Vacation Rentals – The Inside Scoop

There’s a good reason that Tim and I have been called the poster children for vacation rental living! For almost five years short-term properties were our only homes. Most were just fine, some mediocre, and a few were disappointing. Sometimes we were so uncomfortable, like the villa in Florence, which was so hot that we bolted for France two weeks early. It upset us to leave money on the table, but we decided that sanity trumped frugality. There were also many places which exceeded our expectations. Our experiences, both ugly and terrific, informed our decisions when we built our own vacation rental/home last year.  Creekside Cottage serves as our permanent residence, and when rented, it supplies us with extra income to use for our travels. It’s a perfect follow-up to five glorious years of full-time travel.

So here’s a candid look at some of the places we lived – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  In truth, all of them had their good points, but we certainly learned that reading the fine print of listings and not being seduced by a good deal are essential to health and happiness on the road. Once I read a dozen glowing reviews of a property we were just about to rent, and in the very last sentence of the final comments, the traveler casually mentioned that “Everything was just perfect once we finally adjusted to the barking dog down the street!” We continued looking.

Let’s start with our all-time favorite rental. This place in Paris is so perfect for us that we will be renting it for the third time this summer.  Here’s an inside scoop: this apartment has been booked up for years, but a regular tenant has canceled due to illness. Andie has some openings for next fall and winter. If you’re interested, you may email her at [email protected]

This apartment gets a 100% rating from us. It is exactly as advertised. The location, in an authentic French neighborhood, is perfect. Shops, wine stores, and a fresh street market twice weekly make living there easy and delicious. Metro and bus stops are within easy strolling distance, the apartment is fully equipped with everything you need, including washer/dryer. The building is totally quiet and safe, and the place is immaculate. The owners are helpful and make sure that visitors enjoy Paris! It’s reasonably priced, too!

On the other hand, here’s a place in Florence where we didn’t get so lucky. We were so enamored of the low price that we let that cloud our thinking. We allowed ourselves to be convinced that we could enjoy July and August in Italy without air conditioning – wrong! We also believed the fable that we could breeze into town from our hillside aerie with no trouble at all – wrong again! It was a gorgeous view and the pool was a saving grace, but we were so miserably hot that we pulled up stakes two weeks early and beat it back to France for relief. 

Let’s return to the good news. We have lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on many occasions, each time a lovely experience! Theses properties all offered grand interiors, lovely outdoor spaces, and lovely locals who took excellent care of us. If you have a chance to go there, you won’t regret it, and if you rent for a month or more you can usually negotiate an affordable price.

Continuing on a South of the Border theme, Buenos Aires was a whole different matter. Although the apartment was adequate, we found living there trying. Just then, due to a serious economic downturn, the Argentinian people were not a very happy, and we struggled with their lack of hospitality until we gave up and returned two weeks early to California. The apartment, although it had some issues, was light and bright and we had a chance to try out living in a densely populated city.

We adored our condo on Portugal’s beach near Lisbon. It was enormous and featured a large courtyard which we enjoyed every day, the manager was responsive and helpful, and the place was a block from one of the world’s greatest beaches. The charming Portuguese people made our stay even more pleasant

And then there was Staten Island, where we lived for six weeks when birthing Home Sweet Anywhere. It was the lower floor of a creaky, drafty old Victorian house. We were chilled to the bone and riding the Staten Island Ferry when it’s 40-ish degrees is not a lot of fun!  Our snoopy landlady gave us some good laughs, though, and the weird Jamaican cleaner/janitor was an entertaining side note. Tim’s fix, using duct tape around windows that leaked frigid air into our space, was just one example of why we never travel without a roll.

We had a cute place in Berlin. It was in an immigrant neighborhood, which meant the dining options were interesting. But most of all, it had a nice terrace with a barbecue, a rare find in most of Europe.  We enjoyed our month there and loved getting to know the German people, whom we found warm and welcoming.

Our place in East Molesey, just twenty minutes outside London, was so comfortable that we returned the next year for another month and I designed the kitchen in our vacation rental after their plan. I love it!

And right across the Irish Sea, we were fortunate to find an apartment in a stately Georgian mansion just a twenty-minute train ride from Dublin. Our neighbors became forever friends, which made the whole experience even better.

The vacation rental the love the best is in Templeton, California, which we built in 2015. We were restricted to 1200 square feet by the local constabulary, so we had to make every inch count.  Here is the result:

We have shared it with several renters and all say they have loved living there. It became so popular that we bought an RV so we could run away on weekends and reap the financial benefits, too. There we go, reinventing ourselves again! It’s worked out beautifully and we’ve enjoyed the bonus of making new friends every few weeks! If you’d like more information about it, please go to Creekside Cottage.

If you’re making plans for vacation rental stay, remember to read the fine print, ask lots of questions, and be don’t be afraid to move on if you need to! Postpone nothing – especially having a good time!

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