House Hacking // 3 Reasons to Rent out Your Home for a Weekend

During the One Room Challenge, I mentioned that we are renting out the Farmhouse this summer for a few weekends as a vacation rental.  As the Farmhouse has added bookings, we have scheduled weekends of camping and family visits, which we’re all looking forward to. But when I’ve shared our summer plans with friends, I’ve gotten some questioning glances. So I thought it would be helpful to outline a few of the reasons we like to house hack our primary residence here today.

As long-time followers of the Grit and Polish already know, house hacking (i.e. getting others to pay part or all of your rent/mortgage) is our M.O. We’ve been doing it for 10 years and I truly doubt we’ll ever stop. House hacking has set us on a path to owning 5 homes, retiring at the age of 34, and living a pretty fantastic life all around. Low-fee sites like Airbnb and HomeAway have made renting out your home for a weekend (or longer) easy, and I’m guessing some of you may be considering it too. So today I wanted to share 3 of the reasons we decided to rent out our primary residence for short stays this summer.

One // Get paid to go on vacation.

Let me repeat that: get paid to go on vacation!  Most of us don’t need another reason to take a trip, but if you did, having someone else subsidize your adventure is pretty compelling.  So far we have reserved a campsite on the San Juan Islands and scheduled a longer visit to my sister’s house during summer bookings. We’re all much more excited about those trips than we would be spending another weekend at home. And a couple of winters ago, we did a longer 2 week booking when we lived at the Dexter House. We got to spend that time in the country at my in-laws house, relaxing and having one of my favorite Christmases ever, while earning thousands of dollars. Not too shabby.

Two // Less clutter

It’s easy to let stuff creep into your life. A few extra toy baskets here, a couple cast-off bins of old books there and suddenly you’re making space for things you don’t really have space for. Stuff seems to attract other stuff in my experience.  And it’s a slippery slope that can leave your home feeling cluttered if you’re not careful. For us, the best way to fight the slow creep of stuff is to invite others into our home. There is no better reason to keep your living spaces tidy and clean than inviting others to share those spaces with you. So host a party, invite a house guest, or better yet, rent your home out for a long weekend.

Three // Earn a financial return on your effort

This is a big one for us. We all spend time maintaining our properties (a lot of time if you live on a 3 acre old farm like us) and you probably spend money furnishing and decorating them too. So why not earn some money on all that time and effort? Renting your home out for a weekend or a month essentially turns chores into an investment. And that shift in thinking to a landlord/real-estate-investor perspective can help some (read: my husband) enjoy a home that might otherwise feel a bit like a ball-and-chain.


photos of Our Farmhouse // entry / master bedroom (and here) / officeBoys bedroom / master bathroom

Getting your home ready for guests is a whole separate topic that I won’t go into here, but I will say that in the past 4 years of hosting on Airbnb (including 2 of our homes in Seattle on a full-time basis), we’ve only had a handful of finicky, unpleasant guests and even fewer super messy/disrespectful guests. Have you ever rented out your primary residence? Would you ever? We’d love to hear why or how you house hack! Leave a comment and keep the conversation going.

Related Links

Our Farmhouse page and sources // Our story: Early Retirement and Old Houses //

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  1. I’d be really interested in hearing about how you prepare your primary residence for short term rentals. Hope you’ll share that with us one day soon!

  2. Eugenie says:

    Do you have special home owners insurance to do this? On your home or your other properties?

    • We have rental insurance on our rentals and regular home owners insurance on our primary. We also have a $1M umbrella policy over everything just because we have the rentals in our own name. Also, Airbnb has a $1M host protection policy and a $1M host guarantee to protect hosts and guests (you can read more on their website about those).

  3. What do you do with all of your personal items (clothes, make up, food in your fridge/pantry, medicines, chemicals, jewelry, etc.)? I would like to rent our home out but I’m not sure what “best practice” is for putting all of those items away.

  4. No…. We would never rent out our primary or vacation home.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I’ve recently started to think about vacation house swapping. But need to have a decent kitchen and bathroom and less peeling paint overall to make that happen. I would definitely welcome a post on how you prepare your primary house for temporary stays, which I imagine is different than the constant rental house situation, like the Dexter house. I would guess that in our case step one is no peeling paint or exfoliating plaster…

    • Ha! Yes, that would help. Sounds like a post on preparing a primary residence for Airbnb stays would be helpful…I’ll work on that!

  6. I have considered renting out our house while my family is on vacation but the prep work I envision seems tricky. Our house is typically host ready. I’m talking more about locking up valuables and making closet and pantry space. I would love it if you wrote more about “Getting your home ready for guests is a whole separate topic…”!

  7. I would love to hear more about how to get your home ready for guests! We have been considering this and just at a loss on how to start. So appreciate you sharing all this!

  8. We’d love to rent out our primary residence, as it’s in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, which is a big draw for tourists. I think we’ll ease our way in first by doing a home exchange, which feels less daunting and also am I deluded in thinking that exchangers will be more respectful of our home than renters would be?.. I’d love a post on how to get your home rental-ready – so far our plan consists of locking my home office and storing valuables and personal items there, and also buying separate sheets and towels for renters.

    • That’s an interesting idea. Not sure…we’ve never house swapped. I will say that Airbnb is all about reviews, so you review the guest and they review you. There’s also a deposit so if they did any small damage you could collect there or make a bigger claim on the insurance.

  9. Vanessa says:

    Three of our rentals used to be our homes and two we moved back into at one point, so I guess we were part way there in our though process. I am able to keep a pretty clean home and could rent it fairly easily., but it isn’t very fancy. I have a cousin in London who does this when he is on the road. I don’t think he loves it though, maybe his system isn’t great for putting his own things out of reach?

    • I can see that…it can definitely be a pain to come home and have to clean but the financial upside is usually worth it to us.

  10. Heather says:

    I love house hacking! I split my primary home and currently have a full-time renter that covers my mortgage, taxes, and insurance. I’m moving toward being able to rent out the other side, my home, I’m comfortable with putting personal things in a locked area but I wonder about art. How do you manage to secure large wall art? Or if I’m at all worried should that stuff just be locked away?

    • We’ve never worried about art nor has anyone ever taken anything from our properties. If you’re concerned I’d say take it down and put up something inexpensive.

  11. I’ve considered doing this. San Diego has an annual comic convention that drives in a ton of traffic and rental prices are top dollar. But I’m too scared of even just one unnecessary scratch in the hardwoods, or someone not propping the washer door open, or a spill on my velvet sofa. Plus, I don’t know how much I’d love storing all of my closet stuff temporarily.
    I’d love to hear more about the nitty gritty of managing this!

    • Yeah it’s definitely an adjustment and not necessarily worth the effort for everyone. I’ll work on a post about that!

      • I’d love to hear the nutty gritty details of how you do this. Like, do you have a “lock closet” or “lock room” that houses personal things you don’t want guest to have access to? How do you decide how much to charge? Do you have a minimum stay? Etc. 🙂

  12. I live in a condo off of a popular tourist area of Chicago and by a bunch of the hospitals. I STRONGLY considered renting out my condo on weekends (I tend not to be there…) but the association rules are strongly opposed to it. But man would I love to do it. 🙁

    • Sure, condo associations can be pretty limiting (and that’s the reason we’ve never owned one). But I bet it’s fun for you to live there!

  13. Julie Marquez says:

    I want to try house swapping. You up to visiting Anacortes?

  14. Courtney says:

    We hacked our first house with some one-off Airbnb’s and a semi-full-time renter (lived in another state but worked for most of the year in our state). It was great – he paid our mortgage for five years!

  15. melissa says:

    Yes! I have an old home that was once made into a duplex. So it’s really easy to rent out one floor and give both us and the guests complete privacy. I love it for the exact same reasons you mentioned above. It’s free “fun” money to buy new home items, go somewhere fancier than normal for dinner, and justifies stays elsewhere when we have a guest for a whole weekend. Plus it too helps keep the clutter at bay.

  16. …and it doesn’t bother your in-laws or your sister that while you’re renting out your own house, you’re bringing a pile of people to stay with them? Your in-laws are WAY nicer than mine! I’m pretty sure if we tried something like that, they’d call us mooches and tell us to get a hotel :\

    • Goodness, sorry to hear that. It sounds like our family cultures are quite different. It was likely the highlight of my in-laws year having us over for 2 weeks during Christmas. They don’t care if we’re making money during the visit or not. And my sister and I beg each other to come visit with their families. We, of course, are helpful and respectful guests and visa versa when they come stay.

  17. Krysta Rush says:

    We are currently using our rental condo as an Air BnB which we have recently set up. It is going very well, and we were offered our in law’s house for a whole month….which got us to thinking about renting our primary residence. It is convertable to an upper and lower suite. We are going forward with it, but I have a few questions. First we have 4 kids from the ages 4-12 and so have alot of Lego, some toys, and craft supplies. I’ve been purging consistently for two years to keep things reasonable, but suddenly under the lense of a guests eye I’m wondering what is appropriate to leave in our spaces and what is not. We will use our garage to store excess items, but don’t want to totally move out. Secondly, our carpet is in pretty bad shape. We do not have the time or resources to replace flooring at this time. Is it fine if your house isn’t perfect so long as it’s clean and tidy?
    This blog is great! I’m totally encouraged as a stay at home mom looking for a futute financial contribution that is flexible and allows me to raise my kids! Love outside the box! Thanks for your time and energy into this!

    • Thanks Krysta! In your case, I think it would be important to show accurate photos of the carpet and charge an appropriate rate. You could look at what other houses go for with the square footage and bedroom/bathrooms that you have and drop the price a little from there. Good luck and YOU CAN DO IT!


  1. […] Another real estate story: this family of five “house hacked” to financial independence …. They got creative to finance buying homes in Seattle and eventually “house hacked” their way to financial independence. *And I have a great interview with them coming up! […]

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