In recent years, Airbnb has become a go-to site for travelers around the world. Why? Because it is often cheaper than your traditional hotel, and it is a major upgrade from hostel life.
You may think of Airbnb as a reliable option to book week-long rentals or a weekend getaway, but you can actually save a lot of money by using Airbnb to book long-term stays.
We have booked several long-term rentals with Airbnb and were able to save hundreds on our bookings just by following a few simple tips.
In this post, I am sharing how we have saved as much as $600 per month by booking with the Airbnb long stay discount, and how you can save, too.
How the Airbnb Long Stay Discount Works
When you book a stay of 28 days or longer on Airbnb, it is considered a long-term stay. The great thing about renting on Airbnb for at least one month is that you get an added monthly discount – I’ve seen discounts up to 50% off the normal price.
This is because Airbnb hosts have the option to offer a long stay discount for guests. It makes sense, right? It’s a much better gig for a host to offer a discount and book an entire month’s worth of rent instead of hoping to get multiple bookings to fill up the month.
Not only is this better for their wallets, but it’s also a lot less work – less time coordinating cleaning, less maintenance, and less time communicating with multiple guests per month.
As you can see, booking long-term rentals on Airbnb is both a win for the guest and the host -cheaper rates for the guest and less work for the host.
Let’s look into this a bit deeper.
How can you actually save money with Airbnb long-term stays?
Here is an example of an apartment rental in Seville for one month. The original price for the apartment is $2,018; however, with the Airbnb long stay discount, you get 37% off. This brings the price down to $1,271 for the month without fees and $1,459 with fees. That’s a total of $747 in savings. Not too bad.
Looking at this same place, let’s compare the monthly price to the cost of a 1-week and 2-week stay.
For a 1-week stay at this apartment in Seville, the host is offering a 12% discount. Some hosts offer discounts depending on the length of stay and others do not. With the discounts and fees, the total rate is $519 for one week.
For two weeks at this apartment, the host is also offering a 12% discount for two weeks. The total price including fees is $995 for two weeks.
Let’s breakdown all of these numbers.
- Total cost – $1,459 (37% discount)
- Cleaning fee – $48
- Service fee – $140 (10.6% of cost)
- Total cost – $519 (12% discount)
- Cleaning fee – $48
- Service fee – $64 (12.5% of cost)
- Total cost – $995 (12% discount)
- Cleaning fee – $48
- Service fee – $123 (14.1% of cost)
First – I want to point out is the cleaning fee. Did you notice that the cleaning fee is $48 for 1 month, 1 week, and 2 weeks? It’s the same cost no matter the length of stay. You could stay in 4 different places over the course of a month and end up paying $192 in cleaning fees alone (if it were the same cost as this apartment).
That’s already an extra cost of $144 per month by staying in multiple rentals per month.
Second – the service fee. The more expensive the total, the less Airbnb charges you in service fees. Let’s look at the service fee for one month and 2 weeks. The service fee for one month is $140 and the fee for 2 weeks is $123 – only a $17 difference. If you booked 2 different properties, 2 weeks at a time for the month, you would be spending an extra $106 ($123*2 – $140) just on service fees.
Third – the total cost. Say you were to book 4 different properties for one month at the same weekly rate as this apartment in Seville. Your total monthly accommodation costs would be $2,076 ($519*4). If you were to stay in 2 different apartments at the same bi-monthly rate, it would cost you $1990 ($995*2) for one month.
Compare those numbers to the $1,459 monthly rate – you are saving hundreds of dollars in fees and rent by booking for one month compared to weeks at a time.
Save Even More with Airbnb Long-Term Stays
While $500+ in savings may already be a good discount, you can save even more by contacting the host directly and asking if they can offer you a better deal.
In early 2020, pre-Covid 19, we were planning on living in Europe for a while, moving around to a new place for one month at a time.
We planned on staying in France for 2 months – 1 month in Bordeaux and 1 month in a small town called Auxerre. Our budget was $1,300 per month, so we set out on a quest to see what we could get for our budget.
Most of the rentals on Airbnb were over our budget, around $1,500+ with the monthly discount, but we decided to reach out to the host personally before booking anything to see if we could get a better deal.
Here’s a screenshot of what we said to one of the hosts:
To our delight, Jeremy, the host, responded by saying that he would be happy to meet our price. We saved an extra $200 on top of the monthly discounted rate (~$1,500) and were able to stay within our budget – what a win!
We did the same for the apartment in Bordeaux and got a rate of $1,350 for the month.
Sadly, we ended up having to cancel these reservations due to Covid-19 – thanks to Airbnb and our hosts for working with us to get a refund! So we ended up moving to Portland, Oregon for the summer instead and tried the same thing there.
We were able to save $600 per month (from $1,760 to $1,166) just by reaching out to the host to ask for a better discount.
My recommendation is to always reach out to a host before booking a monthly rental to see if you can get a better monthly rate. My philosophy is that it never hurts to ask!
Most of the time, if a host can’t match your asking price, they are willing to negotiate a lower price with you (I.e. we requested $1,300, they came back with $1,500 instead of $1,600).
Here is an email template you can use to reach out:
Hi [HOST’S NAME],
Your place looks lovely. We are looking to stay in [NAME OF CITY] for one month, and we would love to stay at your place.
Are you flexible on price? We have a budget of about [INSERT BUDGET] per month. Would you be willing to accept [INSERT BUDGET] for the duration of our stay?
If that is something you would be open to, we’d love to stay at your place. If that’s too far below your asking price, we understand.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you so much,
We like to include our budget in the message because it lets the host know what we are looking for. They either can meet your price, can’t meet your price, or can negotiate to meet you somewhere in the middle.
I’d also like to note that we try to be reasonable with our asking price. We usually only ask for a few hundred dollars off at the most to try to meet our monthly budget.
Where To Contact a Host
It can be a bit tricky to find where to contact a host before booking a place. Once you are on the booking page, scroll down to the section about the host below the location and reviews sections. You will find a button that says “contact host.” Just press the button and send a message.
Here’s a screenshot of what this section looks like below.
How To Search for Airbnb Long-Term Stays
So where do you find these long-term stays on Airbnb? Luckily, Airbnb has made it simple to book them.
Remember, Airbnb considers a long stay 28 days or more, so you need to search for a minimum stay of 28 days in order to qualify for a monthly discount.
Start by searching for the city you want to stay in, add the dates (28+ days), number of guests, and any filters you want to add. We always like to filter by amenities to ensure that we are only searching for rentals that have everything we need.
Here’s what we usually search for:
- Washer and/or dryer
Once you search for stays, you can click on “more filters” and filter your search by amenities, type of place, type of host, and many other options.
Now that you have added your filters, you can move forward with the selection process. My process usually includes price (if it’s in my budget or close to it), amenities, photos (does the place look decent?), location (is it in a convenient location?), and reviews.
Read the reviews. I always read a decent amount of reviews before booking to ensure the details on the listing are accurate. I will often book places with “superhosts” because I know these hosts have high ratings overall and are reliable communicators.
Not all hosts will accept your offer, so I would suggest narrowing your choices to at least 3-4 different options per city. This should give you a few decent options to choose from and better odds that at least one host will be willing to match your offer or negotiate with you.
Once you come to an agreement, the host will send you a price and you will book directly through their link. Do not book through the listing page, because the offer will not be available there. The host has to manually send you the offer in order to book.
Book in Advance
I would recommend booking your Airbnb long-term stays at least a month or two in advance. The earlier you book the better because there are more options to choose from. The good rentals go fast, so you have to stay on top of it to get the best ones.
What If I want to Cancel or Extend My Stay?
For Airbnb long-term stays, the cancellation policy is that you must cancel within 48 hours of booking and at least 28 days prior in order to get a full refund.
If you cancel any later than that, you can get a refund, but it’s only good if you book for more than a month. You have to minus the first 30 days of your stay plus the service fee before you get any money back. Moral of the story, make sure to cancel within 48 hours or else you will be stuck with paying a month’s worth of rent.
Once you have booked, you can go into your reservation, select “show details”, and then you will find a button that says “change or cancel”. Here you can select to cancel or change your booking.
It’s worth noting that you can also reach out to the host directly and request to cancel within a reasonable time frame (I.e. asking to cancel 3-days after booking, instead of 48 hours). However, it’s not guaranteed that they will agree to cancel.
Extend Your Stay
Of course, you can request to extend your stay if you decide you want to stay longer. Before reaching out to your host to request an extension, make sure the dates you want to stay are available. Just go to the listing, click the calendar, and double-check the dates.
If the dates are available, then reach out directly to your host to see if you can get the same rate for another month of stay.
Benefits of Booking with Airbnb
I’ve stayed in over 50 different Airbnbs all over the world, and I have been happy with my experience overall. Here are a few benefits that keep me coming back to Airbnb:
One of the benefits of booking with Airbnb is the flexibility of being able to book month-to-month. Instead of getting locked into a 6-12 month lease, you have the option to stay for as many months as you like without the penalty of canceling your lease early. This makes it easy to be flexible and nomadic if you are moving around often.
Airbnb has taken precautionary steps to ensure reviews are helpful and honest. Once a review is published, it cannot be amended once both the host and guest have posted reviews.
In my experience, I would say that most reviews are accurate and trustworthy, which makes it easier to trust that the place you are booking will be as good as the star rating. I mentioned this before, but make sure to always read a few reviews before booking a rental. They give good insights into the actualities of staying at a place.
When you book with Airbnb, you are paying for everything upfront. This means that all bills and utilities are covered in the price of your stay. When we stayed in Oregon for 3 months at an Airbnb, it was convenient to not have to worry about setting up our internet and signing up for water and electricity bills. We moved in and everything was set up for us, which was really nice.
If you arrive at a rental and it is different than what was described or pictured on the listing, then you are entitled to Airbnb’s Guest Refund Policy. Basically, you need to contact Airbnb support within 24 hours of arrival and explain your issue. If your issue is considered a “travel issue”, then Airbnb will work with you to either resolve the problem or potentially refund you for any inconveniences.
For example, if the listing states it has a kitchen and there’s actually no kitchen on the property, then you can contact Airbnb with this issue. Or if the host cancels your booking right before your stay, Airbnb will help you to find another comparable place for your visit.
I have had a couple of issues in the past and Airbnb has always been helpful and quick to respond. For instance, I stayed in Dublin for 5-days, and the hot water heater in our place broke on our 2nd day in Dublin. We contacted our host several times, and he never attempted to fix this issue while we were there.
On the list of amenities, it clearly stated that there was hot water in the apartment, so we reached out to Airbnb and told them about our problem. We were able to get a partial refund for our stay due to this inconvenience.
It’s nice to know that Airbnb’s support team can help you out if you ever have any issues during your stay.
There you go! That’s everything you need to know about how to save money and book long-term Airbnb rentals. Remember, always reach out to the host to see if they are willing to meet your price before booking a place.
Let us know about your experiences with Airbnb monthly rentals or if you have any questions.
If you are traveling on a tighter budget, check out this article on traveling for free with Workaway programs. I’ve saved a lot of money by doing Workaways in France and New Zealand.