The sharing economy seemingly allows you to turn every skill you have and everything you own into an income stream. In addition to driving and delivering and dog walking, you can rent out your home, car, RV , garage, and/or parking spot to strangers for cash. In the last few years, backyard swimming pools have also entered the picture via Swimply , which hosts by-the-hour rentals for private homeowners.
Listing your pool seems like an easy source of passive income—and if you’ve already paid the upfront cost, you may as well, right? Especially when you read headlines about people making $177,000 in revenue in just two years.
But as with Airbnb or any other peer-to-peer sharing network, it’s likely more complicated than posting a few photos, calculating a rental rate, and watching the bookings roll in. Does listing your pool on Swimply actually pay off?
Swimply allows you to set your own hourly rate, which may range from around $30 to several hundred dollars per hour for up to five guests plus an additional hourly per-guest fee for larger groups. The platform recommends undercutting prices in your area when you’re starting out to attract bookings and then increasing your rates once you have a handful of reviews.
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There are a bunch of factors that affect how you set rental rates:
First up, your Swimply listing isn’t pure profit. The company takes a 15% cut on all bookings, and it occasionally offers discounts or promo codes to guests, which is out of the hosts’ control. (Note that guests also pay a fee for every booking.)
You may or may not end up paying extra insurance premiums to open up your pool. Swimply offers $1,000,000 in liability coverage at no extra charge to all hosts, as well as up to $10,000 in reimbursement for damages to your pool or property if guests refuse to pay. But you should also check with your home insurance to make sure there are no gaps in your liability.
If your pool isn’t set up to host groups, there may be some upfront expenses. For example, if you don’t have an outdoor or garage bathroom and don’t want people entering your home (or peeing in your pool), you may need to rent a port-a-potty or install some type of outdoor toilet. Patio furniture and pool floats are other basics you may need to buy. So you’re looking at a few hundred to possibly a few thousand dollars to improve your listing.
Then there’s the cost to maintain your pool. According to HomeAdvisor , this can range from $3,000 to $5,000 per year, which you’d probably be paying no matter what. But consider the possible money and manpower required to clean, maintain, or repair your pool with more frequent use by larger groups. The Oregon guy who made $177,000 on Swimply considers himself a “pool provider” and checks his pool chemicals 5–10 times per day—hardly an example of passive income—and you’ll have to do some marketing when you’re starting out. But assuming exactly two years of hosting, that’s $242 earned per day.
Another real-life example: Reddit user u/SDgirlburner describes their experience of making $2,500 in 50 days after listing their pool on Swimply in June 2020:
The user notes that there are only a couple of other pools in a 30-mile radius, so they are likely getting more bookings than they would if the area was heavily saturated. And they claim to pay no more for maintenance and cleaning related to hosting guests.
Finally, your local laws may require a business license or safety equipment, and Swimply also requires your pool adhere to safety guidelines , all of which will cost something.
Let’s say you own a home with a pool in a suburb of Atlanta. Via Swimply, you charge $60 per hour for weekend bookings up to 5 guests with a $5 per-guest fee for larger parties. Here’s the breakdown for a basic two-hour booking for 8 guests on a Saturday:
Next, let’s say this same group wants to use your gas grill ($10 per rental period), hot tub ($35 per rental period), and speaker system ($3 per hour). That puts your initial total at $201 and your payout at $170.85.
In theory, you could host multiple bookings per day, especially on busy weekends or holidays. To break even with the low end of annual maintenance/repair costs—assuming no additional setup or insurance costs—you’d need to book a basic two-hour rental 24 days per year, or almost twice a week during the summer. Not bad, really, as long as you aren’t tied to using the pool yourself during popular times. Ultimately, it comes down to how much you’re willing to put in to get a return on your investment.