Got land — perhaps a lot where you plan to build a retirement or vacation home? Or, maybe, just a big backyard? Instead of letting it sit empty, you can make money with land by renting it out.
Just ask Jake Gunther. His vacant lot in Utah is now divvied into 25 parking spaces. People use them to store motorhomes and boats. That land now earns $2,200 a month. Better yet, the income is largely passive, requiring only about 2 hours of Gunther’s time in any given month.
“It is the easiest income I have to manage,” says Gunther. “It pretty much takes care of itself.”
Indeed, when it comes to earning passive income, there are few side hustles that compare with simply renting out unused or under-utilized land. This can be raw land, an empty office, or space in your house, garage, driveway or tool shed.
And there are several ways to do it.
Make money with land
Among the simplest answers for someone who has a vacant lot is to rent it out as storage space through Neighbor. Neighbor is a peer-to-peer rental site that allows property owners to rent out storage space. You decide what space you have to rent; measure it out; decide how much to charge and when it’s available. You also set rules on how often renters can access their stuff — daily, weekly, or only by appointment.
And while it might seem surprising that anyone would pay to rent out a corner in your garage or a space in your driveway, demand is brisk, says Joseph Woodbury, CEO and founder of Neighbor.
“Average occupancy rates for storage space are 95% nationwide,” says Woodbury. “That’s the highest occupancy rate of any asset class. That means that close to half of all storage facilities are 100% full. They cannot take more tenants.”
In other words, if you have land available to store things — be they RVs, boats or containers full of personal goods — it’s almost certain to be rented regularly.
How much money can you make when you rent land as storage space? The answer depends on where the land is located, says Woodbury.
Stacy Spahr, an insurance agent who rents out a spare lot in Oregon, says he gets about $175 per month for each RV or boat that’s stored on his property. In a typical month, that brings in roughly $2,500 after expenses, he says. Gunther charges a similar rate for storing RVs and boats on his property in Utah.
However, average rental rates for 10 x 20 parking spaces in a number of California cities ranged from $200 to $250.
Neighbor has a tool to help landlords price their storage space, based on average rates in your neighborhood. However, the site — and most others that facilitate peer-to-peer rentals of storage and parking — allow you to set your rates at whatever level you choose.
Renting land for camping
If your vacant lot happens to be in a scenic location — on a lake, river or beach, for example — you may also be able to rent it out to campers. A site called Hipcamp allows individuals with spare property to list it for nightly rentals. The site’s rental properties range from vacant lots to farms to glamping sites.
The land owner sets the rates and availability and Hipcamp markets the space, collects from renters and pays land owners each week. The site suggests that owners set their rates based on comparable space at a nearby campsite or state park.
A single-space with no amenities, such as bathrooms or beaches, might rent for $30 a night, for example. A larger space with access to toilets, showers, and, perhaps, a shoreline view, may rent for closer to $300 a night.
Because camping spaces are rented by the night, not the month like storage space, monthly earnings for popular camping sites can be substantial. Hipcamp estimates that the average California host can earn more than $6,000 a month.
Renting land to pet owners
Land can also be rented by the hour.
A site called Sniffspot allows anyone with a backyard or field to rent out their land to dog owners looking for an off-leash playground for their pets. Land owners list their space, determine the price and say whether there are “amenities,” like tennis balls, a bench for dog-owners to relax on, and, say, water bowls for the canine guests. You also set the schedule, saying when your land is and isn’t available.
Guests also have to abide by rules, which include verifying that their animals have been vaccinated, and cleaning up after their own pets. Dogs are not allowed to be left unattended.
While hourly rental rates listed on Sniffspot are often modest — say, $10 per dog — a popular site might be rented several hours a day. That’s a nice way to make money with land that would otherwise go unused.