Calling All Freedom Fighters! How Do You Balance Work and Travel?

Whether you’re brand new here or you’ve been following along since day one (hey, mom!) there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve heard me talk about how the idea for Let’s bnb came about. Kyle wanted to move to San Francisco so he could be a part of the growing tech scene and I wanted to travel and work remotely with my freelance design business. In an effort to please both parties, we decided to see what it would be like to travel within San Francisco and live out of Airbnbs for a year. And just like that, a good old fashioned compromise was born.

Now, almost two months into our year-long journey, I can honestly say that I feel like a traveler.

Heck, I live like a traveler. I probably smell like one too, on the days that I forget to wiggle. And Kyle? He’s happy as a clam working from his office down on Market Street, going to meet-ups, and being around his likeminded, cat-gif-sharing peers. We can truly say that we’ve found a nearly perfect way to experience a balance between freedom and stability in our lives, and we absolutely love chronicling that journey here on the blog.

But now that we’ve started that conversation, we need to keep it going.

Living out of Airbnbs throughout the Bay Area is our way of balancing freedom and stability in our lives, but it’s by no means the only way. Here on the blog, we want to start sharing stories from other people who have found ways to incorporate the freedom and mobility of travel into their lives without sacrificing the stability of their career, or dare I say, rent-controlled apartment.

If you have adopted a unique lifestyle that allows you to work and travel in a way that inspires people, I want to talk to you. If someone you know has adopted a unique lifestyle that allows him or her to work and travel in a way that inspires people, please introduce me.

You can email me at [email protected] or submit your story right here.

Bottom line? Spread the word!


Airbnb travel San Francisco

How Much Does it Cost to Live Out of Airbnbs for a Year?

“So, how much is this costing you?”

Question. Of. The. Year. Whenever we excitedly present our new lifestyle to a friend or colleague, the very first question, every single time, without fail, is about the money. “How much does that cost?” “Oooooo that must be expensive,” or my personal favorite, “How does that stack up to regular rent prices?” (Please, if someone knows what regular rent prices are, please tell me and give them to me, because as far as I’m concerned, they don’t exist in San Francisco.)

The thing is, I get it. Most non-traditional living situations that aren’t hostels, collectives, or prisons, are assumed to be pricier than say, owning or renting a home. If I wasn’t the one adding the numbers up all the time, I’d want to know how much it costs too. And that, my friends, is why I’ve prepared a breakdown of all of the costs associated with this adventure between April 1st (when we began) and August 16th (the date that we’re currently book through.) Now go get your weird cost-of-living-comparison-buzz on, so you can start questioning (or justifying) your life choices.

The Cost Breakdown


Cost per night: $80
How many nights we stayed: 6
Airbnb’s service fee: $58

Total cost: $538


Cost per night: $93
How many nights we stayed: 7
Airbnb’s service fee: $78
Occupancy Tax: $91

Total cost: $859


Cost per night: $56
How many nights we stayed: 28
Airbnb’s service fee: $124
Occupancy Taxes: $220

Total cost: $1947.00

West Portal

Cost per night: $49
How many nights we’re staying: 35
Airbnb service fee: $128

Total cost: $1843.00

The Inner Sunset

Cost per night: $69
How many nights we’re staying: 30
Airbnb service fee: $140
Cleaning fee: $50

Total cost: $2273

Duboce Triangle

Cost per night: $76
How many nights we’re staying: 33
Airbnb service fee: $150

Total cost: $2652


A closer look at the numbers:


Total spent on rent between April 1st and August 16th:


This averages out to:

  • $2247.11 per month for two people
  • $1123.55 per month for one person
  • $73.28 per day for two people
  • $36.64 per day for one person

Total amount of Airbnb service fees paid between April 1st and August 16th:


Total value of food and drinks consumed at Airbnb meet ups thus far:

$136 (wow, we have a lot of catching up to do.)

Occupancy Tax paid: 

$311 (This is San Francisco’s Accommodation Tax. We have to pay 14% of the total on trips that we book for fewer than 30 days, because that length of time constitutes them as a short term rental.)

And my favorite stat in the lot…

Utilities paid:



What will the rest of the year cost us?

We are trying to keep our month stays under the $2400 mark, but admittedly, it’s getting tough. The closer we move towards San Francisco’s more desirable neighborhoods, the more expensive the cost of our monthly stays are. And I’m not talking $3,000 expensive. I’m talking $5,000 – $8,000 per month expensive. There is A LOT of money here. The fact that we’re two people works both for and against us. In most of the spaces, there’s a significant up-charge for a second person, but splitting the total price is still a better deal than it would be to pay for a space on our own.

The rent crisis here is real, and it sucks. We don’t feel like we’re beating the game by living in Airbnbs, but we certainly don’t feel like we’re losing it either. The experience, knowledge, and connections were gaining with each new stay is making us a more educated contender in the rental market, and when you’re a brand new resident of the most expensive city in the US, I’m not sure that’s something we can put a price on.

Follow along on Instagram or join our newsletter below to stay updated on our whereabouts, finances, and other logistics of living out of Airbnbs for a year (because trust me, there’s ‘lots of them!)

Airbnb Travel San Francisco

We’ve Been Living Out of Airbnbs for a Month!

Hey guess what?! We’ve been living out of Airbnbs for one whole month! In the last 4 weeks, we’ve stayed in 3 different homes with 4 different hosts and 10 housemates from 5 unique countries, all while working full time jobs and hanging out with old and new friends around town. To sum it up, we’re exhausted, a few pounds heavier, and pretty damn happy.

But since we’re at the one month mark, we figured that now is as good of a time as any to check in and review what’s working, what’s not, and what we love about California. Because honestly, while there are some things about our new lifestyle that we love, there are certainly some aspects that I don’t think we’ll miss once we have a place of our own. Enough chit chat. Let’s review.

  • Living With Less. Living out of a single suitcase has been an amazing lifestyle change. My wardrobe currently consists of 33 items total and a lot of those items are black and white. I use accessories, jackets and shoes to make outfits feel unique, and so far, I have yet to be bored with them. The takeaway: Spending less time picking out what we’re wearing has allowed us to spend more time nurturing new friendships and adventuring around San Francisco together.
  • Cooking. We miss luxurious kitchen gadgets like sharp knives, potato peelers, and strainers. These things do not exist in most temporary housing situations, and therefore make cooking at home slightly more difficult.
  • The Hills. Okay, so the hills? They are much steeper than we thought. Just walking to the top of our street a couple of times a day feels like the cardio workout equivalent of running a mile. I realize how pathetic that sounds and I’m working on getting in better “hills shape.” They’re just like really steep, you guys.
  • The Fruits and Vegetables. The produce here is on another level. It literally takes up half of the grocery store. Also, have you ever seen orange cauliflower or white asparagus? It’s everywhere here. And the strawberries? They taste like candy. Getting our daily serving of fruits and vegetables has not been a problem thus far.
  • Bike Theft. We’re glad we brought two bike locks, because there is literally no one here who doesn’t have two bike locks. If you only have one bike lock, your bike will get stolen and then you won’t buy another one because you’ll tell everyone it’s a sign from the universe that you’re simply not meant to own a bike in San Francisco. We’ll both know, however, that it’s just a super convenient excuse to not have to suffer through riding the hills. You know who you are.
  • The Little Things: Like finding a piece of tape or an envelope. These things are hard to come across when you don’t have a designated “office supply drawer” in your life. It forces us get resourceful though. Like the other day I bought a 99 cent card at Walgreens just so I could mail a check to my accountant, and frankly, I think he’ll be appreciative of the “Just Because” card included with his payment.
  • Internet. When you work from home and don’t technically have a “home,” you have to trust your Airbnb hosts to set up a reliable internet connection for you. While we’ve had pretty good luck in a majority of our stays this month, there was one where the connection was shockingly slow. Airbnb, if you’re listening: can you add a section in the host’s profile where they can run a speedtest directly from within their profile, so that their upload and download speed can be displayed?
  • Cleaning. Hey, so guess what we don’t have to do every week? Clean! Aside from keeping our room neat and tidy and cleaning up the kitchen after we cook, we aren’t obligated to vacuum, mop, dust, or spray anything clean. Most of our hosts handle the cleaning on their own or hire a cleaning service. Either way, I’m not the one doing it and that is something that I will not take for granted even for a second.
  • Public Transporation. It’s all good until it’s 40 degrees and 11pm. I forgot how much I hated taking public transportation home at night. I’m the kind of person whose mind switches off when I decide it’s time for bed, and unfortunately that doesn’t fly when you have a 45 commute ahead of you no matter which way you’re headed. #cityproblems #sorrynotsorry
  • Routine. I’ve been taking routines for granted. Living out of so many different places makes building a routine difficult and life without any sort of routine makes my brain confused and my reactions emotional. Shit isn’t good. But I’m working on making it better. We’ve realized that we just need to look at routines in a different way now, and that’s a part of the journey that we plan on sharing.

So while this month has certainly had it’s ups and downs, we’re here, we’re alive, we’re happy, and we’re SO ready to move to our next neighborhood, West Portal! This Sunday (two days away, but who is counting?) our new Airbnb host is coming to pick up our bags so that we can take the journey to our new Airbnb by bike. How cool is that?

Stay tuned for a thorough review of our month in Ingleside and follow me on Instagram for snapshots of our new digs in West Portal!

Airbnb travel for a year in San Francisco

Our Week in Oakland with Mandy

After 4 days of driving up from Austin, Kyle and I rolled in to Oakland sweaty, tired, and ready for a drink. Our first Airbnb was situated directly between Temescal and Rockridge – a corner flat on top of a sex shop called Secrets. We parked the U-haul, finagled the keys out of the lockbox, and dragged our bags and bikes up the three flights of stairs and into our first home of the year.

It was perfect. The sun was setting in every window on the corner-side of the apartment. The home was furnished in plants and memory-pieces, everything seeming to have a story. Our host, Mandy, came out of her room to welcome us and a few minutes later, we were all sitting down sharing a bottle of Scotch with a side of travel stories. The next night, Mandy let us cook her Thai food and ask her questions for this blog. One curry and noodle dish later, we had a new friend in the Bay. This – is what this year is about for us. Community. Travel. Presence. And Scotch (of course.)

There could not have been a better person or home to start Let’s Bnb with. So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to our first Airbnb host of the year, Oakland’s finest, Miss Mandy Bliss.

Airbnb Travel for a year in San Francisco

Mandy Bliss
Oakland, CA
Age: 37

When did you move to the Bay?

I moved here in 2003. It was right during that “dotcom bubble” burst, so it was a very different economic time.

How did you end up here in Oakland?

I was about 24 years old, had been out of college for a little while and had always wanted to travel around the world. The first thing I did when I finished school was save up as much money as I could, sold everything I owned, and took off with just a backpack. I traveled the long way around through Europe and Asia for a little under a year. I pretty much ran out of money here in the Bay area and thought okay – I guess I’m going to start a home here!

How do you make money?

I’m a public high school teacher. I teach biology to ninth graders in the town of San Leandro, which is just south of here. I’m one of 6 teachers in the district that teach biology.

Tell me about your idea of a good time.

Being around good people which includes my friends here in the area and new people that I’ve never met before. I like being that scout in my group to talk to the brand new person, find out what they’re all about, and share some stories and adventures. Hopefully it involves doing something I haven’t done before. I love going out and dancing to music or spending some time out in nature. I was a canoe instructor for a long time so I love being out on the water. I do a lot of art and so sometimes a good time just means I’m on my own working on a project or something. Just doing something creative is a big part of what I find fun.

When did you start hosting Airbnb guests?

Just a little over a year ago, my roommate at the time decided to chase a girl to Colorado. I was faced with the prospect of finding a new roommate or trying this new thing that I had heard about, Airbnb. My friend in Portland was doing it and it seemed to be working well for her, so I gave it a try and was really successful right away.

It was a little scary at first because I had a rent that I couldn’t quite afford, and I knew that I needed to split it with someone in order to stay here. On top of that, I had to invest in setting up the room. I’ve been booked ever since and it’s been a real pleasure.

Who are the most interesting guests you’ve ever had?

I think that what makes people interesting is just spending time with them. You see, I’ve found that everybody is interesting. They’ve all got their own stories and their own path that they’re on and I love hearing about it all. The people who have stayed longer though, are the ones I get to know the most about. One highlight for me was last spring I had a guy come stay here for a couple of months who eventually was going to become a party of 2 with a woman who he had met while living in China in the couple of years prior. They had been together for a few years over there and wanted to move to the Bay Area and get married. Once she arrived, they actually got married while they were staying here! So it ended up being a honeymoon suite and a wedding consultancy for a little while. Since the girl was brand new to the U.S., she had to learn all about wedding customs and where to buy stuff, so we went on a lot of shopping trips together and I helped her pick out her dress. They eventually ended up moving a couple of blocks away and have since become long-term friends. They’re actually coming over for dinner tomorrow!

So that’s a really fun one because it was a really sweet story. And that I got to play such a big role in their transition from China to the U.S.

What amount of guests who stay here are moving to San Francisco and what are passing through?

I think maybe a third of the people stay here are either moving here or are in some sort of temporary transient state where they don’t know exactly where they’re going to next. A lot of people are just bouncing around.

What advice can you give us for our first year in the Bay?

I would say that the biggest advice I have is to make sure that in the frantic pace that they Bay Area tends to scoop people up into, to make sure that you’re really dedicating some time to just enjoying the space. This area has an awful lot of unique things to discover and there are so many really great cultures to explore. So try as best you can to get out of the routines of things that you know you like and try a lot of new and different things. There’s going to be so much here that you’ve never seen before and you can discover a lot of things about what you enjoy, that maybe you didn’t even know yet.

One of the things that really appeals to me about this area is how people don’t take themselves all that seriously. I think its something that can take a while to get used to if you’re not from around here. Just relax and do the silly thing and don’t worry about it. No one’s going to be judging you for it.