My friend Gail and her husband bought a lovely home in the South of France. Their plan was to spend several weeks a year there and then use it as a vacation rental. They love this beautiful home (who wouldn’t!) but they learned that second home rental is not always as easy as it might seem at first.
We bought a second home in the south of France on impulse. It was old but completely redone and we had furniture so it seemed easy to set up a vacation home that could be rented when we were not there, which turned out to be most of the time. We are grandparents and have found we do not want to spend most of our time away from our family.
In the beginning, using the home primarily as a rental was very, very successful. I used VRBO to advertise and enjoyed the process of filling out all the details, posting photos, etc. The response was terrific. Our guests were very responsible, and we never had a single issue with things breaking or complaints. I found it very helpful to develop a personal relationship over the phone with our renters. We traded stories about traveling and I gave them tips about restaurants and day trips. They left us little gifts and wrote eloquent reviews on the VRBO website. We found a fabulous housekeeper who texted me immediately when house problems came up. I fell over backwards to thank and pay her, realizing that this investment was very important to making our long distance business a success. The fact that I speak and write French was key to making it all work.
But over the past 2 years we have had a diminishing number of renters. Is it that the international situation has discouraged people from going to the south of France? Is it that VRBO has so much competition that one needs to subscribe to many different channels to get the same response? I’m not sure. This summer we found renters through word of mouth. But I wonder about next year. Of course, less wear and tear is better for our furnishings, but we’ve felt such a sense of satisfaction that renting the makes it house pay for itself. It would be a shame if that went away.
See photos of Gail’s beautiful pied-a-terre.