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Airbnb Monthly Stays: What to Know Before Booking

Monthly Airbnb stays can be a way to save money and enjoy the stability of a place to temporarily call “home,” but they aren’t for everyone. Here are a few pros and cons to help you choose whether booking monthly is right for your, and some tips to navigate the process successfully if you do choose to rent month-to-month furnished housing:

Pros for booking a monthly stay on Airbnb

  • Big discounts are offered for longer-term stays vs short-term Airbnb bookings.
  • You can enjoy the stability of not having to pack and unpack during your time in the area.
  • Unlike standard rent, Airbnb discounts or credit card points may cover part of the cost.
  • With a monthly stay, you’re more likely to cook in your Airbnb’s kitchen, which can save even more money. (Click here for airbnb kitchen-friendly recipes)

Cons for booking a monthly stay on Airbnb

  • Making a commitment to spend a month or more in a home you’ve never seen can backfire.
  • If th stay goes dreadfully bad, accessing a refund from Airbnb may be very challenging.
  • Alternate platforms may offer more transparency and less risk for monthly bookings.
  • The commitment to stay in one location may limit your sightseeing.

One benefit of slow travel and traveling as a digital nomad is that instead of constantly hopping from hotel to hotel, or Airbnb to Airbnb, you have the opportunity to do weekly or monthly Airbnb stays in each destination you visit. Monthly stays can be a way to settle in and rest, get to know a destination in a deeper way, and build resilience to travel burnout.

My Experience with Airbnb Monthly Stays

I’ve spent a lot of time in Airbnb is – like, a lot of time. Combined, I spent about 9 months (between 2019-2021) staying in Airbnb’s and short-term rentals similar to Airbnb. During this time, I have stayed engaged in the industry news and chatter. Combined with my experience as an Airbnb host, it’s offered some valuable insights on monthly vacation rentals.

Planning an Airbnb monthly stay is more challenging (and fr riskier) than planning traditional lodging. With a larger deposit required upfront, booking a monthly stay on Airbnb can feel like a gamble, and it is. The potential pitfalls of a monthly stay gone bad can be a huge headache, and for some, the cons may outweigh the pros for risking it all on one monthly Airbnb booking.

A bed overlooking the puget sound in an airbnb.

Tips for Booking a Monthly Airbnb Rental

#1: Never take a chance on a listing with fewer than 6-8 detailed positive reviews

The fact is, basic reviews that say simply, “we had a great trip!” Or “we really enjoyed this cabin- everything was great!” Aren’t actually helpful to other travelers. (Recently, I wrote an entire article about how to write a good Airbnb review that actually helps other travelers.)

In fact, on a platform like Airbnb where review-inflation is a real problem, it’s my opinion that any review that doesn’t mention specifically why the reviewer was pleased probably shouldn’t actually be considered a five-star review.

After staying in dozens – if not hundreds- of Airbnb’s around the world, I’ve learned to read between the lines of Airbnb reviews. I’ve stayed in so many dingy and uncomfortable Airbnb’s with multiple five-star reviews that, at this point, I will not even consider booking a monthly Airbnb stay in a listing that has fewer than a dozen positive reviews that feature reviewers describing specifically what they liked about their stay.

Consider alternate Platforms

We all know about the effects Airbnb has had on the affordability of urban housing, and there are no simple answers for how to fix that, but there are options – especially for guests considering renting a furnished apartment month to month – that are more empowering to both guests and hosts.

Because Airbnb profits by taking huge cuts of your nightly or monthly Airbnb rental fee, while providing very little transparency or opportunity to communicate with the host prior to booking, I’ve taken to using a website called Furnished Finder for my month long trips to US cities.

Unlike Airbnb, Furnished Finder offers transparency for guests and hosts- before booking you can freely communicate privately. Guests can request in-person or video walk-throughs of the property before booking, and hosts can run a simple credit or background check (with your consent) for peace of mind that their home is in good hands. Through Furnished Finder, I’ve abandoned monthly Airbnb rentals and rent furnished Finder homes for about 30-40% less than Airbnb costs for the same type of properties- Read more about my experience using Furnished Finder.

A bed in an airbnb apartment, illustrating the importance of selecting a comfortable space for a monthly airbnb stay.

Research the Neighborhood

There’s a unique horror in checking into an Airbnb you’ve committed to staying in for weeks and discovering, before you’ve even reached the front door, that the location is terrible.

When I rented a car on Chiloe Island in Northern Patagonia, I had just such an experience. After driving all day to see the UNESCO sites scattered around the island, I was excited to get to the modern and cozy Airbnb I’d booked for the night. As I approached the address, however, my heart sank.

As the city square gave way to a cozy neighborhood, and the cozy neighborhood transitioned to run-down houses, the streets filled with trash, sidewalks emptied, and the air filled with the acrid smoke of an entire city heated by wood fires. There, in a low space where smog collected, was my Airbnb’s address. Instead of checking in, I kept driving and booked a small cottage outside the city where the air was fresher and I knew I’d sleep more soundly.

This story illustrates how Airbnb listings include only some of the information you need to consider before booking. Pay very, very close attention to other guests’ reviews and any references they make to the location or surrounding area.

Don’t Pack Light- Make yourself at Home

My best tip for staying in a month-to-month furnished short-term rental, whether it’s Airbnb, VRBO, or furnished Finder, is to bring what you need to be really comfortable.

While one bag travel is my preferred mode even for months-long trips overseas, when I know that I’m staying in one rental for a whole month, my packing-light philosophy goes out the window.

Instead, I bring my own towels, sheets, air purifier, and whatever it is that I need to be able to sleep, care for my body, and function at my best. Simply upgrading the cheap sheets that come with most short-term rentals with my own comfortable linens can make an uncomfortable and unfamiliar bed feel like home immediately.

While your essentials might be a little bit different, taking the time to lightly “move-in” to your monthly Airbnb – even if it’s a fully furnished rental – can make a big difference in your ability to rest well, play well, and be as productive as you need to be during your stay.

Two women ringing a doorbell.

Be Extra Communicative with your Airbnb Host

Once you’ve chosen an Airbnb for your month-long stay, stay in communication to build rapport with your host before your stay. Send them a message after booking indicating how excited you are to stay, and send them another message a week before your check-in date about any questions you have about getting to the Airbnb, things to do nearby, or minor accommodations you know you’ll need.

By communicating in advance, you can start building the kind of relationship that will help you navigate any problems that might pop up.

EXTRA IMPORTANT: Always communicate with your Airbnb host through the Airbnb app. Do not use SMS text or a messaging app. If, when you are face to face in person, an Airbnb host makes you a promise verbally, immediately message them through the app to have them confirm. This creates a digital record that Airbnb’s customer service can use to settle claims. When it comes to refunds or damage claims, if it didn’t get documented in their app, Airbnb will almost always side with a host.

Do an Inspection When you Check In

When you arrive, inspect the Airbnb listing thoroughly. If something is wrong (or even just not quite right) let your host know. In my experience, many things that can be tolerated in a weekend-long stay become major irritants during a month-long Airbnb stay.

It won’t hurt to make a record of the condition of your rental when you check-in. If anything is obviously broken- even if it’s just cosmetic- take a photograph and send it to your Airbnb host through the app. Although slightly less concrete as evidence, a less confrontational way to ensure you aren’t held liable for damages that were present in the property before your check-in is to film your own video walk-through and upload it to YouTube immediately.

Creating a timestamped third-party reference can be a quick “insurance policy” in case a shady Airbnb host attempts to hold you liable for damages that were present in the rental before you ever checked in.

An airbnb kitchen well equipped for cooking.

Final thoughts

Renting an Airbnb for a month can be a risky endeavor. On one hand, it’s a great feeling to know that during your stay in the area you’ll have a comfortable and familiar place to return to every night, on the other hand, shelling out the cash to book housing sight unseen can be a big risk. By following these tips for monthly Airbnb rentals, guests can be more empowered to have a positive experience in mid-term rental housing.