The idea of renting a private home instead of a hotel room for a vacation is an idea whose time has come, and there are few places where it is more acceptable and enjoyable than in Merida and the surrounding areas. Visitors to the city of Merida love the idea of experiencing a colonial or modern home, with gardens, pool and home amenities, as a base for exploring the area’s attractions. On the beach, few if any hotels or B&B’s can match the conveniences, space and blessed solitude of renting a waterfront vacation home.
As consultants to expatriates in Merida, we have worked with various clients who rent out their homes as vacation rentals, and we have experienced the benefits and the pitfalls. What we have learned is that proper preparation and planning is the best marketing tool you can have if you want a home that is easily rented and rented repeatedly. The same kind of planning, coupled with vigilant property management, allows you as the owner to enjoy the fruits of your vacation rentals without experiencing undue problems in the process.
Preparing Your Home
You may already be living in and enjoying the home you plan to rent, or you may just be in the process of renovating or building it. In either case, specific preparations should be made with future renters in mind.
Building Your Home to Rent
There are a few design decisions that you can make when you are building your home that will make renting it in the future easier for you and more enjoyable for your renters.
- Build one or more owner’s closets that can be locked. These closets should be large enough to hold the personal clothes and other items that you want to keep in your home but don’t want to share with your renters. Be sure to build a separate owner’s cabinet in the kitchen.
- Stainproof Fabrics and Finishes
- Tile floors instead of carpeting
- Stain-resistant fabrics or fabrics with designs that hide the dirt on furniture
- Glass, polished wood, tile or stone shelves that are easy to wipe down and don’t stain
- Avoid white fabrics or finishes in high traffic areas
- Low Maintenance Gardens
- Indigenous plants that need little watering or special care
- Simple fountains that are easy to clean, or that look lovely even without water
- Sturdy appliances – Don’t buy the cheapest appliances but the ones with the best warranties and the sturdiest materials. The slightly higher cost will be a savings in the long run.
- Water softener – Investing in a water softener will save money in the long run. The Yucatan’s hard water builds up on showerheads, faucets, and in washing machines and pumps. Soft water will add years of life to these amenities.
- Aluminum, not iron – When possible, and especially at the beach, install rust-resistant windows and doors. This area of the world is humid, and even more so near the beach.
- Remote controlled air conditioners – If you do install air conditioners, buy the ones with a remote control. This can be given to renters in exchange for an electricity deposit to cover the extra cost of using the air conditioners. Some renters will choose not to use them.
Preparing Your Existing Home for Rental in the Yucatan
There are many things you can do to prepare a lovely and welcoming home for travelers. At the end of this article, we provide links to more details to remember for anyone in the world preparing a vacation rental.
In the Yucatan, here are a few specific suggestions:
- At certain times of year there is a lot of rain here. Be sure that every door to the outside has a non-sliding mat for guests to wipe their feet. This will avoid tracking dirt and water into the house, and will avoid accidents. The polished cement and tile floors found in Yucatan homes are especially slippery when wet.
- Every bath and shower should have a similar mat for the same reason.
- Every room should be provided with your choice of bug abatement devices. Sprays are effective, but many people prefer to avoid them. Plug-in mosquito repellent devices are easy to use, effective and involve no harmful chemicals. Coils that can be burned or citronella candles are a good solution for outdoor areas.
- Candles with matches or lighters should be provided either in a central location or in every room in case of blackouts. At least one working flashlight should also be provided. Blackouts are not as common as they once were, but it’s good to have a source of light if they do.
- A list of emergency numbers should be provided in an obvious place. The Merida phonebook is famously difficult for strangers to understand or navigate. Yucatan Living Emergency Number bookmarks can be picked up for free at the Merida English Library.
- Many owners provide their guests with Telcel Amigo cellular phones for use during their stay. You can provide the guest with instructions and one Amigo card to start. If they use the phone extensively, it is easy for them to buy additional cards for additional time on the phone. If there will be a large party staying at the house, two phones would be a thoughtful addition to the amenities in your vacation home.
A personalized visitors guide for the house is always a welcome addition to a vacation rental home. Visitors usually arrive after having read travel guidebooks or websites, but a guide that is specific to the house is extremely useful.
This type of guide might include:
- House rules (Including rules about turning air conditioners off when guests are not inside the house)
- Local restaurants, including your favorites. Menus are a nice touch.
- A few options for Home Delivery of food, with specific directions about what to say on the phone when ordering. Menus are especially important here.
- Where to shop for basic items within walking distance of the house, including hours of operation if possible
- How to call a cab and how to tell the dispatch the address of the house
- Recommendations of things to do within walking distance of the house
- Directions and hours of a local dry cleaner
- How to take a bus to the beach, the shopping mall, the movie theatre, including where to go on the internet to see which movies are playing
- What to do in the house in case of heavy rain or hurricane warnings (which windows must be closed, what to do if there is a leak, etc.)
Be sure to review the Visitor’s Guide every six months or so to be sure it is up to date.
For more information please see our article about managing and marketing your vacation rental home.
Yucatan Expatriate Services (YES) provides vacation home preparation and property management as one of our services. We have bilingual “feet on the ground” to watch your property, manage repairs and upgrades, greet , monitor and provide services to guests. In addition, we can provide you with accounting, legal and website professionals so that you can establish your vacation rental home and business here in a responsible and professional manner, avoiding future problems by doing things right the first time.
For more information, please contact YES today!