Vacation Home Rental

For the past 4 years we have escaped our home-based businesses and headed for a desert hideaway to re-charge. We have rented through a company called VRBO or Vacation Rentals by Owner. There are lots of photos and grand descriptions of the homes along with prices and local amenities.

The first 2 years we rented a divine single level house in a residential neighborhood on the south side of an airport and golf course and we watched flights land silently and gracefully and old men with golf carts wandering off to find lost balls. It was idyllic with a small office for Mr. Mole and huge dining table for sewing projects and a kitchen equipped with every imaginal gadget and cooking item. It was clean and quiet and had a shady back patio with a small reflection pool. Then the owner moved to Seattle and had to sell the rental house…bummer.

Ever since then we have been trying to find a comparable house to re-live those days. Last year, we ended up renting a 2 story condo in a huge complex with 8 pools and massive lawns that required a team of gardeners to come and mow or blow every other day. There was no privacy and lots of noise from carpenters and maintenance people and loud tourists coming for weekend parties. The owner had only owned the condo for 2 years but in the fridge were bottles of condiments from 2008…yes…7 year old ketchup and mustard…delightful. The dishwasher looked like it had never been wiped or scrubbed out and the dishes had so many cracks in them we could not use them in the microwave. We ended up having to buy a new wet mop unit as the one there broke the first time I used it to mop the tiny kitchen. So after a month there, we vowed to find a better place next time.

This year we opted to have another go near the airport (this time on the north end) and golf course closer into town and the owner told us you could only hear airplanes in the distance and it had been a celebrity neighborhood. He has only owned it for 2 years and supposedly we are the first renters since the painting and upgrading has been done. OK…really looking forward to the extensive entertainment center, large music collection and game/library area…well-equipped kitchen, excellent WiFi …what we got was something very different.

To start with it is a corner house and the street on one side runs parallel with a busy highway a block away and locals use this 2 lane back road as a shortcut…cement trucks, school buses and huge semi trucks roll past the front door 24 hours a day.

Overhead departing flights arching toward the heavens are screeching over the back patio. I checked the airport website and they only list commercial departing flights with private Lear jets not being counted but seem to be equally interspersed with the big jets. The flights number 46 in a 12 hour period, so with private jets it can double to over 90 and then adding an extra 6 hours it can total to 145 flights every day from 6 am to 10 pm. OK, so the owner cannot control this volume but what he can control is the generous/misleading description of the interior of the house.

Let’s start with the iron…circa 1960 and a victim of being dropped on the tile floor a few times. I filled it with water for steam and it just ran out the bottom. Then, there is the toaster…I have seen better and cleaner ones at the thrift stores.


Let’s get to that extensive video/reading library and music/games/entertainment center described in his advert. So far we have found no music or player, 5 old DVD movies and boxes of adult games. The DVD player is attached to the wall mounted TV with a collection of wires and sockets all strategically/tastefully hidden behind a vase. The fast internet connection reminds me of the dial-up days from 15 years ago. The only way a celebrity would be near this neighborhood would be to be flying over it in his Lear Jet to or from a celebrity golf tournament.

P1040763   P1040764

Moving to the kitchen we have a dishwasher that has to be reset after every wash by going outside to the garage to re-set the circuit breaker to keep it from locking and lighting up all the control lights. You can see it is not actually attached to anything under the counter, just shoved under there at an angle.


The pots and pans are certainly not just 2 years old since the house was listed for rent. These puppies have been found in the clearance box at the nearest Goodwill shop. The Teflon coating has been artfully scrapped off from people using metal tools and the underside has enough food baked on, a mouse would  have a feast. How about cutlery…well there are 6 of each forks and knives and soup spoons but only 2 teaspoons. We found 4 small plates and 6 large ones and it makes you wonder how someone can advertise this place to accommodate 6-9 people? P1040767

So maybe you are thinking…bathrooms…how about those? Well, you know how you can pull the lever on the back of the faucet/tap to plug the sink? Well, forget that feature…P1040769

These new faucets were installed so close to the backsplash that the levers cannot be pulled up at all…nice. And in the tub, the older faucet does not even have a lever to pull (notice the hole)…it must have been broken off years ago and the drain plug that was attached to it is just left sitting on the side which would not really seal the tub from draining…nice and check out the corroded drain edge..


Usually rental properties come with a roll or two of toilet paper and I just had to photograph this paper. Have you even been able to read fine print through your paper?

I can…regular paper on the left and the rental paper on the right…even the smallest print is readable. Man this stuff would be good underneath sewing tricky fabrics like chiffon!P1040790

Oh, you might have noticed the scar on my index finger….

Before we arrived at our destination, I was rummaging through my overnight bag and my finger caught the edge of a new disposable razor that had lost it’s cover. It sheared off a layer of skin and there was blood all over the place. Now one week later you can see the length and width of the slash:P1040762   Classy so far, no? How about holes in the walls…just patch them and hang a picture over them…oops…maybe you want to rehang this one more to the right?

P1040768   The first night the owner told me to keep the floors clean and there would be supplies in the closet. I did find an old vacuum with the dust cup completely filled and this:

P1040788   It is supposed to be a Swiffer Wet Jet mop but most of the parts are missing and there is no pad on the bottom. I ended up buying a sponge mop so I could mop the tile floors as there are no carpets. One night after a bit of intoxication, I told Mr Mole that I should start a blog called VRBO-NO! or “Dumps I have stayed in” so people could submit their own experiences using this rental site.

Even though I have shared all the down sides of the house, it does have a nice backyard so that was the main reason for coming…to relax and read in peace with or without 100 jets flying overhead…ha ha.

Soon we will be heading home and in the weeks we have been here, the emails from brides have been stacking up and I know what is waiting for me…you can’t hide forever! Meanwhile my youngest daughter just moved to Washington, DC for a new job and she is awaiting the first big snow storm of the season in a basement apartment with her 2 cats… keeping my fingers crossed that her power does not get cut off!!!

Safe and happy sewing to all of you…stay warm!


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48 Responses to Vacation Home Rental

  1. Michelle says:

    So sorry the property was not as described or well maintained.

    My family has had a rental cottage for 50 years. We have always described it as rustic, basic and only once has a guest been disappointed. We gave her a partial refund for the days not stayed.

    The main feature of the property is that is waterfront, has beach access and we used to , before insurance got in the way, supply a row boat.

    No TV, no internet, no dishwasher or clothes washer.

    It sounds like the person you rented from bought a foreclosure, went to the Goodwill to outfit it and started renting.

  2. Krysti says:

    That is too bad! We have rented from vrbo twice with fabulous results both times. I like your idea of the website – to warn all of us that use the website which ones to steer clear of.

    • mrsmole says:

      Krysti, I have seen such website for hotel rooms in the past so that is probably how that entered into my brain. I’m sure we will rent again but choose a different place…lesson learned.

  3. mrsmole says:

    You are correct, Michelle, while most rental owners want the renters to have a super time and return, this house is in the early stages of “becoming”. He may add more upgrades in the future if enough people recommend changes and additions.Your cottage sounds delightful and a real place to relax!

  4. ParisGrrl says:

    You deserve better. Have you looked into airbnb or other sites where you can see reviews? We’ve used airbnb several times now and while there are sometimes small surprises, we’ve had no major ones. Hope you get some quality r&r despite the troubles, and have better luck next year!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks ParisGrrl, I’m sure things will be better next year…the main thing is to get away from the sewing room and relax since I do not take days off the other 11 months of the year. Mr Mole has been making sure we have great breakfasts and dinners out sampling the local restaurants. I have heard good and bad about airbnb so I am thinking it is all a gamble no matter who you choose.

  5. Donna Miegel says:

    It makes you cranky doesn’t it. We travelled to San Fran (from Australia) and rented a unit through Airbnb. There was mould on the walls, couldn’t see through the windows, and oh, the stand on the bedspread!!!

    I hope you enjoyed your break anyway.

    • mrsmole says:

      Makes you wonder what good reviews are for and who writes them, Donna? Sorry you had that to contend with but I hope your time in SF was all you imagined!

  6. What a mess! Hope you’re able to enjoy a bit of time away. I’d sure complain to the owner about your experience and definitely leave as many reviews as you can!

  7. mrsmole says:

    I told Mr Mole that I would reach more people on my blog than on the review page of the house. There will be a written list of suggestions for him when we leave and he can think about them.

  8. Bunny says:

    This is horrendous. DD has had very good luck with airb&b but mostly overseas. I don’t think she has tried it in the US. You both work so hard, I would hope your vakay relax would be a little more enjoyable. Have another cocktail for me!

    • mrsmole says:

      As the vacation winds down, we have had a pretty good time so no regrets, just good and bad memories and lessons learned. We can’t travel abroad as we look after my parents in their 90’s and need to be within driving distance when they fall or need us.

  9. ceci says:

    Makes me feel especially fortunate that our experiences with airb&b, VBRO, etc have been mainly excellent – a few funny ones (a place with a very slanted floor in coastal Maine stands out ….the first day or so we were sort of disoriented feeling, then we got used to walking up hill to the kitchen and down hill to the bedroom….). AND there was what I am convinced was a near escape from a very creepy landlord in San Francisco who wanted to pick up at airport for $100, know your itinerary for every day, etc…bad vibe from that one and we found a wonderful different place!

    I am also in the DC area awaiting the storm; sometimes these over hyped snows don’t materialize, but its an experience for those who come from more snow-adept regions. On the other hand we are GREAT at driving around presidential motorcades, papal visits, etc. Pays to have a sewing project or two in mind for the storm time.

    safe travels,


    • mrsmole says:

      You must have some great stories, Ceci! How creepy to have a landlord want to know all about your plans. Keeping my fingers crossed that the amount of snow is not as deep as they predict!!! Stay warm!

  10. Martina says:

    Can you get some of your money back? It really was fraud. I’m sorry your relaxing vacation was not so relaxing!

    • mrsmole says:

      All we can do is leave a list of things that were not as we expected as you pay the money directly to the owner. Even though the photos he put on the webpage did not match the actual house inside, the outside was as shown pretty much. The noise factor is the worst…imagine living on a freeway on-ramp with accelerating trucks and motorcycles 24/7 with 100 planes taking off too…oh my!

  11. maryfunt says:

    Too bad your much deserved vacation is a disappointment. We’ve had good luck with VRBO but I guess it can be hit or miss. I hope you can enjoy your time anyway. Maybe scout out some properties for next year.

    • mrsmole says:

      We do spend the next 3 months sniffing through pages and pages of new properties but we may have to reduce our expectations for the future with my folks being so old and needy and refusing to go into a retirement home while expecting us to take care of everything while they claim to be “independent”. Life gets complicated for sure! Sewing is my only escape!

  12. S says:

    That’s such a shame, Mrs. Mole, although it sounds as though you made the best of it just the same. My parents have had good luck with VRBO and I have had great luck with Airbnb, though there are stories of other experiences. You really had me at the toilet paper though. My boyfriend Gianni’s running joke is that he has stock in a toilet paper company that is located between Florence and Lucca and makes thick, “chamomile” (scented? softened?) toilet paper. He never travels without at least one roll of it in his suitcase or in his carry on back pack. He even brought it to a four star hotel in Paris!! 🙂 Take care and safe travels home.

    • mrsmole says:

      When we lived in Europe we took our own paper with us but I have never seen such thin stuff EVER! When I realized I could see writing through it, I just had to take a photo to share. I’m with Gianni…the other thing I encountered in bathroom in Italy was the roll of toilet paper was not where you could grab it once you sat down…it was perched high up on a windowsill while I was perched lower. You learn to locate that roll as soon as you lock the door behind you…ha ha!

      • S says:

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so thin, either!! I know what you mean about the toilet paper in Italy. It can be in some funny places! Gianni never puts the paper on the roll at my house, either. He always leaves it perched on the bathtub! I must correct that habit. 🙂

      • mrsmole says:

        Re-training a husband is a challenge…I wish you luck with that!!! Then the bonus will be if he hangs the roll with the paper coming off the top or bottom as you instruct him. I remember once in France I did not remember to bring my own paper and I had to pay like 50 cents from the woman attendant. She gave me one sheet folded in half…have to be very careful with that amount!

  13. I recommend searching on Airbnb as well, I have a place in Australia on Air and it is the best site I have ever come across. Try it, look carefully at the listings, read the reviews… If guests leave a high star rating for something you might not think the same of, it only means that it met THEIR expectations. I can’t recommend it highly enough, but you need to be looking hard. Good luck, there are gems out there.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, queensberry, you are correct…it meets someone’s expectations. This house is perfect of you want to order delivery pizza and spend your days drinking by the pool. There have to be almost 100 Margarita glasses in the cupboard but only 4 small dishes and 2 teaspoons in the drawer…go figure. Maybe cooking is not what most folks do but if you rent out a house for a month, some cooking will probably be done.

  14. Frenchfancy says:

    So sorry you have had a bad experience with a vacation rental. We run rentals in France and I am always ashamed when others rent out properties that are not up to standard. Remember VRBO and AirBnB do not own these properties nor have they ever visited them, they are just advertising sites. Try and read reviews of properties before you book, look on trip advisor, both under vacation rentals and under speciality lodging. Don’t let it put you of renting, and if you are ever in France then come down to the Vendee and we will show you how it is done properly.

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog by the way and I’m really enjoying it.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, FrenchFancy…if we ever get to leave my parents for a long time we certainly want to spend time in France as we have sampled all the other countries around you. Of course renting closer to home I am always looking for a place with a big table for sewing for me and writing for Mr Mole. Having an extensive bar cupboard or collection of cocktail glasses is not high priority as we can drink rum and Diet Pepsi out of water glasses. Clean bathrooms are important and clean cooking utensils matter too along with enough cutlery. So we live and learn constantly.

  15. fabrickated says:

    Grrr. This makes me cross. For years my husband and I house swapped across the world, and mainly had the most amazing experiences. Sometimes homes were a little grubby, and sometimes they were so stuffed with stuff that you couldn’t hang up your own clothes. But we experienced such wonders too – huge houses with five bathrooms, a private beach, cars and bikes left for our use, fabulous locations, a house with a trampoline, a swing seat and a pool, a couple of Victorian houses in Australia perfectly restored. But once we stayed in an old French house that was dreadful in much the way you describe – we needed to buy a bunch of light bulbs before we could read. We even had to buy crockery! The cooker kept cutting out, the heating was rubbish. The bedrooms smelled badly of damp. The internet photos were at least 20 years old and no maintenance had been done in between. We complained but she didn’t seem concerned. It really is a most upsetting experience only relieved by there being good company, a nice part of France and opportunities to explore the area. If you get so little holiday you need it to be reliable. Better luck next time.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Kate…part of the experience is discovering all the little quirks and the problem is…we had 2 very good years and so far nothing compares to that…and we want it and deserve it but it seems very illusive right now. Good for you swapping houses…it always sounds like a good idea until we think about all the stuff people will be rooting through while they would be staying here and stuff they will be breaking…oh no! Also living in a cul-de-sac, my neighbors would not appreciate wild parties and lots of noise with swapping with strangers…that is so scary!

  16. Mrs T says:

    My sister stayed at a hotel in Italy once that had run out of toilet paper. They just expected the guests go without! She wasn’t impressed.

    • mrsmole says:

      Never leave home without your own!!!! Otherwise it will be like camping and being in a forest looking for a leaf to wipe yourself and hoping it is not poison ivy!!!!

  17. Karen Lyon says:

    You can probably deal with anything except the noise, by telling yourself “not MY place thank God”. Just try to think of it as a rustic cabin with almost outdoor plumbing. Try to enjoy what serenity you can.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Karen…I tried to watch the planes overhead and think of all the places they would be going to, to return the tanned tourists. I did tell Mr. Mole it felt like camping with a temperamental stove that would not light and baths and sinks with no drain plugs…thankfully the toilets did flush!!!

  18. sewruth says:

    Shame… being surrounded by white and ivory tulle doesn’t seem so bad in comparison. Go to the beach next year and enjoy long, quite walks along the shore. A good opportunity to spend more time outside than in.

    • mrsmole says:

      Beach vacation homes here are way over-priced for sure! The desert ones are still affordable if you book way in advance, like 9-10 months ahead. Next year we have to make hard decisions and only leave the folks for 2 weeks and keep our fingers crossed that they don’t do anything stupid.

      • beansmum says:

        Is it possible to have home care or a visiting nurse check in on your parents while you’re away, or even a check in call service that will send someone out if they don’t answer or have an emergency? We have some services like that (both public and private); it’s been a godsend for dealing with my 300+ lb FIL who has limited mobility.

      • mrsmole says:

        That’s a nice suggestion, beansmum. The issue is, with so many older folks, that they think they are independent and will not go along with any program that checks up on them. Also, we would be footing the bill so paying for people to babysit them and paying for our time away. The cost to have one carer (not a nurse) come in for one hour in my town is $100 an hour so that would just about eliminate our entire travel budget while the visiting carer is paid $10-15 for the same hour. Most young people have no idea how expensive it is to have aging parents decide move to be near you and then expect everything to be done for them.If my parents with their longevity genes get to 100+, we will be almost 80 years old. Really hoping that I won’t be still working on bridal gowns but you never know.

  19. denise njim says:

    Maybe an RV would suit your needs better? Opens up a whole lot of site/area possibilities from very remote to bells and whistles park amenities.

    • mrsmole says:

      We are saving that for the time when we no longer have to care for aging parents. I tell Mr Mole that I do not see myself sitting around a campfire telling stories about my grandchildren and travels to other folks nor listening to their stories. We are really solitary moles who like our own company and conversations. We would love to rent one and have electric bicycles on the back to toot around and see things at ground level.

  20. prttynpnk says:

    Have owners no pride? That’s just ridiculous- more like an abandoned dorm than a place for adults.

    • mrsmole says:

      The more we stay here, the more we find is sub-standard so with 2 days left, we are very excited to drive back home and say adios to the sun and sand.

  21. Deborah Holland says:

    I don’t know if Florida is too far for you, but Navarre Beach (near Pensacola, Florida), is a beautiful, quiet, family friendly beachfront. We had hurricanes come thru a few years ago that leveled many of the homes, so many of the homes are new and truly lovely. Love your blog. Deborah

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Deborah, Florida is a bit too far for more than a week with very aging parents near us in the Pacific northwest. We did spend one week in Tampa in late Oct and it was so nice seeing new scenery.

  22. Tee says:

    Wow what a disappointment! Have you thought about a cruise? Best vacation in my opinion do as much or as little as you want! No dishes, no cleaning, no cooking!!!! The storm came with a vengeance, happy to say no power loss. So I was able to sew to my hearts content!!!!

    • mrsmole says:

      I’ve done 2 cruises and the volume of people was overwhelming. One night we were almost mowed down when they announced it was time for “Death by Chocolate” and all the travelers rushed down one hallway to get to the goodies. We flattened ourselves against a wall and hoped for the best! Didn’t want to get caught up in that wave of hungry people! So glad the power stayed on and you could do what you love!!!!

  23. Oh my! I am so sorry! Wait a minute … That’s what the landlord/owner should be saying to you!!

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