- Julz Maleno is an acupuncture student in his thirties who lives in Chino, California.
- In 2020, she listed vacant land on her property as storage space on Neighbor, a storage rental app.
- Since then, she has earned over $26,700 renting spaces for RVs, trailers and more.
- Here’s what she thinks of the app and how it works, as writer Perri Ormont Blumberg said.
This say-to-say essay is based on a conversation with Julz Maleno, an acupuncture student in California, about her hustle and bustle on the storage rental side. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I am in my last year of course for my doctorate in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. Throughout my studies, I worked various odd jobs to help pay the bills while juggling classes.
I worked as an Uber driver at night and on weekends, but after being swept away by another car, I decided that being a driver was no longer an option for me as a single mom. I also worked as an acupuncture assistant in my school’s clinic and other clinics, but since my class schedule changed each term, I needed more flexibility.
I started looking for different ways to make money that didn’t take a lot of time and heard about Neighbor on the radio. It’s a website and app that connects people who have extra room in their home, garage, shed or yard with dwellers looking for space to store their stuff . After doing more research, I learned that I could make money by listing the vacant, gated one acre lot on my property as storage and parking.
Since it was free to register for my space, I figured I had nothing to lose. [Editor’s note: While listing is free, Neighbor charges the property owner a payment processing fee of 4.9% of the total reservation cost plus $0.30 per payout.]
So I signed up, took pictures of the yard, then listed each spot with general length and width dimensions. I have divided my yard into three general sections for storing cars, RVs and trailers. I then divided these sections into a total of 20 “parking spot” spaces, each of which rents for between $40 and $200 per month.
I listed my first space just before the pandemic hit in early 2020 and within days found a tenant who wanted to store their RV. Since then, my additional acre of garden space has brought in over $26,700.
The passive aspect of the rental has been great for my busy schedule
I was initially skeptical about listing my space because I didn’t know much about storage or what was considered a fair price, but the passive aspect of renting really sold me on the end.
Since I don’t rent a garage or spare room, I don’t spend time cleaning or rearranging rental spaces. In fact, I had nothing to do with my court before registering it.
I’m busy with school and don’t have time to keep up with gig work or tend my yard, so it’s great to be able to earn some extra money without a big lift.
I remember my first listing was way under priced, but with more experience I priced more competitively than other Neighbor listings in the area. I was modest with my prices at first and priced the spaces cheaper than other local hosts because I wasn’t sure they would actually rent. After seeing how easy it was and how consistent the requests were, I decided to message Neighbor customer service to discuss raising my rates. The support team helped me determine the best price for my area and the size of my space.
There’s not much everyday I have to do for Neighbor
I spend five to 10 hours a month on the Neighbor app messaging tenants, mostly coordinating if they need to drop off or pick up something from their outdoor space. All our communications are done on the platform, which is convenient so that messages do not get lost.
I require renters to contact me in advance when they wish to view their vehicle or trailers. I’m usually pretty flexible, but I have to keep the space secure and monitor who visits and when. Luckily, my renters are all fairly low maintenance and very accommodating, so it was easy to schedule drop off and pick up times around my school schedule.
Many tenants are very friendly and we chat from time to time. One tenant had 20 Volkswagens in storage with me for about a year with plans to restore them, and another tenant had a school bus that was converted into a recording studio.
Using the app was perfect low lift side hustle
It has been a rewarding experience to have kind tenants who care about me and in turn I keep a close eye on their property and check on any other tenants who visit the lot.
Since listings are monthly, I like being able to adjust my prices and rotate tenants as needed, even though I have long-term tenants, including one who has been storing a Chevy Workhorse since 2020.
Renting out my empty yard has been great as a fairly passive source of income. I don’t have to do or spend anything to earn money like I did with Uber, and the monthly commitment means I can stop renting anytime I need to. If you have extra space that you’re not using right now, I highly recommend trying to rent it out as storage.