Enjoy this post today by Hank McKinsey, rental property owner and blogger at Homebyhank.com.
Taking a vacation can be a fantastic way to relax and regroup from your daily and weekly routine. While vacations are exciting to prepare for, one thing that often gets neglected is your home.
Prepping your home for your time away will ensure that it stays safe and secure, and things like pets or plants aren’t left without care. Vacations can be expensive, so it’s also important to save money during these preparations. With a few quick tips your home, pets, and garden will be happy even in your absence.
As part of your vacation planning you should make sure there is a system in place to help you keep your house safe and secure:
- Tell your neighbor or a friend and give a spare key to use in case of emergencies. This person would also be a good option for doing things like picking up your mail so you don’t have to deal with the Post Office.
- Consider lighting applications. A device with a phone application can help you keep some entrance lights on, thus warding off intruders. Some programs can even mimic the normal lighting pattern of current users. Check out this resource for other benefits of lighting control.
- To save money on pet care, ask a trustworthy neighbor with younger children to care take of your animal. It will be a great learning experience for the child and this will also ensure proper parent supervision. Plus, it will save a lot of money on a traditional ‘Pet Hotel’.
- Keep second floor windows slightly open to ensure that the plants and any animals receive air while you’re away.
- Don’t leave on vacation without telling someone close to you, a friend or family member, where you’re going and for how long. It may be wise to leave things like contact information, travel information, and even a spare key.
- Don’t leave your home with a stranger. If you don’t know your neighbors or your renters, it’s not a good idea to leave your home and belongings with them.
- Don’t advertise your vacation on social media. Announcing when and for how long you’ll be away can potentially alert strangers that your home is vacant. Be aware of the updates you post before and during your stay. It’s fun to post vacation photos, but wait until you return home to share them.
Renting your Home
Renting your empty home while you’re away on vacation can be a great way to fund your trip or save for the next one. I have been renting my home consistently for the last year and it works very well! It’s important to stay safe if you’re renting, from vetting your renters to having insurance, make sure to consider these tips:
- Use a service like AirBnb or HomeAway so you know how the process works and what’s required.
- Make sure you have trustworthy renters. I like to get background checks and call any previous landlords before agreeing to a rental contact.
- Think about things like a deposit or references before you agree to a renter.
- The same goes if you have a full time renter or are renting an extra room in your home.
- Don’t just rent a room or your home to a friend without going through the proper process. Friends can be great until your house is wrecked and you can’t get them to leave.
- Don’t assume that the service you use will cover everything. Do your research and make sure you feel comfortable with the process and procedure before you start. I like this service as it gives information that the major rental sites leave out.
The garden and the lawn will be without their usual care, and while you may want to hire someone to maintain everything while you’re away, there are some easy tips and tricks to keep the costs and stress low:
- For vacation stays longer than a week it’s a good idea to have a system in place to care for ‘needy’ plants. Ask your renter or a friend to help out to save a few bucks.
- If you decide to water the lawn while you’re away, things like a faucet timer or sprinkler system will ensure that the lawn is cared for without raising your water bill.
- Double-check your current systems, sprinkler, alarm, and lighting before you leave to ensure they work while you’re away.
- Don’t cut the grass before you leave. Longer grass requires less water and is less likely to scorch if the heat and humidity increase before you return.
- Don’t leave the maintenance to someone new while you’re away. There will be questions that will go unanswered, leaving you with work you won’t want to pay for.
- Don’t leave renovation projects Plan accordingly so you do not have to double your efforts
Gardeners can be expensive so make sure you prepare your garden accordingly! This will save time and money instead of paying a gardener $50-$100 per hour or paying for expensive water bills. Check out this resource for more information on the cost of lawn care and consider these tips:
- Always buy your supplies in bulk. So any caretakers have all of the proper materials.
- Be aware of what will thrive in your region. Lowe’s has a great regional plant guide to help you make the best plant choices for your region, which can save you on water costs and pest repellent.
- Create your own mulch to reduce weeds during your absence.
- It is a great way to make use of your lawn clippings, fallen leaves, and compostable trash.
- There is a great YouTube video available to help you get started.
- If you add mulch between your plants in your garden plot it will reduce weed growth and add nutrients to the soil.
- If you’re strapped for time you can always add the lawn clippings or leaves directly to the garden, but this won’t add as many nutrients and is mostly acting as a cover to reduce weed growth.
- Build a fence. A simple fence can be built from chicken wire and wooden dowels. This will keep the larger animals out and can also protect your garden from unaware renters, lawn maintenance crews, or neighbors.
- Don’t save all the gardening for when you return. This is a good way to lose part of the harvest and let the weeds get out of control.
- Don’t leave the garden to a neighbor without first discussing all the details.
- Don’t hope your renters will tend to the garden without you asking.
If you have any other ideas or suggestions for how your prep your home before a vacation, or how you tackle things like property maintenance or renters while you’re away I’d love to hear from you!
Questions for Discussion: What other advice would you give about managing your home while on vacation? Have you had something happen at your home while on vacation that you didn’t expect?