Thinking of offering short-term rental accommodations? Here's the detailed budget.

short-term rental profitability

What is the cost of launching a short-term rental business? What are the key expenses? Is it feasible to do so on a modest budget? Which expenditures are superfluous?

This guide will provide you with essential information to assess how much it really takes to embark on this journey.

And if you need more detailed information please check our business plan for a short-term rental business and financial plan for a short-term rental business.

How much does it cost to offer short-term rental accommodations?

What is the average budget?

On average, starting a short-term rental business can range from $15,000 to $400,000 or more, depending on various factors.

Here's a breakdown of what affects this budget the most:

The location of your rental property is a significant cost factor. Properties in popular tourist destinations or major cities will cost more compared to those in quieter, less central locations.

The type and quality of the property also play a crucial role. A modest apartment will be more affordable than a luxury villa or a large house. For instance, a small studio apartment might cost $50,000, while a large, well-located villa could be upwards of $300,000 or more.

In terms of budget per square meter, for a short-term rental property, the average cost can range from $1,500 to $6,000 per sqm, depending on location and property type.

Renovation and interior design can also add to your expenses. A basic refurbishment might cost a few thousand dollars, while a high-end remodel and designer furnishings can run into tens of thousands.

Additional costs include licensing and permits for short-term rentals, which vary by location and can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Initial furnishings and supplies for guests, such as linens, kitchenware, and toiletries, can range from $2,000 to $15,000, depending on the quality and size of the property.

Marketing expenses, including listing fees on rental platforms, professional photography, and promotional activities, can also impact your budget. Plan for a few thousand dollars for effective marketing.

Can you start a short-term rental business with no money?

While starting with no money is challenging, it's possible to start small. Here's the minimum you might need:

You could begin by renting out a room in your own home or leasing a small, affordable property. This could significantly reduce your initial investment.

Using existing furniture and minimal additional purchases, your initial setup could be as low as $2,000 to $8,000.

Minor improvements and decorations to make the space appealing might cost a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars.

For marketing, leveraging free platforms like social media and relying on word-of-mouth can minimize costs. Set aside a small budget for basic online ads and branding materials, possibly around a few hundred dollars.

In this minimal scenario, you could start with an initial investment of $3,000 to $12,000.

Remember, this approach may limit your earning potential and growth opportunities. As your rental business gains traction, reinvesting profits into expanding and enhancing your property can lead to greater success.

Finally, if you want to determine your exact starting budget, along with a comprehensive list of expenses customized to your project, you can use the financial plan for a short-term rental business.

business plan vacation rental

What are the expenses to offer short-term rental accommodations?

Please note that you can access a detailed breakdown of all these expenses and also customize them for your own project in the financial plan for a short-term rental business.

Cost analysis for setting up a short-term rental business

Setting up a short-term rental business, like an Airbnb, varies in cost depending on whether you're converting an existing property or starting from scratch.

Purchasing or Upgrading Property for Short-Term Rentals

Estimated Budget: between $100,000 and $600,000

Here's a detailed breakdown:

The cost of purchasing or upgrading a property for short-term rentals depends heavily on location, size, and condition. In urban areas, prices can be higher, ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. Rural areas might offer more affordable options.

Property-related fees, such as inspection, appraisal, and potential remodeling costs, could range from $2,000 to $50,000, depending on the property's state and the extent of required upgrades.

Legal and due diligence expenses, including attorney fees for property transactions and thorough due diligence, can range from $1,000 to $10,000.

There are closing costs to consider, like title insurance, transfer taxes, and escrow fees, which could total between $2,000 and $20,000.

Design and decoration costs for a short-term rental are crucial for attracting guests. This can range from $5,000 to $100,000, depending on your aesthetic goals and the size of the property.

Permits and approvals, especially if significant renovations are needed, can vary widely, costing anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000.

Building materials and remodeling costs, if the property requires extensive work, can range from $10,000 to $200,000.

Utility connection or upgrades, if needed, could cost between $1,000 and $10,000.

Contractor fees for renovations or upgrades can range from $10,000 to $150,000, depending on the project's scope.

For additional services like landscaping, plumbing, or electrical upgrades, budget from $3,000 to $50,000.

Don’t forget to account for unexpected expenses, such as unforeseen repairs or decor changes. It's recommended to reserve an additional 10-15% of your total budget for these contingencies.

Here is a summary table for a clearer financial perspective.

Cost Category Estimated Budget Range (USD)
Purchasing/Upgrading Property $100,000 - $500,000
Property-Related Fees $2,000 - $50,000
Legal and Due Diligence $1,000 - $10,000
Closing Costs $2,000 - $20,000
Design and Decoration $5,000 - $100,000
Permits and Approvals $1,000 - $25,000
Remodeling and Building Materials $10,000 - $200,000
Utility Connection/Upgrades $1,000 - $10,000
Contractor Fees $10,000 - $150,000
Additional Services (Landscaping, Plumbing, etc.) $3,000 - $50,000
Contingency for Other Expenses Additional 10-15% of Total Budget

Equipments, furniture and interior design

Estimated Budget: at least $50,000

When starting a short-term rental business, the primary focus should be on furnishing and equipping each rental space to ensure comfort and appeal to guests.

Quality beds are paramount, with costs ranging from $500 to $2,000 per bed. The comfort of your guests is critical, and investing in good mattresses and bed frames can significantly impact their experience.

Living area furniture, including sofas and coffee tables, can vary widely in price. Budget anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per set. Opting for durable and stylish pieces can enhance the attractiveness of your rental.

Kitchen essentials are a must. Basic appliances like a refrigerator, stove, and microwave can cost between $1,500 and $5,000 in total. Additionally, investing $300 to $1,000 in kitchenware (pots, pans, utensils) is important for guest convenience.

Bathroom fixtures and amenities shouldn't be overlooked. Budget around $500 to $2,000 for quality towels, mats, and essential toiletries. A well-appointed bathroom adds to the overall guest experience.

Don't forget entertainment options like a TV and Wi-Fi setup, which can total $300 to $1,500. These are now standard expectations in short-term rentals.

Decorative elements and artwork can range from $200 to $2,000, depending on your taste and the theme of your rental. These touches make your space more inviting and can help your listing stand out.

As for optional items, consider a washer and dryer for guest convenience, costing around $1,000 to $3,000. Also, smart home devices like thermostats and security systems can add $500 to $2,000 but offer enhanced guest comfort and security.

In prioritizing your budget, focus on essential furnishings like beds and living room furniture, as these areas are most used by guests. Ensure comfort and quality to encourage positive reviews and repeat visits.

For kitchen appliances and bathroom amenities, mid-range options can offer good quality without overspending. Remember, the goal is to create a welcoming, comfortable space that feels like a home away from home.

Starting a short-term rental business is about balancing investment in furnishings and amenities with the potential return from guest bookings. Begin with the essentials and gradually add more features as your business grows.

Estimated Budget: at least $50,000
Furnishing and Equipping: Focus on comfort and appeal to guests
Quality Beds: $500 to $2,000 per bed
Living Area Furniture: $1,000 to $5,000 per set
Kitchen Essentials: $1,500 to $5,000 (appliances), $300 to $1,000 (kitchenware)
Bathroom Fixtures and Amenities: $500 to $2,000
Entertainment Options: $300 to $1,500 (TV and Wi-Fi)
Decorative Elements and Artwork: $200 to $2,000
Optional Items: $1,000 to $3,000 (washer and dryer), $500 to $2,000 (smart home devices)
Prioritizing Your Budget: Focus on essential furnishings and mid-range options for kitchen and bathroom
Starting a Short-Term Rental Business: Balance investment in furnishings with potential return
business plan short-term rental business

Marketing, Branding and Communication

Estimated Budget: $7,000 to $15,000 for the first year of operation

In the dynamic world of short-term rental businesses, effective branding, marketing, and communication are essential for standing out in a crowded market.

Branding for a short-term rental is about creating an unforgettable experience for your guests. It's more than just a catchy name or a stylish interior. It's about the unique ambiance of your property, the comfort of the beds, and the small touches that make a stay memorable.

Do you want your rental to have a cozy, homely feel or a luxurious, high-end look? This branding choice influences everything from the design of your website to the amenities you offer, like high-speed Wi-Fi or a fully equipped kitchen.

Marketing is your beacon, guiding potential guests to your door. In the digital age, visibility is key. Relying solely on listing sites is not enough. You need to actively promote your rental through various channels.

Effective marketing might include stunning photos and virtual tours on your own website, targeted ads on social media, or partnering with local businesses to offer exclusive deals to your guests. SEO is crucial as well, ensuring your rental appears at the top when someone searches for a “cozy stay in [your location].”

However, remember to focus your marketing efforts on platforms that reach your target audience. Expensive, broad-scope advertising is less effective than targeted, local strategies.

Communication is key to building lasting relationships with your guests. It's the prompt and helpful responses to inquiries, the detailed guidebook in your rental, and the personalized follow-up email thanking them for their stay. Excellent communication leads to repeat bookings and glowing reviews.

Regarding your marketing budget, for a short-term rental business, it typically ranges from 3% to 15% of your annual revenue. Starting conservatively is advisable, gradually increasing the budget as you learn what works best for your property.

Allocate your budget wisely. Invest in professional photography, an easy-to-navigate website, and perhaps some local advertising, like collaborating with nearby attractions or creating informative brochures about the area.

Adjust your budget based on performance. Initially, you might invest more in creating a buzz around your opening, then transition to a regular investment in maintaining and enhancing your online presence. Pay attention to the platforms that bring you the most guests and adjust your spending accordingly.

business plan vacation rental

Staffing and Management

Estimated Budget: $15,000 - $25,000 for the first month

When launching a short-term rental business, the staffing and management expenses depend on the number of properties you're managing, their size, location, and the level of service you're providing.

Let's delve into the specifics.

Managing a single or a few short-term rentals can be done individually, but it's demanding. This business requires constant attention to bookings, guest communication, property maintenance, and marketing. For most owners, hiring a team is essential for efficient operations and maintaining personal well-being.

Essential roles in a short-term rental business include a property manager to oversee day-to-day operations, a customer service representative for guest interactions, and a cleaning crew to ensure properties are pristine for each new guest. If you offer high-end rentals, you might also need a concierge or a specialist in luxury services.

As your portfolio of rental properties grows, you can think about expanding your team with roles like a dedicated marketing expert, a maintenance supervisor, or additional customer service staff. These positions can be considered several months in, once you have a better grasp of your business dynamics.

Staff should be compensated from the start of their employment. Postponing wages until after the first month can result in dissatisfaction and high staff turnover.

Additional expenses such as taxes, insurance, and employee benefits are significant and can increase your staffing costs by about 20-30% over the base salaries.

Training is also key in the short-term rental industry. Initially, budgeting for staff training in customer service, property management software, and emergency response protocols is vital. This investment in training, which could range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, is essential for providing high-quality guest experiences and ensuring the smooth running of your business.

Job Position Average Salary Range (USD)
Property Manager $40,000 - $60,000
Guest Services Coordinator $30,000 - $45,000
Cleaning Crew Supervisor $35,000 - $50,000
Marketing Specialist $45,000 - $70,000
Reservation Agent $25,000 - $40,000
Maintenance Technician $30,000 - $50,000
Accountant $50,000 - $80,000

Please note that you can access a detailed breakdown of all these expenses and also customize them for your own project in the financial plan for a short-term rental business.

Professional Services

Starting with a lawyer, for a short-term rental business, the focus isn't just on general business setup.

A lawyer can help you understand and comply with local zoning laws and short-term rental regulations, which can vary significantly depending on your location. They can also assist in drafting rental agreements that protect your interests and cover scenarios unique to short-term rentals, such as damage to property or issues with tenants. The cost for legal services in this field may range from $2,500 to $6,000 initially, reflecting the complexity of real estate and hospitality laws.

Consultants for a short-term rental business are invaluable, especially if you're new to the hospitality industry.

They can provide insights on optimizing your property for short-term rentals, such as interior design tips to appeal to a broad range of guests, effective marketing strategies on rental platforms, or advice on setting competitive prices. Consultants with expertise in this area might charge between $100 to $300 per hour.

Bank services for a short-term rental business are crucial for managing cash flow and financing property improvements or acquisitions. Apart from a business account, you might need a loan for purchasing or renovating properties. The cost of these services will depend on your banking institution and the specific financial products you choose.

Insurance for a short-term rental business must cover risks like property damage, liability for guest injuries, and loss of income in case the property becomes uninhabitable. These insurances can be more expensive than standard home insurance due to the increased risks associated with short-term renting. Annual costs might range from $1,500 to $6,000 depending on coverage.

Additionally, for a short-term rental business, obtaining and maintaining licenses and permits is not a one-time task. Many localities require short-term rental licenses, and you may need to comply with regular inspections or renewals. This is a recurring expense but essential for operating legally and maintaining the trust of your guests and the community.

Service Description Cost Estimate
Lawyer Assistance with local zoning laws, short-term rental regulations, and drafting rental agreements. $2,500 - $6,000
Consultant Advice on property optimization, marketing strategies, and pricing for short-term rentals. $100 - $300 per hour
Bank Services Business account management and financing for property improvements or acquisitions. Varies based on services used
Insurance Coverage for property damage, guest injuries, and loss of income. $1,500 - $6,000 annually
Licenses and Permits Obtaining and maintaining licenses and permits for short-term rental operations. Recurring expense

Ongoing Emergency Funds

Estimated Budget : $15,000 to $75,000

When you're opening a short-term rental business, having an emergency fund is absolutely crucial.

It's like having a safety net when you host guests; you hope you won't need it, but it's essential for your peace of mind and the successful operation of your rental properties.

The amount you should set aside can vary, but a common guideline is to have enough to cover at least 6 to 12 months of your operating expenses. This typically translates into a range of $15,000 to $75,000, depending on the size and quality of your rental properties.

Keep in mind that these figures can fluctuate based on factors such as your location, property acquisition costs, maintenance expenses, guest turnover, and marketing efforts.

One of the main reasons you need this fund is the unpredictability of cash flow in the short-term rental industry. For instance, you might face unexpected property maintenance costs, fluctuations in occupancy rates, or sudden marketing expenses. These situations can significantly impact your cash flow if you're not adequately prepared.

To mitigate these potential challenges, it's wise to not only have an emergency fund but also to efficiently manage your rental properties and guest services.

Overinvesting in properties can lead to excessive overhead, while neglecting maintenance can result in negative guest experiences and reviews. Regularly inspecting and maintaining your properties and adapting your services based on guest feedback can help you avoid these pitfalls.

Additionally, building strong relationships with local tourism organizations, online booking platforms, and reliable property maintenance providers can be invaluable. They may offer collaborative marketing opportunities, preferential terms, or assistance during challenging financial periods, which can alleviate cash flow constraints.

Another key aspect is keeping a close eye on your finances. Regularly reviewing your income and expense statements helps you identify trends and address issues proactively before they escalate.

It's also a good idea to diversify your revenue streams. In addition to standard property rentals, consider offering additional services such as cleaning, concierge services, or guided tours to enhance the guest experience and increase revenue.

Lastly, never underestimate the importance of excellent customer service and community engagement. Satisfied guests are more likely to become repeat visitors and recommend your short-term rentals to others, ensuring a stable source of income and a positive reputation in the hospitality industry.

Please note that you can access a detailed breakdown of all these expenses and also customize them for your own project in the financial plan for a short-term rental business.

business plan short-term rental business

Which costs can be eliminated for a short-term rental business?

Managing expenses judiciously is crucial for the long-term success of your short-term rental business.

Some costs are unnecessary, others may lead to overspending, and certain investments can be postponed until your business is more firmly established.

Firstly, let's address unnecessary costs.

A common mistake in the short-term rental industry is over-investing in high-end furnishings and renovations right from the start. While comfort and aesthetics are important, your initial guests will prioritize cleanliness, convenience, and value over luxury. Begin with functional, tasteful, and durable furnishings rather than opting for expensive designer items. Enhance the space with simple yet appealing decor to create a welcoming atmosphere without overspending.

In terms of marketing, avoid costly traditional advertising methods. Instead, leverage cost-effective digital marketing strategies. Utilize online rental platforms, social media, and a well-designed website to attract guests. These digital methods can be more effective and less expensive than traditional advertising.

Now, let's discuss areas where short-term rental owners often overspend.

One such area is excessive property renovations. While it's important to maintain a well-kept and attractive rental, extensive remodeling isn't always necessary. Focus on essential repairs and functional upgrades rather than extensive makeovers, especially in the beginning stages.

Also, be cautious with stocking too many amenities or supplies upfront. It's vital to strike a balance to avoid overstocking items that may not be used frequently. Start with essential amenities and consider adding more based on guest feedback and demand.

Regarding delaying expenses, consider postponing major property upgrades or expansions. It's tempting to expand or upgrade your rental space to increase revenue, but it's advisable to wait until you have a stable income and a clear understanding of guest preferences. Expanding too early can lead to financial strain.

Another cost that can be delayed is investing in smart home technology and premium subscription services. While these can enhance guest experience, start with the basics and gradually incorporate such technologies as your business grows and justifies the investment.

Examples of startup budgets for short-term rental businesses

To assist in understanding the financial requirements for starting a short-term rental business, we'll examine the startup budgets for three different scenarios: a modest rental in a rural area with minimal renovations, a standard urban rental with moderate amenities, and a high-end luxury rental in a prime location.

Modest Rental in a Rural Area with Minimal Renovations

Total Budget Estimate: $20,000 - $40,000

Category Budget Allocation Example of Expenses
Property Lease/Down Payment $5,000 - $10,000 Initial lease payments or mortgage down payment
Renovations and Repairs $3,000 - $6,000 Basic repairs, painting, minor upgrades
Furnishings and Decor $5,000 - $10,000 Second-hand or budget-friendly furniture, linens, decor
Permits and Licenses $500 - $1,000 Business registration, short-term rental permits
Marketing and Advertising $1,000 - $2,000 Online listings, local ads, signage
Miscellaneous/Contingency $2,000 - $5,000 Utilities setup, emergency repairs, initial supplies

Standard Urban Rental with Moderate Amenities

Total Budget Estimate: $50,000 - $80,000

Category Budget Allocation Example of Expenses
Property Lease/Down Payment $15,000 - $25,000 Lease deposits or mortgage down payment in urban areas
Renovations and Upgrades $10,000 - $15,000 Interior design, modern upgrades, safety features
Furnishings and Amenities $10,000 - $20,000 Quality furniture, appliances, entertainment options
Permits and Licenses $1,000 - $2,000 Compliance with local regulations, insurance
Marketing and Branding $3,000 - $5,000 Professional photos, website, social media marketing
Miscellaneous/Contingency $5,000 - $10,000 Unexpected expenses, initial maintenance costs

High-End Luxury Rental in a Prime Location

Total Budget Estimate: $100,000 - $200,000

Category Budget Allocation Example of Expenses
Property Lease/Down Payment $30,000 - $60,000 Premium location lease or substantial mortgage down payment
Luxury Renovations $20,000 - $40,000 High-end interior design, custom fittings, luxury amenities
Premium Furnishings and Decor $25,000 - $50,000 Designer furniture, top-of-the-line appliances, bespoke decor
Permits, Licenses, and Insurance $2,000 - $4,000 Comprehensive insurance, permits for luxury rentals
Exclusive Marketing and Branding $10,000 - $20,000 Targeted advertising, premium listing services, professional staging
Miscellaneous/Contingency $10,000 - $20,000 Contingency funds for high-end maintenance, concierge services
business plan short-term rental business

How to secure enough funding to offer short-term rental accommodations?

For entrepreneurs starting a short-term rental business, funding typically comes from a blend of personal savings, bank loans, and sometimes contributions from friends and family. Venture capital is less common in this sector, as short-term rentals usually don't fit the high-growth, scalable model that venture capitalists seek. Similarly, grants are rare in the short-term rental industry since they often target sectors like technology or health.

To secure a loan or attract an investor, a detailed and convincing business plan is essential. This plan should include financial projections, a market analysis, a unique value proposition (what makes your short-term rental stand out), and an operations strategy.

Understanding your target market and having a clear route to profitability is crucial. Lenders and investors want to see well-thought-out financials, including revenue forecasts, expense breakdowns, and cash flow projections. They also value evidence of your commitment and capability to run the business, which can be demonstrated through your experience in the industry or by partnering with individuals who have relevant expertise.

Regarding personal investment, while there is no fixed rule, contributing around 20-30% of the total startup budget can be beneficial. This shows your dedication to the project. However, if you can compellingly demonstrate the viability and profitability of your business, securing funding without a significant personal financial input is possible.

Securing funding should ideally happen about 6 months before launching your short-term rental business. This timeframe allows for property setup, furnishing, obtaining necessary licenses, and other preparatory tasks. It also provides a cushion for any unforeseen issues.

Expecting immediate cash flow positivity is optimistic for most new businesses, including short-term rentals. It is wise to allocate about 20-25% of your startup budget to cover initial operating expenses. This working capital is essential to sustain the business during the initial months before it becomes profitable.

You might also want to read our dedicated article related to the profitability of a short-term rental business.

How to use the financial plan for your short-term rental business?

Many entrepreneurs entering the short-term rental business often face the challenge of securing funding, primarily due to unstructured business proposals and a lack of detailed financial plans.

To turn your vision of owning a profitable short-term rental business into a reality, gaining the trust and confidence of potential investors or financial institutions is key. A clear and professional approach is essential in this process.

To assist you in this endeavor, we offer a specialized financial plan, designed exclusively for the short-term rental industry. This plan provides financial forecasts for a period of three years.

Our comprehensive plan includes all vital financial statements and ratios necessary for a robust proposal. These include the income statement, cash flow statement, break-even analysis, and a provisional balance sheet. The plan comes with pre-filled data tailored to the short-term rental market, covering a broad range of expenses specific to this industry. You have the flexibility to adjust these figures to match your specific project needs.

This financial plan is particularly beneficial for loan applications and is user-friendly for beginners. It requires no previous financial expertise. The plan is designed to be intuitive - there's no need for manual calculations or spreadsheet modifications. Users can simply input their data and choose from preset options, making it accessible to those unfamiliar with complex financial software.

Moreover, should you encounter any difficulties or have questions, our dedicated team is available to provide support and guidance at no additional cost.

With our tailored financial plan, you'll be equipped to present a compelling and professional proposal that can significantly enhance your chances of securing the necessary funding for your short-term rental business venture.

business plan vacation rental

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and does not imply endorsement. While we strive for accuracy, we do not guarantee the completeness or reliability of the information, including text, images, links, or other elements in this material. Following the advice or strategies presented here does not assure specific outcomes. For guidance tailored to your individual circumstances, it is recommended to consult with a professional, such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor.

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