How Vacation Renting Became Vacation Living

Article & Photos by Lynne Martin

My husband Tim and I are experienced travelers. We began using vacation rentals before Homeaway or Airbnb were even twinkles in the eyes of their founders. In those days, vacation rentals were the purview of real estate agents with hit-or-miss results without standards or guarantees of any kind. We were thrilled when the internet streamlined the process of securing appropriate digs. In fact, we were so enthusiastic that we bought a condo in Mexico’s charming artistic community, San Miguel de Allende.

It was rented all the time, so we bought this house there just to have a place to stay when we visited the town! It, too, was a successful rental when we weren’t in Mexico.

We traveled as much as we could, usually for two or three weeks at a time, staying in vacation rentals in Italy, France, England, and Mexico, but I began to realize that four or five days or even a week visiting Paris or Rome or London was simply not enough!

I wanted to experience the cultures that fascinated us, to shop, cook, eat, and experience life as a local. I wanted to LIVE in those places for months at a time, not just hit the highlights. When I expressed my earning to Tim several months before my seventieth birthday, he was immediately on board. He understood my sense of urgency to postpone nothing and we set out to make a plan.

Of course, money, or the lack of it, was the biggest hurdle. How in the world could we afford to live in Europe while we still had our overhead at home? Obviously, we could rent out our house, but that meant that we could be fielding phone calls about a broken water heater or a leaky roof while we were trying to enjoy living in Paris.

Here’s Tim (photo, right) enjoying dinner in a darling Paris apartment we have rented many times to enjoy the summers. We certainly didn’t want to be interrupted with frantic phone calls about mishaps at home!

As we pored over our budget and compared the numbers with what it would cost us to live as locals in the places we wanted to explore, it became clear that the numbers were very close. We could exchange our California living costs for a much more exciting lifestyle abroad!

Thankfully, our financial adviser agreed, and within four months of our initial conversation, we had sold our house, given the proceeds to our guru to invest, purged most of our belongings, installed the rest in a 10 x 15 foot storage space, and were on our way to Argentina for a three month stay!

We traded this gorgeous garden and the beautiful house attached to it for a life filled with new adventure and exciting discovery.

Naturally, our family wasn’t crazy about our being gone for months at a time, and our friends were astonished at our choosing to be senior gypsies. Eventually they accepted our decision and many friends and family found their way to visit us as we enjoyed our nomadic adventures.

Our daughter Robin joined us in Italy for a few weeks. Everyone wants to visit Venice!

The Wall Street Journal published an article I wrote about our radical departure from a “normal” retirement, and as a result, I soon had a literary agent and I was contracted to write Home Sweet Anywhere for Sourcebooks, Inc.! Since we were living in vacation rentals without a home base, we were dubbed the Founders of the Home Free Movement. The subsequent appearances on talk shows, travel panels, and media coverage were a bonus, offering us more travel and opportunities to make new friends.

We had a lovely time meeting the crew on CBS This Morning the day the book was launched!

We lived for almost five years without a home base, and even when we came home to California to see the children for holidays, we lived in – you guessed it – vacation rentals!

So when we decided to make another change in our life, we elected to build our own vacation rental in the heart of the Paso Robles, California wine country. We employed all that we learned (which I’ll share next time) to build what we consider the perfect vacation rental for two couples and a home base for ourselves.

Alanna Schroeder of The Distinguished Guest and Tyann Marcink of Tyann Marcink Designs came to our Creekside Cottage and embellished our house and our web presence with Alanna’s excellent products and design know-how and Tyann’s photographic wizardry.

Take a look at the result of this collaboration in this video:

Creekside Cottage Makeover

We have come full circle – from being vacation rental owners to full-time vacation rental tenants, and back again to owners. It seems as if the VR world has become our way of life.

Oh, and yes, we’ll be renters again next spring when we enjoy a darling property in London and another in Paris! I guess It never stops.

The Creekside Cottage is available at various times of the year when Tim & Lynne are traveling. If you’re looking for a wine country escape – this just might be the place. Click here for more information and to book your stay.

Lynne Martin, with her husband Tim sold their home, disbursed most of their belongings, and set out to travel the world for five years without a home base. Her best-selling memoir about their adventures, Home Sweet Anywhere, continues to sell well in English and eight languages. The couple are the acknowledged founders of the “Home Free” movement.



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