There was a stranger sleeping in my bed!

or How we easily rent out our house when we travel!

Hello!

When I was first experimenting with minimalism 8 years ago, one of my goals was to help our home feel like a vacation home. Greg and I were flirting with the idea of buying a second home on the coast or in wine country and we tried to figure out why we felt we needed that. We realized we wanted to spend our weekends in a place that had very little clutter, very few projects hanging over us, and felt almost like a blank canvas open to possibilities. This vision inspired us to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and do the work to make our primary residence feel that way. We didn’t need a second property and mortgage if our first one could be simple, clutter-free and peaceful!

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We now have the added benefit that our home is not only a “vacation home” for us on the weekends but we can easily rent it out for others to enjoy while we travel. We just got back from a week in Maui and I've been asked about 14 times how we rent our house out.
For anyone interested in how we easily Airbnb our house:

1. We got rid of most of our stuff: The most common questions we get is “what do you do with all of your stuff?!” Well, the main answer is, of course, we don’t have that much stuff due to our Essentialist lifestyle. Easy renting and travel is a HUGE benefit of minimalism! We started with 5 Things A Day, and then continued our path toward the vision of a vacation home using Essentialism 101.

2. We don't have that many valuables: The few items that we have either go with us (laptops, everyday jewelry) or they're in our safe deposit box (licenses, certificates, occasional jewelry).

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3. We keep our toiletries to the essentials: And most of them go with us! Almost everything in our master bath is in our medicine cabinet and when packing, the contents go right into our toiletry kits. We usually don’t buy items over 100mL for this reason and others. (Our guest bathroom has just a medicine cabinet with items for guests and first aid, a hairdryer for guests, and extra toilet paper.)

4. We don't lock anything away: But, we do tie up our lower closets. Most of our closets get emptied into our suitcases when we’re packing (yay, Lean Closets!). Our out-of-season boxes stay in the top of the closet. As for the clothes and toiletries we don’t take, we place them in our lower closets, and tie them with a zip tie. This also includes our personal towels and linens, the kid’s toys, and personal things like our Office-In-A-Box.

The zip-ties are not meant to stop a thief. They are to deter strangers from going through our stuff or even having to look at it.

5. We spend the week before we go using up our food: Including cleaning out our fridge/freezer. We leave a pretty empty but well-equipped kitchen for our guests. We also spend extra hours during the week before we leave prepping the whole house, about 8-10 person-hours. This includes stripping and cleaning our linens, putting clothes and toys into those tied-up closets, cleaning up the kitchen and putting the coffeemaker out, emptying the entry closet, and removing some baby proofing. Phew.

+ The first few years we rented, Greg and I did all of the guest communication and cleaning. We originally did this to save money after all! But starting with the sabbatical, when that wasn't possible, we now have a third-party company help out. For a fee, they set our rates, communicate with the guests, clean the house before and after renters, and bring/launder guest linens. This costs a good amount of money but it makes renting much easier for us as busy parents and introverts. ;)

A few helpful guidelines we have for renting:
+ We only rent the whole house if we're going to be gone for more than 4 nights or if it's an expensive rental time like during busy conferences or holidays.

+ Our home has a smart lock with a unique guest code so we don't need to do a key exchange.

+ If the house prep takes longer than we'd like, we make sure to do a purge when we get home so we can spend less energy moving STUFF around next time.

+ We understand that our furniture and kitchen stuff will get worn faster. We've had very few issues with damage (and our only dishes are china!) but wear and tear happens. There's very little we feel precious about during this season of our lives.

+ Now, I don't love having strangers sleep, live and party in our primary home. I'm probably the worst personality for it ;) But it's putting our house to good use and allowing us to take a couple of really nice vacations a year. There’s a bit of adjustment once we get home to the small changes in the house but we’re usually back to normal within a few days!

 (Sweating it out in Maui while 20 weeks pregnant!)

(Sweating it out in Maui while 20 weeks pregnant!)

We love travel, we love our home (and have put a lot of heart into it), and we love getting to share it with others while we’re off adventuring. So cool! Do you rent any properties out? Have you had any good or bad Airbnb experiences?

Updates for our days in 2018

Hello there friends!

Oy, it's been a while. We went on our three-month sabbatical last autumn and, among other things, we used it to really disconnect from our old defaults, routines, and commitments. I stopped writing and doing a lot of things I normally do to see where it would take me. And since we got back, after the holidays, we've been slowly adding things back in.

Hmm, this sounds so still and luxurious. While it was an amazing opportunity, this trip and these intentions included constant supervision of an 18-month-old ;)

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I've been wanting to write an update here (though I kind of forgot how to blog :D) and a few other posts to share what's shifted for us, understanding that about 90% of my days are pretty much still the same. Certain aspects of life have gotten a lot more joyful while others have gotten more challenging. SO, SOME UPDATES FOR OUR DAYS IN 2018:

1. Our one-word theme for 2017 was “soul” and what a way to experience that through long journeys, some solo travel, exotic food and music, and months spent in very old buildings in Spain. 2017 really shook things up for me (which was incredibly unsettling for my personality ;) but I did feel expansion, new depths, and even some darkness.
Looking to lift that energy this year, my word for 2018 became "lively"! I was thinking joy, playfulness, color, vitality. I'm loving it.

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2. As soon as "lively" came to me, so did Jess Lively! I've followed her on and off but took a huge hiatus during maternity leave. I picked back up on her podcasts during the end of the sabbatical and then joined Flow With Intention Online in February. The day I committed to the course was one of the best days and I've loved watching her energy and coaching. This work was so in line with all of the disruptions I had caused to my routines and habits... in a good way!

3. I've tried to practice and teach keeping only the 9's and 10's in life or the "Heck Yes's"! Motherhood has challenged this for me (less with stuff and more with commitments) so the Flow class reemphasized the concept. I now mostly focus on doing joyful things or things I can respond "with pleasure" to. What a gift.

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4. Another main concept I have been leaning towards and which the class reinforced was that of a more casual and flexible morning routine. Back when I was sick and later had too many projects going on, my morning routine was a savior. It seriously made every single day better. But of course, it completely shifted after having a baby, nursing all night, and focusing on survival. We had routines but nothing very nourishing. On sabbatical, we felt this lack even more. Now I'm back to being proactive about my mornings but they're completely focused on joy and what will make me feel good at the moment. It changes regularly... I usually read fiction for a bit, play with Islo, cook a nourishing breakfast, and try to get some time to myself. I'm working on reincorporating regular meditation.

5. I've even started to set aside a part of naptime for movie watching!!! This felt like a crazy luxury a year ago but now it's regular and I love the lightness it brings to my afternoons.

6. I MISSED MEAL PLANNING! We all did, like so much. On the sabbatical, we were hangrier, ate less healthy, spent a lot more money on food, and enjoyed dining out a lot less. For this family, it was incredibly stressful and not free and flexible as it seemed it could be. So the day after we got back, I started meal planning and cooking a ton again and it's been amazing. It does take some time (my time) but as I've learned, it actually takes significantly less time than reaching every meal with the question of "what will we eat?". It's saving time, money, calories, food waste... so many things. I'm planning twice a week right now as it's 4 meals a day (or 3 and a snack) for those of us at home and my brain can only really handle 15 meals of planning and shopping at a time. I incorporate meals out and leftovers so we always have some flexibility if something comes up or there's a heat wave when I was expecting to have the oven on for an hour (ahem, Saturday).

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7. To make cooking easier and quicker every night (I do it solo with Islo under my feet or at the counter next to me), I prepare any parts of the recipes in advance that I can. This can look like: roasting veggies the night before; chopping my mise en place in the morning; measuring ingredients or mixing sauces during nap; or starting the slow cooker over breakfast. Breakfasts and dinners are now like those meal prep kits but better!

8. Islo and I have been spending lots of time outside or on adventures every day since being home. We both now have raingear inspired by our time in Copenhagen so we can hike, walk or play in the cold rain. We go to a couple of museums every month, usually through our library's free Discover & Go program. It's so fun to walk around and discuss art with a 2-year-old! We even spent two really cold and wet days at Ikea playing with the trains and eating meatballs. These adventures always include a lunch date. <3

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9. I'm still going strong on my summer 2017 habit to learn Spanish through Duolingo. I've missed a few days here or there but have been using it regularly for almost a year! I just got my first 120-day-streak without a miss too! I felt comfortable in Spain reading most things and listening to conversations but, as usual, I felt like a fool trying to speak. Working on it ;)

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10. Because of all these things (though not Duolingo) and some health issues, I haven't been working as an Essentialist as much. I want it to be a source of energy in my life and not a drain. For this season, joy looks like a walk through wildflowers with a little one and not as many donation piles. :D

+ But with nearly nine months of no decluttering at home, we are ready for some work ourselves. Closets! Toys! Spices! We even just replaced some of the air plants that didn't make it through three months of renters and are loving the upgrade!!

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To be honest though, through travel, renting, toddlerhood, seasonal and body changes, our lives have survived no decluttering. With existing systems in place, very little came in or stuck around if it wasn't essential. What validation for Essentialism: you can go through many major life changes at one time and put little effort into stuff and home, but everything stays pretty organized, peaceful and easy!

As always, thanks for being here! xo

++ I've been asked a number of times about the nursery and how we've liked it one and two years in... I'm working on updates to answer some of the questions. 🦄