Ultimate Guide to Renting an Airbnb Long-Term

An Airbnb rental is a perfect way to experience a destination. You can stay in a unique property, live like a local, and have an authentic experience of the culture in ways that hotels just can’t provide.  But did you know you can also rent an Airbnb long-term?  

Many guests never consider renting a long-term Airbnb but it can be a comfortable and cost-efficient way to travel or rent long-term.  

You may want to consider renting an Airbnb long-term if you are:

  • A digital nomad
  • Planning a sabbatical
  • Trying out a new city or neighborhood before moving permanently
  • A remote worker wanting to live and work in a comfortable place away from home for a while
  • In between permanent housing situations
  • A student looking for a monthly rental for a semester or academic year
  • A travel nurse or locum tenens physician
  • Retired and traveling long-term
  • Having your house renovated or repaired
  • Traveling for work long-term
  • Traveling during a gap year

Do you want to know how to find the perfect long-term Airbnb rental at the best price? What should you know before booking a long-term Airbnb rental? You’re in luck! These are just a few of the questions I’ll be answering in this article.  I’ve compiled a guide with all the necessary information to help you find and book the best long-term Airbnb rental. 

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to constitute professional advice. You should obtain professional advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. Deskless Nomad makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete, or up to date. Please see the full Deskless Nomad Disclaimer

What is the difference between a long-term and short-term Airbnb stay?

Airbnb defines a long-term stay as 28 nights or more.   Hosts are more likely to offer discounts for bookings longer than 28 nights.  Hosts may also offer weekly discounts for stays of 7 nights or more. The longer your stay, the more likely you are to obtain a discount. 

According to Airbnb, longer stays account for over 20% of bookings on Airbnb.

How does renting an Airbnb long-term save you money?

Long-term and monthly Airbnb rentals can save you money in multiple ways:

1. You can save money versus a hotel when booking similar dates.

Airbnb hosts can choose to offer discounts on long-term Airbnb rentals.  Discounts on long-term stays may be triggered automatically in the booking section for stays longer than a week or longer than 28 nights.  The discount offered will vary from host to host but may range from 5 to 20% if you rent for one week or longer and 30 to 50% if you rent for 28 days or more.  You can also negotiate with an Airbnb host for a discount.  

2. You can save money on food.

Staying in an Airbnb rather than a hotel can give you access to a kitchen.  You can save money by cooking your own meals rather than having to eat out or get take out as you would in a hotel.  

3. You can save money on utilities.

The costs of electricity, gas, water, and trash are included in the nightly Airbnb price.  You don’t have to pay to set up utilities like in other long-term rentals.  The utilities remain in the name of the host.  This can help you to save on the initial utility fees you would normally pay for setting up services when you move into a long-term rental.  

4. You can save money on laundry.

Book an Airbnb with a washer and dryer to save money and time.  You won’t have to pay to clean your dirty clothes at a laundromat.  

5. You can earn points and travel rewards on your rent which you can use to save money on future travel.

There are multiple ways to earn points and miles on Airbnb rentals.  The easiest way is to use a travel credit card that rewards you with points on travel bookings.  Almost all credit cards recognize Airbnb as a travel merchant which can qualify you for up to 3x points on the money you spend on Airbnb.  

Some credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, allow you to use your points to “pay yourself back” by using your points to pay off Airbnb purchases.  This ends up saving you 4.5% back on Airbnb bookings (3x points per dollar spent plus 1.5 cents per point then applied to your credit card charges). “Pay yourself back” categories rotate so make sure to keep an eye on your credit card benefits.

In addition to a travel credit card, there are more advanced travel hacks to earn travel rewards on your Airbnb rental. To fully maximize the points and miles you can earn on Airbnb, read more in my article on How to Earn Miles on Airbnb.

6. You can save money on occupancy taxes.

Some cities will charge hefty tourist taxes or transient occupancy taxes for stays that are less than a minimum number of nights.  These taxes target short-term tourists and spare long-term renters.  Each city or region may impose different tax rates for different lengths of stay.  The tax may be charged on the Airbnb cleaning and service fees in addition to the base listing price.  

Want to stay in Vancouver?  Consider booking a stay for 27 nights or longer to avoid the 8% provincial tax plus an additional 3% municipal and regional district tax. San Francisco charges a hefty 14% for stays less than 30 days.  

Before you book, check to see if your destination imposes occupancy taxes, and if so, under what conditions. You can find the destinations where Airbnb collects occupancy taxes on their website.

For more tips, tricks, and travel hacks to save money on your Airbnb booking check out my article here.

What are the other benefits to travelers of renting an Airbnb long-term?

There are so many other reasons Airbnb is good for long-term rentals:

1. You can try out different neighborhoods before committing to moving to one area.  

If you are planning to move to a particular city but aren’t sure which neighborhood you want to settle in, you can try a few out by staying in Airbnbs.  This will give you a feel for the neighborhood, allow you to explore your surroundings, find the best restaurants and coffee shops, and decide if it is right for you.

2. You have more flexibility.  

Unlike traditional leases, you can book an Airbnb and move in on the same day.  Many traditional long-term rentals require waiting for applications and credit checks.  They also usually require monthly commitments with a 30-day notice ahead of when you want to vacate.  As long as the dates are available, you can book an Airbnb for however long or short as you’d like.  

3. You get to avoid the pain of setting up a traditional rental.  

You can avoid security deposits, credit checks, submitting pay stubs to prove your income, and other painful paperwork associated with traditional rentals.  While poor host reviews of your stays at other properties may prompt future hosts to decline your booking, there are very few reasons for your Airbnb booking request to be rejected.

4. You have freedom of movement.  

You don’t have to move furniture, kitchenware, and other personal property.  Almost everything you need in daily life can be provided if you choose the listing carefully.  This gives you the ability to experience multiple locations without the burden of stuff.

5. You can live like a local.  

Hotels just don’t give a feel for what daily life is like in a destination.  You experience a place differently when you live in a neighborhood, experience the culture of daily life, go to your local grocery store and cafe, and say hello to your neighbors.

6. You are more likely to be allowed to bring your pet.

Airbnb is strongly encouraging hosts who offer longer rentals to allow pets.  With their recent updates, Airbnb started offering free pet damage protection to hosts.  Pet fees can now also be added to nightly prices.  Previously hosts would ask for cash, bank transfer, etc. on arrival but now all transactions can be kept within the app, increasing security for guests.  

You can filter for properties that allow pets under the “Guests” tab where you add how many people are staying.

For more tips on staying at an Airbnb with a pet read Deskless Nomad’s Complete Guide to Bringing Your Dog or Other Pet to an Airbnb.

What is the longest you can rent an Airbnb?

How long you can stay in an Airbnb is determined by you, the host, and any previously booked clients.  The further you book in advance, the more likely you are to find a property available for the dates that you want.  

Airbnb now has a page dedicated to sublets and stays of 30 days or longer.  You still get to choose your specific dates but to qualify for steeper discounts the booking must be 30 days or more.  On their sublet page, you can search by a specific location or explore the world map for options.  The properties on this dedicated page all offer monthly discounts but still have the typical Airbnb service fee and host fees like cleaning.

How do hosts benefit from renting their Airbnbs long-term?

term stays.  Longer stays mean higher occupancy.  Hosts spend less time responding to booking inquiries, handling check-ins, and cleaning between guests.  With multiple bookings, hosts must repeat these tasks multiple times in any given month.

If a property is usually booked 80% of the time with multiple guests, hosts may decide it is preferable to rent to one guest with a 20% discount and avoid the extra work that comes with multiple guests.

Some hosts actually decide to only offer long-term stays.  Hosts can set a minimum night requirement on their listing to limit bookings to long-term stays.

Airbnb internal data showed that listings that were open to both shorter and longer stays over only shorter stays had higher average earnings.  

While debatable, some hosts may feel that long-term guests are more likely to respect and take care of a property.  Hosts may feel that short-term guests are more likely to neglect a property, throw a party, or cause problems.

How do you choose the best Airbnb?

Finding the perfect long-term Airbnb rental is not always easy. There are many factors to consider.  Before booking your next Airbnb, make sure to read my pro tips you should know before booking your next Airbnb.

Here is my 11-step strategy with you for choosing the best long-term Airbnb.  

1. If you know you want to be in one city or area then you should start by entering the location.  If you don’t have a specific location in mind then try the “I’m flexible” option. The further in advance you book, the more options you will have.

When considering the location, decide if you want a rental that is close to public transportation. If you don’t have a car this will make it easier to get around and explore the area.   If you are staying near the beach or a national park, consider the travel distance to where you will be spending most of your time.  

Decide if you want a rental that is close to popular tourist spots like theme parks, museums, or zoos. This will make it easier for you to get to those places without having to spend too much time driving or taking the subway.  These areas may also feel more congested, have more tourist-trap-type restaurants, and may not offer the true experience of living like a local.

2. If you are taking your pet, make sure to indicate this in the section where you enter the number of guests.

3. Decide how much you want to spend.  Use the price range slider to filter properties to your budget.  Keep in mind that the price range slider is for the subtotal and does not include the service, cleaning, and other fees that are added once you click on an individual property listing.  

4. Choose if you want a whole place to yourself or prefer to rent a room in someone’s house.

5. Are you interested in a unique stay?  Try using the filter option for glamping, farmland, nature stay, and others.

6. Decide which amenities are essential and which amenities are on your wish list.  These may include having a fully equipped kitchen, pool or hot tub, washer and dryer, and electric vehicle charger among others.  If you need a kitchen, make sure it also lists “cooking basics” which includes cookware and not just a kitchen, “a space where guests can cook.”

Add all of the amenities on your wish list first. If you don’t find a suitable property within your price range then begin eliminating non-essential amenities to increase the available listing options.

If you are working remotely, make sure to check that wifi is offered.  You can message a host and ask them to verify the wifi speed.  They can do this within the Airbnb app itself. Ask the host to send you a screenshot of the results.

7. As you start to click through the individual listings, make sure to review the total price which includes all additional fees.  Unfortunately, you can’t find the actual total price until you click on each individual booking.  The prices listed on the map and initial search can be deceptive.  Brand new listings may offer an additional discount but are a little riskier since there won’t be reviews to read. 

8. When you have found a couple of properties you are interested in, take time to read the reviews.  While opinions will always vary, you may find some details that are deal breakers for you. Beware if you see any reviews that say the host canceled unexpectedly or didn’t respond to problems.

9. Once you have found a place that fits your needs, go back and read the entire listing including the house rules. Look at all of the pictures to make sure the kitchen looks usable, the bed looks the right size, etc.  

10. Review the cancellation policy and make sure you are comfortable with the terms.

11. Consider messaging the host with any additional questions not answered in the listing.  Long-term stays are bigger financial and time commitments so do your best to make sure you will be happy with your choice.

12. Before you book, read my article on tips, tricks, and travel hacks to save additional money on your Airbnb booking.  When you are ready to book, make sure to use a travel credit card that rewards your travel purchases.  

13. If you are traveling long-term and staying at multiple listings, keep a spreadsheet of your bookings with corresponding cancellation policies and deadlines.  I also include the next date my credit card will be charged (30 days after the check-in day).

Can you visit an Airbnb property before you book it long-term?

Staying in a place for a month or more is a big commitment so it makes sense to check out the space before you book.  

While a host does not have to agree, you can try messaging them to ask if you could visit in person before committing to a long-term stay.   Let the host know that you are planning to book a longer stay so you want to be sure the property fits your needs.  The more positive reviews you have on Airbnb and the more complete your Airbnb profile is, the more likely a reasonable host will agree to this request.

How much is the discount for a long-term Airbnb?

It is up to each individual host to decide if they will offer discounts for longer stays.  Airbnb hosts have the option to set monthly or weekly discounts but Airbnb does not require hosts to give discounts.  More than half of Airbnb’s global listings discount stays of 1 month or longer.

Discounts on long-term stays may be triggered automatically in the booking section for stays longer than a week or longer than 28 nights.  The discount offered will vary from host to host but may range from 5 to 20% if you rent for one week or longer and 30 to 50% if you rent for 28 days or more.  

On the Airbnb sublet page, you can find even deeper discounts of 60% or more, especially on properties that normally rent for several hundred dollars a night.

When you are searching the Airbnb platform for a property you will see which listings offer discounts because of the strike-through in the price.  When you click on an individual property, you can also see the percentage discount displayed in the price summary.

Keep an eye out for new listings since these also often offer special discounts.

Can you ask an Airbnb host for a discount on long-term rentals?

Yes! Just because a listing doesn’t display a discount doesn’t mean you can’t ask for one.  

I’ve dedicated a full article to how to ask an Airbnb host for a discount.  You are more likely to be successful in negotiating a discount if it is mutually beneficial.  For example, if you are booking during the low season or the property has large gaps in bookings, the host is more likely to agree to a discount for a longer stay because this means less vacancy and more income for them.  

How do you set up a long-term Airbnb rental?

You can set up and book a long-term Airbnb just like you would for a shorter vacation.  You may want to check out Airbnb’s sublet page as well.  Be aware that hosts may want you to sign a rental agreement if you stay 30 days or more.  Hosts will usually state this requirement in the House Rules in their listing.

When communicating with an Airbnb host about the details of your long-term rental, always communicate with an Airbnb host (and make payments) through the app.  Communicating via the Airbnb platform helps protect you from fraud and security issues.  It also saves written evidence in case you have to dispute anything with the Airbnb company.  

Paying through the secure Airbnb app also protects your money. Any payments outside the app are not covered by Airbnb policies.  It is crucial to know that paying outside of Airbnb is explicitly against Airbnb policy and can get you kicked off the app.

Do you have to pay for a long-term Airbnb upfront?

If you stay 28 days or more, you do not have to pay for your whole stay upfront.  You will, however, have to pay for the first month at the time of booking.  Airbnb doesn’t release this money to the host until 24 hours after check-in to help protect guests from scams and inaccurate listings.  

After you check in on the first day of your booking, you will then be charged on a monthly basis for the remainder of your stay.  Your monthly price is locked in for the remainder of your stay.

If you arrive and find you have been scammed or the property greatly differs from the listing description it is SUPER important that you contact Airbnb within the FIRST 24 HOURS in order to get a refund!  If you need to cancel for other reasons you’ll want to learn more about Airbnb’s long-term rental cancellation policy which I detail below.

You may also want to check out my posts on How to Avoid Vacation Rental Scams and the 16 Most Devious Airbnb Scams to learn more and protect yourself.

Do you still have to pay fees for long-term Airbnb rentals?

Yes, even though you are leasing an Airbnb long-term, you are still responsible for the Airbnb service fee, the host cleaning, and any other additional fees the host decides to charge.  

If you are asking a host for a discount on a long-term stay, I recommend limiting your negotiation to the base rental price rather than asking them to drop any fees.  Many hosts pay for cleaning services and won’t want to drop that price.  Psychologically, they may be more willing to drop their base rental price over something they perceive they are paying for.  

What happens if you need to cancel your long-term Airbnb?

Airbnb has a specific long-term stay cancellation policy that was updated in November 2021.  This policy is automatically applied to any stay of 28 nights or more even if a host has a different policy for shorter stays.  The long-term cancellation policy is very different from that for shorter rentals.  The details of the cancellation policy may have changed since the writing of this article so make sure to review them on Airbnb.  

Canceling a long-term Airbnb 30 days or more before check-in

If you cancel your long-term booking 30 days or more before your trip has started and WITHIN 48 HOURS of booking you can get a full refund.  If you cancel your booking 30 days or more before your trip but 48 HOURS AFTER booking, your first month’s payment may be non-refundable, depending on the individual host’s cancellation policy.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to read and understand the cancellation policy for each listing.  You can lose a lot of money if your plans change and you have to cancel or change your reservation more than 48 hours after you booked.  I keep a spreadsheet of my future booking details and include the cancellation policies with corresponding deadlines.  

There are 6 levels of refund policy strictness on Airbnb.  Each host will choose their own cancellation level of strictness so read each listing carefully.  You can learn more about the different levels of refund policy strictness on the Airbnb website.

Canceling a long-term Airbnb less than 30 days before check-in

If you cancel your trip fewer than 30 days before check-in your payment for the first 30 nights is NON-REFUNDABLE.  The service fee and cleaning fee are also NON-REFUNDABLE.  This is universal for all stays of 28 nights or more.

Canceling a long-term Airbnb after the trip has started

For stays 28 days or more, if you cancel AFTER the trip has started, your first month’s payment is NON-REFUNDABLE.  You will be charged for all of the nights you have stayed PLUS an additional 30 nights and any corresponding service and cleaning fees.  However, you will not be charged for any subsequent months left in the booking. 

Your host can choose to offer you a partial or full refund despite this policy but it is at their discretion.

The one exception to this policy is if you have arrived and found out the listing is a scam or greatly differs from the listing.  You must contact Airbnb immediately since their policy states that after 24 hours you may not be able to get a refund.

**Listings in mainland China and Italy have different cancellation policies.

I hope you enjoyed my blog post about how to find and successfully rent an Airbnb long-term. Whether you’re looking for a place to stay for a few days or months, finding the perfect Airbnb rental can be challenging but also rewarding. 

When compared to a hotel, renting an Airbnb long-term can be much more affordable.  Long-term Airbnb rentals are a great option for digital nomads or remote workers who want to work away from home.  I’ve also written a guide to the key things remote workers should keep in mind when booking and staying at Airbnbs. People on gap years or sabbaticals, retirees, and many others can also benefit from this extended-stay option.

If you want more help getting started finding and booking the best long-term Airbnb rental, check out my posts on how to negotiate with a host for a discount, how to avoid vacation rental scams, how to earn miles and rewards on Airbnb rentals and the many tips and tricks you can use to save money on the perfect Airbnb vacation rental! 

Jamie Dubois

I am a freelance writer, wanderer, kayaker, rock climber, and adventurer.

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