Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
April 9, 2024 ·  4 min read

This $17,000 tiny home now brings in $49,000 a year on Airbnb

Ivan Ellis Nanney, a native of Idaho, managed to turn his life around in quite a usual manner. He got hold of a marketing job that was traveling the country with a plaster potato and giant concrete. This took place on the Famous Idaho Potato Tour, where tourists will be able to stop and take pictures with the giant potato- which is set up behind a red semi-truck in the United States. During this tour, Nanney met with Kristie Wolfe, a fellow Boisean, who had turned the original six-ton giant potato into a property to be used as Airbnb. 

Seeing such an unusual method, Nanney decided to befriend her and helped set up several more listings for this tiny home. The friendship also inspired Nanney, who dedicates around six months of each year to travel, as he has also set up his own Airbnb property. Recently, he purchased a parcel of land outside Boise for a sum of $17,000 and then spent another $17,000 by building a tiny home on this land. This tiny home was then listed as an Airbnb in June 2019, where he planned on living for six months every year. But by the middle of 2020, this listing had turned out so popular that he decided to list it throughout the year and find some other accommodation to live in Boise. 

The personalized tiny home that generates $49k in revenue for Nanney as an AirBnB listing.
Image Credits: Ivan Ellis Nanney | CNBC

Nanney’s Tiny Home Has Been A Major Success

Last year, the tiny home raked in around $49,600 in revenue and counting, according to the CNBC Make It documents. The 34-year-old Nanny mentioned, “It became very popular. It just didn’t make sense for me to stay there at all. The income has become almost completely passive.” This revenue is used to fund the travels that Nanney undertakes, which includes annual trips to Sri Lanka. Here, he earns some money by organizing tuk-tuk tournaments. The tournaments are so lucrative, that he has plans of building two more rental properties. 

But where did this all start? After Nanney graduated from Boise State University, he spent around three years traveling and then returned to the US to work with the Famous Idaho Potato Tour. This job gave him the opportunity to save quite a tidy sum of money, and in late 2015, he spent about $17,000- which was a combination of potato money and what he earned from freelance gigs, to purchase his own plot of land. Next, he also spent an additional sum of $17,000 over the next three years where he built a tiny home after deconstructing an abandoned building. He also installed the water line and the electricity by himself. The money came through quite a vast majority of jobs, such as a six-month stint as an experience content creator for in 2018. 

The interiors were all done by Nanney himself and some help.
Image Credits: Ivan Ellis Nanney | CNBC

Two More Tiny Homes Could Be On The Way For Nanney

Despite having a tiny home, he realized that it was quite pointless for him to live there- since he simply wanted to travel. He then figured that the house could be used by his family members, or through paying renters. Nanney stated, “Looking at tiny houses and the costs, it just made sense to have a home base. 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.

To be perfectly honest, the income isn’t fully passive- Nanney still spends a few days every year in the tiny home, so that he could repair or improve the location. He also works about a couple of hours every week to organize the stays and hires a cleaner for $150 to manage the house when he is gone- which would be dependent on the number of reservations. 

Nanney Has Bigger Plans Coming

The revenue from the tiny home comprises most of the yearly income of Nanney- but it also has shown him the best way to make money that would accommodate his lifestyle. Since 2019, Nanney has spent around two months every year in Sri Lanka. Here he runs Amazing Race-style competitions in three-wheeled open vehicles which are called tuk-tuks. This gig pays around $5000 or 35% of the profits from the largest tournament every year, whichever is higher. He has also managed to make money by helping the hosts of other Airbnbs repair, maintain, and add new units to their properties- which includes a listing that is Shipwreck-themed near Salmon, Idaho. 

A Sri Lankan TukTuk tournament, some of which Nanney organizes by staying there.
Image Credits: Ivan Ellis Nanney | CNBC

The success of his first tiny home prompted Nanney to create two more properties as well. The first is a house, worth $78,000 in Grand View, Idaho, which he purchased in April 2021, with a down payment of $7,800. The second is a mountain property, in which he is the co-owner with four other family members. Speaking of this accommodation, Nanney mentioned, “You can increase your income and reduce your debt while maximizing assets you already own. I don’t like having things sit around when someone could be benefiting from it.

Keep Reading: Tiny Home On Wheels: 51-year-old woman pays $725 a month to live in someone’s backyard


  1. 34-year-old spent $17,000 on a tiny home in Idaho—now it brings in $49,000 a year on Airbnb: It’s ‘almost completely passive’.” CNBC. Megan Sauer. December 13, 2022.