As rent and home prices rise, working professionals are finding ways to battle the increasing cost of living in Los Angeles. Award–winning documentarian, TV producer, and printmaker Shannon O’Rourke found an unexpected solution: short-term vacation rentals.
When Shannon O’Rourke bought and renovated her Los Feliz home in 2010, she never intended to rent it to traveling guests. The idea came in 2016 when a friend suggested it. “Because I work out of town so much, it just made perfect sense. After renting out my house for a couple of months, I fell in love with the idea of short-term rentals.”
It was an experiment-turned-newfound-passion for O’Rourke, who says hosting is ingrained in her DNA.
“I really enjoy meeting the people that come from far and wide. I guess because I’m a documentary filmmaker and I love telling people’s stories.” Her guests come from all walks of life — tourists wanting a comforting getaway, families looking to reconnect, locals (and one hush-hush celebrity) seeking staycations and quiet work retreats. Many are repeat customers, and O’Rourke now counts a few as friends.
Award–winning documentarian, TV producer, and printmaker Shannon O’Rourke found an unexpected solution: short-term vacation rentals.
A typical stay at O’Rourke’s home is a testament to her dedication: On arrival, she greets guests and offers a tour. She brings in freshly arranged flowers and makes sure the fridge is stocked with her guests’ favorite breakfast fare. O’Rourke truly loves the work, and travelers appreciate the personalized, extra touches she provides. “Whenever people are happy because they’re in my home, then I’m happier. It’s nice that someone can stay here and pay less than they would for a tiny hotel room.”
O’Rourke is discerning about who she welcomes into her home, and says her neighbors, most of whom are working creatives like herself, support her burgeoning business. “I’m very hands-on. I’ve met every single person who’s stayed in my home. That’s important to me.”
She now rents her home throughout the year in accordance with local home sharing regulations. When she’s on location, O’Rourke employs a caretaker to oversee things. The rental earnings supplement her freelance work and help pay the mortgage on a single income, no small feat in a city where rent and housing are at an all-time high. “Doing short-term rentals allows me to stay here. I would have to leave L.A. if I couldn’t rent out my house,” she says.
At her hillside home in Los Feliz, O’Rourke has created a magical sanctuary with plenty of personality. The backyard garden features sweeping views and the interior spaces are decorated with O’Rourke’s original artwork.
Beyond her personal motivations, O’Rourke sees the bigger picture rentals like hers play by bringing visitors — and their money — to the local economy. She’s a homegrown advocate for the city where she lives and works. “When guests come to L.A. and stay at my house, they go to local restaurants, they go to tourist attractions, they shop in local stores. I’m helping my community and my neighborhood.”
Interested to see how much your home could make? At www.vrbo.com/earn, you can enter basic information about your home’s size and location. You’ll receive an instant estimate of your property’s rental potential based on nearby comparable rentals.