The Ultimate Guide to Renting a Beach House
Hotel rooms are nice, but there’s nothing quite like renting a whole house with your friends. Whether you’re looking for a vacation rental that gives you more privacy than a hotel, enough space to house your entire family, or simply want to feel like you’re home away from home, sites like Homes 4 Sale or Rent are the answer.
While the many, many options online might seem daunting, there are several tips and tricks that will make the process much smoother. Here are 9 easy steps that will help you land an amazing beach rental.
Do your research.
There are hundreds of websites devoted to helping people rent beach houses, but some are more reputable than others. Many are area specific, while others have no search filters. To be safe, it’s wise to stick to the more well-known sites like Vacancy in Mexico. To be even safer, make sure you’re on the real website with the right URL — not a scammy copycat site.
While smaller sites will be more tailored and personal, know that a few hiccups could arise if they don’t have established rules, regulations, and guidelines.
Pick a time.
Deciding when you want to take your beach vacation is the first step. Picking a window of time will help you narrow down the many options immensely. Also, be aware that certain times of the year are peak season, so prices will be much higher. In popular places like Florida the winter and summer months are prime time for tourists, so if you can swing a springtime trip you’ll score some awesome deals.
When it comes to deciding how long you’ll stay, keep an eye out for places that don’t allow half-weeks or long weekends. Several rentals only want guests that book a whole week and stay the whole week. For more flexibility, consider booking a trip during an off-season when owners are itching to fill their rentals.
Choose a destination.
There’s a reason that certain areas have peak season. When choosing a destination make sure you now the area’s weather patterns, climate, and surf conditions. Places in the Caribbean have pretty good weather year-round, but have a notorious hurricane season at the end of summer and early fall. If you’re travelling with children, it’s also important to think of surf conditions. Rip tides and strong currents are common in places like Hawaii.
Make a checklist.
After you’ve narrowed down your timing and destination options, making a checklist is the next big to-do. Think about how many people your rental will need to sleep, how close or far you’re willing to be from a town, how direct you want your beach access to be, and whether there are certain amenities you want.
Some rental companies or houses offer concierge services to their guests to help book reservations and attractions. Others can get you deals with car rentals. Prioritize your checklist and filter out the villas or rentals that don’t have what you’re looking for.
Set a budget.
Beach houses are great options for large families or groups of friends travelling together. However, things can get a bit awkward if people don’t agree on pricing. Discuss what kind of weekly or even nightly rate you and your party would be comfortable with, and don’t forget to think about airfare and car rentals.
Be aware of the extra costs involved.
Remember that unlike all-inclusive hotels, beach rentals don’t typically offer food or drink, and many charge a cleaning fee, so include that in your budget as well.
Read the reviews.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few rentals you like, read the reviews. Think twice about properties that have no reviews, and trust those who came before you. It might seem daunting to scroll through all of the rental’s reviews, but there are usually tidbits about the houses to be found in them that you might not find in the listing description. Keep an eye out for people who get specific because they’re the ones that will tell you if “the A. C. doesn’t work well,” or mention details about how close or far things really are.
Talk to the owner.
One of the final things you need to do is talk with the owner. Before just booking through the site, ask a few innocuous questions to get a feel for whether they’re quick to respond, willing to answer questions, and most importantly, legit. You don’t want to arrive to your rental to discover that the water isn’t working and then have to deal with an unresponsive or unhelpful owner.
Talking with the owner beforehand will also ensure that there is as little miscommunication as possible. You can ask them if beach towels are provided, if they have Wi-Fi, and if there will be other people staying on the property while you’re there. You can even ask for local tips! They are experts after all.
If you’re feeling extra cautious, ask for a set of references. Even if you don’t plan on calling them, it’s a good sign that they have a network of people who can vouch for them and their home.
Book your rental.
Before you confirm the payment or book your rental, check the cancellation and refund policies and read the fine print. There have been quite a few horror stories when it comes to rentals, but mishaps and miscommunication can be avoided if your err on the side of caution.