Whether it’s a short layover, a weekend getaway to Prague or a long term reservation – Airbnb can be used for just about any kind of accommodation you need. In fact, since I started working online, I’ve spent most of my time living in Airbnb apartments!
Side Note: If you want to know how/where I work online, check out this post I wrote about my most successful online side hustles. One of the easiest ways to make money online is to start your own self-hosted blog, which is both easy and cheap. Seriously, you can get hosting for $3.95 per month with Bluehost. Who said you have to spend money to make money?!
Okay, back to my story.
In the last two years alone, I’ve stayed in nine different Airbnb apartments, each ranging in 1-3 months in length. So at this point, I’d like to consider myself an expert in long term rentals with Airbnb.
As it turns out, renting an apartment on Airbnb can sometimes be more cost effective than renting an apartment at home.
How I Live in Airbnb Apartments for Cheap
(and how you can too!)
Take Toronto for example. A one bedroom apartment can cost upwards of $1200 per month with a one-year lease. But with Airbnb, I can book an apartment almost anywhere in the world for less than $1000 per month.
One of the great things about Airbnb is that the longer you choose to stay, the cheaper the apartment will be. Most apartments have a nightly, weekly and monthly rate posted on the listing. And in my experience, most hosts are willing to provide even further discounts on those monthly rates! If you’re wondering how to ask for a special offer, I’ve included the exact message that I send to hosts down below.
Another reason why I love using Airbnb for long term rentals is that the price is all-inclusive. The amount that I pay includes all service fees, utilities, and bills. I’m never stuck paying extra at the end of the month for the air conditioning usage, the internet or parking fees.
And if you still need more convincing, here are some of the other reasons I love using Airbnb for monthly rentals:
- Options. When you want to rent an apartment through Airbnb, you have a lot of options to choose from! You can scroll through hundreds of apartments, all of which include photos, amenities and…
- Reviews. The Airbnb community is a wonderful and honest place. One of my favorite features of the site is that I can read detailed reviews from past guests. This helps me determine if the apartment listing is accurate and if it will meet my needs.
- Insurance. You can rest assured knowing that if something goes wrong at the apartment, Airbnb is there to help you. Take my experience last year as an example. I rented an apartment in Bucharest and after two days, I found cockroaches in the bathroom. I called Airbnb, explained the issue and I was sent to a different (and much nicer) apartment that same day.
Don’t let that story deter you from renting an apartment though. I’ve stayed in over 30 Airbnb properties and that has been my only bad experience.
So, if you’ve decided that you want to do a long-term Airbnb rental, here’s what you need to do:
1. Conduct a Search
Go to www.airbnb.com/sublets and conduct a search based on your qualifications including the destination, date, number of guests, price point and necessary amenities. Seriously, don’t forget the amenities. If you want an apartment with Wi-Fi, parking or a washing machine – make sure you tick off these boxes. Try not to click off too many amenities though, as this will drastically narrow your options. For example, I like to have a “laptop friendly workspace” when I rent apartments, but a lot of hosts won’t list this as an amenity, even if they have one inside the apartment.
2. Gather Your Options
This is the fun part, at least for me. Take a look at all of the apartments that meet your requirements. I like to save them to a Wishlist, which makes it easier to keep track of them. When you’re deciding on your options, carefully look at all of the photos, read the description and house rules. Read all of the past reviews and look for any red flags. Some reviewers might say the host was hard to get ahold of or that the apartment they stayed at wasn’t the same as the photos – these are things you should be looking out for.
3. Message the Hosts
Once you have a list of Airbnb apartments that meet your criteria, you can start to message the hosts. Some people like to message one host at a time, but I prefer to message all of the options at once, so I can compare the discounts and overall value. When you send the host a message, be sure to tell them a little bit about yourself, the reason for your visit and why you chose their apartment.
My message usually looks something like this:
Hi [Host Name],
My name is [Name] and this upcoming [Month], my boyfriend and I will be visiting [City] for 1 month to explore the city and live like locals!
We found your apartment on Airbnb, and it looks absolutely perfect for us. I especially like the design and location.
Can you please let me know the best possible price for a one-month rental during [Month]?
A little bit about us: we are both very quiet, non-smokers who work from our computers. As you can see from the past reviews, we take pride in keeping our apartment rentals very clean. And I can promise you we will treat your place like it’s our home!
If there is any other information you need from me, please let me know. I would love to stay at your apartment during my time in [City]!
Thank you so much [Host Name]. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
So far, this message has worked very well and I always end up receiving a special offer on the monthly rate. Of course, make sure you switch the information so that it is relevant for your specific trip.
4. Cost Comparison
As you begin receiving replies from the hosts, you should keep track of the prices and discounts that you receive. I usually create a document with the name of each apartment, it’s redeeming qualities, the original price, and the discount. That way, once you’ve heard back from all of the hosts, you can review all of this information in order to make your final decision.
You might not necessarily want to stay at the cheapest apartment, so take everything into consideration. Remember that you will be living in this apartment for one month (or maybe longer) and you want to be comfortable! Pick the option that has the overall best amenities and value for you.
If a host gets back to you without providing a discount, or if the discount is still out of your budget, don’t be afraid to let them know. You can send them a short message like:
Hi [Host Name],
Thank you so much for getting back to me. I’m really happy that the apartment is available during the requested period. But unfortunately, [total amount] is out of my budget for this trip. I was hoping to find an apartment for around [price you want].
Would you be willing to provide any further discount?
I really appreciate your help so far. Thanks again!
Worst case scenario, they say no and you find somewhere else to stay. Best case scenario, the host agrees with your price and you get to stay there!
Also, keep in mind that the price set by the Airbnb host is usually a bit lower than what the guest sees on their end. That’s because the host doesn’t see the price with Airbnb service fee included.
5. Book the Apartment
Alright, so once you’ve found an apartment that has everything you need and (hopefully) at a good price, you can go ahead and book it. But before you get click happy and hit that book button, make sure you understand the following:
- Cancellation Policy. Airbnb rentals have different cancellation policies. All reservations over 30 days automatically have a long term cancellation policy, which means that the first month is non-refundable. If you’re staying longer than one month and cancel at least 30 days in advance, you may be eligible to receive a partial refund. Read the full policy for more details.
- Payment Plan. If you are booking an apartment for exactly one month, you will be charged in full at the time of booking. If you are booking an apartment for longer, you will still be charged for the first month at the time of booking and you won’t be charged for the second month until the beginning of the second month and so on for all consecutive months.
- Changes. If you’re anything like me, maybe you like to book things well in advance. In which case, you might encounter some changes down the road. Like maybe you want to extend your stay another month, check in a few days earlier or check out a few days later – as long as the apartment isn’t already reserved, it’s possible. On your Airbnb homepage go to Trips, click on the one you want to change, click Change/Cancel and then you can submit a request to change the number of dates, guests or the listing if the host has more than one.
Well guys, there you have it! That is my entire method for living in long-term Airbnb apartments. Even if you don’t want to pack your life up into a suitcase, I totally recommend trying out a monthly rental on Airbnb just once. It will give you a new perspective and give you the chance to experience something totally different!
If you are new to Airbnb, you can sign up using my referral link, which will give you $50 off your first stay! And who doesn’t like getting discounts?!
If you’ve decided that Airbnb isn’t for you, then I highly recommend using Booking.com for short term hotel or apartment rentals.
Or you can think about signing up for Trusted Housesitters, which gives you the opportunity to stay in beautiful homes around the world for FREE. Yeah, you heard that right.
And as always, I would love to hear from you!
Please let me know about your Airbnb experiences in the comments below!