by EBB on Tuesday, July 06, 2010
There comes a time in every well mannered married couple's life when they are no longer "that delightful young couple" frequently invited to beach/lake/ country houses. Sadly - at least with regard to the carefree issuance of summer invitations - they are now the parents of one or more small children, the delight of whom as vacation guests can only be embraced by blood relations and then for no more than a couple of hours. So where does this leave the modern well mannered family? The economics of it all suggest that renting a house is probably the best way to go. And here is were the well mannered young mother must pay close attention. Below you will find a few pitfalls to avoid when renting a house for the first time as well as some helpful suggestions.
Do not, as we once did, simply type in the name of a town on an island that you have heard nice things about, find a house that has photos of an attractive exterior and idyllic hammock in the back yard, call up and rent it from the owner for the market rate. For you might arrive after an exhaustive day of car and ferry travel to discover the owner is there to greet you because he is busy removing some of his belongings from the master bedroom so you can have some closet space. He also may have meant to change the sheets for you but hadn't expected you so soon. You might then learn that this attractive three-bedroom house is in fact his primary (and only) residence and part of a commune that does not even allow renters ("if anyone asks just say you're friends staying with me - I'll be sleeping in the community center down the road") nor does it allow toilets. Or at least not the indoor flushing kind. This salient fact may have been left off the internet listing. Your young children might at this point be wondering why there are all the naked Barbie dolls on the walls and sculptures of women missing body parts and heads. 'It's art, Darling.' You might be surprised when you come back from the beach the first day to discover your landlord enjoying your/his outdoor shower. You might be even more surprised to find, when you come back two hours early from a dinner out because you are so exhausted from your "vacation", that your babysitter is standing uncomfortably on one side of the kitchen counter and the owner is on the other with two beer cans a shot glass and a bottle of Jack Daniels chatting away about his divorce (these things actually happened).
All of which is why, when it comes time for the well mannered modern family to consider renting a house for the first time please apply the following approach: Talk to as many people as possible who live in or frequent the location you wish to visit. If at all possible, visit the house you wish to rent or have friends check it our for you. Use the internet, but go through a Realtor so that if the rental is not quite 'as advertised' you have a means of recourse. Only rent from an individual if that person is known to you. Because, as this authoress' well mannered mother often said 'Not everyone is like us, Dear.' Good luck and bon vacance!