My Machiasport house is rented all month, so I need to get the heck out of Dodge. So I decided, instead of staying at a local motel, I would rent a vacation home. In the 15 or so odd years that I have been renting out my own homes as vacation rentals, I’ve never actually stayed in one myself as an adult. When I was a kid, we rented cottages on the Jersey Shore for a week each summer and once my parents rented a cool A-frame on the beach in Maryland. I fondly remember the mildew smelling, dusty cabins where it didn’t matter if you plopped down on the sofa in a wet bathing suit and dripped orange popsicle down your legs. But now I’m talking about renting one as an adult (and particularly as an adult with no moola to spare).
After looking at all of the offerings on the listing sites, I’ve gotten a little bit of cold feet. There are so many things that I’m thinking about, now that I’m the one who will be the guest. I guess I never looked at vacation rentals from the actual guest’s point of view before.
Am I sure I’m talking to the actual owner or manager and not some person in a foreign country who wants me to wire him cash? (In this case, I am quite sure, as the owner and I have gone back an forth via email for the past week or so – yes, yes, we’ve been chatting about quirky Mainers. I think I’ve made a new friend, even if I don’t rent her cabin).
Will the cottage be clean? I think this must be the biggest anxiety for rental guests. No one wants to arrive to soap scum in the shower, hair in the drain and someone’s moldy leftovers in the fridge. Although, full disclosure. As a rental owner, I have been the recipient of leftover unopened bottles of wine and other (unopened) tasty snacks left by guests.
Will it smell like wet dog? (Don’t get me wrong – I love dogs. I have a dog. I just don’t want to smell someone else’s wet dog). I think it’s high-time someone invented an app where you can pick a destination off of Google Earth and see what it smells like from afar. Imagine the people lining up to reserve the cottage that smells like fresh baked cookies.
Will I get my security deposit back? I’m not having any parties. Just clearing out of my own house for a week. I intend to tread lightly (and not flush anything down the toilet that shouldn’t be flushed). Unless a bear tries to break in at night and I’m flailing around in the pitch dark with a baseball bat and break a window, I have no fears that I’ll leave the house as I found it.
I haven’t mailed in the check yet. I’m still waiting for my cousin to make her plans — she’s flying in from Nashville and likes to procrastinate (but I still love you, Anne). But it will be nice to split the rent with someone (and have another person there to call 911 when I’m madly swinging at middle-of-the-night bear attacks). And maybe, in between trying to get some work done (easier said than done at a camp with no internet), we can do some sightseeing.
I’ll let you all know, when my plans are set – and whether we stay at the rental cabin or in one of the excellent motels in town. But in the meantime, my question is… have you had any bad experiences or maybe exceptional ones renting a vacation home? I’d love to hear about them!