Fortes fortuna iuvat may be also just as appropriate. These latin quotes; Look before you leap and fortune favors the brave, respectively, both accurately describe our recent foray into the “renting someone else’s home” business. In all fairness, people are quirky and what appeals to me in home décor may not appeal to you. Hotels strive for the middle ground, for balance, home rentals, well, it’s someone’s little corner of the world.
For me there are three reasons to rent a home: 1. We need space for a larger group, 2. The destination would be best experienced from the location of the home and 3. The overall cost is cheaper than a hotel. Personally, #1 is usually the biggest factor.
Latest example: We needed space for 16 people in Miami, Florida for a long weekend. This is a perfect example of the niche market that Airbnb.com, VRBO.com and Homeaway.com fill. Now stop for a minute and ask yourself “would I rent MY house to a stranger who was bringing 15 other strangers with them?”. Not a chance, yet the above listed sights are full of brave souls who do.
After scowering the three websites, Airbnb had the perfect place so we booked it and all was well and right in the world. Then a bobble-headed Non-Airbnb property manager informed us that our reservation was “lost” and that he had rented the place to a popular company that was having a convention in town. A call to Airbnb found that he had been less than truthful and they provided a prompt refund and an apology. After searching again, Homeaway.com had one that would work. It looks nice and the rates are reasonable. Sounds perfect, I mean what could possibly go wrong? (Insert here a latin phrase for “famous last words”).
Everything looks good and we book it. Roughly $1700.00 and a $1000.00 deposit. Lilly’s crunching numbers and the bottom line, about $100 a person each for a 3 night stay in Miami. That’s a bargain.
Now wait a minute, I have questions. 5 bedrooms, two per room=10, perhaps a hide-a-bed couch or two, that takes us to 14, what about the last two? Let’s call the owner, No, it’s a type of Property Management company. Hmmm, you’ve actually seen the place, right? Yeah, there is a really big u-shaped couch in one of the living rooms. This just got interesting…Also one of the three bathrooms is in the hallway, the other two are off bedrooms. Bottom line: We’re about to get close with our housemates.
Fly into Miami, get a rental car, run a few errands and off to the Casa de Travelinggump we go. Oh, Crap, no street parking, it’s got a two car (small) driveway…and that’s it, wait, another driveway on the other side of the front yard is found, yaay!, No, completely blocked by a vehicle sized pile of lawn debris and trash. 16 people all arriving and we have a two car driveway with no street parking. A few phone calls are made, we need parking for 5 vehicles. I’m out knocking on neighbor’s doors and find parking for three.
The house is advertised to sleep 16. Everyone arrives and sleeping arrangements are made, 5 rooms at two per room, one hide-a-bed, thats two more, lets see that’s 12, 3 single guys on the u-shaped couch (that was interesting) and we have two left…10 in the bedrooms, 2 on hide-a-bed, 3 on couch…that’s 15…2 left?, what the #@!%, we have an extra guest! “I guess we draw straws boys, cause someone gonna be spoonin!” Miraculously, two flat, full length pads are found and the last two are relegated to the floor. This was a great group of people and everyone laughed it off. And that was that.
We were fortunate to have a bedroom with a bathroom…so we thought. Imagine lying in bed with a parade of people passing by, to do God knows what, in our bathroom. It’s hard to be polite at 4am.
Our shower refused to stay hot and we had an angry raccoon who kept loudly digging through the trashcan on the side of the house. We had a severe sheet shortage, ants ate the donuts on the kitchen counter and the water/icemaker dispenser on the refrigerator didn’t work. In addition, the guys staying on the u-shaped couch discovered a roach that was at least 2- 1/2 inches long crawling out from within the couch. Apparently it had been living in the cushion and was promptly squashed upon sight.
This was our second stay at a “house rental” and in all fairness, they refunded our deposit promptly. Our first stay was an Airbnb and the only problem we had was that the hot tub didn’t work. Our third, also an Airbnb, is scheduled for September and i’ll admit i’m a bit nervous.
It can be a real mixed bag of fun when you stay in someone else’s house. Make sure you check and then re-check with the agency you chosen making sure they’ve received your deposit and that all is in order. I think i’ll just stick with Hotels and leave the communal living to other more adventurous souls.