In today’s day and age, having a single income stream is detrimental. What happens when you lose your job? You’re often screwed. One appealing way to build an income stream is through short-term rentals. Airbnb popularized short-term rentals. You pay to rent a room or a home for a brief amount of time. This puts cash in the host’s pockets; the person having you stay at their property while also providing the guest (the person booking the Airbnb). However, there are a couple of challenges that come with trying to start an Airbnb in Kenya. In this post, I’ll aim to help you figure out how you can start an Airbnb in Kenya.

How much can you make from an Airbnb in Kenya?

You can make anywhere between KES 50,000 – 250,000 per month per property for most Airbnb properties that are around in Kenya. The amount of income you make depends on multiple factors:

  • Where is it located? Prime locations such as Kilimani, Lavington, Kileleshwa attract higher prices
  • How big is it? Larger houses can charge more (but also have a harder time getting customers)
  • How unique is it? Novelty is expensive.
  • What kind of stuff do you have in it? A place with better decor and amenities can afford to charge more.

How to start

In a nutshell, here’s what you need to do

  • Pick a target audience – Do you want expats? People going to clubs? Families? This affects your decision making in later steps.
  • Pick a house size (studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom?) – This depends on the type of people you will be targeting to be your guests. A family and a night-lifer will not have the same needs.
  • Come up with a budget – How much does it cost to start an airbnb in Kenya? You can start one from around KES 400,000 – 1 million (and beyond), depending on where and what you have in the property.
  • Find a location – Depending on which audience you have picked, you will go for different things. For example: if you want to host club goers, then you need to have proximity to clubs and security as your top priority. On the other hand, if you want expats, you may want to provide a secluded neighbourhood with sufficient privacy and proximity to embassies and such.
  • Pick a theme – A home without a theme is a mess. You need to pick some kind of style that you’re going for and stick to it, for the most part at least.
  • Figure out your pricing – You can start by looking at competitors within the same area (or other areas with similar listings that are similar to your location).
  • Furnish the home – From furniture to decor, once you know what kind of people you will be hosting, you can decide how you furnish it.
  • Take pictures & videos – no one is going to book your home if they don’t know it exists. Make sure to take great pictures in landscape mode. Airbnb recommends an aspect ratio of 3:2 (and a resolution of 1024 x 683px at least). You don’t need fancy equipment, just great lighting and a decent phone.
    • Pictures go on Airbnb (the 3:2 aspect ratio ones, hold your phone sideways and you’ll be just fine)
    • Videos can go on platforms like Instagram
    • If you have time, you can also take portrait pictures for instagram (4:3 aspect ratio – just hold your phone upright and you’ll be fine)
  • Create a checklist – Note down the stuff you have in the house
  • Find cleaning staff – you’ll need someone to clean the property after guests check out. More often than not, you can find them through other hosts in the same area.
  • Get a lockbox – Have this installed next to the door so that your guests can let themeselves in. Saves them, and you the hassle when handling check-in.
  • Setup your electronics
  • Basic shopping for the home
  • List the property on Airbnb (and other booking sites such as if you feel inclined)
  • Create a bank account for the property – You would ideally want to keep this separate from your primary personal account. You’ll use this to receive payouts from Airbnb.
  • Market the hell out of your property – You can initially run paid ads to get the word out there. In my particular case, I decided to go with Instagram ads, but really, you could run the ads on YouTube or TikTok as well.
  • Run the Airbnb & Profit – Accept bookings, make money, re-invest some of the profits into marketing and possibly improving your listing.

Seems like a lot? It is, but don’t fret, once you’ve set it all up, it’s semi-passive. You will only need to get bookings and organize for the cleaning of the property, as well as repairs if any. The payout is decent for not much continuous effort in return.

Moving forward

Each of these steps has a lot that would go into it, and I’ve gone through it and figured out how to make it work. I’ll be sharing a cheatsheet when you start your own Airbnb. Click here to grab your Airbnb starter checklist.

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