Posts filed under ‘rental home’

Most People are Good


After my last post I received a bunch of emails from long time readers asking about our desire to provide items to guests. “Why would you fill your house with nice things?,” one reader asked.

As I mentioned before we try to provide a happy, fun, easy atmosphere for our guests. We know that most folks only get one week of vacation per year and we do our best to provide the amenities that help make our house feel like a home. If we can provide beach chairs, umbrellas, pool toys, etc. then guests don’t need to cram so much in their cars.

If we can provide pots, pans, bowls and nice serving ware families can cook and eat together. The kitchen can smell like bacon and eggs in the morning and chocolate chip cookies and popcorn at night.

In ten years as owners of a rental home this is the first time we have been experienced a significant financial loss. It’s also the first time anyone has broken into our locked closets and taken items that were clearly ours.

I like to believe that most people are inherently good. A few years ago a guest broke a small stereo of ours. A week after their stay I received a large box in the mail from Target. Wouldn’t you know they replaced the unit and sent a note apologizing for breaking it?

Another year a guest broke a glass measuring cup. She replaced the item and left behind a letter of apology.

Last year a family left behind a t-shirt from their local fire department. They enjoyed our home so much they wanted to provide something special for my son who donates gift cards, (along with us), to the fire department each winter. They also left behind a thank you note and a large bottle of wine.

I reiterate: Most People are Good. There will be a few sour folks who steal stuff that doesn’t belong to them. There will be guests who break items and throw them out in the garbage hoping no one notices, but for every one of those guests there are probably ten or fifteen upstanding citizens who treat our items with the care and respect they deserve.

It is for those guests that we make our house feel like a home.

August 18, 2015 at 4:59 PM Leave a comment


This year was not a stellar rental season for us. We received five bookings rather than the ten to twelve we’ve come to expect each summer. The rental company provided a bunch of excuses for the lack of bookings. Among which were “school let out late due to snow” and the “fourth of July fell on a Saturday so fewer people wanted to travel.” Any way you look at it the overall rental income was less than half of what we typically earn in a season.

To add insult to injury we experienced outright theft for the first time in ten years. When we arrived at the house a number of items were missing from our owners closet and kitchen. A member of the cleaning crew, realty company or one of the guests broke into our locked closet and stole personal items including family heirlooms and electronics.

They also stole three large Pyrex casserole pans with lids, three mixing bowls, three decorative bowls with lids, a Keurig coffee maker, HDMI cables, Blu-ray movies, a photo keepsake box, a video baby monitor, Apple charging cables and a bathroom scale.

They also took brand new band-aids, razors, hair clips, nail polish, first aid related items, thermometers and paper towels.

We’ve never experienced theft like this before. The total for all goods was over $600. The rental company offered us $250 to cover part of our losses, but we’ll need to foot the rest of the bill.

I’m angry that someone took items that didn’t belong to them, but I’m particularly sad that some of those items were gifts from deceased family members that simply cannot be replaced.

My husband and I strive to make this house nice for our guests. We know that many families can only take off a few days each year and provide our guests with all the amenities that make a beach house a home. That includes a kitchen stocked with pots, pans and every other item required to make delicious home cooked meals. It also includes nice bowls to present the food and Pyrex dishes to store the tasty leftovers.

Similarly we keep beach chairs in the car port and swim floats in the pool house. These are available to all of our guests. We hope that renters will use these items and treat them with care. We hope that these items will be available for the first renter of the season and last all the way until the last. If one bad renter breaks things or steals them the rest of our guests will have a less enjoyable stay here. I am disappointed that someone ruined the experience for everyone that followed.

On top of taking the items that were available to everyone, these people took it upon themselves to open a locked closet and take out items that were clearly not intended for guests. We keep special items locked in the owners closet; items that are clearly meant for our use and our use alone.

At first I was angry, but as I reflect on the issue I’m quite sad. Our house rents for $2500 a week in the peak of the season so it seems strange that someone could afford to spend that amount on a rental and then feel the need to steal.

I’m not sure who decided to swipe our stuff, but I hope whoever took it really needed it. The whole thing just makes me sad. Especially for my husband who lost a family memento, which can never be replaced.

August 16, 2015 at 5:43 PM 4 comments

My Beach House: An Owner for Ten Years

hand with sand

Ten years ago this week I spotted a cute, little, yellow beach house and made an offer on it. My husband and I spent a day weighing the decision and ultimately decided it made a whole lot of sense to purchase a second property. If I could go back in time I would definitely buy our beach house all over again. No-doubt-about-it!

The house has brought me more joy than I ever could have imagined. It is the place where my sons first swam in the pool, felt the warm sand and touched the ocean for the very first time. It will be the place where they learn to surf, ride boogie boards and sail.

It is the place where our tiny family of four gathers together with extended relatives; grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings. In this house we eat dinner together, share stories and watch young children play.

Did it make great financial sense. I’m not sure yet. I paid $620,000 for a house that is probably worth less than $500,000 today. But I have no need to sell it in the near future so it’s always possible the price will rise again.

My family spends roughly 3 weeks at the beach per year. Some of this time is spent fixing up the house, but we also carve out a fair amount of time for play each day too. Our house currently rents for $2500 a week, which means I may have spent $7500 per year on comparable rentals. Over the course of 10 years that adds up to $75,000 worth of rental money I didn’t need to pay.

As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, not all decisions are purely financial. Whether or not we make money on this property I have loved just about every minute of owning it.

As I sat on the beach today I reflected on all that has happened since I first looked at this little yellow house. At the time I ran every calculation possible to ensure we could afford it. Now we pay the mortgage with ease.

Ten years ago I was in a very different place. I am grateful beyond belief for the place I stand now.

May 29, 2015 at 4:14 PM 8 comments

Owning A Vacation Rental Home: Feel Free to Ask Me Edition


Over the years I’ve received a lot of questions about owning a vacation rental home in a beach community. I’ve written about my house numerous times and received lots of emails over the years asking about the property we purchased. I try to answer these questions individually as the need arises, but I thought it might be more helpful to write posts for others who might be interested.

If you have any specific questions feel free to post a comment or send me an email. I am no expert on the topic, but I can provide details on my own experience.

Here are a few of my previous topics:

September 27, 2013 at 2:08 PM Leave a comment

Where Can I Buy Inexpensive DVDs and Blu-ray Movies?


I like the guests in our beach house to feel at home. While you hope for sunny days every day of the rental season you know that a few rainy days will creep in to someone’s vacation. In an effort to ease the blues that often go along with a gloomy day I’ve stocked two shelves in our living room with DVDs and another four shelves with board games.

Over the years a few of our movies have inadvertently gone missing, but overall most people understand that we leave these out for guests and treat them with care. Still after many summers the DVDs have incurred deep scratches that interfere with their ability to be properly viewed.

I’d like to purchase new DVDs or preferably Blu-ray movies for our guests, but I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to do so. I’ve poked around eBay and even considered driving to a second hand CD/DVD store in our area, but I’m not sure if I’ll find the best prices there.

My husband and I don’t actually buy physical movies to watch at home anymore. We typically rent or buy movies directly from Amazon. In all due honesty I don’t like the clutter of DVD boxes and I’d actually prefer digital media if that’s possible.

We do have a Blu-ray player that is enabled with Amazon at the beach. Renters can watch movies we’ve already purchased, but there are security measures in place to make certain they don’t buy any new ones.

Last year we even maintained a Netflix account for the beach, but the streaming videos simply aren’t as new and up-to-date as the ones you can receive in the mail.

So I’m turning to my helpful readers. Do any of you know where I can buy inexpensive DVDs and Blu-ray movies? (While a few old classics would be nice, I am looking for newer releases.) Also, if you were renting a beach home would you consider the availability of movies important?

January 8, 2013 at 8:00 PM 11 comments

Debt. To the Tune of $600,000.

I’d like to say I don’t have any debt, but for now my desire and reality are not one and the same. $600,000 is an enormous amount of money and it’s roughly how much I currently owe. In fact, it’s such a large sum that it’s difficult to wrap my head around.

How on earth do I owe so much money and did I ever think I would be this indebted? Well the debt is made up of two mortgages. No credit card debt, student loans or debt of any other kind. Just two simple, fixed rate mortgages.

The first mortgage is on our primary home. The second is on a rental home near the shore of North Carolina. The first house was purchased when housing costs were relatively low. The second was purchased at the height of the housing boom. Despite buying when prices were high I don’t regret that decision in the least. In fact, I’d do it all over again if I had to.

People often ask me about owning a second home. I tell them to buy a place you’ll love and want to visit often. My beach home is a place of physical and spiritual healing. Despite it’s hefty price tag I can say without a doubt that it’s brought my husband and I closer together and made for a healthier marriage. After all, you have to communicate when you spend six hours driving to the beach next to one another.

When we had two high paying jobs paying the mortgages was never an issue. Now that I’m considering staying home with my son things will get a bit trickier. I know we could sell our beach home to help me stay home, but that would be a last resort. In fact, I’d be more inclined to sell my primary home then to cut ties with North Carolina.

I’m happy that we don’t owe any other money, but I would be happier if our overall debt weren’t so high. It’s interesting how my ideas change as I age. When I was working I thought nothing about paying those mortgages, but as my goals and desires change to focus on my son I ¬†look at those numbers and wonder what on earth I was thinking.

This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about debt see the Debt Roundup.

March 10, 2012 at 2:34 PM 7 comments

$300 in Less than 3 Hours

Have you ever had one of those days when you run from store to store with a long list of items that seems to get longer and longer by the minute? Well Saturday was that day for me. My husband and I hit a total of 11 stores and restaurants in a three hour period and spent over $300 while shopping.

In an effort to prepare our rental house for this season’s guests we went on a crazy mission to buy a hodge-lodge of items from all over the island. We started at the dollar store, then ventured to Walmart, Home Depot, Rite Aid, West Marine, Staples, Marshalls, a local surf shop and Kmart. On the way back north we stopped at Quizno’s for lunch, because I was absolutely starving and the hit Harris Teeter to buy groceries for dinner.

While most of the items were on our original list we did end up with a few unplanned items including a safari hat, cheap scented candle, package of Sharpies and surf stickers. Other than the stickers and candle, everything really was needed.

With more thoughtful and careful planning I could have found better deals on some of the items, but for the most part I only would’ve saved a dollar or two on each item, so I didn’t feel terribly bad about spending the money.

Some home owners put the minimal amount of effort into making their guests happy. My husband and I don’t fall into this bucket. We know that most Americans only take one or two weeks off of work each year and we certainly want them to enjoy their time at the beach as much as is humanly possible. We are constantly upgrading items in our home and buying new toys like hammocks, games, and pool floats.

Nothing makes me happier than reading our guest book at the end of each rental season. I love it when our guests enjoy our home as much as we do, even if that means spending $300!

June 14, 2011 at 2:15 AM 1 comment

A Coat of Paint Makes Everything Better

My husband and I have debated a kitchen remodeling project in our beach house for ages. While the current configuration works pretty well for us, the cabinets and countertop are original to the house, which was constructed in 1977. We’ve considered replacing the cabinets and reconfiguring the layout, but it would probably cost us at least $20,000 to $25,000.

The problem is that many of the cabinets were chipped and stained. I tried scrubbing with every type of cleaner I could think of, but the stains seemed set in and impossible to remove. I thought I might just need a little more elbow grease, but when my husband couldn’t seem to make any improvement either I decided that something should be done.

We discussed the options and decided to ask a local painter if he could simply repaint the framing and cabinet doors. At first I hated the idea of putting money into something we ultimately want to replace, but at the end of the day I decided it simply wasn’t worth spending that kind of money on the kitchen, at least not at this time in our lives.

Well the painters came by today. They repaired the cracks, sealed the holes, removed all the cabinet doors and painted each one inside and out. The kitchen looks good as new. Maybe good as 1970s new, but still it looks crisp and clean and will enable us to delay a kitchen remodel indefinitely. Okay, maybe not indefinitely, but at least for a few years.

April 24, 2011 at 2:55 AM 2 comments

Random Money Thoughts on a Saturday Evening

My husband cooked the most delicious vodka cream pasta sauce for our lunches last week. This is the third or fourth week in a row where he’s cooked a big batch of hearty, goodness that we can take to work with us.

Last week he made Indian food, which wasn’t nearly as tasty as this week’s pasta dish. He separated the pasta and sauce into separate little glass bowls that fit ever so snugly into our insulated lunch bags.

I ate the pasta twice this week and made a big batch of egg salad for the other two days. I also caved in and bought lunch one day this week, so I could hang out with a coworker. We used to eat together much more frequently and I missed taking a break from the office to chat with her.

I spent over $1000 on a new paint job and a significant power wash on our beach house. A lot of the work required climbing onto very tall ladders and I’m just not a fan of climbing up and down on those things or asking my husband to do it, so I happily paid money to a group of hard working men who think nothing of moving around on those things.

We received a number of quotes before settling on this particular painting company. The color we selected is absolutely gorgeous and the work they did was exceptionally clean. The interior and exterior of our house looks brand new. I forgot how a little paint can brighten up the place and alter the mood of a house and all the people who inhabit it.

On the home front I’m ready for winter to come and can’t wait for some good, old fashioned couch snuggling. I love cooking a warm meal, turning on the TV, lighting a fire, pulling out the covers and and laying on the couch watching a movie with my hubby.

November 7, 2010 at 12:25 AM 1 comment

Beds on the Brain

Last week’s phone call got me thinking about replacing some of the beds in my beach home. I’d like to replace two twin mattresses with two full beds, so renters and guests will have a little more room to spread out. I measured the room on Monday morning and I’m pretty sure the larger beds will fit. I’m not sure if this will increase our rental income, but I figure it never hurts to provide a slightly larger bed for our guests.

I’d like to replace the mattresses and purchase two new headboards. I went online in search of bargains and found a whole bunch of bed sets that fit the feel and decor of our home. Most of the bedroom furniture in our home is wooden and white so I’m looking for something similar that will withstand the force and carelessness of renters.

I really like the look of this bed

and this one.

I have no idea how much I should expect to pay for new beds. I found some really good prices online, but I wonder if I could attain better discounts by shopping in local stores. I’m also in need of a new futon and a few kitchen stools and I wonder if a furniture store might offer me a bulk discount for purchasing multiple items. I figure it can’t hurt to walk into a furniture store with a few pictures and ask what they might charge me for similar items.

October 14, 2010 at 3:40 AM 3 comments

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