Why is it worth booking Airbnbs for a week or more

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If you prefer vacation rentals like Airbnbs to hotels, then an extended stay can pay off — and not just because you’re spending more time on vacation and less time at home. Maybe you’re a lucky member of the workforce who can work remotely, so you choose to go online during an extended vacation. Maybe you just have plenty of vacation time to spare and are ready for a long getaway. For travelers spending more than a week on the road, it may be cheaper to stay at an Airbnb than a traditional hotel.

After all, Airbnb (and many vacation rental alternatives, including Vrbo) makes it easy for hosts to apply discounts to week-long bookings. Some hosts offer even deeper discounts for one-month bookings.

But how much cheaper are these Airbnb discounts for extended stays? Are there significant savings to committing to a one-week rental rather than several shorter stays?

A June 2022 NerdWallet analysis looked at data from 1,000 Airbnb reservations in the United States with check-in dates in 2022 or 2023 that spanned a range of locations, sizes, and quality. The analysis only considered “whole” properties, as opposed to shared homes. The data was used to compare the cost of staying in the same rental for one day, seven days or 30 days to determine savings per night by committing to longer trips, compared to staying just one night :

On average, the nightly rate for a seven-night Airbnb stay turns out to be 32% cheaper than the nightly rate for a one-night stay. Stick around for a month to cut your nightly rate even further – a 46% discount for a 30-day commitment instead of just one.

Some cities offer even greater discounts for long-term stays. In Chicago, 30-day trips are 58% cheaper per night than staying in the same rental for just one night. Weekly stays are 41% cheaper per night than one-night stays.

Not all cities offer such deep discounts. In Tampa, you save a little, but not a lot. Seven-night stays are 16% cheaper per night than a one-night stay.

Here are some of the percentage differences among a handful of major cities analyzed:

Interestingly, some cities offer big discounts for a week’s stay, but not much more for a month’s stay. If you’re spending a month in Southern California and are going to be staying at an Airbnb, you probably won’t save much by making Los Angeles your home base for the entire month rather than just a week. So go ahead and spend a week in the City of Angels, but perhaps venture south and spend a few nights in Orange County and San Diego as well.

Why Airbnbs is cheaper per night for long stays

Many hosts offer discounts to entice people to commit to longer stays. This is because long-term guests save hosts from having to go through the multiple check-ins and cleanings that come with short-term stays. For guests, the monetary benefits of longer stays don’t stop at booking discounts. There are also hidden economies elsewhere.

Reduced cleaning fee per night

Most Airbnbs charge cleaning fees, and while these vary by property, some can be quite high. This one-time fee is intended to cover additional expenses that hosts incur when resetting homes between guests, such as washing sheets and towels, or vacuuming up crumbs left behind.

This cabin near Yellowstone offers a weekly discount of approximately 9%. The $30 cleaning fee is only 2% of the total weekly rate, but 7% of the 2 night stay rate. (screenshot by Sally French)

Few Airbnbs will clean your rental mid-stay, so cleaning fees are usually only charged once and are the same price regardless of the length of your stay. Thus, a $30 cleaning fee amortized over 30 nights is only $1 per night. But a $30 cleaning fee on a one-night stay is still $30, which is why it’s more economical to stay at an Airbnb for more than one night.

Less (or no) taxes

Some cities do not charge taxes for longer stays or tax extended stays at a lower rate than overnight stays. For example, while Dallas charges a 7% hotel occupancy tax, it considers people who stay at the same location for 30 days or more to be permanent residents, in which case the hotel occupancy tax does not apply.

In Scottsdale, Arizona, Airbnb stays of 29 days or less are subject to a 5% transient lodging tax. However, those staying longer than 29 days are considered renters and are taxed the same as other Scottsdale renters, at just 1.75%.

Other ways to stay in one place can save money

Whether you’re staying at an Airbnb or not, there are plenty of other ways to make longer trips more affordable than you might think.

  • You might be more likely to buy groceries for longer stays, which will save you money on restaurant meals.
  • You won’t be moving suitcases between different accommodations, which will reduce how often you need to tip taxi drivers and bellboys. (Plus, you’ll save time by not having to pack for a new place every night.)

And then there’s the feeling that money can’t be bought: slow travel. Stay in one place and you’ll live like a local, wandering off the beaten track. There’s a better chance you’ll meet new friends on the road and make memories other than queuing to check in and out of hotels.

The bottom line

If Costco taught us that buying in bulk is cheaper, Airbnb said so. The nightly rate to book an Airbnb is, on average, a 32% discount when you commit to at least seven nights versus just one. That’s an even bigger 46% off when you commit to 30 days.

Remember, not all Airbnbs offer extended-stay discounts — and some discounts are more generous than others. Do your own comparison shopping before you book. It might not cost a ton more to turn that long weekend into a full week or month of travel.

Sam Kemmis and JT Genter contributed to this article.

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