There was a stranger sleeping in my bed!

or How we easily rent out our house when we travel!


When I was first experimenting with minimalism 8 years ago, one of my goals was to help our home feel like a vacation home. Greg and I were flirting with the idea of buying a second home on the coast or in wine country and we tried to figure out why we felt we needed that. We realized we wanted to spend our weekends in a place that had very little clutter, very few projects hanging over us, and felt almost like a blank canvas open to possibilities. This vision inspired us to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and do the work to make our primary residence feel that way. We didn’t need a second property and mortgage if our first one could be simple, clutter-free and peaceful!


We now have the added benefit that our home is not only a “vacation home” for us on the weekends but we can easily rent it out for others to enjoy while we travel. We just got back from a week in Maui and I've been asked about 14 times how we rent our house out.
For anyone interested in how we easily Airbnb our house:

1. We got rid of most of our stuff: The most common questions we get is “what do you do with all of your stuff?!” Well, the main answer is, of course, we don’t have that much stuff due to our Essentialist lifestyle. Easy renting and travel is a HUGE benefit of minimalism! We started with 5 Things A Day, and then continued our path toward the vision of a vacation home using Essentialism 101.

2. We don't have that many valuables: The few items that we have either go with us (laptops, everyday jewelry) or they're in our safe deposit box (licenses, certificates, occasional jewelry).


3. We keep our toiletries to the essentials: And most of them go with us! Almost everything in our master bath is in our medicine cabinet and when packing, the contents go right into our toiletry kits. We usually don’t buy items over 100mL for this reason and others. (Our guest bathroom has just a medicine cabinet with items for guests and first aid, a hairdryer for guests, and extra toilet paper.)

4. We don't lock anything away: But, we do tie up our lower closets. Most of our closets get emptied into our suitcases when we’re packing (yay, Lean Closets!). Our out-of-season boxes stay in the top of the closet. As for the clothes and toiletries we don’t take, we place them in our lower closets, and tie them with a zip tie. This also includes our personal towels and linens, the kid’s toys, and personal things like our Office-In-A-Box.

The zip-ties are not meant to stop a thief. They are to deter strangers from going through our stuff or even having to look at it.

5. We spend the week before we go using up our food: Including cleaning out our fridge/freezer. We leave a pretty empty but well-equipped kitchen for our guests. We also spend extra hours during the week before we leave prepping the whole house, about 8-10 person-hours. This includes stripping and cleaning our linens, putting clothes and toys into those tied-up closets, cleaning up the kitchen and putting the coffeemaker out, emptying the entry closet, and removing some baby proofing. Phew.

+ The first few years we rented, Greg and I did all of the guest communication and cleaning. We originally did this to save money after all! But starting with the sabbatical, when that wasn't possible, we now have a third-party company help out. For a fee, they set our rates, communicate with the guests, clean the house before and after renters, and bring/launder guest linens. This costs a good amount of money but it makes renting much easier for us as busy parents and introverts. ;)

A few helpful guidelines we have for renting:
+ We only rent the whole house if we're going to be gone for more than 4 nights or if it's an expensive rental time like during busy conferences or holidays.

+ Our home has a smart lock with a unique guest code so we don't need to do a key exchange.

+ If the house prep takes longer than we'd like, we make sure to do a purge when we get home so we can spend less energy moving STUFF around next time.

+ We understand that our furniture and kitchen stuff will get worn faster. We've had very few issues with damage (and our only dishes are china!) but wear and tear happens. There's very little we feel precious about during this season of our lives.

+ Now, I don't love having strangers sleep, live and party in our primary home. I'm probably the worst personality for it ;) But it's putting our house to good use and allowing us to take a couple of really nice vacations a year. There’s a bit of adjustment once we get home to the small changes in the house but we’re usually back to normal within a few days!

(Sweating it out in Maui while 20 weeks pregnant!)

(Sweating it out in Maui while 20 weeks pregnant!)

We love travel, we love our home (and have put a lot of heart into it), and we love getting to share it with others while we’re off adventuring. So cool! Do you rent any properties out? Have you had any good or bad Airbnb experiences?