Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to Find a Vacation Home in a Foreign Country

Impending retirement requires that you have a plan. Our plan was to select a winter retreat at a different location somewhere in the world each year. With a few months of full time judging left, it was time to get busy putting this plan into action, if we were to have a successful first year. It also would go a long way towards guaranteeing an exciting retirement for two people who like to travel several times a year. Twenty five years ago we visited San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and found it a wonderful colonial city in the heart of Mexico with a wonderful mix of art, music, crafts, exquisite cuisine, and a good mix of gringos to help you over the language problem. Over the years I had kept my eye on San Miguel as it grew into a celebrated world travel destination and felt it would be would be an easy transition into our “winter retirement formula”.

Along with searching for vacation homes, I also learned how to use the internet for writing a daily travel blog. For an in depth look at the vacation home we found (Casa Tranquilidad) it is shown in words and photos on my blog which you can view at Now how do you find such a wonderful casa? The trick is the wonder of the internet. You can go to Google and type in “vacation homes in…(name the country or city).” That will bring up all sorts of options which will get you started on your search.

One thing you need to keep in mind is lead time. I was surprised when I started searching in San Miguel de Allende in October for a March arrival. It seems that in locations where there is a heavy snow bird population, that many properties are just renewed year to year. Thus you have to reserve a year ahead. In various websites when I selected a home I found out there were not a lot of vacancies. Most websites on this type of subject will break down into location, price range, photos, and on the best sites there are calendars showing availability.

For a little tutorial let us go to the website where our casa is found:

This company had a very helpful agent who lived in San Miguel de Allende. We met her in person while we were in San Miguel when she brought by folks to look at the casa, I assume for next years or next falls rental. Next click on “search rentals” and then go to the section on monthly rentals of $2,000 to $3500 a month. Scroll down until you see Casa Tranquilidad and then click on the name. That will take you directly to the description and information about our casa. The full website for that view is:

Directions show you how you can work your way through the possibilities available for this company. Be sure and click on more information and photos at the bottom and you will see a complete description of the property and rental conditions. If you know Mary Ann and me, we usually are the happy recipients of dumb luck and that was the case with the rental of Casa Tranquilidad. After I enquired about a couple of properties the agent quickly responded that the properties I requested were not available, but she had a new casa just coming available, that had never been rented before. She sent photos and the description and the rest is history. We were the very first “guests” other than the owners and hope we were good stewards of this magnificent home. In searching for a property we actually had very few requirements. We wanted a home with a washer and dryer (little did we know that the maid would do all the laundry), access to an internet DSL line, and a place to park the car. The only thing we missed on was the car garage, but you can learn our parking lot saga from the blog.

You might wonder (as a lawyer and a Judge I did) about the legal parts of the rental. We entered into a lease with the rental company and not with the actual owner. In fact we did not know who the owner was until a phone bill arrived at the casa. We paid half of the lease payment at the time of the acceptance of the rental and the other half 45 days before our arrival. There was also $500 damage deposit for such things as excess phone bills, DSL line, etc. The rental payment covered all the utilities and the payment of the maid, gardener, and ordinary repairs.

There are a lot of web sites for finding vacation rentals, both in the U.S. and around the world. These sites will sometimes specialize in various locations, or might be a broad based worldwide site. As a start take a look at some of the following:

If you are interested in San Miguel de Allende, there are a lot of rental opportunities on the internet. Other companies that you might look at are:

This is enough reminiscing about San Miguel. I have to get started on my search for a vacation home in New Zealand!

(Published by the fall 2007 ABA Senior Lawyers Division “Experience” magazine)

No comments: