If you’re exploring a new country for retirement or relocation possibilities, your best option is to stay in a short term rental. In my opinion it’s the closest thing to a home away from home.
Makes sense doesn’t it? AirBnb and other short term rental sites have blossomed and thrived because we want options. Who wouldn’t prefer a more personal living experience vs being flung into the anonymity of a hotel? I don’t know about you, but I’m truly over the chain hotel experience. Unless of course it’s a mini boutique chain with down pillows and un-sticky carpets.
If you’ve found a sympathetic hotel brand you like, then please share! I know many inns are upping their game and providing Hypnos beds, rain showers and in room Nespresso machines but alas too many are still concerned with profit over patronage.
But isn’t the very point of traveling to discover and explore is to get out of tourist mode and into your world traveler persona. N’est pas?
What better way to immerse yourself in local culture than to stay where the locals do. Short term apartments, flats and homes also start making sense when you’re contemplating longer stays. When your stay is weeks or months long they come in at lower cost and give you the comforts of home. Unless you’re used to a 24 hour concierge, in which case a short term rental may not be for you!
I’ve written about the pros and cons of being an Airbnb host or guest, but what does it feel like to actually stay in one?
The secret to a good experience is to make your short term rental feel like a home away from home. SO important to feel comfortable, grounded and settled when you’re in a strange new environment!
In spring of 2016 I stayed in a one bed Airbnb flat in Brighton for a month. The total cost came in lower than a hotel (less than $60. per night) plus I had an entire flat to myself. Some hosting services like Airbnb also offer the option of booking a room in someone’s home, but this wouldn’t work for me. I want to feel as if I’m in a home of my own not someone else’s.
I love to prepare meals at home vs eating out and this makes me feel at home too. I much prefer to cook my own food. Healthier and cheaper. Your results may vary. By all means eat out and experience local dining culture if that floats your boat.
As a bonus, by shopping in local stores, I also knew what food prices to expect if I chose to make this move more permanent. At the time I was considering if a part time move would make sense so this intel was invaluable. Living like a local, even for a month? Priceless.
How to Make Your Short Term Rental Feel Like Home:
- Buy some small accessories to make it feel personal. Personally I like a throw to cuddle under on the sofa or a small candle in a favorite scent.
- Make a habit of buying yourself fresh flowers. In the spring I would buy a small bunch of daffodils and that little splash of color brought life and personality into my flat.
- If you can; get to know the neighbors. Just a few contacts can help you feel at home in your new place.
- Patronize local shops and find out where the post office is. Seeing familiar faces can be comforting.
- Make a point of visiting the local library if you’re a book lover or the gym if you workout.
- Take your clothes out of the suitcase and fold and hang so they’re easy to see.
- Continue rituals such as making your morning coffee or tea, as well as winding down at night.
- I’ve even been known to go out and buy an extra pillow. Comfort contributes to feeling at home.
I always try to find a way to put my stamp on a place, if only with a candle. The trick is not to push your going home suitcase over the weight limit! I’ve been known to donate items at the end of stay to lighten the load.
Try not to focus on the differences in your new home and instead look for the positives. I wanted to blow a gasket when I couldn’t figure out my UK gas cooker, but once I understood the simple safety switch I was soon cooking my favorite dishes!
What makes you feel at home? Think of what will help you create that feeling in your short term rental. Is it sensory, habitual or visual? Sometimes just finding a favorite channel to watch on the TV can do the trick. Know what your triggers are and indulge a little. Feeling at home when living abroad is essential to having a positive and engaging experience.