Skip to main content

BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Putting out the welcome mat

Jul 30, 2019 03:47PM ● By Melanie Wiseman

Anna and Jim Goetz

Airbnb Superhosts make money, friendships by opening their homes to guests

When Pat Martin listed her spare room on Airbnb seven years ago, it was one of only three in the area. Now there are 300, an example of the online hospitality service’s increasing popularity.

The extra bed in her Fruitvale home rents for a modest $45 per night year-round and comes with a gourmet breakfast she cooks herself. Recognized on Airbnb by the name, “Southwest Ambiance and Comfort,” Martin’s home showcases her southwestern-style hospitality, which she describes in a way that attracts guests to book with her for roughly 150 nights out of the year.

“Staying with [me] is like staying with a favorite relative—a relative who has been a ranch hand, trail rider, cowboy poet and author, and who lives the Western lifestyle,” her listing reads.   

Although Martin originally signed up with Airbnb out of financial necessity, she’s also gained memorable experiences and worldwide friendships over the years that she wouldn’t trade for anything.

“I always give my guests a hug when they leave. No matter how old they are, I tell them they’re all my kids now,” said Martin. “It used to be all millennials, but now seniors are getting onboard, too.”

Airbnb is a burgeoning marketplace of lodging experiences designed for travelers of all ages. Not only has it opened up new ways to travel, but it’s also become an important earning opportunity for seniors looking to stretch their savings into retirement.

Stretching savings

According to AARP, the majority of Americans over age 60 want to age in place by remaining in their current home. A global survey of Airbnb hosts found that close to half of those aged 60 and older say that the bed and breakfast service has helped them afford to stay in their homes, and 41 percent say they rely on their Airbnb income to make ends meet.

Jude Conn planned to live out her retirement in a tiny house on her 5.5-acre property by the river in Orchard City. When she realized it couldn’t be her primary residence, she built another house and rented out her tiny house as an Airbnb.

“I didn’t save a lot of money for retirement,” said Conn, 59. “[Renting via Airbnb] will easily provide half of my income going forward, and for that, I’m really thankful.

Senior Airbnb superhosts grand junction colorado

Anna and Jim Goetz

In 2013, Anna and Jim Goetz put a second mortgage on their home and bought an investment property near Fort Lauderdale, which their son, Michael, rents from them.

Three years later, while looking for ways to stretch their income, Anna suggested posting the property on Airbnb.com.

“I thought, how cool would it be to Airbnb the Florida property when Michael comes home for Christmas?” Anna said.

With their son’s approval, the listing went live and someone reserved the property for all five days. Michael had just enough time to put away his underwear, lock his important documents in the garage and fly home.

“We made $800, and that was the beginning of this huge process,” said Anna.

Reservations have poured in since that first day, with guests leaving rave reviews. Now when guests arrive, Michael moves into a remodeled shed in the backyard.

After witnessing the success of renting out their Florida property, Anna was ready to explore the possibility of listing their home in Grand Junction. Her husband, Jim, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic about renting their home to strangers.

“I didn’t want a bunch of weirdos in my house going through my stuff, sitting on my swing or in my hot tub,” Jim said. “Then I began to realize that this place brings me so much joy—why not share some of that joy with others?”

House hoppers

The Goetzes’ Grand Junction home rents 40 percent of the time. College graduations, fairs, festivals, foreign and business travelers, wedding parties and bikers keep them hopping between residences.

They stayed with local family members before buying a small camper to retreat to while their house was occupied. Last year, they invested in a 725-square foot home in the Las Colonias area for a more comfortable respite. Remodeled and cute as a button, this small house also has the potential to become an Airbnb in the future.

The Goetzes’ circumstance differs from Martin, who stays put when someone rents with her through Airbnb.

“Our situation may be unique because we live in the home we rent out, where other people use a second home where they don’t have to move or juggle every guest,” said Jim. “But we have it figured out: I have a box that I throw my stuff in and just go.”

Any available space can work as an Airbnb, from a shared living room to a second home and everything in between. Guests like to have the option of having entire houses to themselves, private rooms with a separate entrance or shared common spaces, or even a couch in a shared room.

Superhost status

Airbnb the tourquoise door
Jude Conn's tiny house "The Turquoise Door"

Many travelers are shying away from traditional accommodations and turning to Airbnb as they look for lodging that provides greater access to unique sights, experiences and communities.

Conn’s cozy tiny house, listed on Airbnb as “The Turquoise Door,” provides a special experience all on its own.

“I found a turquoise door at a store in Delta that I just loved, so I set it outside of the house,” she said.

She’s building a second tiny home that will be called, “The Green Fish,” a tribute to the 12-foot sculpture that will be posted outside.

Conn, Martin and the Goetzes are Superhosts, meaning that 90 percent of their guests have given them five-star reviews. This is actually a common trend for senior hosts: 85 percent of senior hosts’ reviews are five stars.

“We are proud to maintain the Airbnb Superhost status,” said Anna, whose Grand Junction home is centrally located and complete with a hot tub and fire pit. “People leave our home so nice, as they want us to give them a five-star rating themselves.”

Martin has hosted guests from 57 countries. Some of the Goetzes’ past guests include two young bubbly Google photographers, a man who taught them how to make a yoga meditation chair, and a young Chinese couple on their honeymoon who cooked Anna a fabulous breakfast.

“We’ve met interesting and wonderful people from all over the world,” said Anna. “Each person leaves a little piece of themselves with us.”

Host’s benefits

Renting out their house via Airbnb is a part-time business for Anna, who manages the cleaning, reservations, website, finances and taxes. Jim, still a full-time teacher, acts as a handyman and helper during quick turnaround times.

Airbnb gives hosts the flexibility to block off dates when they don’t want to rent or to increase prices for peak times. All money is exchanged through the website or smartphone app, and the company has taken extensive measures to keep hosts, their homes and guests safe.

Martin has no apprehensions about who she rents to because guests are so well-vetted, and guests are rated by previous hosts.

Airbnb has made a profound impact on both Martin and the Goetzes’ financial futures. The most exciting news for the Goetzes is that by continuing to share their home, Jim will be able to retire five years earlier than originally planned.

“It may sound silly but Airbnb has brought luxury to my life,” said Anna. “Guests require things we never had before: nice linens, new mattresses, Kleenex and paper towels. Another luxury is always having a cleaner house!”

Jim added that expenses such as internet, utilities and even coffee can be prorated or written off.

Being out of their house while it's occupied by guests has also allowed them to enjoy some amazing camping and travel adventures they wouldn’t have otherwise taken.

“I have no regrets about doing this,” said Jim.  “It’s about the most positive thing I’ve ever done.”

Host with Airbnb

With over 400,000 senior hosts worldwide, adults age 60 and older are the most popular host/guest age group on Airbnb. Earn extra money and maintain full control of your availability, prices, house rules and how you interact with guests. To learn more about being a host, visit www.airbnb.com/host/homes

Travel with Airbnb

Traveling through Airbnb is a great way to overcome loneliness, meet new people, and travel the world in a truly local and authentic way. The number of guests aged 60 and older who booked on Airbnb increased by 66 percent in 2018. Book your next stay at www.airbnb.com

Sign up for our Newsletter

* indicates required
I am a...