Using your home to make money is easier than ever.
You no longer need to run an illegal boarding house, throw rent parties, or start an underground casino. Technology has enabled property owners to capitalize through peer-to peer-transactions (uberization) like never before.
Your home is one of your greatest assets. If your home suits your needs and you enjoy it, do not give it up because of a tight budget. Do not take out a home equity loan (second mortgage) to pay for improvements or repairs. You work hard for your home, and you can make it work for you.
Here are 11 ideas on using your home to make money.
- A Roommate
- Hosting travelers
- Hosting students
- Renting out useful space
- Boarding pets
- Hosting campers or tiny houses
- Renting out garden space
1) Getting a roommate
Most adults do not want a roommate. Everyone values their privacy and independence. On the other hand, having a roommate might be a wonderful experience. One thing is sure, it can dramatically improve your budget.
Tips for taking on a roommate:
Think about the issues your home, lifestyle, and personality might create. How do you want to handle chores and responsibilities? How do you want to share expenses? Are their spaces that might be contentious? Do you have habits, pets, or visitors that could create awkward problems?
The greatest day-to-day issues often revolve around bathrooms and kitchens. Division of spaces often solves this problem but may not be feasible. Designated bathrooms, designated kitchen storage, or even an added kitchenette (a dry sink, toaster oven, mini-fridge, etc.) can go a long way.
When division of space is not possible, make sure to set schedules and expectations. Make a list of your routines (bathing, entertaining, exercising, etc.) and have your prospective roommate do the same. See if compromises will be possible.
Anticipate problems regarding habits, visitors, shared spaces, etc. and create a method for conflict resolution. Unfortunately, you do not have resident adviser to turn to, so you will have to have create a plan with your roommate. You could settle disagreements by using an online forum like squabbler, where site visitors decide your case.
Be honest with yourself about how you might irk others. Think about what irritates you to an irrational degree. (I can’t stand it when crumbs are left on the cutting board, but my marriage contract offers nothing on this point.)
Tell your prospective roommate about all of your peccadilloes and idiosyncrasies, and they should do the same. Take the time to find a compatible roommate; your quality of life is important.
Do your homework.
Prepare a series of questions for your prospective roommate. Do this before you even meet the candidate. Make sure that you have honest answers for the same questions.
Do not be afraid to ask for references, and be prepared to offer yours. This is a business arrangement and should be treated as such.
It is not out-of-bounds to do a credit check.
Put everything in writing.
This is an awkward way to start such a personal relationship, but it is necessary. Offer as many apologies and disclaimers as you must, but a written agreement is fair to all.
If you are renting, put the written details into the lease or a sub-lease agreement.
If you are the homeowner, create a reasonable roommate agreement that works both parties. Do not be afraid to include details that are important to you but might seem silly to others (e.g. no talking in the living room during first-run episodes of Wheel of Fortune); even if they will not hold up in court, everyone knows what the deal is.
Think about the end-game. Make sure to address how the dissolution of the arrangement will work. How much notice is needed? How will remaining expenses be handled? When can I put your stuff in the dumpster after you disappear for three months to live on a commune with your personal trainer?
2) Hosting travelers
It is easier than ever to host travelers in you home, and many cities have worked out the legal issues (setting limits on the number of days and visitors).
Using services like Air BnB and HomeAway offer you important protections, but it is imperative that you make sure that your municipality allows this type of hosting and that you are legally protected.
I was able to find the regulations for where I live, Philadelphia, pretty easily.
- Thirty day maximum stay
- 2 guests maximum (unless they are related)
- 90 days a year
- No permit required
- 8.5% in taxes to the city
- Smoke alarm and safety requirements
- And so on
There are two basic ways to host travelers in using your home to make money:
Air BnB and other similar operations give you the chance to host travelers for a profit, but make no mistake, it can be competitive and demanding. With all of the customer support, cleaning, and managing, you may start to feel like you are running a small business. Think carefully about whether or not this is right for you.
Many people do not want to share their residence when they are there, but that doesn’t mean it cannot earn money for you while you are away.
If you are going away, your home can host a traveler, but you must be willing to do some extra work in preparation. You want to have happy customers and happy reviews. (After all, who wants to ruin someone’s vacation?) Homeaway and other brokerage services will help you create a successful offering.
Case study: I have an acquaintance who essentially lives in her basement so that she can continually rent out her three bedrooms and living spaces. She works very hard to be competitive and receive positive reviews. She loves the arrangement as she is essentially living mortgage free. She will remain nameless as she is in violation of the city’s rules.
3) Using your home to make money: hosting a student
This is my favorite idea. (In fact, I am renovating a bathroom in preparation to host a student through a nearby college.)
If you live in an area with a few private high-schools or colleges, this option is almost certainly available. You can receive upwards of $500 a month to host a students from another country. It can also be very gratifying.
Check out the websites for the private schools and/or colleges near you to check the specifics of their program. You may need to provide transportation, meals, specific living arrangements, etc. Generally, the requirements are reasonable as they need reliable, engaged hosts to make their program successful.
There is much to recommend hosting a student as a way of using your home to make money:
- The expectations are set: You know the rules and so does the student.
- The time is period is established: You might plan to host one semester or session, but not the next. This flexibility is great since you can’t kick out a roommate every few months and expect them to keep coming back.
- Built-in mediation: Both you and the student can refer to the program staff if there is a problem or concern.
- Support and protection: The program is there to support the student and the host. You do not have all of the responsibility.
Case study: My friend and neighbor clued me in to the program at a nearby college. He loves being a host. He has hosted students from Bulgaria, Italy, Colombia, and many other countries. As an immigrant himself, he loves playing host to young people learning their way around America. He also likes getting some financial help in heating and cooling his size-able, stone home.
4) Renting out a useful space
Not everyone has the space for their activities. If you have the space available, you could be using your home to make money and enabling others to pursue their interests.
If you have an art studio space, check out brokers like stuso.
If you have an office space that you want to rent out, you could find renters through a website like sharedesk. Even people that could set up a home office often prefer to keep their work space separate.
If you have a space for musicians, check out brokers like musicnomad.
If you have a space for pole-dancers wanting to rehearse…well…just put it on craigslist (and why do you have that space to begin with?).
NOTE: Check with your insurance company and municipality first. You do not want to rent out your space and have a serious problem. It is also advisable to get any customer to put everything in writing and wave any liability.
Case study: I had an artist friend in Los Angeles. We worked together in a pizzeria, but he was an abstract artist (the modifier applies to both his work and his personality). He lived in a one bedroom apartment with his wife, so he needed a studio. It came in the form of a nearby, one-car garage with no utilities. He was happy and so was the owner.
5) Using your home to make money: storage
I have been watching YouTube videos about people who live in vans. (Don’t judge me.) The biggest takeaway is that the majority of people in this society have way more stuff than they need.
Unless you are participating in a multitude of extreme sports, stockpiling supplies for doomsday, or hoping that your collection of vintage happy-meal toys will form the permanent collection of an esoteric museum to be named later, you probably have too much stuff.
The unattractive roadside displays of storage units attest to the fact that there is money to be made in storage. Don’t be one of the suckers paying for storage, let the suckers (valued customers) pay you.
Climate controlled storage is at a premium. Brokerages like storeatmyhouse.com and StoreWithMe will connect you with people who are materialistic suckers – I mean, have too much stuff. The customers who use these sites feel safer knowing that their possessions reside with a caring steward (or, at least, someone who is around).
6) Using your home to make money: parking space
Can you rent out your driveway or parking space? Yes!
If you live in an area where parking is often an issue, your parking space could be making you money.
You do not need to build a kiosk and sit in it all day looking at your phone and whistling at passers-by. Nor do you need to work out a deal personally. There are peer-to-peer brokers that handle the transactions.
Curbflip.com allows you to set a schedule of when you are not using your space. After you create a profile, take some photos, and set the schedule and price, your space is ready for business. Customer satisfaction is important as service is based on reviews.
Justpark.com is a similar service that works with individuals as well as parking companies.
7) Your home as an event venue (or to host visitors to nearby events)
You can use your home to make money by offering it to visitors attending a special event, like a golf tournament or a music festival. People descend like locusts to see a special event and hotels are overwhelmed. You can help them out.
Eventhomes is broker that pairs available homes with people attending a specific event. Let’s say that there is a big tennis tournament coming to your area; you can rent your home to a group of fans. Since you do not care about the event, you can go visit your mom.
If you have a large, attractive, or unique home, you might be able to rent it out as a venue for weddings, reunions, fundraisers, etc. There are some legal issues involved, but they are not insurmountable.
Venuelust allows you to list your home as a venue for weddings and get-togethers. They will walk you through the process and explain how their service offers some protection regarding liability.
8) Filming location
This method of using your home to make money is advisable if you live in an area with an established film industry or you have a unique and/or photogenic home. Production companies prefer to work with home-owners rather than renters. You do not need to have a fancy mansion, but uniqueness is a big factor. The photos that you take will be critical to your success.
Here are a couple of services to check out:
Both of these services require a monthly fee to list and promote your filming location, so do not waste your time unless you have a reasonable expectation that your home might be desirable.
9) Using your home to make money: pet boarding
This option is certainly not for everyone. You must love pets, have a flexible schedule, be willing to work, and take customer service seriously. I am including this option, however, because you are using your home to help you make money.
Rover is the two-hundred pound mastiff of peer-to-peer bet boarding (they have recently bought out DogVacay). Rover expects you to perform excellent customer services including pre-stay meet-and-greets and daily photos and updates for the client.
If Rover does not work for you, there are other, smaller options out there.
Related post: Be Cheap before Starting a Side Hustle
10) Providing camp and tiny house sites
If you have some acreage, you could be using your home to make money by hosting campers, RVers, or tiny housers. Depending on your situation, you may want to add a fire-ring, water access, picnic table, etc. to your private camping site.
Hipcamp is very flexible in what a host can offer. They are clear about what is required and what is considered desirable in a site. For example, if your property is less than 20 acres and the guest is not in an RV, you must provide bathroom access.
Campspace (which has absorbed campinmygarden.com) focuses on campers looking for unique, memorable camping experiences.
Gamping.com works best if you have a special piece of land or proximity to specific outdoor activities.
Try It Tiny, caters to the tiny house owners or enthusiasts. Hosts can offer a tiny house (yurt, cabin, etc.) or just an area for a tiny house.
11) Using your home to make money: garden space
Yardyum connects plot owners with people looking for a place to grow vegetables. Your agreement can include the sharing of the harvest. This site is specifically for growing food as it relates to their sustainability mission.
I could not really find any other websites in the U.S. that help the homeowner establish this type of partnership, but you could certainly advertise the gardening space on your own.
Issues regarding using your home to make money
Each of these options includes issues regarding legality, liability, and taxes. Once you have decided to pursue one of these ideas, take the time to do your research.
Make sure that you refer to…
- Your own rental agreement
- The homeowners association rules
- Your local regulations (Make sure you know the limits of how long you can host guests, etc.)
- A tax professional (The tax implications might not be all bad. For example, some of these options would enable you to deduct some of the costs of home improvements. When diversifying income this way, it is worthwhile to hire a capable professional who is familiar with the issues involved.)
- Your insurance policy (Make sure that you are covered. Meet with an experienced agent to discuss exactly what you plan to do.)
- The details provided by the brokering service (If you are using a broker like Air BnB or yardyum, you want to make sure that the service will work for you, and that you can be a good partner.)
Conclusion on using your home to make money
- A Roommate
- Hosting travelers
- Hosting students
- Renting out useful space
- Boarding pets
- Hosting campers or tiny houses
- Renting out garden space
Every one of these ideas on using your home to make money requires some degree of investment, inconvenience, or sacrifice. On the other hand, you might find that you actually enjoy the process (in addition to the income).
Do not hesitate to make your asset work for you. It is not unseemly to use your home to make money. You are not taking advantage of anyone. You are simply using your own asset to create a partnership that benefits everyone involved.