Picking the right cottage rental can literally make or break your family’s summer vacation. Very often, we don’t have the luxury of inspecting a property due to its proximity from where we live. So how can we be sure that the cottage we pick is going to create positive lasting memories? It’s a challenge that even the most highly trained cottagers struggle with every year. But why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from others? Here are a few tips that seasoned cottage renters have shared with us at CottageCountry.com.
Tip 1 – Set Realistic Expectations
Know the price points for the areas you are looking at and set your expectations accordingly. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is. Cottages will range by number of bedrooms and bathrooms, whether they are renovated or not, lot size and whether they are on the water. Do a little research up front to get to know the range for the size of cottage you need and then compare cottages in the range to determine what you get at the top and bottom of that range. Depending on your budget, you will have to prioritize and make trade-offs accordingly. Number of bedrooms and beds is often harder to compromise on than level of renovations, for example.
Tip 2 – Check the Amenities
Make a check list for yourself in advance of what you really want in a cottage. Some common things people look for are:
- How far is it from where I live?
- Is it on the waterfront?
- Is there a sandy beach and gradual entry for kids?
- What is the privacy like?
- Is there a BBQ?
- Are there enough beds for everyone? Don’t be fooled by # bedrooms, sometimes they have a single bed or no bed at all.
- Is there enough seating in the main dining area for everyone?
- Is the cottage renovated, updated or original?
- Does the cottage come with any boats, canoes, life jackets etc?
- How close is the nearest grocery store?
- Are there nice walking trails nearby?
- Is there air conditioning?
- How busy is the waterfront?
- Are there modern conveniences like small appliances, telephone, cable/satellite?
Of course, these are just some thought starters. Best to sit down with your family and make your own list to ensure the cottage you pick meets you and your family’s needs.
Tip 3 – A Picture Tells 1000 Words
This one is probably the most obvious tip, but one never to forget. Always ask for pictures. And if there are some already posted, always see if you can get more (the answer is typically no, but you never know unless you try!) A cottage with no pictures means one of two things: a lazy landlord (which does not bode well for the care of the place) or it’s a disaster that would never rent if they showed you what it really looks like. It’s a lot harder to “spin” a cottage when you can see it for yourself.
Tip 4 – Ask Around
Reviews are a great source of information. See what others have to say if a cottage has been reviewed, and if not, why not ask the owner for some past cottagers to share their experience. You never know what you may find out. Cottagers love to share.
At the end of the day, the only sure-fire way to find the absolute perfect cottage for you is to actually check it out. If you can take the time to drive up to the cottage of your choice and the landlord is willing to grant you access, it’s the best way to ensure a successful family vacation. Pictures, words and reviews can get you 80% of the way there, but seeing with your own two eyes is always fool proof.