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5 Things I’ve Learned by Letting Strangers Live in My Basement

My husband and I recently renovated our basement and turned it into a quaint one bedroom, one bathroom, full kitchen apartment. At the end of the process, we were still happily married (although with our fair share of disagreements), so we decided to list our property on the popular AirBnb site and see if we could make a little side income. Three months into this endeavor, I have learned a lot about how to host strangers in my home.

  1. Some people are easy to please, and some people are impossible to please. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way. Our very first guest was absolutely impossible to please. Although we had gone above and beyond and outfitted the entire apartment, our first guest was not pleased with his stay. He had nothing good to say about it and instead was very keen on making sure I knew how much he had suffered from staying in our apartment. After that first guest, I was crushed. My husband and I talked it over and decided to take his criticism as constructive and try to improve what he had complained about. Since then, we have hosted over 15 times and every single person has been pleased with their stay. Although we take feedback seriously and work hard to improve on the apartment, I have found that some people just don’t enjoy life and will find every reason in the world to blame someone else for their issues. Some people are easy to please, and some people are just impossible to please.
  2. A Little Goes a Long Way. I have always known that customer service goes a long way, but I have never been on the giving side of that until now. It is amazing how the smallest gestures make the biggest difference and provide comfort and touches of home for people who are staying in our apartment. Things like providing a coffee maker and tiny little shampoos and conditioners. Offering to change towels and sheets halfway through the stay. Things like giving directions and meeting people at the door when they arrive go a long way. I am not required to provide any of those things to the guests. In fact, for the price that they pay ($35 a night plus a cleaning fee), this is going above and beyond what is required of me. But it’s fun to do little things and see just how far these simple touches can go.
  3. Everyone Is Unique. I love receiving notifications that someone has booked our apartment. On the platform that we use, the guests are prompted to introduce themselves and explain why they will be visiting. This is one of my favorite parts of the whole experience because I love hearing about different people’s jobs. We have had business men & women, vacationers, traveling nurses, people looking to open local businesses, people who are competing in competitions and so much more. It’s absolutely fascinating to me. It’s also fascinating to me to see how each individual leaves the apartment when they are finished. So far, no one has trashed it, but guests leave it in varying levels of cleanliness. Some guests strip the bed. Some leave it exactly as it was when they got out of it in the morning. Some make the bed perfectly. Some guests stay one night and use all three towels. Some guests stay five nights and use one towel. Some guests stay two nights and don’t use any towels. To each their own, everyone is unique and I LOVE IT.
  4. You Can Tell A Lot About Someone by their Trash. This one makes me chuckle every time I clean the apartment because I can tell so much about what someone did in the last 24 hours by seeing what is in the trash. 8 cups of coffee? They must be exhausted. Tylenol and earplugs? Whoops, maybe we were a bit too loud up above last night. Two six packs and a bottle of wine? Ok, ok…I’ll try not to judge. A giant pile of tissues followed by an emptied tissue box? Looks like I’d better sanitize really well. Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Chipotle? I know what they ate for dinner. A billion makeup remover wipes? Hope she was successful in her grad school interview. Cleaning the apartment after someone has left is not my favorite part of hosting strangers in my basement, but it always reminds me that we are all more alike than I thought.
  5. We are all more alike than I thought. Prior to this adventure, I would have thought that as a stay at home Mom, I had nothing in common with a single businessman. However, through this experience, I have learned that we all have so much in common. We all get lost and need directions, we all have hobbies, we all like to watch Netflix and we all need a good night’s rest. We all like a warm drink in the morning and a comfortable place to relax in the evening. We all like the most bang for our buck and we all like some little comforts of home when we are staying away from home. We all like to be treated with respect and we are all human. It’s been a really eye-opening experience to have complete strangers live in my basement.

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13 Responses to 5 Things I’ve Learned by Letting Strangers Live in My Basement

  1. Leslie
    Leslie January 15, 2018 at 11:38 am #

    So interesting!! My in-laws have a little cabin near their home in Alaska that they rent out on AirBnB as well, but I have a feeling it’s a very different experience from having people actually in the same home that you’re in. Major kudos to y’all for trying out this new adventures with kids underfoot too!

    • suzannehines January 19, 2018 at 10:54 am #

      Oh, man! Now I want to go to your inlaws AirBnB in Alaska! So fun! It is quite the experience, but we really enjoy doing it!

  2. Courtney Buechle January 15, 2018 at 3:51 pm #

    This is awesome + interesting! I would love to meet all kind of new people and learn their stories. That is such a great experience and something I am sure will stick with you your life.

  3. malloryskidmore
    malloryskidmore January 15, 2018 at 6:09 pm #

    I’ve always been so intrigued by the idea of income properties. As a bonus, I’m sure it is also nice to have for visiting family and friends! I very much agree that a little goes a long way – I still remember staying at a particular cabin in Hocking Hills that provided shampoo/conditioner and body wash. Sure, that is small, but it clearly made a lasting impression!

    • suzannehines January 19, 2018 at 10:55 am #

      Yes! All of this is so true! We really love having the space for visiting friends and family (we can allow people to come and go into the house or we can lock them from our main house and they only have access to the basement). It’s been a really big blessing to us for sure!

  4. Shannon | Shannie Chic January 15, 2018 at 10:24 pm #

    #5 is my favorite. I feel like this is what I realize everytime I travel and you learned it via letting people rent your basement. Such a wonderful lesson to learn first hand.

    • suzannehines January 19, 2018 at 10:53 am #

      Yes! I wish I could travel more in this season, but this has been a fun way to see people from different cultures and different walks of life!

  5. Erin January 15, 2018 at 11:46 pm #

    I love staying in Airbnbs, but it’s kinda weird to think of someone looking through my trash after my trip. (*Noted for my next trip. lol) I agree with you about some people being difficult to please, though. I’m glad you kept going after the first problem renter and turned it into a positive experience.

    • suzannehines January 19, 2018 at 10:52 am #

      LOL! To be fair, I don’t go THROUGH the trash…I just have to take it out, and I see a lot of what is in it. It is not my favorite part of the job for sure!

  6. Melissa January 16, 2018 at 10:43 pm #

    #4 made me laugh as well. We just had a house guest in our basement for a couple of months. We too learned a lot based on the trash! lol

    • suzannehines January 19, 2018 at 10:53 am #

      It really is funny to me! Part of the job for sure!

  7. Chelsie January 17, 2018 at 11:09 am #

    My husband and I have been talking about doing this with our basement for months now. He’s all for it, but I am still unsure – I really don’t like the idea of sharing my space with strangers, but the money would be awesome!

    • suzannehines January 19, 2018 at 10:51 am #

      It is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun! We really are happy with our decision, but I can see that it isn’t for everyone!