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

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…

SOLO WALK TO LES FARGOUSSIERES: RESISTANCE!

I enjoy walking in groups but I also enjoy walking by myself. Setting my own pace. Trying new paths. Getting lost. The sorts of things that you can't do in a group, especially when you are in the lead. So when no one took up my offer to lead a walk the other day, I wasn't disappointed. All spring long, I'd been wanting to see what a walk to Le Fargoussieres would be like. I particularly wanted to check out a memorial to the French resistance that I'd visited a year or so ago on a walk sponsored by the local historical society.

I began on the path to the Croix de Juillet, a walk that our group has taken a time or two in the past. Then I broke off, took the paved road to the hamlet of Les Fargoussieres, visited the memorial, then found me way back to the return path of the Croix de Juillet walk. It all worked well. With the help of my GPS mapper, I didn't get lost. But the route was a few of kilometers longer that I thought that it would be. Shade was scarce as the …