Tips to Find the Perfect Long-Term Airbnb
Renting an Airbnb is simple for short stays — it’s a trust-worthy site and super user-friendly. But when I booked my first long-term stay, I realized booking is a bit more complicated and almost like detective work.
Staying in someone else’s place for longer than a weekend can be super uncomfortable if it’s not set up correctly. So I’m here to help you find a place that feels like a home away from home.
You do not want to have the ceiling plaster fall down in your bedroom (true story), or be in a space where there’s no door for the bathroom (also a true story).
And really, you can use these tips for short-term stays too so you can make sure that wherever you go, you don’t get crushed by plaster.
When Should You Rent a Long-Term Airbnb?
First, let’s talk about who usually rents an Airbnb sublet, or long-term Airbnb. And when we talk about long-term Airbnbs, we’re talking about a rental for at least one week. There are several scenarios in which you want to consider Airbnb instead of an apartment or hotel.
- You’re moving to a new city so you want to check out the surrounding area before you make a commitment to a more permanent housing.
- You need time to look for more permanent housing in a new area.
- You’re a digital nomad — someone who works from home, but the world is your home
- You’re on an extended vacation
The Benefits of Renting a Long-Term Airbnb
The biggest pro of renting a long-term Airbnb is the discounts that are offered.
Some places will give you a discount for staying one week, but the pattern usually goes — the longer you stay, the bigger the discount.
Here’s an example of the same listing with a one-week discount and a one-month discount:
How to Secure Discounts
Now how do you secure this discount if you’re not 100% committed yet?
First, do not click “reserve” yet. Instead, scroll down until you see “contact host.”
This is so you can ask them any questions (we’ll get into this later), but Airbnb automatically secures the discount, which is great because if the price jumps the next day your price still remains the same.
If you stumble upon a listing that doesn’t offer a discount, you can message them saying something like:
“Hey! I’m looking around for a place to rent out for a month and stumbled on your home! I had a quick question before making a final decision — I noticed that many places have a long-term stay discount that and I was wondering if you offered that?”
Other Benefits of Renting Long-Term Airbnbs
- You’ll most likely have an attentive host. Otherwise, they risk being kicked off Airbnb and not making money.
- You won’t have to deal with a potentially unreliable landlord.
- You don’t have to furnish your place.
- No leases! There are often consequences if you cancel
- Free WiFi (if you filter for it).
- Utilities are included.
- Rent is super comparable, if not cheaper than an apartment.
What to Look Out for in Your Long-Term Airbnb
I’m starting with the kitchen because it’s one of my favorite places in homes. But also, if you’re staying for a while, you’re probably going to use the kitchen quite often — unless your budget allows otherwise.
All you have to do to make sure you get a full kitchen is go to “filters” and click on “kitchen”.
Here are some factors to think about:
- How big is the fridge? Most budget-friendly homes in budget-friendly countries only have offer one small fridge. Brent and I love to cook, but we’re still able to make our slightly-larger-than-mini-fridge fridge work in Mexico City.
- Review the kitchen photos. Take a good look at the shelves, where the fridge is, where the stove is, etc. This is to make sure that it has everything you’re looking for.
- This is when you should also look at the stove. Some places have full-on stoves, but most budget-friendly places will have a heating plate or 2-burner stovetops. For me, it’s super important to have more than 1 hot plate or stovetop to cook on.
- If the listing states kitchen utensils, but you don’t see them (sometimes they’re hidden) message the host. They’re often very friendly and happy to help with any questions you have.
- If you’re going somewhere where the water isn’t safe to drink, make sure they have a water filter, or a place where you can buy water nearby.
This is an area I’m probably a little too picky about still. But it’s hard getting a good night sleep when you feel every spring under you. Here are some things to consider:
- Take a look at the bed — it’s hard to tell in photos, but sometimes you can see if the mattress is a cheap ol’ thing. You can also check out the size of the bed by scrolling down a little bit.
- Are there windows to let in some natural light? But also curtains so the sun doesn’t blind you in the morning?
- How are the decorations or the color of the walls? This can be kind of nit-picky, but remember, this is where you’re going to sleep and rest. It can be kind of hard to feel relaxed when the walls are painted a bright green.
If you’re planning to work while you’re on vacation, or a digital nomad, a place to work is extremely important. There might be some co-working spaces near your Airbnb, but in the cases you can’t go to one, having a space where you can comfortably work is necessary. Here are a couple things to consider:
- Make sure to click on “laptop-friendly space” when choosing your filters.
- Even if you do have that filter on, make sure there’s a suitable desk for you to work on. There were a few places I looked at that only had a tiny desk barely big enough for one laptop.
The Living Room
This is another room that will be up to your preference. For me, it’s important that there’s a comfy chair or couch so I can relax somewhere that’s not the bed. There’s just at least one tip that I have:
- Look for the windows in the photos. Does it have natural light coming through? I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t want to feel like I’m trapped in a box, forever wondering if there’s still daylight outside.
You would think that the bathroom isn’t that important, but that’s often where we start our mornings and so it’s good to have some standards so you’re not starting the day frustrated at all the appliances. Here are some tips that I have:
- Is the sink big enough for your needs?
- Is there any space for you to put your toiletries or at least some storage area?
- How does the shower look?
- What do people say about the hot water situation in the reviews (unless you’re a Wim Hof follower, hot showers are something a lot of us take for granted and can be surprising and sad when we get to a place that doesn’t have hot shower).
Bonus Tips to Keep in Mind
- Check out your host’s profile. If they don’t have ratings for the place you’re looking at, don’t sweat — if they have good ratings for their other locations, then you can safely assume they’ll take good care of you.
- If you don’t want to go through the trouble of going through a host’s profile super in-depth, then make sure to turn on the “superhost” filter. This will only show you hosts who are consistently rated 5 stars in every category. In addition, they’ll always have a verified phone number, email address, and personal info.
- Look for any red flags in the comments. Some people will have nit-picky comments, but if it’s not a reoccurring comment, I wouldn’t worry about it. I’d focus on looking for reviews that repeatedly complain about the same thing. Again, you can always reach out to the host to confirm if that problem is still real, and also make sure you’re protected.
- Look up the area on Google maps — how does the neighborhood look? One time Brent and I almost booked an Airbnb only to see that the neighborhood seemed sketchy and the building was under construction. We looked at the reviews and people were complaining about noise from construction during the day.
- Make sure you message the host with any questions you have — small or big. That way, in case something happens (they gave you incorrect information, something out of your control happens and you need to change the reservation, etc.), you have proof of your conversation. Brent and I had to cancel a reservation because we realized it wasn’t in the safest neighborhood, and the host was nice about it and said we could get a full refund even though it was outside of Airbnb’s standard long-term stay policy. However, when we reached out to Airbnb to help us get the refund, the hosts told Airbnb they didn’t want to give us the refund anymore. But since they had already promised us, Airbnb was able to help us get our money back.
- Make sure you thoroughly read the house rules before booking. Brent and I travel with a little dog and we wanted to book a place that said they allowed dogs. To make sure, we messaged the host about her, and he said no dogs allowed. In another case, we found a beautiful place, but we realized no dogs were allowed in the description. But after messaging the host, she allowed us to stay since our pup is really small.
Helpful Templates to Send to Airbnb Hosts
Not sure what to say to your Airbnb hosts? Here are some templates I use to get the conversation going:
Hello [host(s) name],
My name is [name]. My boyfriend and I are very interested in your place for a longterm stay in [location] — the place is charming, and it seems like a very safe neighborhood for us [and the name + super short description of any pets you may have].
To give some background about us, we are [any descriptions about you/you and your traveling partner].
Here is where you’ll write any questions you have. For example:
WiFi Speed: “I wanted to reach out and ask about the WiFi speed. Could you please provide the Mbps? We work from home and a fast connection would be very preferable. Thanks!”
Pets: “I wanted to double-check with you — we have a little chihuahua who is almost 11 years old and 6 lbs. She doesn’t bark or shed, and mainly sleeps when we’re not around. Would you be OK with her coming with us?”
About the home: “I see that the kitchen is kind of small — is there a hot plate under the sink that’s available for us to cook on, as well as some utensils for us to cook with?”
About further discounts or budgeting: “Thank you for answering my questions to help me make a decision. Unfortunately, with the budget that my boyfriend and I are working with, the price a bit too high — we were hoping to find something around [$X]. Is there any way you’d be able to accommodate to that? I really appreciate your help!”
And then you can end with:
If there is any other information you need from me, don’t hesitate to ask as well. Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you!
It might seem a lot to think about right now, but with practice, it’ll be easier to spot things that won’t suit your needs so you can get an awesome place for your next destination.
Remember, you can’t be too picky if you’re staying long-term. Hosts want to accommodate your needs, so don’t be afraid to ask (politely).
Have any other tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
11/2/19 Update: Check out this article from Vice to see how this writer (and others) got scammed by fake hosts. Not to scare ya, but it’s a super thorough article so you can avoid this happening to yo