I thought my days of staying anywhere other than a nice hotel were long behind me, but a recent experience in Nashville changed my mind.
In December, my partner realized we had three Delta companion tickets to use before the end of January 2023. We definitely didn’t want to waste them, so we booked last-minute weekend trips to Nashville, San Francisco and Chicago.
To make our trip to Nashville more special, I decided to look for an alternative experience and that’s how I found the Nashville Tiny Home.
It was about a 10-minute drive from downtown Nashville and seemed like the perfect place for my partner and I to spend some quality time together.
When we arrived, it became pretty clear why the rental was named the most popular Airbnb in Tennessee in 2019.
The story behind Tennessee’s most popular Airbnb
After Rebecca, 33, and Jonathan Moody, 34, bought their home in 2012, they wanted a way to comfortably host friends and family without having them stay in the main house.
The couple tells CNBC Make It that they initially thought about converting their basement into a guest suite but didn’t want guests to be too close to the madness of their day-to-day lives. They are parents to three kids under the age of 10.
That’s when the Moody’s set their sights on Canadian building company Summerwood, which specializes in small cabins, pool cabanas and sheds.
“This is a way for us to be able to host people comfortably but not have it be right in our very noisy household,” Rebecca says. “Instead of having it sit vacant when we don’t have friends and families visiting, renting it out on Airbnb made sense.”
The 300-square-foot tiny home is located in the Moody’s backyard. It features a kitchenette, a lofted queen bed, a full bathroom with a clawfoot tub, an expandable daybed, a projector with Roku, an air conditioner, a heater, and fan, and three skylights.
The couple says the tiny home can fit up to four people comfortably.
The Moody’s spent 11 months and about $40,000 to get the tiny home up and running. They did most of the work themselves but hired experts to handle things like the plumbing, sewage, and drywall.
For the tiny home’s interior, the couple used salvaged wood, repurposed vintage cabinets, and took inspiration from their backyard, a certified wildlife habitat, to have nature-inspired d?cor.
“We like to say that it’s a guesthouse situated in our woodland-inspired gardens in the heart of Nashville,” Jonathan says.
“We did try and design it to be a space where the outside draws you in and the inside out,” Rebecca adds. “There’s a good mix of different textures that draw the eyes to different places and makes the space feel bigger. I like to say it’s a mix of new and old vintage.”
Renting the tiny home has allowed the Moody’s to quit their full-time jobs
The Moody’s rent the tiny home for anywhere from $80 to $250 a night. They estimate it costs around $500 a month to run, and renting it on Airbnb brings in $5,000 to $7,000 a month.
That supplemental income allowed them to quit their full-time jobs as teachers.
Now Rebecca is spending her free time writing a book while Jonathan is following his dreams of being a musician.
“We’re able to put our time and energy towards doing the things that we love and fulfill us,” Jonathan says.
“My favorite part is the hosting aspect. We’ve had guests get engaged in the tiny home and others who’ve first come pregnant and now return with their kids. We get to watch the time pass through our guests’ stories, and I love that people will come in and use it as a retreat,” Rebecca adds.
In the six years that the Moody’s have had the tiny home, they say the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s even inspired them to start decorating their main house to emulate the rental space.
“The feeling of calm I get when I’m in this space is palpable, so in our own home, we’ve slowly been working to make it feel more like the tiny home,” Rebecca says.
The tiny home was the perfect getaway
In addition to wanting to try something different, my partner and I wanted to make our trip to Nashville a budget-friendly one, so we looked to Airbnb which had offerings that were significantly cheaper than the hotels in the area.
We were in the Tennessee city for three days, so we spent two nights in a centrally located one-bedroom apartment and one night in the Moody’s tiny home.
The apartment was spacious, had everything we needed, and was within walking distance of Broadway, a main street in downtown Nashville. But the tiny home made our trip something we’ll never forget.
Because we were forced to be in one, small room together, my partner and I were able to relax and reconnect. The space was big enough that we didn’t feel cramped, but small enough to remind us that we were having a bit of an alternative experience.
Initially, I was wary of the skylights because I like to sleep in total darkness, but it was actually pretty amazing to wake up in the morning and see the sunrise.
And though we were so close to downtown Nashville, the home was secluded enough. It felt as if we were truly in the middle of nowhere, which was a welcome change.
After our night in the tiny home, we decided that for future tips, we’ll explore other unique places to stay.
Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter
Airbnb hosts in Texas buy abandoned house for under $200,000 and find ‘valuable collectibles’ inside
34-year-old spent $17,000 on a tiny home in Idaho–now it brings in $49,000 a year on Airbnb: It’s ‘almost completely passive’