Finding responsible (and paying) tenants to live in your home while on a working vacation is neither difficult nor expensive, and it should never be an excuse for turning down a short-term overseas posting. Here’s how:
If your city is home to a medium- or large-sized college or university, like the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, it will almost certainly have a housing office providing information for medical residents, new faculty, overseas researchers, sabbatical visitors, and other assorted academics coming to town for a short-term stay. Best of all, the cost of posting your home on these college databases is usually quite nominal. Large universities have hundreds of scholars flowing in and out of campus each year, so it is a great way to connect with a large number of high-quality, short-term renters. Be sure to list your house three or four months in advance of departure to give yourself enough time to reach these individuals.
There are other online sites posting information about temporary housing. The largest and most well-known is craigslist, which includes a specific category entitled “sublets/temporary housing” for hundreds of cities in the United States and Canada and, best of all, the posting is free. (However, be prepared for an onslaught of e-mails from scammers eager to send in a deposit as soon as you provide a bank account and Social Security number. Don’t do it!) Another popular site is sabbaticalhomes.com, which focuses on the housing needs of academics and skilled professionals coming to a city for a one-semester or one-year visit. It includes information not only on home rentals, but home exchanges and house-sitting services as well. We found our most recent renter, a pediatric surgeon moving his practice to Minneapolis, via this Web site.
Another possibility is to identify cultural institutions and corporate headquarters in your hometown who bring in professionals for short-term visits. For example, Minneapolis is home to the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, the Guthrie Theater, and the Walker Art Center as well as the world headquarters for 3M, Honeywell, Medtronic, and Northwest Airlines (now part of Delta), and we have listed our home with the Human Resources office of all these institutions. One summer we rented to a guest conductor in town for our local summer music festival; another time we rented to a visiting software engineer from Australia temporarily assigned to the Honeywell Research Center.
So, although it may take a bit of telephone calling and Web sleuthing, it should not be overly difficult to locate a high quality renter to live in and care for your home while you are overseas. And remember, carefully file away all those contact names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and Web sites for future reference. You really don’t want to repeat the entire process from scratch when planning your second (and third and . . .) overseas working vacation.
There are lots more helpful hints about renting out your home (as well as finding temporary housing at your destination) in my book. Check it out.