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Slow Europe shows you how to find vacation rentals in Europe - villas, houses, cottages or apartments that you rent by the week.

What are Vacation Rentals?

How to Choose a Vacation Rental

by Pauline Kenny, February 2008

You can choose from an amazing selection of excellent vacation rentals in Europe. Choosing one depends on your travel style and experience, preferred location and needs. Comparison shop, read travelers' reviews, ask a lot of questions and carefully read the property descriptions to see what is (and what isn't!) said about the property.

Things to Think About When Choosing a Vacation Rental

This list will help you determine your priorities so you can narrow your focus when searching for rental properties.

Location

The Property

Deciphering the Vacation Rental Websites

If the agency or owner has a good website or web page the answers to all your questions are right there. Read the description carefully, look at the photos and try to locate the property on a Google Map so you can see what is nearby.

Recently we were looking at vacation rentals in Nice, France. The agency had a scan of a local map with an arrow showing the location. I opened up a Google Map of the area, found the intersection, switched to street view and could "walk" along the street and find the building (I compared the buildings to the photos on the website). I rejected one place that had a beauty parlor below it because I did not want to deal with the chemical fumes that would come up to the apartment. I picked a place that was on a quiet looking street and had a cafe down the block.

Looking for Other Sources of Advice

You are not on your own. Talk to other travelers, read reviews and talk to the agency or owner.

"You are renting the place for a week, not purchasing it." I heard of an agency who said this to someone asking questions about a vacation rental. While I would not rent from an agency or owner who said this they do have a point. You do not have to know every little thing about a place and location before booking. But I do like to see a very detailed property description with a list of appliances, communications options and amenities, plus details on the location, so that I do not have to ask endless questions.

Extra Tips to Help You Decide

These are Pauline's tips for working your way through the deciding process.

As I search for vacation rentals I keep track of my shortlist in Word. I paste in the link to the property page and write my summary, with prices and availability. I keep all my thoughts in this document and reorder properties to make my short list. It helps to have all your information in one place, so you do not overlook something you found earlier when making your decision.

I also use Google Bookmarks to keep track of my finds. I create a folder for a trip and label each site with country and agency name (or "owner"). This way I can quickly get back to a property (or you can link from your Word doc).

When I find a place that I like I search online for the same property listed through another agency or rent-by-owner to find the best price. Some agencies rename their properties to stop us from doing this so if I do not find the property on another site I Google the town name and something from the property description. Not all properties are represented by more than one agency so you may not find any information.

Recently I was trying to see how large a cottage was because it looked small in the photos. With Google I found some old planning documents from when the owner was trying to add a porch. They gave the house size - 400 square feet. I still had to ask the owner if this was including both levels or was the size of the main floor (it was the size of one level).

NEXT: Booking Procedures

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