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I used to love watching House Hunters on HGTV. In case you’re not familiar with the show, it follows a family as they look for a new house to buy. The storyline typically shows couples touring three houses before they pick one. None of the houses ever seem to cover everything on their wish list.
And so as I’ve been sorting through vacation rental listings for a trip next year that will replace our canceled cruise, I started to feel like I was part of a couple on the House Hunters show. I had a hard time finding the perfect one, and I ended up having to make some compromises we could live with.
Vacation Rental Wish List
All we really want for this trip is to spend time at the beach, socially distanced if it’s still required. While beaches in Galveston make the most sense geography-wise, we decided on Florida. The choice of beaches is just so much greater than in Texas.
Admittedly, our wish list has a lot of requierments:
Uncrowded Beach: In case Covid-19 is still hanging around next year, we want to have access to an uncrowded beach. As Leana pointed out in an earlier blog post, islands off the coast that cost extra to drive to/boat to are typically way less crowded. I focused my search on islands near Tampa and Fort Myers.
House (not Condo): During normal times, a condo on the beach would fit our needs just fine. But since we may still have lingering pandemic issues next year (I hope not, but still!), we want to be in a house. With a house, we don’t have to share elevators/stairs/pools/balconies with other people. It’s social distancing to the max.
Oceanfront: Ideally, we’d like to be right on the beach where we can see and hear the ocean.
Pool & Hot Tub: Since we’re planning on spending a lot of time at the house, a pool and a hot tub would be great.
Four Bedrooms: My kids are getting to the age where they prefer to have their own rooms on vacation. This is one of the reasons we are picking vacation rentals more often than hotels for our trips lately.
Two or More Bathrooms: It’s hard for my family of five to share just one bathroom for an extended period of time. We would like at least two.
Tennis Access: My oldest son just wants to play tennis on vacation, every vacation. We need a house that has a tennis court within walking or close driving distance.
Games: Some rental houses have ping-pong, pool or air hockey tables. Extra entertainment for a rainy day is always a good idea.
Not Insanely Expensive: While we don’t have an exact budget for the vacation rental, I don’t want to spend $1000/night or some crazy amount on it.
Act Quickly, Or They’re Gone
I spent way too much time surfing the net to find the perfect beach rental. Truth is, I love researching vacations, so looking at all the choices was really quite thrilling for me.
I found two houses that fit all of the items on our wish list. Well, most of the items. They were a little more expensive than I envisioned spending, but I reasoned that they still cost less than the cruise that I canceled. I decided it was time to make the commitment and book our first choice rental house.
Of course, the minute I went to make the booking, I discovered our #1 house was no longer available. Crap! I was a day too late. No problem, I’ll just go to our second choice house. It wasn’t as close to the beach, but no big deal.
And wouldn’t you know it! Our second choice house was also booked. I started panicking. These rental houses were dropping like flies.
So, I went back to the drawing board and eased up on some of our requirements. I opened up the search to houses with a pool but no hot tub, which provided us with many more to choose from. I also opened up the search to 3-bedroom houses (instead of four) where two of my kids would have to share a room, but not a bed.
In the end, we booked a house that costs 1/3 less than my top two choices. It has a nice view of the beach, and it has a large pool in the backyard. It doesn’t have a hot tub or a 3rd bedroom, and it doesn’t have any fancy games like a pool table. But, I’m still very happy with our choice. I wish we didn’t have to wait until next year to go there!
Do you spend a ton of time pouring through vacation rental listings? Do you enjoy the process of picking the “perfect” rental, or does it feel like work?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.