Parents Miss Out on £3,000 a Year by Refusing to Convert Spare Room

  • Most parents wait an average of three years after a child moves out before changing their room
  • 7% leave rooms untouched for over eight years after a child’s departure, whilst 56% have never done anything with the room
  • Concern their children might return and fears about offending them among the top reasons for not changing the room, despite dreams of creating their own office space, a storage room, and a walk-in wardrobe
  • On average, parents could make up to £3,000 a year renting the newly spare room out on Airbnb*


As university terms begin and over 400,000* wide-eyed teenagers pack their belongings to leave for campuses across the UK, swathes of parents will once again be left with freshly vacant rooms in their family homes. However, according to new research released today by Airbnb, parents are not making the most of their newly reclaimed space.

The poll of 2,000 parents whose children have recently left home* found the average parent waits at least three years before making any changes, while 7% keep the room as it was even eight or more years after their child has moved out. Furthermore, of those polled, over half of parents (56%) had never done anything with the room at all, and 48% admitted they likely would not.

Despite the hesitation, parents are brimming with dreams of what they might turn that room in to. Practicality is popular, as the most desired spare room conversions among parents were an office, a storage room or a walk-in wardrobe. But making some extra cash by letting the room out on a site like Airbnb came in fourth, followed by a home cinema or entertainment room.

Top 5 Spare Room Conversion Ideas


Storage Room

Walk-in Wardrobe

Rent out the room on Airbnb

Home Entertainment Room

Although not short of ideas for their spare room, parents admitted to being scared of their children’s reactions to the change, with 45% revealing they are keeping the room as it is in case their child needs to move back home in the future, and just under a third (31%) admit worrying about offending their child.

A savvy 21% of parents said they would consider renting their spare room out on a site such as Airbnb. In terms of where this newfound income would go, 40% said they would save for the future, which topped the list, followed by putting money towards a holiday (37%) and helping with bills and mortgage (29%).

Of those who had rented out their room, a huge 86% were happy they had done so and 44% reported using the funds to help support their child through university. Airbnb data shows that the highest earning age group on the platform in the UK are hosts aged 50-59. They also host most frequently, on average 40 nights per year.*

For most parents having a child leave home is a huge milestone and, while it can be an incredibly emotional experience, it can also offer a great opportunity to find new purposes for vacant space. For those who are interested in making additional money from the room, or who don’t want to alter it permanently in case their children return, listing it on Airbnb can be a fantastic option to ensure it is put to good use.

Hadi Moussa, Airbnb General Manager for Northern Europe 


*Average income for hosts on Airbnb between 1 July 2016 and 1 July 2017:


*Research of 2,000 UK parents whose children have left home within the last 15 years, commissioned by Airbnb and carried out by One Poll.

*Airbnb data as of 1 August 2018.