Live in San Diego? See How Much Money Your Home Could Earn You This Summer

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Look. We get it. Your home is your sanctuary. Your place to be alone. Some days, you don’t even want to have your own family over — let alone people you don’t know. 

So, the idea of listing your place on Airbnb is daunting for a lot of folks.

But if you’re willing to give it a shot, you could make some serious extra income. 

You can share a spare room — or list your entire place if you’re headed out of town. Yep. You’d basically be making money for going on vacation.

JoAnn Jaffe, a 60-year-old Airbnb Superhost in San Diego, has been hosting since 2014. The extra income she earns from hosting with Airbnb allowed her to leave her corporate job and launch her nonprofit organization, OG Yoga, which brings yoga to at-risk populations in juvenile halls, jails and boys and girls clubs.

“If I didn’t have some money coming in, I wouldn’t have been able to jump off the ledge and start this nonprofit,” she says. “It has just added value to my life.”

If you’re starting to come around on the idea of becoming an Airbnb host, see how much money you could make by listing your place.

San Diego is a top summer travel destination, and there’s a shortage of hosts. Between the beaches, harbors, microbreweries and annual events like San Diego Beer Week, there’s always a demand for space.

How Much Could Your Place in San Diego Fetch?

Listing your place on Airbnb is simple — but it does require some creativity and strategy. The good news is you can adjust or change your information and settings at any time, so you’re not committed to anything permanently.

Yep. You’re not locked in. Try hosting and see if you like it — if you’re curious, it’s worth a shot. 

Use Airbnb’s price calculator to see how much money you could make in your area. 

We’ll walk you through the sign-up process and offer some pro tips, courtesy of Jaffe.

How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in San Diego

Before becoming an Airbnb host, you’ll want to check your local laws and prepare your space for guests. (We’ll get into that later.) Creating a listing itself is simple, but you’ll want to put some thought into it, so your space stands out from all the others.

We’ll show you everything you need to know to make your place stand out from others, with some added insight from Jaffe, a yoga instructor and nonprofit organizer who lists a three-room suite in her historic home near the San Diego Convention Center. She’s been hosting since 2014.

Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space/Amenities

In this first part of setting up your listing, you’ll answer some basic questions about your space, which could be anything — an apartment, an extra bedroom or house, a campsite, yurt or even an RV, depending on your local laws.

Basic questions in this section include the number of guests your space can accommodate and the included amenities.

If you don’t have an entire place, list your spare room.

Set the Scene With Photos

With Airbnb listings, photos are everything. “Have a good photographer,” stresses Jaffe, whose listing highlights the beauty of her restored historic Victorian home and its remodeled kitchen.

The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash, and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective.

Think about what makes your space and your location appealing, and illustrate those elements through photos. You might also include photos of the surrounding neighborhood and nearby tourist attractions. If you’re near the beach or the San Diego Zoo or the Gaslamp Quarter, include a picture of that! 

Write a Description

Once you hook people with your photos, continue to lead them through your listing with the description.

Here, you’ll be able to highlight what makes your space unique — in Jaffe’s case, it’s the historic nature of her home and the availability of a three-room suite. 

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at other Airbnb listings in your area to see what other hosts highlight. In San Diego, hosts’ listings often make a point of noting exactly where in San Diego they’re located. So you’ll see titles like “Small Room Gaslamp/SeaWorld” or “RV near Mission Bay.” 

After you host several guests, you’ll get to know your audience, so you can lean into that. 

Name Your Listing

This might seem like a small task, but naming your listing is just as important as nailing your photos. Airbnb urges hosts to create a title that highlights what’s unique about the space.

Jaffe’s listing is named “San Diego Historic Victorian Private 3-Room Suite,” which highlights the most appealing things about her property. A three-room suite isn’t always easy to find on Airbnb, and the historic nature of her home appeals to certain travelers.

Set House Rules

Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, smoking not allowed and whether events or parties are allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules.

Jaffe, for example, prefers to be present when her guests first arrive. “I’ve chosen not to have anyone come here when I’m not here to greet them,” she says. 

Set up Your Calendar

Taking time to set up your calendar is important, because if you cancel on your guests, Airbnb will charge you a penalty fee.

A few questions you’ll answer include:

  • How often do you want to have guests?
  • How much notice do you need before a guest arrives?
  • When can guests check in?
  • How far in advance can guests book?
  • How long can guests stay?

You’ll be able to adjust these settings as you go, so you can find out what works best for you.

Price Your Space

Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool, which you can opt into to automatically adjust the price of your listing according to demand. For example, when the demand spikes during San Diego Beer Week every November, Airbnb will likely increase the price of your listing automatically.

You can set price minimums and maximums, so your listing won’t dip below a certain amount or spike to something unrealistic. Although Airbnb will suggest these amounts when you’re signing up, Jaffe urges new hosts to do their own research.

Here are a few tips to help you determine these numbers:

  • Consider your expenses, i.e. utilities, cleaning and any maintenance requirements.
  • Be realistic.
  • Search other Airbnb listings in your area and price just below those.

When you’re starting out, you’ll want to price your place lower, so you can get guests in and accumulate reviews, which will help increase bookings in the long run.

Note Your Local Laws

You’re almost done setting up your listing! Now Airbnb will remind you to familiarize yourself with your local laws.

San Diego officials have long debated restricting short-term rentals in the city, but there currently are no clear restrictive rules. In the city of San Diego, you have to get a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate, which you can do online. You also have to pay a 10.5% tax on your rental income, which Airbnb collects and remits on behalf of hosts.

Also Consider…

In addition to hosting laws, you’ll also want to check with your homeowners association or landlord to make sure short-term rentals are permitted.

Also note that short-term rentals could invalidate some homeowner’s insurance, so check these policies with your provider.

Airbnb also includes liability insurance for up to $1 million, but Jaffe suggests setting aside some money for damages. 

As you start booking guests, you’ll also want to keep tabs on expenses and revenue for tax purposes.

She also reminds hosts to take advantage of tax deductions. Because she has guests staying in her space, she can deduct many charges as business expenses, including utilities, furniture, home improvement, even electronics — basically anything guests will also benefit from or use.

Listen to Feedback from Your Guests

If there’s anything about your guests’ experience you need to improve, they’ll let you know. All you have to do is listen.

“Guests would tell me things, and I would accommodate them,” Jaffe says. “Someone would say, ‘You need a hook for the towels right by the bath,’ or ‘You don’t have enough wine glasses.’ So I went out and bought wine glasses.”

 “I didn’t take the comments personally. I used them to inform how I was going to be a good host.”

Ready to Try Hosting? 

How are you feeling? Like we said, listing your place on Airbnb is simple.

Our biggest tip? Stay up on your listing and be connected to it.

Airbnb is constantly changing its features, so keep your eyes peeled. Don’t be afraid to tweak your listing description, prices and calendar settings. Plus, San Diego itself is constantly evolving, so stay in tune with your city. 

Use Airbnb’s price calculator to get started.

Jaffe says the most rewarding part of hosting has been all the interesting people she’s met. “Everyone who comes here has been genuinely nice and joyful and happy to be here,” she says. “They always thank me for opening my home.”

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.