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A Home Away from Home:
Self-Catering in Europe
Page 5
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Venice, Italy, self-catering, apartment rentals, Europe LEFT: The private walled courtyard with garden and outdoor furniture.

Pay attention to the details

It's important to know what you're getting and what you're obligated to provide or pay for when renting a home abroad.

  • Linens. In some countries, such as Switzerland, these are typically included. In others, such as Denmark, you may be required to provide sheets, pillowcases, and towels. (We solved this problem in Denmark by bringing a suitcase of old linens. We left the linens behind for the owner to use as rags, keeping the suitcase for books and other purchases.)

  • Utilities. Your rent may include gas, electricity, and telephone, or you may be required to pay for some or all of the utilities. (You'll probably pay extra for the telephone even when other utilities are included, since your landlord is billed by the minute for local calls.)

  • Deposits. International rental agencies may accept credit cards, but local agencies may not and landlords almost never do. If you deal directly with a European agency or property owner, you may have to wire a reservation deposit in foreign currency from your bank or purchase a draft in the local currency and send it by airmail. You may also be asked to provide a damage and/or cleaning deposit when you arrive.

  • Tips on paying in foreign currency. For deposits, electronic bank drafts are quicker and safer than mailing printed drafts, and they're well worth the extra cost. I usually buy another draft in local currency to pay for my rental when I arrive. If a damage deposit is required, I leave blank countersigned  travelers' checks in U.S. dollars. At the end of the trip, I simply deposit the traveler's checks in my bank account at home. ( This obviously works best when your bank offers free traveler's checks.)

  • Cleaning. Cleaning may be included or billed separately. In one of our Danish rentals, we were required to clean the house thoroughly on the day we left. This took several hours, and it might have been a hardship if our ferry's departure had been in the morning rather than the afternoon. Moral: If you do the cleaning, allow plenty of time!

Web links: Rental Agencies

Continued on page 6

Self-catering holiday and vacation rentals in Europe:
Introduction Finding holiday rentals
Cost savings What's included in the rate?
Other benefits Rental agencies in Europe