Sometimes facing serious life challenges, including financial strains, require entrepreneurial creativity to create passive income. Something as simple as bunk beds—which many people already have in their homes—can lead to thousands of dollars in income.
Michael and Jennifer Corbus of Oak Grove, Oregon, used bunk beds to create their profitable side hustle business in their basement—spurred by an urgent need to raise money for the cost of medical care for their special needs daughter.
The Corbus’s began renting out their basement to international exchange students for extra income in 2005. Ten years later, in 2015, they switched to renting bunks on the Airbnb platform for passive income. They recently published a book, Bunk is Bank: How Bunk Beds Can Create Passive Income for YOU on AIRBNB, which tells their story but also details how others can make passive income by renting bunk beds through Airbnb.
“We give people the exact roadmap to set up a bunk bed BNB for very little money,” said Michael and Jennifer. “You will be able to list each bunk as an individual property, how to screen guests for safety and how to process guests into your bunk bed BNB with little personal interaction. There is a lot of earning potential when you receive the benefits from low-expectation guests.”
Since its inception, they have hosted 200 students over the first six years and over 1,300 guests since beginning on the Airbnb platform.
Factors To Consider
The book details how anyone can start earning income in the same manner they did, including some factors to consider before one decides to take on the same type of business in their home.
- Willingness to clean and make beds. This can be a nightly process during a very busy time but can take as little as 30 minutes. Michael says, “Cleaning can brighten my day. There are days when I might be feeling down, and I go down and clean and look around and say, “look at this place making money to provide for our family, what a place!”
- Being comfortable with passive income. Many people prefer working a regular job with security and guaranteed income. One must get comfortable making money where much of the work is in its initial setup and the risk of starting a business.
- Liking people. With a constant stream of people coming into your property, a comfort level must exist with the ability to deal with guests of various types of people.
Another consideration is insurance. The Corbus’s shared that their policy has a small rider on their regular policy, adding only a few dollars per month to their regular payments. They also chose to add a million-dollar umbrella policy which is a little over $20 per month (although not required) and covers any of their business ventures against liability. Additionally, Airbnb also has coverage against damage through what they call Aircover.
This business of bunk beds for rent now covers all the basic expenses for the Corbus family, including their mortgage, car payment, utilities, and basic house repairs.
“Twenty years ago, when I bought this house, if someone told me you will make the kind of money I do on the 1,200 square foot basement, I would have said they were insane,” says Michael.
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There are ten bunks total across the two rooms in their basement, which also features a full kitchen and two bathrooms with a private entrance. Each bunk room is listed as its separate property, focusing primarily on individual travelers, not groups traveling together (no kids are allowed).
Their primary renters now are relocating workers to the Portland area. The bunk prices start at $30 plus a $10 cleaning fee. Airbnb takes care of adding on the taxes and fees, so the homeowner gets to pocket the full rental fee.
“We really serve the underserved individual traveler. Lodging at a hotel can be so expensive,” says Jennifer.
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Dealing With Skeptics and Missteps
The bunk Bnb business concept was not without its naysayers or skeptics. Responses in the early stages were met with questions such as “You want to do WHAT?”
“Once we started making money, the naysayers kept their mouth shut and began to watch and periodically ask questions about how it was going,” Michael says. “It is hard for people to argue with that kind of passive income on the property you also live in.”
They also had missteps and mistakes along the way—mostly regarding the types of guests. An entire chapter of their book is “Processing Guests,” detailing the potential guest types to watch out for. They pre-screen and communicate with every potential guest before booking to ensure guests are a right fit for the unique communal nature of their property.
“After 1,500 guests and learning from mistakes, we have a process in place for screening and to avoid any red flags that might pop up,” Michael says. “The favorite type of Airbnb guest would be the vast majority of guests who understand that our place is no-frills and have low expectations.”
In addition to the income from the bunks, Michael and Jennifer describe one of their favorite benefits has been meeting people from everywhere. “I always imagined that we would travel a lot, but that isn’t easy for us,” says Jennifer. “Airbnb has brought the world to us where we couldn’t go to the world—so that has been really great for us.”
They have had guests from six continents. The basement wall features a pin map showing where all the guests who have stayed there are from. It also displays a picture of their daughter with a sign stating the income from the rentals funds her specialty care and therapy.
The book details how others can add passive income to support their families—a business idea that is ideal for those who are risk takers and willing to think outside the box. “Getting over the fear of the unknown and taking a chance is one of the biggest hurdles of getting into this,” they say.
Times of financial uncertainty can call for unique ways to create additional passive income streams. Adding a side hustle business can help create this additional income source. It can be as simple as utilizing something that could already be in your home—bunk beds—with the book giving an easy path on how to do it.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Kelley Dukat is a freelance writer, photographer, and event planner currently based in the United States. She has spent the last year as a nomad traveling and house-sitting. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and previously served as a trade magazine editor. Her favorites include dog-friendly travel, road trips, and nomad life. She is currently working on a memoir and a series of personal essays.