I made $136,000 on Airbnb last year renting out homes I don’t own. Here’s what I tell others who want to try it too. – DAVID RAUDALES


Businessman, musician / former Full Stack Developer


I made $136,000 on Airbnb last year renting out homes I don’t own. Here’s what I tell others who want to try it too.

Monica Lee White made $136,000 renting out other people’s homes on airbnb.

Monica White

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Monica Lee White. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Monica Lee White made $136,000 renting out other peoples homes on Airbnb.
She reached out to 250 landlords hoping that one would let her rent out their home.
She now works as a property manager and helps others with their own rental arbitrage businesses.

I worked as a flight attendant during the pandemic, but I knew I wanted another source of income. As an essential worker, it was a scary time to be working, and many people in my industry were being exposed to the virus.

But it was also a hard time financially for me. Due to the pandemic, there were less and less flights, and my income was really taking a hit. I needed a side hustle, and quickly. 

For me the choice was easy: I chose to get into Airbnb.

How to find Airbnb properties to manage

When you think of Airbnb, you might think of someone who rents out their own home. That’s not what I was doing — instead, I was renting out other peoples homes short-term. This is called rental arbitrage.

Still, like an Airbnb owner, I would handle the customer service, listings, maintenance, and cleanings. 

Getting started was not easy. To find the properties, I searched Zillow and looked for properties in the area, then I contacted the landlords in hopes that one would say yes. 

By the time I was done compiling my list, I had over 250 properties, and all the landlords were saying no. I almost gave up. But I was determined to find a place, and after many reach outs, I finally got my first landlord in Atlanta to say yes. 

From there I scaled up to five properties and I thought I had made it: With my five rental properties, I made $136,000 in 2022. I felt financially free and was able to do things like travel.

A bedroom in one of my Airbnb units, the Girlboss Getaway.

Monica White

I’m now a property manager for 10 homes. This means I help other hosts do the same thing I was doing with rental arbitrage. Before I reached this point, however, I had to learn what worked.

Whether you are doing rental arbitrage on your own or working with a property manager like myself, there are some things you should know.

How to pitch a landlord about your Airbnb 

When pitching a landlord, I introduce myself and share a bit about what I do and who my other clients are. 

I have also learned you have to show the landlord that you will take care of any problems that come up. I share the pros, but I’m also prepared to hear their cons and objections.

For example, when a landlord normally rents out a property, they have a long-term tenant. But, if you allow someone to rent it out as an Airbnb, there is more risk as you’re bringing more people into the home. 

Always think and ask yourself: What is one thing you can do to make the landlord’s life easier?

Startup costs for renting on Airbnb

You will need to have money to start. For me, this was around $6,000, but it will very much depend on what city you are starting in.

This is not one of those businesses where you can start at zero dollars. Even without owning the home, it can be expensive.

When I got my first place, I paid a moving fee, I purchased furniture, and I hired a photographer, too. 

Additionally, I had to get short term renters insurance, and install cameras on the outside of the rental. There was a lot I needed in order to start up.

Then there’s rent. In my experience, sometimes landlords will ask for 2x the regular rent. However, that makes it difficult to make a profit, so I stay away from those.

While it may vary for you, in my experience a cost breakdown might look like this:

Moving fee: usually varies on which mover I am using, sometimes it’s as low as $200 Photographer: Ranges from $100 to $500+ for professional property photosFurniture: Ranges from $2,500 – $8,000 depending on the property size and styleRent: Sometimes landlords ask for 2x the rent upfront, but I stay away from those

How to handle repairs and damages in your Airbnb

Repairs are one of the biggest things to consider. In the past, I’ve had people break chairs, and I’ve even had one woman break a bed frame. 

If someone damages the Airbnb, you have to consider what you’ll do when that happens. Will you fix it yourself? Will you hire maintenance? One option is to use a site like Taskrabbit to find freelance maintenance.

The living room in the Girlboss Getaway, one of my Airbnb units.

Monica White

How to stand out on Airbnb 

After taking all of these things into consideration, it’s time to get started. 

First, consider who you want to rent to. Zeroing in on your potential customer will help with your listing: Do you want to rent to vacationers, or those who travel for work, or student relocators? It helps to focus on one lane instead of many.

Then think about SEO (search engine optimization). Sometimes people have really good units, but because they are on the fourth page of Airbnb their homes aren’t easily found. 

To combat this, I’ve used photographers to make sure my photos were really good, and then I’d detail all of the special amenities in my unit to boost my posts. 

I think it helps to add nice touches to short-term rentals, like champagne, wine, water or just a nice little thank you card.

Don’t rely on just the platform. Promote your listings yourself and do what you can to stand out and be noticeable. One idea is to share your listings in relevant Facebook groups. You have to do what you can to drive traffic. 

At the end of the day people won’t be interested if they don’t see your listing enough. In a way, I think that’s why people have picked mine because I have been known for putting it out there.

The process of renting out other peoples’ homes is not easy, but with the right mindset, you can do it.

I always tell my clients to do their own research before starting. You will hear a lot of people say, it is not possible, or everyone is doing it, but to me that is silly. Airbnb is still a growing business.

If you have an Airbnb and would like to share your story, good or bad, email Alyshia Hull at [email protected].

Read the original article on Business Insider