Renting a House for a Month in Another Country: Crazy or Awesome?

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As you may or may not know, my husband was not a natural born traveler. The old adage of “opposites attract” certainly held true in our case – I like to think we help balance each other out. He has been a very good sport in trusting me and slowly branching out beyond the confines of our community. He even recently (happily) completed an around-the-world trip for his 40th birthday, so I think he has earned the term of ‘full fledged traveler’. That said, I am the one who usually comes up with the hair brained travel ideas and destinations in our household. He either comes along for the ride, or drops us off at the airport and stays behind in a quiet house to slowly sip coffee and work while my daughter and I head off together on a traveling adventure.  In other words, we both win. 

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Enjoy the green of Ireland for a month?!

Imagine my shock when he announces over the weekend that he wants us to not just return visit Ireland next summer, but would like us to rent somewhere in Ireland to stay for a full month. My initial reaction was no, you’re crazy, that’s insane. What, now I am saying travel ideas are crazy?!

 My gut “no” reaction was based on things like missing out on summer activities at home, the cost of renting somewhere for a month, how we (especially he) would be able to keep up with work while away from home for that long, and of course what would we do with our much loved 14 year old husky.

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Young girl, old girl

Those are all very valid issues, but after letting the shock wear off and thinking through some solutions over the last day or so, I think the idea is much more awesome, and much less crazy, than it originally sounded.

 How we could pull off a month in another country:

  • Renting somewhere for a month doesn’t cost that much if you compare it to an average daily rate of a hotel. It will cost a whole bunch more than the “free” hotel nights we are used to, but it is a doable amount if you look around and find somewhere affordable to stay – especially outside the major cities. On AirBNB and VRBO I saw entire adorable cottages I loved the look of for no more than $2000 for the entire month. Plus, I bet we would have at least a couple family members or friends visit, so the value of the lodging would go beyond even the three of us. It’s an investment to be sure, but the return for the experience would likely be worth it.
  • Realistically our 14 year old dog may or may not still be with us a year from now, but that is a bridge to cross later. Watching our older dog for a month would be an awfully big favor to ask my parents if we are lucky enough to still have her a year from now as she is too old to go into boarding and has to be let out every few hours around the clock. We could also get a house sitter to take care of her for part of the time to give my parents a break. If she were a younger pet we would have many more options to consider different boarding/friend option, but with an elderly dog your options are pretty limited.
  • It would be possible to keep somewhat normal working hours in Ireland thanks to “just” a five hour time difference from the East Coast. This is a much bigger issue for my husband who has a real job with normal hours and coworkers, but theoretically you could work 12PM – 8PM and that would be the same as 7AM – 3PM on the East Coast. You would be working later into the evening than normal to keep similar hours to the US for conference calls, messages, and emails, but it is theoretically doable. Whether or not it is permissible is another issue entirely.
  • We would still have two months or so of a normal summer at home.  I really don’t want my kiddo to grow up missing all of her friends’ birthday parties, play dates, and more because we are always on the road.  She does miss some of those things, but so far we have been lucky/strategic enough to have her home for most big events at school, with friends, to trick-or-treat, etc.  Judging on the last few summers, not much happens in terms of get-togethers in June anyway as everyone scatters when school ends anyway.  If we were back by early July we’d still have almost two months of summer to enjoy at home.

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The biggest thing that struck me with this idea is how incredibly different of an experience it would be than just visiting a city the way we normally do. We would go to the grocery store, cook, meet people, establish a routine, and really get to soak in another part of the world rather than just skim the surface. I have long talked about wanting to spend a month each summer somewhere different when “C gets older”, but I hadn’t looked around long enough to realize that she is already getting older and “someday” might have already arrived.

While I would want to maximize the lodging we rent for a month by staying there the majority of the time, I would still take the chance to visit other nearby locations either before or after the Ireland stay, and maybe even on a weekend or two. Other locations within Ireland, Scotland, and even the London would be just a stone’s throw away. We could use hotel points, airline miles, and low fares to hop around and see some nearby cities for a few days while having a “home base” in the region.

Logistically next summer may not be realistic for this idea, but hopefully we are getting close to pulling something like this off for a month in the summer in the not terribly distant future.

Has your family done a longer stay somewhere?  How did you overcome the logistical challenges?

Comments

  1. What a great idea! We are actually planning this for the UK in 2016, when my kids are 8 and 5, which I think is a great age for it. I think having a home base would be perfect and then we could do some traveling from there too. It is definitely an expense, but the way I look at it is if we skip summer camps (which, at $200 a week per child adds up) and it is our only summer ‘vacation’ in the end it isn’t that much more. We would cook so eating out costs would be minimal – but putting all the extra costs aside it is just a great adventure for our family!

  2. Have you looked into home exchange? My friend lives in Brooklyn and was able to be in Spain right now for the entire month of August through home exchange.

  3. I would recommend starting with the Extra Pack of Peanuts podcasts, he has had several guests that discuss house sitting, location-independent work, etc.

    To my mind, the least of worries would be your kid’s social calendar, she will get a lot more out of a month in Ireland than she’d miss out on at home.

  4. Andrea, totally agree. The amount we have spent on camps and activities this summer is not insignificant.
    Joey, I thought about that but can’t imagine the market for a house in Texas suburbia has a market anything like Brooklyn, but it is an idea.
    DBest, oh it’s not a huge concern, but it is something I like to keep in mind not so much in the context in which I think of “social calendar” so much as I just want her to be a “normal” kid and not one that is always missing everything back at home for the sake of being on the go. Good suggestions on the EPOP podcasts.

  5. My wife, parents, 3 year old son, and 3 WEEK old daughter just returned from a week of renting a house in the west of Ireland. It was a great time. In addition about 10 other relatives from the states were there and we all rented houses in a cluster in the Town of Lehinch. We used avios from BOS to SNN for the 4 in my family. My parents could only use avios one way before EI pulled their summer inventory. This was about my 15th trip to Ireland. If you want some advice on where to go and where to rent shoot me an email. Lehinch Sea World even has a kids day camp for 95 euro a week. My cousins had a blast at it.

  6. I usually take the last 2.5 weeks off every year and go traveling. I generally visit a few places, but going somewhere and staying put for a few weeks is a nice idea. I am lucky enough to be able to take off during that time with no work obligations whatsoever, but for those who can’t, things are slower around that time and being away from work may be easier. Of course, the big disadvantage is that Europe is cold then… which I agree is where it would ultimately be a great place to spend a month, having lived there multiple times for work. 🙂

  7. You should totally do this! I loved Ireland and Scotland when I visited last year. Granted, I was only there for 2 weeks, but the weather was amazing. The air was so fresh and the scenery was breath taking. The people of Ireland and Scotland were very nice and I can’t wait to go back! I went at the end of August and it was chilly around that time – think light jackets and pants.

  8. Has anyone actually done the home exchange before? How do you find people you trust to be in your house? I am intrigued, but I don’t know where to start.

  9. Our family spent 5 weeks in northern Greece in 2012 and it actually went by very fast! When you are in a place for that span of time, the need to rush around to do everything subsides and you are actually able to enjoy the living experience of a different country.
    We have been here now for a little over a year so we are much more used to it.
    Some of the fun parts about staying in a home for an extended time is that you can actually make friends with people in the town, they may even have you over for meals and, having a home, you can reciprocate. It is a great chance to learn more about the people instead of just the place.
    Also, for blogging, being several hours ahead of EST is actually a big bonus. 🙂 All of my blogging work takes place late at night for me but still during the course of the day in the US.

  10. If your husband intends to “telecommute” from Ireland for a month, he needs to look into both the Irish immigration and taxation issues related to that. You can probably get away with doing it under the radar, but if you want to do it completely legally and above board, then it is a rather complex process for non-EEA nationals.

  11. Awesome! You might also consider if your husband could ask for a short sabbatical. A coworker of mine did this a few years ago to volunteer in Haiti after the 2008 hurricane season. She was gone for a month and didn’t have to use all her vacation time. Even arranging for a single week of unpaid vacation might be worthwhile, so that he’s not working the whole time you’re abroad.

  12. Love the pic with your dog and daughter! beautiful!! We went to Ireland this year and parts of it can be cheap, but the car rental costs were very high. Oh the rental itself was dirt cheap, but the insurance was through the roof and we opted to pay for premium cause we knew it would be a different experience driving that way. Credit card insurance coverage doesn’t apply to Ireland. Driving there was hair raising and my husband is an excellent driver. So…. I would say the home rental could be affordable, but the car will probably at least double your costs. Just keep that in mind when doing calculations.

  13. Say yes, and everything else just becomes a project. We’re 9 months in to an ex-pat adventure, but prior to this we were planning to work _very_ remote for the summer. My job only required a major airport.

  14. Go for it! My family is spending their 2nd summer in Korea. 6 weeks last year, 8 weeks this year! My boys are 6 & 5 and have loved being there. We have rented an apt for both years and lived the local life. It is so different than how we live here. It is a great experience and something you and your family will always remember. Good luck!

  15. Nancy and I rented an apartment in a nice residential Buenos Aires neighborhood 2 1/2 years ago for a month and a half. The biggest issues for us was paying future bills such as utilities, insurance, car payments, mortgage, etc. in advance. Other than that, it’s a cross between being home (shopping, transportation, etc.) and being on vacation in a foreign country. A month is not that long. ENJOY!

  16. My wife and I lived abroad in Spain with our then 2 year old son for 2 separate 3 month stints while she did her PhD research a few years ago. I continued working a US schedule while we were there and it worked pretty well where I had mornings with my son while my wife worked and then we traded off so I could put in a full day during our afternoon/evening. We’re actually headed back to Spain this coming January for almost 3 weeks, now with a second child in tow.

    We’ve had very good luck with longer term AirBNB rentals in Europe and then reimbursing them from our Barclay Arrival card. VRBO/HomeAway offers really good options as well, just no real options for point redemptions that I know of.

    Our experience is that outside of housing, and if you can minimize eating out, then living in many European cities is often far cheaper than at home in the US. We always stayed in city center areas and thus used public transportation exclusively which saved us money compared to when we’re at home with two cars. The local markets also generally have great meat and produce options for much cheaper than what we pay at supermarkets back home. We also found that since everything had to come back in our luggage we made almost none of the miscellaneous purchases that tend to add up so quickly at home.

    We absolutely loved our experience abroad and would definitely recommend extended stays as a great way to really get to know a place/culture in a way that you just can’t on a one week (or less) visit.

  17. I think it is a great idea. We have done this several times, once in France and many times in Mexico. If you rent for a month (or more) it is often much cheaper than even a week at a hotel and you get the added benefit of living local.
    As for your older dog – I would recommend mindmyhouse.com housecarers.com or trustedhousesitters.com. We have experience with the first two – it is an excellent way to have your house and pet looked after without burdening family members or friends.

  18. I think it would be an excellent idea. We have sort of done the same thing over the past few years, except that we would rent a house/apartment for 1 week, then move to another area of the country for another week, etc. France and Italy are great for vacation rentals because they have thousands of these types of places (it helps that there are apparently government incentives to renovate old buildings). I think Ireland would be a good start, since you won’t have to deal with the language barrier. On the other hand, Provence was pretty magical and language wasn’t much of a problem if you just mastered a few greeting/courtesy words – people were very friendly and willing to help you out.

  19. Highly recommend you do it sooner rather than later. As the Mom of a tween and new teenager, being able to get away for a month becomes much more difficult once kids reach this age, especially if they play club sports. A friend of mine has rented an apt for a month in Paris every other year for several years now. I saw pictures of one rental and they had a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower right out their window! Amazing! I can’t imagine you would ever regret spending a month in Ireland. I know there are things to consider, especially your sweet doggie, but hopefully it will all work out! Excited for you!!

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