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How an avid traveler started earning $49K passive income when he listed his tiny home on Airbnb

An Idaho native, Ivan Ellis Nanney, got a marketing job that required him to travel the country with a massive concrete and plaster potato in 2014.

The Famous Idaho Potato Tour allows the tourist to stop for a photo op along with the giant potato, carried by a red semi-truck, traveling around the country.

While on tour, Ivan met Kristie Wolfe, a fellow Boisean who turned the original six-ton potato into an Airbnb property.

Ivan helped Kristie set up more listings, inspiring him to have his own Airbnb property.

So, Ivan, who spends six months a year traveling, bought a piece of land outside downtown Boise.

He saved enough money from freelance video jobs, including his six-month gig with in 2018 as a content creator and from the Famous Idaho Potato Tour.

He spent $17,000 on land and another $17,000 to build the tiny house.

The land has an abandoned building, which he deconstructs, then builds a tiny house made of “second-hand materials.”

Ivan said he installed the house’s water and electricity himself.

Living in his tiny house full-time was pointless, given how much Ivan loved to travel. So, he thought his tiny house could accommodate his family or renters while he was traveling.

“Looking at tiny houses and the costs, it just made sense to have a home base,” Ivan says. “It was providing a back-up plan for family, then also providing that passive income to free me up so that I could pursue my passions and work on other projects and not be beholden to a mortgage.”

He started listing his property in June 2019, planning to live there six months a year when he’s not traveling.

Ivan called his tiny house in Boise “Chateau Ivan,” according to AutoEvolution.

The rental home offers “glamping” vibes where renters can experience the classic feels of camping with modern comfort.

The tiny home features a nice living room where guests can have a fantastic movie night with its projector.

It also has a coffee table that doubles as a dining table when you lift it and a sofa bed for an extra guest.

The loft serves as the bedroom with ample headspace.

The kitchen and bathroom are fully furnished, making them very comfortable to use, and a multipurpose nook can be used as a remote office or extra storage.

Outside is a nice deck with a table and chairs, a fire pit, a picnic table, a barbecue grill, and a hot tub, inviting the guests to have a wonderful outdoor party.

By mid-2020, his property started to get more demand, so he decided to list it year-round.

“It became very popular,” Ivan says, stating that it didn’t make sense for him to stay there, and he has started to earn almost entirely passive income.

His tiny home earned around $50,000 last year.

It is not entirely passive income, though, because Ivan still schedules a few days a year to live in his tiny home to do necessary repairs and upgrades.

Depending on the number of bookings, he spends an additional two hours per week organizing stays. He also pays around $150 weekly for a cleaner to manage the house while he is away.

Most of Ivan’s yearly income comes from renting out his tiny house, and the experience has taught him how to make money while still traveling the world, per CNBC.

Ivan has been hosting Amazing Race-style competition in three-wheeled open vehicles known as tuk-tuks in Sri Lanka for at least two months every year since 2019, where he earns either $5,000 or 35% of the tournament’s profit, whichever is higher.

He also earns by helping other local Airbnb owners with maintenance, repairs, and additions to their properties, such as a Shipwreck-themed property near Salmon, Idaho.

The popularity of the tiny house motivated Ivan to build two more houses specifically for Airbnb.

First is a home he purchased in April 2021 for $78,000 with a down payment of $7,800 in Grand View, Idaho, a little town approximately an hour south of Boise.

The second property is a mountain land he owns with four relatives. The current pole barn will be transformed into a rustic cabin from which he will earn 25% of its profit, a handsome addition to his passive income.

“You can increase your income and reduce your debt while maximizing assets you already own,” Ivan says. “I don’t like having things sit around when someone could be benefitting from it.”

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