In Partnership with 74

Reading, writing, and … renting? Airbnb says 1 in 10 hosts is a teacher and earns $6,500 a year; LA’s teacher hosts raked in nearly $6 million last year

Beth Hawkins | August 27, 2018

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Bainbridge Scott’s “Rustic Studio” in the Los Angeles hills. (Bainbridge Scott/Airbnb)

If you want to book a stay in Bainbridge Scott’s Airbnb in Los Angeles’s Montecito Heights neighborhood, you’d better plan well in advance. Listed as a “Rustic Studio with Private Garden Patio,” the hillside property boasts a terrace with views of the city, a classic clawfoot tub, and an extensive garden from which guests can pluck pomegranates, grapes, and avocados.

It looks like nothing so much as a slice of Tuscany — but is just north of downtown LA and available for the unreal price of $99 per night. With the exception of single nights here and there, it’s booked through Thanksgiving.

According to a new report by Airbnb, Scott is one of 45,000 teachers who list short-term rental properties on the site, earning an estimated collective $160 million in 2017. Using internal booking data to estimate the number of nights each likely rents out a property, the company estimates the typical “teacher-host” brings in $6,500 a year.

“It’s made a huge difference for income,” says Scott, an LA Unified elementary music teacher and one of nearly 900 teacher hosts in LA. “I’ve been paying bills off.”

The average LA Unified teacher earned $75,350 in 2017 — among the highest salaries in the country, but hardly a fortune in pricey California.

Using internal data, Airbnb released its Aug. 15 report to try to counter concerns in cities throughout the country that the rise of short-term rentals is negatively affecting everything from affordable rents to gentrification. A proposal in LA, for example, would cap short-term rentals at 120 nights per year, unless a host can demonstrate a good track record. Renters complain of losing their housing when their landlord converted a dwelling to short-term rentals; homeowners say they would not be able to pay their mortgage without the income generated by an online listing.

Public relations value aside, the report provides a rare glimpse into Airbnb’s workings.

Wisconsin and Utah, for example, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 — at 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively — for Airbnb hosts who list their occupation as teaching or education. Some 75,000 property owners have a teacher in the household, Airbnb reports.

California ranks No. 23 on that list, with 9 percent of hosts giving their occupation as teaching or education.

Overall, 1 in 10 Airbnb listers is a teacher, according to the report.

The nearly 900 teacher hosts in LA earned an estimated $5.8 million in supplemental income in 2017, including $1.9 million last summer. The average number of bookings for the LA teacher hosts in 2017 was 88 nights.

San Francisco teachers earned an estimated $4.1 million during the same time period, including $1.4 million during the summer, with average bookings of 79 nights a year. And 1 in 10 Airbnb hosts in San Francisco is a teacher.

In San Diego, 15 percent of listings are owned by teachers, who earned an estimated $2.7 million in 2017.

In New York City, where the debate over short-term rentals is particularly fierce, 11 percent of Airbnb listings belong to teachers, who typically rent them out 56 nights a year for an estimated $11.7 million.

Other cities the company identified as having higher-than-average numbers of listings belonging to teachers include Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Asheville, North Carolina; Orlando; Tucson; San Antonio; Seattle; and Austin, Texas.

This article was published in partnership with The 74.

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