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!)

2 replies
  1. Katie Rotio
    Katie Rotio says:

    I stayed in my very first airbnb this past weekend in Chicago and got a ridiculously good rate for booking the night before I left. I told my family who I was visiting about your blog and your new lifestyle and the first question they asked was… dun dun dunnnn “How much does that COST?!” So, great timing!

    When you factor in utilities, internet and cable (probably at least $250/month) I’d say your monthly rent at bnbs so far is pretty reasonable for SF! I love that you are free to decide where to next… if you’re starting to feel short on cash, you could find a place for a month that’s less rent, as opposed to being short on cash and locked into your lease. Love reading about your adventure! Keep it up!

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      Yes! Exactly! We keep reminding one another that if we can’t find something in San Francisco within our price range, we can always go out to Oakland for a month, where the Airbnbs are sometimes $1,000 less (it’s crazy.) So yea, it’s really really nice having that kind of control over how much we pay to live. Also, when we go on vacation, we don’t have to worry about paying rent while we’re gone. I think that’s my favorite benefit so far.


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