Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

The High Cost of the Guest Room

Pulling data from the US Census, found there are 9.4% more bedrooms in the U.S. than people: 357M bedrooms but only 323.4M people–a 33.6 million bedroom surplus. This figure, they note, is probably very conservative because it assumes one person per bedroom and many couples share a bedroom.

This surplus is not just a waste of good mattresses, but money. They suggest putting those spare rooms to use. Rent them, Airbnb them, do something other than letting them sit as big dust traps. They estimate that renting all of these rooms for a mere $100 week would yield $174B. But that figure is super conservative too: “Americans in bigger cities could get significantly more than the national average. For example, Phoenix residents can get $338 a week ($17,576 a year), while people in Nashville, Tenn., can rake in $572 a room per week to the tune of nearly $30,000 a year.”

We might also suggest that developers and architects start channelling their energies toward smaller–or at least more flexible–spaces. And for people looking for a new home to start purchasing/renting/demanding smaller homes, armed with the knowledge of the real costs of keeping a room (or rooms) on standby.


  • Rachel

    Homeowners are also wasting money (and resources) to heat and cool unused space.

  • Ani

    Yes indeed; I have an empty bedroom that is rarely occupied. I tried but failed to find a sunny small home to buy where I live; a 2-bedroom unit was the best I could come up with.

  • Maggie

    Another ‘cost’ to the spare bedroom room is people expecting you to drop everything when they fancy a holiday in your expensive city so you can act as tour guide, chauffeur, chef, baby-sitter, servant… We had one too many guests who thought that we were running a vacation resort for their benefit, even to the point of not understanding why we wouldn’t take our precious vacation days to give them a 5-star holiday experience.

  • WithheldName

    I have 2 spare bedrooms, a spare game room (that could easily be converted into a bedroom), a garage filled with junk, and at least 3 closets full of junk. There are 3 bathrooms in my house – and there are only 3 people living in it. We have 7 sinks and we could probably get by with 3. We have 0 solar panels. We have 0 composting toilets. We have 3 cars parked in our driveway – 1 for each person. My house is only 2,600 sf – close to the national average. And my household size is also close to the national average.

    Something is very wrong here. America has way too much housing space. We could tear down 10 or 20 million houses in America and we wouldn’t even miss them.

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  • I’ve given up on guest rooms. I have an extra room, but it’s a creative room for music, photography, and writing.