Renting a holiday house on your vacation

Are you planning a vacation and would like to have a base camp from where to make day trips? Well then, instead of staying in a hotel, it could be a good idea to investigate the houses available in your area of interest. Read on to find out my checklist for house renting and also our disaster in Cape Coral, Florida!

I’m still old-school and like to look at holiday rentals via HomeAway. I’ve been using it for years and find it easy to use and have been happy with the houses we’ve found. These days there are several other possibilities for searching for holiday homes like Airbnb and VRBO for example but I have no experiences of those.


The first things you need to think about when renting a house is the location. What good location will mean for you depends on where you are going. In the US you will need a car to get anywhere. Somewhere else you might be able to just get around by public transport.

So think of the places you want to visit and look for houses located close by. For our trip to Florida, we chose the town of Sebastian for our first house, as it was a good base for the Indian River County, Space Coast and Orlando. The house was in a pristine and quiet neighbourhood.


Next you will need to consider how many bedrooms you need. Generally houses are very big in Florida. In France our experience was that the houses were smaller but still very reasonable in size. For Sebastian and Cape Coral, we were looking for houses with two bedrooms but since there were none to be found, our both houses had three bedrooms.


You will want to look at the house and the street it’s on with Googlemaps before making your decision. Just to get a feel for the area. We were lucky with our rentals in Florida as you could walk to the grocery store from both and go running or on morning walks as well. Even if the area is safe, it’s a bit difficult to go for evening walks in the US because there are no proper streetlights.


If travelling to a warm destination, you will need to think about if you’d like to have a pool. And in the case you would – would you prefer a private pool or will you be happy with just communal pool access? We wanted to try having our own pool. Imagine going swimming in your own backyard at your own convenience? What bliss. When considering the pool, think of what season it is when you are visiting. If it’s Florida’s winter, do note that it can get chilly at times. Then you will be glad for a heated pool. You don’t want to be paying for a house with a pool and not be able to swim because the water is too cold.


I really like staying in a house because of the possibility of washing your clothes, so I try to make sure the houses we rent have a washing machine and dryer. You will be super happy for this option, especially on trips longer than a week. A dishwasher is also nice but not essential unless you are planning on cooking a lot.


In the US you should also check the electricity policy of the house. Some houses have a base fee for electricity but if you go over that you will have to pay extra. Pool heating, washing machines and air-conditioning can all make you a hefty bill in the end.


Does the rent include cleaning? I personally have no interest in cleaning on my holiday as I do that all the time at home. Vacuuming when already stressed about last minute packing does not sit well with me. So I will pay for cleaning if it’s not included.

Some houses are only rented on a long-term basis. So don’t get too excited when you think you’ve found your holiday dream home – check the rental policy first.


Our second holiday house in Florida was located in Cape Coral on the South West Coast of Florida. Cape Coral is a very popular destination with German tourists and also boaters.


You may be an avid boater and if you have chosen your destination because of that, you will have to consider things related to boat renting. These house renting tips for boaters are specifically for Cape Coral as I do not have experience renting houses suited for boating from anywhere else.

What you need to think about when renting in Cape Coral (in addition to the check list above) is if you need canal access? You will need this if you plan to rent a boat. If not, then you will get a house cheaper without the canal option.


If you are going for canal access, the first important thing to check is where the house is situated in the canal. If it is very far off from the river? If so, it will mean that you will be boating hours just to get out of the canals. There really isn’t much in the canals except peoples’ houses and private boat docks so don’t be fooled that you will enjoy just boating from canal to canal all day long.


Then, if renting a boat, you will of course have to make sure that the house has a boat dock. Even if the house does have one, double check to make sure that it’s not occupied.


The house we had our eye on was being used by the owners during the time we requested it. So the company featuring it on HomeAway suggested another house for us (with a boat dock).  It was quite a shock to come to the house and find out that yes, we did have a big dock but the owner’s two boats were docked there. Which left no room for our rented boat!


It was quite a disaster. The owner was in Germany and there was no way he could move the boats anywhere. Also, it was holiday season, so we couldn’t get another house with such perfect canal access either.


Thankfully the lovely neighbours let us use their boat dock but that really was inconvenient for them and us. Imagine washing off a boat on someone else’s property! The whole point of getting a house with a dock and canal access was the ease of getting into our boat from our own backyard. I don’t think I would’ve picked this house otherwise even though it did have a lovely pool area as the pool wasn’t heated either. Even though we are Finnish and are used to cold water, it just felt absolutely freezing and on our last days it was impossible to go swimming in the pool.


If you are planning on boating in Cape Coral, stay tuned for my upcoming post on boating in the area and things I wish I’d known beforehand.

Have you rented a house somewhere around the world? How did it go? Did I miss anything important that should be considered?


13 thoughts on “Renting a holiday house on your vacation

  1. We used to prefer AirBnB but recently came to conclusion that HomeAway is actually much better. It’s profiled for families or slightly more mature public (in our opinion!) but the overall user experience is so much better than with AirBnB. AirBnB is great but not completely reliable as the renters are often slighly younger or unexperienced than at HomeAway, which can cause some issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I haven’t really researched AirBnB but these are my impressions exactly 🙂 Thank you for your comment – wishing you a fabulous weekend!


  2. We always opt for a house/apartment when we are in a place for longer than a couple of days and Homeaway is my go to website – we’ve never been disappointed (yet!). Never used Airbnb – I’m old school too!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The vacation home rental business in Kissimmee, Florida is booming! We have over 10k houses and we are the vacation home capital of the world. I work in their tourism office so pretty familiar with the homes. Check out the Jeeves Holiday Homes on the website. They’re to die for! I stayed in one and didn’t want to leave!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I love working in tourism, it’s amazing! And yeah, Jeeves are super high-end but Global Resort Homes, All-Star Vacation Homes, CLC World Resort, Magic Village are all great and affordable options. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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