Skip to main content

Renting Our House in France - Analysis Over Time

The 2009 French holiday rental season is just about over. It’s the fifth season that we’ve rented out our little village house in the small working class village of Cazouls-les-Beziers in the Languedoc region of southern France. The first season, the summer of 2005, doesn’t really count though. We didn’t put up a website and we didn’t contract with any of the holiday rental websites. Instead, we arranged a long-term rental with a single woman whose house in the region was undergoing extensive renovation. That rental served as a sort of shake-down for our house before we put it up for rental on the open market in 2006. So, four years…

In the fall of 2005 we put up our website:
http://www.southfrancerental.com/.

Take a look.

In the ensuing year, we received about a half-dozen inquiries through the website and three or four modest bookings. Not enough traffic. Not enough bookings. We spoke with folks that we had met who had a vacation/rental property near ours. They were quite satisfied with VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner – www.vrbo.com. We did searches on Yahoo and Google using the search terms +”vacation rental”+France+Languedoc. VRBO came up highly ranked. We booked on their site in September of 2006.

We received a few more inquiries. Business improved during the 2007 rental season. But not dramatically.

We spoke with a friend in England with rental property on the Isle of Wight.

“Americans take vacations,” she said. “Brits and English-speaking Europeans go on holiday. I use holidaylettings.co.uk.”

I went up on Yahoo and Google again and sure enough, changing “vacation rental” to “holiday rental” made a world of difference. So we kept our ad on VRBO and added holidaylettings.co.uk for the 2008 season.

Again, a modest increase but no great shakes. One final adjustment. We cut our rates.

Cazouls is a pleasant little town but it’s not a ‘destination’ town. It’s not on the Med but it’s less than a half-hour drive away. The Canal du Midi (for boating, walking and biking) and the Orb River (for swimming and kayaking) are each five minutes away. The Haut Languedoc National Park (hiking and climbing) is a half hour away. Abbeys and cathedrals and all sorts of historic sites from prehistory through the Middle Ages abound.


And the house itself has no garden or pool although the patio is private and has a bbq. There’s no internet connection – the tourist office is three blocks away and offers high-speed access at reasonable rates. Satellite television. Full service kitchen. Beds and sofa beds and a futon. A good place to hang your clothes and spend the night while you and your friends tour the region. So…

We cut our rates. There was a world-wide recession in the works, after all.

Presto. The best summer ever.

After four years, we think that we’ve finally got the formula right. Our website plus a website catering to North Americans plus a website catering to Brits/Europeans. Do I sound confident? We’ll see how the summer of 2010 shakes out.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CHÉ OLIVE / LE ZINC, CREISSAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

No, it's not Chez Olive. It is indeed Ché complete with red star and black beret. I have no idea why and I wasn't about to ask. The French are the French and not to be analyzed too closely when it comes to politics, especially these days.

Creissan is the next town over from our village of Quarante. We pass through it often and Ché Olive is right there on the main road at the entrance to town. (One of the signs still says Le Zinc. Olive says he prefers Ché Olive though.) Olive opened it a couple of years ago after leaving the Bar 40, Quarante's basic local watering hole that's undergone a bit of a renaissance lately. We hadn't heard much about Ché Olive from our usual sources for dining recommendations. So we just kept passing by. For reasons not central to this review, we decided to stop in for lunch on a mid-week in late December.

The bar is cozy, the restaurant open and bright and modern. Newly renovated and perhaps a bit sterile. We were the first…

RESTAURANT ETIQUETTE IN FRANCE: SIMPLE PRIMER (WITH TONGUE IN MY AMERICAN CHEEK)

My recent reading of a poor internet review of a favorite restaurant of ours prompted this post. Some people simply should not be allowed internet access. Speech may rightly be free, but it shouldn't be worthless.

From reading the review, I could determine that the reviewer was a tourist who started out in a bad mood because he had to pay extra for parking a camper van that exceeded the maximum height for parking in the free lot. His party arrived at the restaurant at the end of lunch and without a reservation. At first, he was told that an empty table that he pointed out was reserved. When he persisted, he was informed that lunch was over. Since none of the other restaurants in town were still open, the reviewer had to miss lunch.

Let me count the ways...

RESERVATIONS ARE NECESSARY. Maybe not at Burger King, maybe not in a touristy restaurant in a touristy destination. But if you are really hungry, if you really want to try that restaurant that everybody's talking about, or …

FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…