Anyone have any Small Town AirBnb Rental experience?

26 Replies

Hi @Roxanne McClain!  It really, really depends on the small town.  Do you have one in mind?  I see you're in TN - best market to be in is Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg/Sevierville.  Whether that counts as "small" or not is a matter of opinion, but you'll have no trouble with occupancy, and there's lots of resources in the area to help you self-manage long distance.  

We do an airbnb in our home and live in a rural area. We didn't know if we would have any bookings at all since it's in the "middle of nowhere" (which is what we named our space.)

We have had a pretty steady stream of visitors over the past year and a half we've been doing it. Traveling nurses, pilots, people coming into town for weddings, movie personnel when they're filming in the area and so forth. I'd say no matter where you are, someone else needs lodging in the area. Whether it would work as a full time gig for a property, who knows.

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@Roxanne McClain. You’ll want to talk to @Paul Sandhu about small town short term rental but what he is doing is not for everyone. @Julie McCoy is right the best STR market in the world is in your state.

Best part about STR is you can self manage from anywhere in the world. Find a property that will make cash and buy it.

What town? Are you trying to do it in your town or you open to doing it remotely? It makes a big difference. A small town doesn't mean anything if visitors don't really come there. I have a couple of long-term rentals in towns that are bad for short term rental in Tennessee and Virginia

I am in a similar boat. I was always told that if there are big chain hotels nearby (Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn etc) then there will always be demand for Air Bnb! Also having more space for larger families to stay at one spot is a huge advantage. 

My town has a population of 1,640, although my STR is in the larger unincorporated surroundings. The market here consists of about 30 STRs. Honestly, I was stunned when I started at how successful I was in a small area that is not extremely well-known. I do have the advantage of a National Forest, National Recreation Area, and the Columbia River close by. I have actually done well enough to sustain 2 listings, though I have to now sell my 2nd one because of HOA restrictions.

Updated over 2 years ago

As others have noted, I have a fairly steady stream of workers renting to do blue-collar-type work in the area.

All of my rentals are short term in a small town outside of New Orleans. Almost all of my renters are traveling construction workers getting paid per diem. One of the first things I'd look at is what industries are in the area you're looking at and see if they have traveling workers. Another good sign is a more rural area that has extended stay hotels there. This shows there is a need for short term housing.

I manage rentals in a rural town and frequently receive calls for traveling construction workers looking for furnished rentals. We are going to start renting one of the apartments in a 40 unit complex as an air bnb. There is only one other Airbnb in our area. If we don't have success we can always turn it back into a long term rental. 

Hey @Roxanne McClain! The town we are in is 267 people. It is about 40 miles outside Coeur d' Alene, Idaho which is about 50k people.

STR in a small town or area is just fine if people want to go there for some reason. Our is Lake Coeur d' Alene. Our home is right on the lake with a small beach, there is a 72 mile bike trail that runs right by the house and lots of outdoor activities nearby including a decent amusement park (Silverwood) about 60 miles away.

I would really listen to @Julie McCoy about the Pigeon Forge area. That is where we are looking for our second STR in that area. You can work with Avery Carl. She is helping us. Her Lucas and Julie are excellent resources for that area. Seeing as you are in Tennessee, seems like great place to start!

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Size of the town isn't the big factor. Do people visit your area and why? Some of those travelers will prefer an STR over a chain hotel. I have two STRs in a town of 2200. It is very rural, just off of I-70 and halfway between California and Denver. People travel through here for all kinds of reasons including family events, outdoor sports and visiting national parks. I am always booked to a comfortable level. Look at what niche you can market to and design your space to attract those travelers.

I am thinking to do the same thing with my new home. I have three unused bedrooms that would like to STR. I am very excited about it. Since i am new at it, I've thinking to hire a property manager at the beginning. It's been uphill, because they usually rent the whole house or they do long term tenants. Anything that I find out, i would be glad to share it.