Welcoming Strangers – Becoming an Airbnb Host

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Welcoming Strangers - Becoming an AirBnb Host

In two days Summer, a college student from China who just graduated from a Texas University, and her mother are coming to stay with us for over 3 months. Her mother speaks no English. We have never met either one. Welcome to the weird world of being an Airbnb host.

Years ago we added onto our house and expanded it to 5 bedrooms, but now our kids have moved away and most of that space was going unused. We hosted some foreign students for a few years and had two great and one not so ideal experiences. But my wife Joan got the idea of putting our two front rooms up on Airbnb. It turns out, she likes feeling that we are using our house and the fact that people pay to stay with us doesn’t hurt either.

I am sure that some of you think that welcoming strangers into your home sounds scary and giving strangers a key to your home sounds just simply crazy.

If you listen to the evening news you likely have the idea that violent crime is on the rise (it’s dropping), that terrorists are going to get you (your chance of being killed by a terrorist in the US is 1 in 20 million, half as likely as being struck by lightning), that plane crashes are common (your chances of being killed at 1 in 11 million) and that you shouldn’t trust strangers (if you are murdered… not likely… it will probably be by someone you know). Let’s face it good news makes for boring news programs and the boring part of Airbnb is that a lot of people you don’t know are nice.

The odd thing is that we don’t live in a tourist region. We don’t live in San Francisco, but an hour south in Silicon Valley. So it turns out that the people who have stayed with us have not been tourists, but are usually here on business.

  • Doug was here to meet with Apple, because his company was working on an app for the Apple watch.
  • Patel and his friends were here to demonstrate a product at the Maker Fair.
  • Mirghani was in town to visit his daughter and old friends.
  • Lan was in town to visit her college boyfriend.
  • Sherman and Zack worked for Google for the Summer and found us because we are near a Google bus stop.
  • Catherine was here for a conference.
  • Wylie was in town because his company wants to sell to local companies.
  • Sandip was here to raise venture capital.

Welcoming Strangers - Becoming an AirBnb HostWe have had people stay who were from the US, but also people from India, Sudan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore. That’s the kind of people who visit my city and therefore the kind of people who are looking for a place to stay. Your experience will depend as well on where you live.

So far, Everyone who has stayed with us has been both polite and interesting. The worst thing that has happened was a broken bottle of aftershave that required the room get a good airing out. Of course other hosts have had bad experiences. It’s one of the reasons that Airbnb provides host protection insurance.

When you put your apartment, house or room up on Airbnb you get to decide how much to charge, what days it will be available and you also get to decide who will stay with you. We do not enable instant booking on our rooms so we don’t have random people just knocking on the front door. Since we are sharing the living space, we have it set so that people who want to stay with us have to ask to be invited. If we ever got a weird feeling about someone, or if they just seemed like too much trouble we can say no. We can see what previous hosts have said about our guests, assuming that they have rented through AirBnb before.

So who would make a good Airbnb host? I think it helps if you like people and find them interesting.

It probably helps to be a bit flexible. We have paid for all or much of our mortgage for a number of months this year and in exchange we have met some great people. That’s not a bad deal.

Are you already an Airbnb host? How has it worked for you?

To become a host yourself click here. But while you are thinking about it… we need to be practicing out Chinese.


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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

7 Responses to “Welcoming Strangers – Becoming an Airbnb Host”



Thanks for sharing. I will soon move with my boyfriend and we are looking for a place with one or two extra rooms and will start being a host on Airbnb. Curious how it will be 😉



I hope your experience is as positive as ours has been

Craig Mullins


We love AIRBNB! Been doing it for years. Absolutely brilliant.

Claudine Pender


Great post!
I became an Airbnb host 3 years ago and love it.
I actually just started a website to share my adventures with people, because people always ask me questions about it.
Like you Imstarted hosting students.
I also had a great experience meeting wonderful people from all over the world. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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[…] Add in an international student living upstairs to get back to 5. Joan’s mom lived with us for 4 years before she died. Julie graduated college and moved on but by then we are hosting international students and hosting people through Airbnb (see Welcoming Strangers – Becoming an Airbnb Host). […]

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