|Maybe not quite as decluttered as this.|
I found my renters through facebook as the husband is the brother of a friend and someone I've known for years. He was coming with his wife and 3yo son - perfect for our toy, book, puzzle and bike collections. It also meant that I was not embarrassed by the drawing on some of my walls and they felt comfortable letting their son loose with the crayons without fear of spoiling anything.
As we were staying with family in London, the money earned covered our trip entirely. It was a lot of work preparing the flat beforehand, as I said, but I also gained something from it. It felt great to have all my clothes sorted and neatly folded, all our books neatly arranged on the shelves, and all the clutter removed from surfaces. Add to that the clean factor and my home suddenly felt twice as big. Btw, if you are wondering how I set the price... I looked at what other letters were asking and adjusted the rate/day by comparing the apartments on offer with my own.
So what about the returning home after you've had people in your space and using your things? I must admit I was a bit worried about what I'd find. The guests were responsible, honest, capable and clean people - I knew that, but still I was a bit worried as I'd only ever done this once before and it was a disaster (space to link when I write about it one day). I was happy to read a status on fb halfway through my holiday saying how much they were enjoying the place and thanking me. This helped and after that I was only a teensy bit still apprehensive about returning home.
I'm going to be very honest here but I'm treading carefully because there is a good chance they will read this. However, in the interests of sharing useful information, I think honesty is important. We've exchanged emails since my return and both sides agreed that it was a good experience and would be willing to repeat it if the opportunity arises. So here are my tips and observations after leaving my home to 'guests' and returning to it afterwards.
1. Before you go you need to clean and declutter. You also need to free up an adequate amount of wardrobe and drawer space for the number of guests. If you fold all your clothes neatly it is often easy to double up on shelves for the duration and so leave enough hanging space and shelving free.
3. You should leave a list of emergency phone numbers such as the plumber and electrician. I didn't as I don't have a regular plumber and there's not much electrical damage that can be done - I'm pretty low tech.
4. Put away anything valuable enough to you that you'd rather not share it. I put away my laptop, our personal towels, and some of DD's smaller toys like beads and her toy computer. However, you can't be stingy. The guests are living in your home already so you have to trust them to use your things and look after them. I knew my guests but if you are renting to strangers you might consider taking out letters' insurance.
|In my dreams|
5. A wealthy friend suggested I put away my fine linens and towels and buy cheap ones for the duration. I laughed to myself as my situation was more a case of throw out my old, worn sheets and buy new ones for the guests to enjoy (and for me to continue enjoying on our return).
6. Don't be stingy with household items such as washing detergents, toilet rolls, cling film and sandwhich bags, etc. Also salt, pepper, and any other opened bottles of cooking oil, herbs and spices, condiments, etc. Remember that they are paying you so it doesn't hurt to be generous. I didn't leave much as I had been using up supplies for weeks but they were welcome to anything left in the cupboards. I did put away a few rolls of toilet paper in order to ensure a supply for the day of our return before I had the chance to shop.
7. On the day of the hand-over I made sure that DD was out of the house. I think it was important that she didn't see me handing our home over to strangers (to her) and that she didn't know that another child would be playing with all her toys. DD is 3, obviously older children would understand and younger babies won't care.
8. On your return (and this is the sensitive bit) be prepared for a lot more work than if you'd had nobody to stay. We walked in to a very tidy flat and I appreciated this enormously. However, there was stuff to do.
When we left I hadn't wanted to leave my laundry for the guests to deal with so, on preparing the beds for them, I put our dirty sheets, towels, pyjamas, and the clothes we had worn the previous day, in an out-of-the-way place to be done when we got back. They had the same dilemma about what to do with sheets and towels as they left a few days before we returned. They didn't want to leave my stuff out on the line for days with the threat of sandstorms, etc. They made the correct decision and I returned to about seven loads of laundry before I could even start on what was in our suitcases. as I don't have a dryer and had to wait for each load to dry before hanging out the next, the unpacking and sorting took the best part of a week to complete.
And of course after guests you want to clean thoroughly. As I said, my guests are not dirty people, but after guests you want to clean, fact.
9. Don't go looking for faults. Luckily we had already left scribbled on walls so our standards aren't that high. Rather than find anything broken or lost I think my guest may actually have done some diy while he was here. There are definitely a couple of things that are tighter than when I left. (If so, thank you.)
10. In effect you are getting a free (or subsidised) holiday in return for all the extra housework before and after. I think that's fair and I would certainly let my flat again. Thank you Gideon, Michelle and Aaron for making this a good experience all round. We hope to see you again soon.
*All pictures from Google Images