Airbnb Journey: The Townhouse in Kissimmee

I’ve fallen behind in my airbnb home summaries. Life…amiright??

So just to recap, in December 2020 with full-time telework looking like our indefinite future due to COVID, I found a tenant for my condo, my boyfriend and I gave up our lease, and we put all of our stuff in storage and became digital nomads. We decided to basically take advantage of airbnb’s discounts on monthly rentals, and we figured if we kept our monthly lodging at around the same price as what we’d pay in rent/mortgage, it would all work out.

Our first airbnb home was in Raleigh, NC, then we needed to come back to the DMV area so we stayed in Alexandria, VA and then stayed in Frederick, MD for two months. By this point, it wasn’t quite yet Spring and we were tired of cold weather, so we decided to head to Florida for some sun.

We knew that with Covid, amenities were not guaranteed at a lot of places, and even if they stated that pools and gyms were up and running, there was no guarantee that it would stay that way once we got there. Outbreaks and surges just made things really unpredictable, so we thought it would be nice to have a house in a warm area that had a pool included. The 3 bed, 3 bath townhouse with a pool in Kissimmee was perfect! When we read the summary, we liked that there would be space to spread out. And somehow when we mentioned Florida, some friends and family said they may want to visit. And visit they did. lol.

The Rundown: So here’s the rundown on the home. Kissimmee is a neighboring town of Orlando. We had hoped that picking a time before Spring break, we’d for the most part have a peaceful space, before families started converging on the theme parks and warm climate. And that completely worked out. For the most part, this home and the neighborhood were quiet during our stay.

The home itself was decorated in white and orange throughout, and there were televisions in each room, which we loved. We had enough room for visitors, with a bedroom and bathroom downstairs for privacy. We had every kitchen convenience needed, except a few small things. We also loved having a trash valet, so all we had to do was put the trash in the bin right outside the front door and the community was responsible for placing it out for the trash men to collect, and then returning the bin to the home. But of course, the thing we loved the most was the pool right outside the back door. It may have been May but it was HOTTT in Florida. We’re talking upper 90’s on a lot of the days. So being able to take a quick dip during lunch or after running an errand in the hot sun was super nice. We even had a pool guy that came once a week to check water levels and chemicals. The community also had a pool, so we went there as well when we wanted more pool space or a change of scenery. And on most days, we were the only ones in the community pool. It truly was fabulous.

What we did: Because of the pandemic, of course we mostly stayed in the house. We did a lot of cooking and took walks. We found a few places that we could go to and still be socially distant. Because Orlando is inland, it wasn’t like we could really frequent the beach. But we found a nearby lake town where we could walk around, enjoy the scenery, grab food, and enjoy the day.

Before heading to Florida, we researched the safety protocols for the theme parks. They were limiting the number of people who could enter the park, and they also had strict mask mandates. We felt comfortable enough to buy tickets, so we also visited Universal Studios and Epcot. And we literally were not even 10 miles away, no traffic, easy parking…it was awesome!

What we loved and didn’t love: We loved that we had visitors and that we had space for them. We loved the warm weather. We did not love that there was no real space to work (I mean…who goes to Orlando to work??). We had to work either from the glass dining room table, which shifted if you leaned on it too hard…or from bed or the couch. So that was definitely not ideal. And we also had issues with the internet. There were four full work days that the internet was out due to them doing work in another unit and accidentally messing up our connection. Which means we had to take days off that we did not expect to take. So that would be the biggest complaint.

Overall, with a few exceptions, great space and great pick!

Here’s my IG vlog post about my stay:

Have you been to the Orlando/Kissimmee area? How was your trip?

Road trip Tip: Read advice columns

Photo by Marta Wave on Pexels.com

The fall is the perfect time for road trips. Something about the leaves and the air just enhances that wanderlust craving. And with people about to hop on the road to grandma’s house for the holidays, there will be a lot of road travel over the next few weeks.

For me, hopping around to different Airbnb’s can easily be hours on the road. Music is a great distraction but sometimes it just doesn’t fit the bill. My boyfriend and I are together ALL. THE. TIME. and it feels like we’ve covered every discussion topic known to man. So when we’re riding along, and we get tired of music, that’s when we read advice columns.

I know, I know. Ummm what!??! But forreal. We read them, and we discuss our take on each situation. And honestly, it’s a wonderful way to get to know more about your partner without being judgmental.

Here’s what we do. We set up the hypothetical situation using the advice seeker’s information and then we fill in our assumptions based on the unknowns. Then we sliced and dice every sentence, debate our viewpoint, and sprinkle in our past experiences, our boundaries, our hopes, etc. It’s such an interesting and entertaining way to see what we agree on, where we differ and why.

There are so many times I’ve said “wow, I can see how that is something I’ve done and it seems horrible,” or “I was once in a situation similar to this and this is what I did”.

There are things about our pasts that we didn’t know about each other and may not have had a reason to even bring up. But when we’re reading advice columns, it jogs our memory and sheds light on the situation we’re discussing.

Our favorite columns are Dear Prudence and The Moneyist. Dear Prudence is a good way to dive into some social, relationship, and family topics, while The Moneyist helps to delve into your thoughts about finances, investing, budgeting, etc.—all things that are extremely important in relationships. You may not realize that your significant other had a specific view about money, or that they were brought up thinking certain things about home life or vacation or work life…so many things are brought to light just by reading these columns!

Reading advice columns and using them as prompts for discussions actually may even help you hammer out some compromises about situations that haven’t even occurred. Knowing how you will address a situation before it even arises*could* help eliminate future headaches down the road. It may not help at all but you never know…it could.

Among our many outcomes, we’ve agreed that rescue is the way to go for pets, that we’ll never co-sign for anything for anyone ever, and that we’ll try our best to put kids in their own bed as soon as possible. Sounds random, I know…lol…but they were all the result of conversations we had after reading advice columns.

Why don’t you give it a try? Here’ a scenario from Dear Prudence. Chat about it with your significant other and see what you guys think!

Dear Prudence, My cousin’s daughter is getting married in November. We’re not particularly close, and I don’t believe I would have been invited if this were a formal, in-person wedding. Due to the current pandemic, however, the entire event is occurring on-line and the guest list appears to number in the thousands. The happy couple have published an extensive gift registry, with the cheapest items starting at about $200, and have sent a series of mass emails expressing their excitement that we’ll all get to share on their special day, with glossy images of their lives together. I have to confess that I feel a little mean-spirited about the whole affair, as this feels more like an aggressive marketing campaign to maximize the return on investment than a family celebration. Is there a polite way to quietly disengage? Would it be rude to not send a gift (and to RSVP that I can’t make it)? My cousin is notorious for holding grudges and will almost certainly kick up a fuss.

WWY?? Do you see that situation the same way or do you feel differently about it? Have you ever tried this? What are some ways you entertain yourselves on road trips? Let me know!

Airbnb Journey: The two-story condo in Frederick, MD

The next stop on our airbnb journey was a two-story condo in Frederick, Maryland.

I grew up in southern Maryland, so with Frederick being in the northern part of the state, it always seemed like it was SO far away. And I never really had any occasion to go there. So although it is in my home state, this home was still a part of the state I had never been to, so it felt like a new experience for me.

When this host described the two-story condo in Frederick as “serene”, it felt like exactly what we needed. It fit our price point, and though it only had one review at the time, it just felt like it a good move. I truly love quiet…and “serene” is basically “quiet 2.0”, right?? Plus it had three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, modern fixtures, a workspace…everything about it felt right.

Well…lol…

Let me start by saying, the home was exactly as described from a visual standpoint. The rooms were identical to the pictures, if not better. The community was fairly new and very picturesque. Parking and check-in were both simple. It felt like the perfect place to call home for the next month. We unpacked the car, sat down to catch our breath, and literally the moment we started chillaxing, we heard it.

It was definitely the sound of footsteps and tumbling in the unit above. The way the home was set up was that our unit had the bottom two levels, and then there was another two-story unit stacked on top of ours. So…ok, if the unit is described as serene…aka quiet 2.0…then clearly this was the sound of a visitor’s child, right??? It had to be a total anomaly. Nobody would describe their home as “serene” if there are children ripping and running upstairs….RIGHT!?!?!

Well…1am came along and the running and tumbling was still happening. 2am. 3am. WHAT. ON. EARTH.!?!?!?!?! They definitely must have some family staying with them for the weekend, RIGHT!?!?!?!

Next morning, running.

Evening, running.

Night, running.

Middle of the night, running.

OH. MY. GOD.!!!! What in the actual eff is going on!?!?!? So I sent a note to the host. The host told me that was not the norm, and assured me that he would speak to the homeowner. OK, so that’s that. RIGHT!?!

Only it wasn’t. Next night, running, tumbling, jumping….through the day, and also at night. I remember waking up at 3am and still heard it. For a quiet person with no kids, this was an absolute nightmare. We were on day 3 or our 30-day stay, and I already felt like crying! I don’t have kids and I know I’m not one for parenting advice but…this is ridiculous!!! I’ve lived in townhomes before, I’ve lived in apartments before…this was some next level ish! It felt like I was living below a gymnastics studio that doubled as a bowling alley! WHO LIVES LIKE THIS!?

Well, I’ll spare you the details. It did calm down for a day or so, but ultimately wound up being an every day and every night thing for the duration of the stay. Some days were better than others, but this was an overall theme for the stay in this home. I wound up running into the tenant who told me that their child has some issues (no apologies, no offers to do better…more like just deal with it), and while that is so incredibly unfortunate, it totally impacted my stay.

But let’s move on to the things I did like about my stay, which I tried so hard to use to offset the upstairs chaos.

The Community. The airbnb itself was in a newer suburb. It was well-manicured and well taken care of. The location was fairly convenient to the grocery stores, there wasn’t a ton of fast ridiculous traffic, and everyone that we passed on our near-daily walks was always super duper nice! We were in a really heightened climate as a nation during that time, and personally I had a lot of issues with just feeling physically and mentally safe for many reasons. But I was put at ease when we took our walks around the neighborhood. I loved that people would speak to us, offer a smile, and even maybe make a funny comment about the weather or something… instead of just maneuver as far away from us on the sidewalk as possible when they passed by. So this, I loved.

Frederick is a bedroom community of both DC and Baltimore, so while a lot of people commute to those cities to work, Frederick has culture all its own. It is located where the Catoctin Mountains meet the Piedmont Mountains, so very crisp air and gorgeous mountain views even when you’re just driving to the craft store. And definitely a great escape from the pace of a major city. There were tons of farms and open space, there was suburbia and shopping centers, and then there was also the downtown historic area which was a short drive away and full of entertainment. And one of the best parts of the city is Carrol Creek, which is a mile-long riverwalk area that has restaurants, shops, an art museum, seating, a distillery, ducks…just a really cool spot for hanging in the city on a nice day.

The Wineries. And then there were the vineyards tucked away in the mountains. I have always been a lover of wineries. I typically hate crowded spaces, so with the pandemic, there was even more reason to find activities that were naturally socially distant. Wineries totally fit that bill. On several occasions, we would pick one of the several local wineries and trek out for a day of wine tasting, gorgeous views, and fresh air. There were so many to choose from on the Frederick Wine Trail. We visited four wineries (a couple of them more than once), and each winery was so unique and peaceful. We even had a couple of guests come visit, and we took them to the wineries as well. If you don’t stay in Frederick for any other reason, definitely go for the vineyards!

Decisions, Decisions… The timing of our trip prevented us from doing some things. We were still in the middle stages of the pandemic. We personally were only opting for outside dining. And a lot of places were still grappling with covid protocols and reduced business hours. It was also still cold-ish (it was March at the time) so that also impacted how long we wanted to endure outdoor activities. While we did a lot of walking around and standing outside, there were things we totally passed on because it didn’t line up with our social distance preferences.

Towards the end of our stay, we had a decision to make. Knowing that the world was starting to open up a little more, and realizing that there was more to see and do in Frederick now that temperatures were warming up, we decided to stay another month at this home. It was a hard decision because the rowdy neighbor made being in the home very difficult, but we knew there was more that we wanted to see and do…and aside from the neighbor, we really liked the space, the area, and price point for the home.

Overall. We thoroughly loved the condo in Frederick, and if not for a crappy neighbor, this home would have definitely been an excellent and serene stay. But because of our visit, we have now added Frederick, MD to our list of possible places to settle down once we get called back into the office. I never would have even considered Frederick before staying there but feel like it’s the place to beat at this point!

It’s so unfortunate that we had the issues that we had in this home, because otherwise we truly loved the space. We would definitely airbb again in Frederick, MD and highly recommend the area if you’re considering a trip there for any reason.

Have you been to Frederick, MD? Have you stayed in an airbnb that was a great space with one or two exceptions? If so, how did that impact your overall feeling about the home?

Airbnb Dilemma: I don’t want to leave a bad review but…

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com (* pic is not of the actual home I’m writing about)

UGH! So…I’m closing out my month of staying in an airbnb and…for the most part, it’s been a lovely stay. It’s a well-appointed, spacious beach condo, with a very well stocked kitchen, an amazing showerrrr (my God!) and thoughtful touches. We have not wanted for anything in the kitchen, the wifi has been flawless, and the furniture is all quite comfortable.

HOWEVER…there is one issue that the host included in her welcome packet, but never mentioned in her listing…because why would you, right? So now here we are, on the one hand, totally livid about this particular issue…and on the other hand quite happy with our stay, and we don’t know what to do when it comes to review time.

Of course, the purpose of the review is to give some feedback about your stay so that future guests can know what to expect from the home and the host. But on the flip side, this is how hosts make their money, and do I want to be the reason that a host may have problems obtaining future renters? Because I’m pretty sure this would be a deal breaker for a lot of people. That’s a lot to put on my plate!

So…I’m honestly not really sure what the answer is and we have a couple weeks to decide what to do. We have let the host know about our issues, so it’s not like we’d be catching her off guard. But…I don’t know…I just don’t want it on my conscious if I’m taking money out of her pocket.

What if our experience was a fluke? The host has hundreds of other reviews and they are all glowing. I really don’t have any good advice, but if you have some, please let me know what it is!

What to do, what to do…

Airbnb Life: What the CEO Says

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I guess there’s no denying that the workplace as we know it has likely been changed forever. Most offices have been shut down for a year or more, and were forced to figure out how to do 100% remote work on the fly. Some places were well-prepared, others weren’t. And since the day that workers began this remote work over a year ago, many have not been back to their offices. I have not been back to my office since March 2020, not even to so much as grab essentials or clear out food.

With remote work being my indefinite future, my boyfriend and I decided to Airbnb hop, which we have been doing for the last nine months (since December 2020). And apparently we are not the only ones that had this idea.

According to Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky, half of Airbnb rentals these days are for one week or longer. People are no longer rushing back to get home after they take vacations, because the main thing people typically return to is their job. Their job that they can now do pretty much anywhere. For most remote workers, that job is now wherever they want it to be as long as there is wifi.

Mr. Chesky also said that one-fifth of Airbnb rentals these days are for one month or longer. So people REALLY are not rushing back home now. They are renting homes and staying there as long as they feel like it, and taking their laptop along with them. They are vacationing, seeing other cities, spending time with family and friends, and working all at the same time.

Mr. Chesky goes on to say, nowdays, after compensation, the next perk that employees are looking for is flexibility. Everybody is realizing they don’t want to be stuck in the office or stuck in the same city. Some employees feel like the uncertainty of the pandemic makes them want an employer that won’t send them back to the office before they are comfortable doing so. In addition to a good salary, they want freedom and flexibility, they want to make their own decisions about when to be in the office.

This data syncs up perfectly with what we’ve been experiencing on our Airbnb journey. When we first started on this lifestyle, we would go to the Airbnb website and see an abundance of rental options in pretty much any city we searched. Nowdays we are seeing slim pickins. Where we once saw homes with two and three bedrooms in our price range, we are now seeing basement apartments and one-bedroom condos. It has gotten challenging to do our home search. Every time we realize it’s time to look for our next location, we honestly hate it. We used to love looking at homes and exploring our options, but now we just feel like the search will be so daunting that we’re no longer in the mood to do it.

I will be interested in seeing if this uptick will continue now that schools are being held in person and families with children have to go back to their home base. And I definitely look forward to seeing whether this trend continues or whether rental options level off now that it’s fall and school is back in session.

Have you done a long-term Airbnb during the pandemic? What workplace flexibilities would you like to see as a result of current events?

Let me know!

woman working from home