U.S. travelers stay in hotels or timeshares or campsites. Europeans, however, rent homes – and more Americans should follow their lead. A one-week Orlando-area home rental can upgrade a vacation and save money at the same time.
Orlando has many rental homes, from condos to six-bedroom mini-estates, with most owned by out-of-state or out-of nation investors. The homeowners might visit Orlando only a few weeks each year – or never – and then use rental income to pay the mortgage. In some cases, the owner rents the home directly to you and advertises availability through a listing website. Other times, however, a property management firm takes care of reservations and day-to-day maintenance.
No single description encompasses all rental homes, but most offer:
- Kitchens. Complete cooking facilities and a dishwasher.
- Pools. Many (not all) have a private pool.
- Quiet. The possibility of noisy neighbors goes down.
- Cost. This is the big one. Per-night prices for a six-bedroom home can rival a one-night/one-room stay in an upscale hotel. Expect substantial savings if hosting four adults and six grandchildren.
- Time with loved ones. A home hosts families. You explore the neighborhood together; you swim side-by-side; you take turns washing and drying dishes.
- Time without loved ones. When family togetherness becomes a burden, the kids can play video games (many homes offer them) in the den while Mom and Dad watch HBO in the living room.
- The bedrooms have doors. Parents get this one.
How to do it
- Pick your size. A two-bedroom condo or a six-bedroom mini-mansion?
- Google “Orlando vacation rentals.” You may have to visit more than one management company or advertising website to find the idea size, style, and price.
- Once you settle on a home and company, Google “(company name) reviews” to see what previous visitors said.
- Pay attention to “distance from Disney” (or Universal, etc.) as it’s described, and check the location on a map.
- Pay attention to contract surcharges. Many slip in a cleaning charge; some add other fees. (Hotels include cleaning in their base price. Rental homes should too.) They may offer optional extras you want and some you don’t. Confirm in writing extra fees accepted or rejected.
- Pay attention to rules. Private homes may charge for damages faster than hotels. What does the contract say?
- Get everything in writing, and note the name of the person who took the reservation, just as you do if renting a hotel room.
- Get an emergency phone number answered 24 hours per day in case a water pipe breaks at 3 a.m.