Hey y’all! Welcome back to another episode of The Curious Cowgirl Podcast. Today, we are talking about How to Rent An Apartment in Europe for your next Vacation. I find an apartment much more enjoyable than a hotel, and I have lots of tips and insights that will help you find the perfect apartment for your next trip!
If you are new to Podcasts, here’s a few tips:
- You can always find The Curious Cowgirl Podcast here, on my web site. Simply go to the menu bar at the top of your screen, and click on Podcast. Then, you will be able to see and search for all my Podcast Episodes.
- You can also listen to The Curious Cowgirl Podcast wherever you normally listen to Podcasts, such as on iTunes, Spotify, or iHeart Radio.
- I’ll also embed the podcast episodes in Blog Posts that are closely aligned topically!
- Simply click the “Play” button on the player below, and start listening!
The Curious Cowgirl Podcast Episode 3
What You Will Learn
- The Pros and Cons of How to Rent An Apartment in Europe for your next vacation.
- Essentials to look for as you peruse rental sites.
- The importance of reading Reviews.
- What to do (and not do) once you check-in.
- If you’d like to receive my travel newsletter (it’s awesome) click here.
Podcast Episode 3 Show Notes, Links and Resources
Podcast Episode 3 Transcript
Okay, How many of you all have ever been on a vacation? Let’s say, in Europe, and you find yourself walking down the street, and you’re admiring the beautiful buildings and you’re passing by the people and you’re kind of wistfully thinking: Gosh. I wonder what it would feel like to really live here?
Well, today we’re gonna talk about renting apartments in Europe and how that experience can really make you feel like a local.
Welcome to The Curious Cowgirl Podcast where we’re talking about all things travel, and maybe some other stuff that I find interesting. Let’s jump into today’s episode.
Welcome to The Curious Cowgirl Podcast, where you’re talking about all things travel, lifestyle, some entertaining tales and anything else that I’m in the mood to talk about, like you know, like needlepoint. Whatever. Let’s dive into today’s episode.
Now be sure and stick with me until the end of this episode because I have a very, very good travel tip that you’re for sure gonna want to get your hands on, when it comes to How to Rent An Apartment in Europe for your next Vacation.
I am very excited about today’s podcast because this particular topic is one of my most popular blogger posts. I wrote actually, a couple of blog post about a year ago about how to rent an apartment in Europe. And I had so many great comments and questions after I published both of those blog posts that I thought, You know what? This is the perfect information to bring to my podcast listeners.
So we’re all about renting apartments overseas. Or, How to Rent An Apartment in Europe. So let me give you a little bit of background about my experiences with renting apartments, and then we will dive into the meat of the episode. So my husband and I have been traveling, I guess you know, pretty robustly, for about 10 or 12 years now together. But prior to that, I had had a little bit of experience with renting vacation homes through several different websites. No endorsement here of any particular website. But a 1,000,000 years ago, Vacation Rental By Owner was about the only site out there, and I used that site to rent vacation homes for my family when my kids were younger.
So when Will and I started traveling together, going to websites and renting an apartment or a home was not really a new experience for me. I’ve been doing it for a number of years, and I felt very comfortable, um, kind of with the whole process. But even though I had a lot of comfort, Will and I have learned a lot about renting apartments in Europe for vacation, and I want to share those tips with you all today.
So here’s what we’re going to deeply discuss. First, we’re gonna talk about the advantages and disadvantages of renting an apartment in Europe for vacation.
Secondly, we’re going to talk about all of the things that you really need to look for and pay attention to when you are kind of surfing all of the different websites where you can look at apartments that are for rent.
And then third, I’m gonna give you some real specific tips and guidance on what to do when you arrive. How to kind of interface with the representative that you will undoubtably meet and how to kind of get yourself organized once you’re there.
All right, so I want to start off with the advantages of renting an apartment for vacation, and I’m really talking about, you all, in Europe. I have not rented apartments in South America or Asia. So all of my experiences have been in Europe, so let me be clear about that. This episode is about How to Rent An Apartment in Europe.
But here is why Will and I really prefer to rent an apartment as opposed to getting a hotel room when we get to Europe. So first of all, kind of, as I mentioned in my introduction, you are never gonna feel more like a local than you will when you rent an apartment. You know, I mean, you’re buying groceries and you’re sleeping in a bedroom and you may have a balcony that you can, you know, look out on. And you, you know, you may see the same people day after day, kind of coming in and out of the building. And all of those feelings and experiences and sights and sounds and all those things really do add up to giving you just a tiny little sliver of a glimpse into what it would be like to live in Paris or Rome or London or wherever you are. So I love that.
Another, I guess, advantage of renting an apartment is you’re gonna have a whole lot more room to spread out, you know, I mean, unless you’re the person that when you rent a hotel room, you’re always, um booking a hotel room, You’re always booking a suite. If you’re not doing that, then what you get is one room, right? And maybe there’ll be a little chair, maybe a couple chairs in your room. But, um, you know, the hotel room is what it is, and especially in Europe, um, a lot of hotels, the rooms are smaller than maybe the rooms are in the United States, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But in an apartment, you know, you’ve got a living room, and you know, a dining room, and a separate kitchen, and a separate bedroom, and a separate bathroom. And that’s a whole lot more space than you could ever get in just a regular hotel room. And a lot of times the daily rate for an apartment is equal to, or even less than a than a hotel. So, you’re paying about the same ,or even a little less for a ton more space. So I think that’s a definite advantage.
Another advantage of renting an apartment, and this may be my favorite, is rolling out of bed in your PJ’s and kind of shuffling to the kitchen to make your morning cup of coffee or hot tea or whatever, and and unwrapping a yummy crescent or a pastry or something that you bought from a bakery the day before. You cannot do that in a hotel. I mean, I guess you could go down to the lobby of the hotel or the restaurant in the hotel, in your robe and slippers, but I think them might kind of raise their eyebrows at you. I wouldn’t recommend it. But you can definitely do that in an apartment. And I love that, you know, I love being able to wake up like that, Um, and and again, that really makes you feel like you’re living there and is just kind of more relaxed. So that’s another advantage and a tip for How to Rent An Apartment in Europe.
And then I think the last advantage to running an apartment is how fun that is when you travel with other people. Now, assuming that you wanna wake up and see their faces, um, you may travel with with you family or friends or whatever, and you don’t want to see them first thing in the morning. But, you know, girls trips. My husband and I took our parents to Paris about a year and 1/2 ago and rented an apartment big enough for all of us. And that was just a lot of fun. You know, you spend time together obviously differently in a hotel, then you do in an apartment, and so having an apartment is a great way, um, to really spend some intentional time together while on vacation.
Right, now, there are some disadvantages. So let me be really honest with you all. Some things to think about when you rent an apartment.
So first of all, you do not have a concierge service like you do in a lot of hotels. There’s nobody who can help you make dinner reservations or give you directions somewhere. Or, you know, whatever, help you handle an issue. All the great things that a concierge can do, you don’t have that in an apartment.
There’s no maid service in an apartment, you know, unless you’re renting the apartment for a really long period of time. And part of what you’re paying for is a cleaning service that may come in, you know, halfway through your trip to clean the bathrooms and stuff, but in terms of, you know, like dropping your towel on the floor and you come back at the end of the day, and there’s a fresh new towel for you. You don’t have that in an apartment.
Obviously, there’s no room service, so you know, you’re making your own coffee and whatever in the morning. I love that, But some people might consider that to be a con.
And the last con that we’re going to talk about, I have a work around for it, but this is a con and something to think about. A disadvantage is a lot of times when you rent an apartment check in is in the afternoon, and the reason that’s a lot of times the case is, there could easily have been someone in the apartment that is checking out the same day that you’re arriving, and they have to get a cleaning service in to thoroughly clean the apartment and change the linens and all of that. And so it’s real normal to see apartment check in at two o’clock or even three o’clock. And nine times out of 10, when you’re flying from the United States to Europe, you’re arriving in the morning, you may, or you may have a flight to get you there around noon But usually there’s a pretty good chunk of time between when you land and when you can check into your apartment. And so the disadvantage of that is you don’t have a lobby to go sit in or, you know, like a, um, a bellman to leave your bags with so you can go walk around until your room’s ready. You don’t have that. So I do have a workaround, but that is something to think about. An important consideration for How to Rent An Apartment in Europe.
And now a word from our Sponsor. Are you planning a big trip? Awesome. Okay, here’s what I think you need to do. You need to plan on reading about 10 to 12 travel articles. I would also go by several guidebooks. You might want to put together an Excel spreadsheet and maybe even post on Facebook asking for input. Or you could go to the curiouscowgirl.com and check out my curated itineraries. I have planned itineraries for Rome, Paris, New York and even Texas, all designed to take the stress out of research and planning the perfect vacation. The link is in the show notes.
Okay, so if you are really feeling like you want to pursue renting an apartment, and I definitely applaud you because I just think it’s a fabulous experience, there’s a whole bunch of things that I want you to think about as your kind of surfing all of these sites. And, you know, like anything else, we shop with their eyes first. So whether, you know, whatever side you’re on, you probably can put in some of the search features and filter apartments by the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, that kind of thing. But I want you to keep a few things in mind when you are looking at the description of these apartments.
So the first thing is air conditioning. Now I’m a Texan and, yeah, we have the air conditioning running about, you know, 13 and 1/2 months out of the year. But air conditioning is not always 100% guaranteed in every apartment. So that’s one thing that you definitely want to check on, and let me say a little bit more about that. There may be air conditioning in the bedroom or the bedrooms, however big the apartment is that you’re looking at. But you might also want to make sure there’s air conditioning in the common area, in the kitchen or in the living room, because I have definitely rented apartments in the past where we could get the room cool at night. But during the day, the rest the apartment was really hot, and so I would definitely make sure that you have taken note of that.
Another thing that you want to think about is what floor is the apartment on. And, um, remember that European floors, the ground floor is zero, and then what we consider to be the second floor is their first floor. So pay attention to that, because again, you may rent an apartment where they really are describing a beautiful view and an obstructed view or whatever. But you also might be on the fifth floor and there may not be an elevator. So that’s kind of challenging if you are dragging suitcases up several flights of stairs, which might be teeny little winding stairs, you know, depending on what the apartment building is like. And it also could really be kind of an issue at the end of the day, because you’re gonna be on your feet and going, going, going. And when you’re coming back and forth to your apartment and you’ve got five flights of stairs in front of you. Sometimes that can be a little daunting, so I would definitely pay attention to that.
Another thing that you’re gonna want to look at is, are the bathrooms “en-suite” or are there are the bathrooms kind of separated in terms of what you can do in different rooms? And here’s what I mean by that. If you’re renting a one bedroom apartment, it’s just you and whoever you’re traveling with, it probably doesn’t make any difference to you. But if you are renting an apartment, for example, that’s two bedrooms or three bedrooms. Because you’re traveling with other people, then you might want to know if your bathroom is attached to your bedroom. Because if it’s not, then you’re putting on your robe and you’re walking down the hall to get to the bathroom, which is not good or bad. It just is information that you’re gonna want to know, So I would definitely make sure you understand. Is the bathroom attached to the bedroom or and if it is, is there a toilet and a sink? Sometimes there is a bathroom that’s attached to your bedroom. But maybe it’s just the shower and the toilet’s down the hall. It just depends. And again a lot of it has to do with how old the building is and all of that. But that might be something that matters to you, so I would definitely check on that.
Another thing that I would look at is the beds. So it’s sometimes a little bit hard to find in Europe a true king size bed. And if you are traveling with someone that you really need to be in a king size bed, a queen bed, is just, you’re just coming on top of each other. I would definitely look at that. Um, sometimes that king size bed is two twin beds that they pull together and put kind of a mattress pad over it, and if that’s okay with you, great. But I would definitely make sure I know that. But I think the biggest thing is, is it a queen size bed or a king size bed? Or if you’re okay with a queen size bed, make sure that it’s not a full size bed, because that’s even a little bit smaller than a queen, so just really making sure you understand what how big the bed is can make a lot of difference. And, and important aspect of How to Rent an Apartment in Europe.
Another thing that I think is critically important when you are considering renting a particular apartment is reading the reviews that have been left by the people before you. Now let me say this about reviews, and I think you all can relate to this for sure. Most people do not take the time to go back and leave a positive review about anything. Um, it’s usually people who are disgruntled or unhappy about something, although, you know, you will find people who do take the time to leave good reviews. But I want you to read reviews, and kind of read with a grain of salt, knowing that there might have been 30 people who rented the apartment that thought it was fabulous. But one person had a bad experience, and they’re the only one who went and reviewed the apartment. So something to keep in mind.
But I always, always always read the reviews because people have rented the apartment before you will tell you things like, you know, at three in the morning, the restaurant that shares the the alley with the apartment dumps all their wine bottles in the dumpster and will wake you up every morning. That’s a major thing I always look for.
I look for comments like, you know, the street noise was ridiculous at night. There were people out hooting and hollering until three in the morning. That’s great information. I also look for comments that have been made about pictures in terms of reality versus what said they look like online. And it could work, you know, kind of both ways. The pictures did not represent the apartment well and made it look a lot nicer than it really was. Or even the reverse. The pictures didn’t do the apartment justice. It was a lot more fabulous then what I even thought it was gonna be. So in either case, how accurate are the pictures in terms of the description?
Okay. And then here is my tip to work around the issue of not being able to check into your apartment until late in the afternoon. And my husband and I learned this the hard way. I will never forget the very first time we rented an apartment, our second time that we rented an apartment in Rome, and we arrived at I don’t know, nine in the morning ish and, um, got our bags. Did customs. We had a car service pick us up, and they dropped us off at the apartment, and it was maybe 11 30 or 12. And, um, the apartment was being cleaned, and they would not let us in the apartment until the apartment was totally cleaned. And we stood outside the apartment for three and 1/2 hours with our bags in the street. You know, I’m like, holding my, you know, I mean, it was whatever it was, it was not a pleasant experience, and it was not their fault. They were, you know, doing exactly what they said they were going to.
Um, but here is my work around. First of all, rarely, rarely, rarely are you gonna know if anybody is renting the apartment before you and, um and I wouldn’t count on, I wouldn’t count on having the apartment not be rented before you. I would just always assume that somebody is renting the apartment before you. So what Will and I started doing is we rent the apartment starting the day before we arrive. Um, which may sound a little extravagant, you know, because you are wasting a day’s worth of rent that you’re paying. But this is how we look at it. When we arrive, whatever time it is, and we get our bags and we clear customs and we have our driver drive drop us off at the apartment. The apartment representative is there and waiting for us. And we walked right in. And, you know, we don’t have to worry that we’re gonna be stuck somewhere with no place to leave our bags.
You know, even if the apartment building has, like, a little vestibule or something where you could put your bags. I mean, there’s no way that you would leave your suitcases, you know, and hope that they’re still there if you left to go have lunch or something, I mean, you just would never do that.
So for us, it is worth the little bit of extra money to rent the apartment the day before. And then that way we walk right in. Um and it is no problem. So that’s my tip for, you know, kind of the challenge of early flights arriving in Europe and a late apartment Check in. My #1 tip on How to Rent An Apartment in Europe.
I want to take a quick minute for a Follower Shout Out. It means the world to me, you all, when those of you will who read my blogs or listen to my podcast, take a moment to give positive feedback. It really makes my day. And I want to share a really sweet comment that was left by Ellen S. on a blog post that I wrote about how to rent an apartment in Europe. And this is what she said. “Mary, the apartment blog was genius. I love the idea of renting for the day before the arrival. That is really thinking outside the box.” Well, Ellen, I appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment. That is my goal at The Curious Cowgirl to bring you all great travel information and great travel tips that make your travel easier. So thank you so much for taking the time to leave me that really sweet comment. You made my day. And, I hope you understand better How to Rent an Apartment in Europe.
Okay, so once you’ve arrived at your apartment, you’re going to be greeted by either the person who’s rented you the apartment, maybe they own it. That’s happened to me a couple of times. But most of the time, we are met by a representative of a leasing agency. Most people that own apartments, that kind of put him in the rental pool, so to speak, they’re working with an agency that deals with, you know, answering the nine million questions, you know, that people ask before they rent an apartment.
So you’ll have figured out the communication plan between you and the representative. Sometimes it’s email. Sometimes it’s text. They meet you there, they let you in, you get your suitcases into the apartment. And then here’s some things that you really need to do once you have gotten inside the apartment. So most representatives are going to take a minute to show you around the apartment and show you how everything works. And I really am gonna recommend that you and whoever you’re traveling with do that little tour together because you’re going to be kind of tired. You’re maybe a little groggy. You know, you’re not going to be, you know, kind of at the very top of your game in that exact moment. And so if both of you all are listening to, kind of, the tour of how everything works, if one person catches something and the other one misses it, both of y’all are hearing the same information. I just you know, we always make a concerted effort that both of us do the apartment tour together.
I really encourage you to let the apartment representative truly show you how to do everything. There’s been a couple of times where Will and I have said, Oh, no, we got it, we understand. And then a couple days later, we were ready to use the oven or a stovetop. I don’t know, whatever it is, and we could not figure out how to do it. And, um, there wasn’t an instruction book, or if there was, it was, you know, in Italian or French for whatever. So really do let them show you everything and maybe practice doing everything yourself, if you think you’re going to use that, that particular piece of equipment or whatever. I think that’s really important.
Another thing I would definitely do with your representative before they leave is log into the WiFi account. That is something to watch for when you rent an apartment, make sure they have WiFi. Um, and make sure that you can log on to the WiFi with your phone or your laptop or both. Before that representative leaves. I’ve never had the WiFi not work, but I have had to reset the WiFi in an apartment before, and the apartment representative showed me how to do that. But WiFi is so important these days, um, that you’ll want to make sure you can connect to it before the representative leaves.
Another recommendation is to ask the apartment representative where you can find the closest grocery store or market. A lot of times they will leave great literature for you to read. But sometimes just having somebody show you where something is is a lot less frustrating. So that’s another little tip.
And the last thing that I think is really important is to have the representative again, maybe when they’re leaving, show you exactly where to put your trash and what goes where. Europe is, um, very, or I have found ,especially Paris, especially Paris. But Italy also, they are very strict about recycling and which trash goes in which bin, and it may not be totally obvious to you. And sometimes the trash cans are, like, you know, kind of in a weird closet underneath the stairs or something, you know, in the lobby of the apartment building. So Will and I always like to make sure one of us has walked with the representative to the trashcans, and they show us. Because we have put the wrong trash in the bin before and had somebody who lives in the apartment building stopped us and said, “You’re doing it wrong” and they were not very happy with us, and we certainly were not doing that on purpose. So I would just make sure that you get the checkin representative to show you that.
Hopefully these explanations and tips have been helpful to you. As you contemplate running an apartment. And How to Rent an Apartment in Europe. I would never , I would never stay in a in a hotel in Europe ever again, because Will and I so enjoy renting apartments. We’ve had so many good experiences. I’ve never, knock on wood, I’m knocking on wood right now. I’ve never had a bad experience, but I’ve learned a lot over the years about what to really look for. And so hopefully all of these tips and all of this information in this particular episode will help you look for an apartment with a really, um, trained eye and help you make a better informed decision. And I think that you will really, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy the experience of renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel.
Okay, so as promised at the beginning of this episode, I have a really good resource for you. Once you’ve rented an apartment, because you understand how to rent an apartment in Europe, and you’ve checked in and said good bye to your representative, you’re gonna have to go to the grocery store. Most of the time, apartments have been cleared out of everything in the pantry, everything in the refrigerator, everything in the bathrooms. And so you’re gonna have to get stock up on toilet paper, and paper towels and coffee filters and all of kind of those basic necessities. And I’ve developed a very good checklist so that you can walk through the pantry, the bathroom, the kitchen and check off which items you’re gonna need at the grocery store. And then once you get there, you won’t forget anything that you’re really gonna need. I will put the link to this great resource for you in the show notes. Just simply click on the link, and then you can download your own pantry checklist for your European apartment.
All right, that wraps up another episode of The Curious Cowgirl Podcast. Thank you all so much for being here with me today, and I look forward to talking to y’all again soon.