood community, vitality and diversity. People aren’t turning to AirBnB for extra income because they want to. They do it because they have to. The real estate market, along with personal debt, is making paupers out of everyone.

      Reply
      • GailNYC August 18, 2017, 6:58 pm

        Another point in favor of rent stabilized apartments is that they help make NYC the diverse, vibrant city it is–a city people want to visit! If rent stabilization is eliminated, New York will become a city for rich people only, which I fear it’s already on its way to becoming.

        Reply
        • stellamarina August 20, 2017, 2:00 pm

          Same thing happening in Honolulu….and where ever I travel in the world these days I am hearing that houses are too expensive for the average citizen. New Zealand to Israel

          Reply
          • lurker September 9, 2017, 10:19 am

            take a close look at salaries for everyone but the ceo and you may have a clue.
            workers everywhere are getting no raises and prices are rising. sooooooo
            no affordability.

            Reply
  • Julia August 16, 2017, 6:57 pm

    How does one find these cheap real estate deals to rent out? Does Zeona have home handyman skills for fixer-uppers? Are they really small places?

    Reply
    • Zeona McIntyre August 17, 2017, 5:49 pm

      The mid west is full of great deals and many vacant homes. If you have the stomach for renovation, st louis has homes for $1. I personally am not handy but I employ tons of educated folks.

      Reply

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