For second homeowners hoping to recoup some of the cost of their vacation properties and make some money while they're gone, short-term rentals are growing in popularity.
Colorado's STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The road in Steamboat Springs, a ski resort in Colorado, is lined with motels that previously housed visitors anxious to hit the slopes or take a dip in the area's hot springs.
The renovated motels are now home to people like Marc McDonald, who work service-related occupations to keep the town bustling. They cram into spaces, some of which have 6-foot-wide kitchens and tiny refrigerators, or even microwave kitchenettes. Others are mobile home dwellers.
The short-term rental industry, which includes those booked through Airbnb and Vrbo, has squeezed small towns' limited housing supply and driven up rents for full-time residents. Steamboat Springs is one of a wave of vacation towns across the country facing a housing crisis and struggling with how to regulate the industry.
The 42-year-old McDonald, who lives with his wife in a little over 500 square foot converted hotel room for $2,100 a month, the cheapest location they could find, said, "It's almost like living in a stationary RV."
When rent and utilities increase to around $2,800 in November, McDonald, who works maintenance at a nearby golf course and works as a bartender at night, predicts that he and his wife—who is receiving treatment for thyroid cancer and hepatitis E—will be priced out.
My wife is sick, she can't do it, and she can't live in a tent right now, he added, "My concern is losing everything."