Becoming a VRBO or Airbnb Host: A Landowners Guide to Passive Income

May 6, 2023

Landownership offers more than just the peace and tranquility of your personal expanse. With a bit of creativity and investment, your land can generate substantial passive income. One of the ways to capitalize on your property’s potential is through short-term rental platforms like Airbnb or VRBO. This article delves into the process of setting up an off-grid Airbnb or VRBO property and the numerous benefits of doing so.

Why Consider Short-Term Rentals?

a man browsing Airbnb on his laptop

The advent of online rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO has revolutionized the hospitality industry. The demand for unique and personal accommodations has never been higher. According to Airbnb, unique stays are growing at twice the rate of traditional accommodations, with Airstreams, domes, and tiny homes being among the most sought-after.

The benefits of hosting on Airbnb or VRBO are manifold. It offers a significant income source – for instance, Airbnb’s Unique Stays Host section estimates that you could earn an average of $2,293/month by hosting an Airbnb in the MD of Bonnyville or Cold Lake. That’s a substantial $27,516/year in additional passive income. 

Besides the financial gain, hosting can also foster connections with people from all over the world and contribute to sustainable and local tourism.

The Allure of Unique and Off-Grid Stays

A cottage in the woods

“Unique stays” is one of the fastest-growing categories on Airbnb. Travelers are increasingly drawn to unconventional accommodations, from treehouses to vintage Airstreams, and old barns to grain silos, that offer a unique experience. 

Even in the rural regions of Bonnyville, Cold Lake, St. Paul, Lac La Biche, Elk Point, and more, where the land was once considered suitable only for farming or other traditional uses, new opportunities are emerging.

With Travel Alberta focusing on lesser-known rural destinations as a focus point for their upcoming campaigns, now is the perfect time to consider building on the unique and off-grid stays.

Why Convert Your Land into an Airbnb/VRBO Rental

One of the most significant reasons to consider converting your land into a rental property is the financial aspect. Depending on the type of accommodation and location, nightly rates can range from $75 to $500, resulting in a lucrative source of income. 

Furthermore, due to the unique nature of these rentals, they often have higher occupancy rates than traditional accommodations. With Canadians earning over $7.1 billion in revenue from Airbnb alone since 2010, time to consider adding some passive income into your wallet.

Understanding the Costs of Setting Up Unique Stays

geodomes covered with snow

Your Airbnb or VRBO needs to stand out from the competition. With a plot of land, the possibilities for creating a unique stay are endless. From tiny homes to yurts to geodome tents, you can choose to build accommodation that fits your budget, landscape, and target audience. 

Let’s look at a comparative table of potential build costs of creating unique stays:

Accommodation TypeEstimated Cost
Tiny Home$15,000 – $100,000+
Builder Home$80,000 – $200,000+
Kit Home$5,000 – $50,000
Sheds$1,000 – $30,000
Yurts$5,000 – $20,000
Old Barn Conversion$10,000 – $100,000+
Teepee$500 – $2000
Geodome Tents$1,000 – $10,000

Remember, the initial cost is just part of the equation. Consider the potential return on investment, with nightly rates for unique stays ranging from $75 to over $500.

Revenue Potential from Unique Stays

Here’s a rough estimate of potential earnings from unique stays:

Type of UnitNights Rented p.a.Nightly RatePotential Annual Revenue (CAD)
Tiny Home200$150$30,000
Kit Home200$200$40,000
Builder Home200$300$60,000
Geodome Tent200$100$20,000
Converted Barn200$150$30,000

The above table gives a general idea of how much one could potentially earn by setting up these unique stays on their land.

Setting up Your Unique Stay: What to Consider

a couple relaxing and looking at the mountain view

Before embarking on this venture, some considerations need to be kept in mind:

  • Size of the Project: The scale of your project will depend on the size of your land, its terrain, and your budget. A large flat parcel of land might be ideal for setting up a tiny home community, while a smaller, forested area might be better suited for tree houses or yurts.
  • Local Regulations: Depending on the municipality, you may need to secure certain permits or adhere to specific zoning regulations. Make sure to check with local authorities to avoid any potential issues.
  • Amenities and Features: To attract guests, consider what unique features or amenities you can provide. This could be anything from a private beach to guided horseback tours, gourmet breakfasts, or even astronomy lessons under the stars.

Navigating Business Licensing, Permits and Zoning

a house by a lake

Before you start setting up your Airbnb, make sure you are familiar with the laws and regulations in your area regarding short-term rentals. Depending on where your land is located, you may need to acquire a business license. Some municipalities in Alberta have specific regulations for short-term rentals, such as the requirement to have a fire safety plan. Check the regulations for your specific area by visiting the municipal websites or contacting the municipal office.

The M.D. of Bonnyville, County of St. Paul, Lac La Biche County, County of Smoky Lake, and County of Vermilion River, each require a development permit for new constructions, including dwellings to be used as a rental, however, you may want to check with your respective municipality for more specifics. 

This might also help you with your business plan in how you determine the type of structure you’ll use for your new Airbnb or VRBO business. Using airstream trailers, modulars, or even converting an existing structure could be a possible solution for avoiding any potential issues from needing to acquire building permits. 

While setting up an off-grid Airbnb can provide a unique experience for guests, there are additional aspects to consider. Here are a few:

Tree clearing for housing preparation land new residential development

Land Clearing and Developing the Property

Whether it’s creating roads, building sites, or just general beautification, land clearing is a vital part of preparing your property for guests. Land clearing not only makes the land accessible and usable, but it can also help to improve the overall aesthetic of your property.

Water and Sewage

If your property doesn’t have access to municipal water or sewage systems, you’ll need to establish a safe and reliable alternative. Holding tanks for water and septic systems are commonly used in off-grid settings.


Consider how you will supply power to your property. Solar panels, generators, or a combination of both are common off-grid power solutions.


Providing internet access can significantly increase the appeal of your rental, especially for longer stays. Satellite internet is typically the best option for remote locations. With options such as Starlink, provides highspeed internet to the most remote areas of Canada. 


Depending on the location and size of your property, you may need to clear paths or roads for guest access. Also, consider accessibility in all weather conditions.

Monthly Expenses

Be sure to factor in ongoing costs such as maintenance, utilities, and insurance when calculating your potential profits.

Becoming a VRBO or Airbnb Host: Going Beyond the Basics

A group preparing to list their property on Airbnb

Once you’ve made the decision and you have your unique accommodation set up, the next step is becoming a VRBO or Airbnb host. While it may seem simple on the surface, there are many layers to this process.

Understanding the Hosting Platform

First and foremost, get familiar with the platform you choose, be it Airbnb, VRBO, or both. Spend time exploring the host section of the websites. Airbnb, for example, provides detailed resources for an Airbnb host, covering everything from pricing to safety.

Setting Up Your Listing

Your listing is the first impression potential guests will have of your place. Make it count. Professional photos can make a world of difference. Write a detailed description of your property, what guests can expect, and what unique features your accommodation offers.

Pricing Your Space

Pricing your space involves some market research. Look at other similar properties in your area and see what they’re charging. Your rate should be competitive but also cover your costs and generate profit. Airbnb has a built-in Smart Pricing tool which adjusts your prices based on demand and other factors.

Providing Exceptional Hospitality

an airbnb host hanging up a welcome sign

Remember, you’re not just providing a place to stay; you’re offering an experience. This means going above and beyond to ensure your guests feel welcome and comfortable. A positive guest experience translates into positive reviews, which are vital for attracting future bookings. Along the side of going the extra mile, it also pays off big time with the little extras such little bowls of chocolate, thank you notes or even local food and beverage with a note in the fridge for them on arrival.

Handling Bookings and Communication

Prompt and clear communication is key in this business. As a VRBO or Airbnb host, it is important to make sure you’re responsive to inquiries and provide all necessary details to guests. Automating the process with pre-set messages for booking confirmations, check-in instructions, and check-out reminders can save you a lot of time.


a dirt road lined with trees in the fall

Consider the accessibility of your rental. It should be easy for guests to reach, especially if they are travelling from out of town. Clear paths or roads that lead to your Airbnb, ensuring that guests can comfortably reach their accommodation. This is where land clearing comes into play, as it can help create the necessary access routes and open up the view for your guests.

Safety and Comfort:

Above all, guests should feel safe and comfortable in your Airbnb. Make sure the building is structurally sound and equipped with necessary safety features like smoke detectors and first aid kits. Also, consider what amenities you will provide, like heating or air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen, and comfortable sleeping arrangements. 

Marketing and Promotion:

After setting up your Airbnb, you will need to market it to potential guests. High-quality photos and an enticing description can make a big difference in attracting bookings. Also, consider promoting your Airbnb on social media and travel blogs. Unique stays like yours tend to do well on platforms like Instagram, which values visually appealing content.

Understanding Legal Aspects and Tax Obligations of a VRBO or Airbnb Host

Finally, it’s crucial to understand your legal obligations as a VRBO or Airbnb host. This includes adhering to local laws and regulations, acquiring necessary permits, paying your taxes, and considering insurance options. Airbnb offers Host Protection Insurance, but it’s recommended to do your own research to ensure you have the appropriate coverage.


Converting your land into a unique Airbnb/VRBO rental can provide a significant return on investment. Not only does it offer a potentially lucrative income stream, but it also allows you to make the most of your land. As the trend towards unique stays continues to grow, so too do the opportunities for landowners in rural areas. Plus, it contributes to the local economy and provides an opportunity for more people to enjoy the incredible natural beauty of Alberta’s Lakeland region and beyond.

In the end, whether you choose to create a charming tiny home, a rustic barn conversion, or a breathtaking geodome tent for stargazing, you’re adding value to your property and making the most of what your land has to offer.

Creating Your Airbnb Adventure Starts With Land Clearing

a bulldozer clearing land after tree clearing

Creating a successful Airbnb or VRBO property can seem daunting, but with the right resources and a little hard work, you can transform your land into a profitable venture. And the best part? You’re not alone on this journey. Don’t just head into the bushes of your property with a chainsaw and a sketch on a napkin. Our crew has the right tools and resources to help you with clearing.

Whether you’re looking to clear land for that perfect yurt, carve out access roads for your secluded treehouse, or need expert advice on how best to optimize your property for guests, our team is here to help.

At Pevach Corp, we bring our extensive experience in land clearing, tree services, and site preparation to help bring your vision to life. From the initial consultation to the finished product, we’re committed to ensuring your Airbnb venture starts on a strong footing.

Remember, a successful unique stay starts with the perfect space. Let’s work together to create something truly memorable.