If you are considering investing to become an Airbnb host in Colombia, there are some things to know before making an investment to become an Airbnb host.

I am an experienced Airbnb host. While hosting is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had, it is also one of the most demanding jobs.

Airbnb hosting in Colombia can be a fantastic on-the-job training opportunity for those without experience in the hospitality industry. From preparing your space for rental and creating your listing description to dealing with guests, Airbnb hosting teaches skills in business, marketing, communication, property management, and customer service.

As fulfilling as it has been to learn as I go over the past several years, I definitely would have saved myself time, energy, and money if I had known a few key things before I blindly jumped into Airbnb hosting.

To help you make an informed decision before investing in a property for Airbnb in Colombia and becoming an Airbnb host, I have created a list of 14 things that would have helped me when I was just getting started.

Medellin Guru Real Estate Service

Our reliable partner, a leading real estate company, offers a wide range of services:

  • Transfer funds to Colombia
  • Legal analysis property background checks
  • Sales agreement
  • Deed registration
  • Legal representation
  • Investment visa

1. Airbnb Hosting is Hard Work!

Airbnb hosting in Colombia can be physically, mentally, and, sometimes emotionally draining.  Airbnb hosting is not for everyone, as it’s a job that demands tremendous focus, time, and energy.

You should be prepared to respond to guest inquiries promptly. And you must have a reliable smartphone and ample data and to immediately address problems when they arise.

You — or a trustworthy property manager — must be available 24/7 and at a moment’s notice. That means being available all the time, including the many holidays in Colombia.

A typical Laureles street

2. Location, Location, Location

The factors which determine how various places are listed on Airbnb have a high correlation with location data. The search ranking algorithm on Airbnb helps guests find the perfect listing for their trip.

Location would be one of the most important factors to think about when considering investing in a property for hosting on Airbnb. Think about what areas of the city are good for tourists. Is it a walkable? Is it close to Amenities such as Public Transport? Is nightlife nearby?

People tend to search on Airbnb for popular neighborhoods for foreigners such as El Poblado or Laureles in Medellín. That is why most of the furnished apartments in Medellín tend to be in El Poblado or Laureles, which have the popular nightlife areas of Parque Lleras and LA 70 (Setenta).

If your rental property is in a less popular neighborhood for foreigners, the bottom line is typically less demand.

3. Be Careful – Renting for Less than 30 days Can Be Illegal in Colombia

In Medellín, it’s legal to rent your apartment short-term (less than 30 days) only if you’re in a building whose by-laws specifically allow for short-term rentals.

If this permission is not included in the building’s original by-laws, it can be added only with the approval of 70 percent of the homeowners. So, it’s important to look for properties that permit short-term rentals.

Also, renting a property for less than 30 days is technically illegal in Colombia unless it complies with a certain set of rules.

In November 2018, the Colombian government passed Decreto 2119, which states that all short-term tourist accommodations in Colombia must be registered with the Registro Nacional de Turismo (RNT) to operate legally.

Following this registration, Airbnb hosts in Colombia will be asked to obey the same rules and regulations that are required of traditional hotels.

(Note: Medellin Guru plans to look at registering with the RNT and these rules and regulations in detail in a future article).

4. Goals and Intended Outcomes

Consider your goals for monthly income and occupancy.

  • How much money do you want/need to make?
  • How often will you have to rent out your property to meet this goal?
  • Is your rental price within the market range (see furnished rental prices in Medellín)? If your price is higher than the market, don’t expect high occupancy.
  • Is your occupancy goal realistic in terms of the market and your own capacity to manage turnover?

Also, think about the kinds of experiences you want to have—and hope to avoid—with your guests.

  • What experiences would drive you to stop being an Airbnb host?
  • How much contact with guests do you want?
  • Are you looking for a social connection or merely business relationships (income)?

Answering questions such as these will help you determine if Airbnb hosting can meet your needs.

5. Airbnb Hosting is Running a Small Business

Airbnb hosting in Colombai requires a variety of skills including marketing, customer relations, communication, property management, and being available around the clock. You’ll have to learn what you do not already know.

Hiring professional support may be needed. I even wrote an article on the pros and cons of hiring an Airbnb property management company.

View from an apartment in El Poblado in Medellín

View from an apartment in El Poblado in Medellín

6. You Must Have On-Call Emergency Support

You need to have emergency support for plumbing, electrical and other issues. You should get trustworthy referrals and establish rapport with these support people before you list your space.

Make sure this maintenance team is paid handsomely and well-appreciated. It is definitely worth it if they are reliable and provide quality service.

I recommend you hire locally in the city in Colombia where your property is located. That way they have a vested interest in your business and more likely to do a good job for a long-term business relationship.

If you decide to hire budget firms that employs contractors, they are less likely to react quickly during high-stress times like weekend nights or the many holidays in Colombia.

7. Understanding Airbnb Policies, Procedures and Guidelines is Required

Peruse the Airbnb website carefully, and make sure the platform and culture work for you. There are entire sections on the Airbnb website devoted to:

8. Disasters, Unforeseen Circumstances and Do-Overs are Inevitable

Be prepared to handle problems with your property gracefully and have an emergency backup plan in place. Most of all, you should develop tools and processes to handle stress without losing it in front of your guests. Also, you shouldn’t beat yourself up for making mistakes.

Even the most experienced hosts cannot anticipate clogged toilets, power outages, or fallen trees.

Along with doing your best to have a disaster-preparedness plan, you should accept that there are certain things for which you simply cannot prepare. You should also seriously consider getting Colombian homeowner’s insurance.

9. Cleanliness Standards of Guests are Very High

Be prepared to maintain your rental space as if it is cleaned by professionals. This includes keeping linens, mattresses, pillows, and even hidden areas spotless.

Cleaning services are relatively inexpensive in Colombia so you probably won’t be maintaining your rental space in Colombia yourself.

You will also need to consider the cleanliness and overall appearance of any space—indoors and outside— that guests can see or access.

Keep in mind that reviews are very important. Guests pay particular attention to cleanliness and it’s easier to get good reviews if there is cleanliness to begin with.

10. Guests are Your Customers, Not Your Friends

No matter how warm the rapport or how bonded you feel with your guests, you absolutely should treat them as paying customers.

In my experience, learning to provide warm, personal AND professional service is a wonderful aspect of Airbnb hosting that can enrich your life.

11. Planning for Slow Seasons is Necessary if You Rely on Airbnb Income

Whether you budget carefully, reduce your rates, or take in a long-term Airbnb guest, developing a strategy to get through inevitable slow periods is key to maintaining a desired income.

This was obviously very important when the global coronavirus pandemic hit and travel restrictions were put in place.

12. If Sartre’s Famous Words “Hell Is Other People” Ring True for You, Proceed with Caution

Whether or not you plan to share space in your private residence or a separate property, keep in mind that Airbnb hosting requires excellent communication skills and the ability to deal with people under all kinds of circumstances.

Introverts and those of us with a lower threshold for social interaction need to set limits with guests and be realistic about what we can handle. A perfectly sane way to do this is simply to find and hire a good property management company.

Inside a VICO property in Medellín, photo courtesy of VICO

Inside a VICO property in Medellín, photo courtesy of VICO

13. Developing a Routine and Learning the Ropes Takes Time

You might not meet all your goals and expectations right away. Patience and turning to Airbnb for support will help keep you sane and supported, as you create your own unique model for doing business.

14. You Will Encounter People Who Do Not Value Your Time and Effort

Do not take it personally. You will encounter guests who do not appear to value your effort or time. For some people, this might be especially challenging if guests share space where you live, or you tend to be sensitive.

Fortunately, you do not have to offer your rental space to anyone who rubs you the wrong way. Learn how to spot problem guests based on their Airbnb profile.

15. Setting Boundaries is Crucial to Success, Security and Sanity

Before investing in a property and listing your space on Airbnb, it is a great idea to get clear about your physical and emotional boundaries.

If setting boundaries is difficult for you, you will need to learn how to do this effectively. Fortunately, Airbnb hosting offers endless opportunities to practice.

Are you looking to buy or sell Real Estate in Colombia?

Medellin Guru has partnered with Real Estate by expatgroup.co to provide real estate services to foreigners and locals interested in buying and selling properties in Medellin and across Colombia.

Recognizing our readers’ demand for real estate guidance, this partnership with Real Estate by expatgroup.co, desires to deliver trustworthy and comprehensive real estate services to our audience.

Banner Web MG - Real Estate EG

We chose to collaborate with Real Estate by expatgroup.co for buying and selling real estate services for several reasons:

  • Real Estate by expatgroup.co is recognized globally and is a familiar brand for foreigners.
  • As one of Colombia’s largest realtor companies, Real Estate by expatgroup.co has extensive coverage throughout the country, enabling it to serve various locations in Colombia.
  • They boast a robust team of agents, many of whom are bilingual in English and Spanish.
  • Real Estate by expatgroup.co ensures fair pricing through a thorough Comparative Market Analysis (ACM).

To access this real estate partner service from Real Estate by expatgroup.co, click the button below, complete a brief form, and receive a complimentary consultation offering insights into the local market, current pricing, and tips for buying or selling properties.

Medellin Guru Real Estate Service

Our reliable partner, a leading real estate company, offers a wide range of services:

  • Transfer funds to Colombia
  • Legal analysis property background checks
  • Sales agreement
  • Deed registration
  • Legal representation
  • Investment visa

Medellin Guru’s Airbnb Series

Medellin Guru's guide to buying, selling and renting apartments and choosing a neighborhood

On the Medellin Guru website, we have a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to buying, selling, and renting apartments and choosing a neighborhood in Medellin found in several articles, including:

Buying and Selling Apartments

Renting Unfurnished Apartments:

Renting Furnished Apartments:

Choosing a Neighborhood in Medellin:

Also, we have several articles that can be used to help foreigners choose a neighborhood in Medellin:

The Bottom Line: Things to Know Before Investing to Become an Airbnb Host in Colombia

The above list of things to know before investing to become an Airbnb host in Colombia are based on my experience over the past several years.Drawing from years of experience, this guide offers essential insights for those considering becoming Airbnb hosts in Colombia. It emphasizes that hosting isn’t suitable for everyone and highlights the value of being well-informed beforehand to ease the journey into Airbnb hosting.

Medellin Guru Social media

Be part of our community. Find out about news, participate in events and enjoy the best of the city.

Join the networking group in Colombia on Facebook and Whatsapp Channel