Musings on space, and I’m not talking about the time Pluto was downgraded from a planet. I’m talking about living space.
Thanks to AirBnB, Tannia and I have been able to rent furnished apartments around the world at prices that fit our particular budget. Although we’re thankful for the service (we could not have traveled like this years ago), we’ve learned that not all spaces are created equal.
On Becoming a Monster
I’m a nightmare in small spaces. I’m an even bigger nightmare when there’s no natural light. Let this be an open and continued apology to Tannia for my deplorable moods during our tiny living adventure in Spain.
During our 3 month stay in Barcelona, we rented a rather “charming” space. Although I couldn’t have asked for a better location near the Sagrada Familia, I nearly lost my mind in our 120 sq. ft sublet.
Since we are atypical tourists, working 9+hour days indoors and cooking most meals ourselves, we spend a lot of time at “home.” By our third month, I became agitated and felt like my whole life was in limbo.
Tannia encouraged me to get out again and revisit some of our favorite spots in the city, which helped, but I felt like I was in a constant state of crisis. Eventually, I realized that the space itself was part of the problem. We hit AirBnB again and took that into consideration for our next stop: Croatia.
On Space for Hobbies
Now in Split, we decided on a larger studio on Trstnik Beach. When we arrived, our host apologized for the “small space.” As we erupted in laughter, she gave us a puzzled look. We explained that this rental was palatial compared to our last (and at 700 sq. ft, it is).
A private courtyard flush with greenery that sees over 12 hours of sunlight and floor to ceiling french doors that flood the unit in light is like a mental vacation. Both Tannia and I feel like we are on a permanent holiday here, not to mention that fact that we can both twirl simultaneously without knocking into one another. Seriously, we twirl here because we can.
But we’ve also rediscovered the importance of carving out time (and space) for our favorite hobbies. I watch Tannia’s entire body relax when she basks in the afternoon light with a NYT Best Seller. As she delves into literature, I dash to the kitchen. I’ve rediscovered my passion for cooking, but also the kind of zen-like mindset cooking puts me in. Note to self: next rental must have a large kitchen and access to sunlight! We’re learning…
Next up, 3 months in the South of France. We can’t speak at length to our mental well-being in the Côte d’Azur quite yet as we’ve booked this space for the winter / New Year. Still, we’ve ensured that there is natural light (phew), a good kitchen (deep sigh of relief), separate bedroom (*twirls) and great location.
Because we sold our cars, we love having access to a metro, bus, light rail, etc. We love being within walking distance to the water. We love feeling safe for evening strolls. We enjoy quieter neighborhoods because let’s be honest, we aren’t 21 anymore and don’t enjoy the noises from a nearby party at 4am.
Real talk: it’s also next door to a French bakery. Was that the real selling point? No. Did it sway our decision? Absolutely.
Did I mentioned we’re Christmas nuts? We’re those people who will crank the Christmas tunes in November (OK, October) and have a tree adorned before Thanksgiving. Naturally, our rental is just blocks from Nice’s Christmas market, complete with an “enchanted forest” of 600 Christmas trees. I feel comfortable guessing that our mental health in France will be just fine.
Take a trip with me to the year 2016. We’ve just booked 6 months in Montreal on what is perhaps our most visually stunning studio rental yet. Montreal’s apartment had to satisfy 2 important things for our mental health: space to hunker down in and still be happy during the spring snow showers, and a clean space.
There’s a saying that a “messy home reflects a cluttered mind,” but above and beyond this, we tend to feel rather frantic surrounded by stuff. We knew we wanted a kitsch-free rental, and boy did Montreal deliver.
I feel excited just looking at these photos with tons of natural light, right on the harbor of the Saint Lawrence river, floor to ceiling windows to watch the snow flurries, a gorgeous kitchen and distinct lack of things. You best believe we’ll be using that rooftop deck for morning coffee and evening mocktails during the summer months.
Thanks to the share economy, we’re learning what makes us happy. I no longer take for granted access to natural light, greenery in our backyard, or the luxury of taking a stroll along the sea just steps from the front door. Who knows what we’ll continue to learn about ourselves through these various rentals. One thing is for sure – while we love spacious studios, we may not be cut out for tiny living – and that’s ok.
(Ok last comments on things logistical things):
- Thoroughly read host reviews – dig deep. We had to pass on some great spaces with iffy WiFi, but since we both work remotely, we knew we couldn’t risk access to the web cutting out during the day. Shed a tear and move on.
- You can negotiate – thanks to Tannia’s negotiation skills, we were able to grab some great spaces at lower prices during low tourist seasons. We were also able to bring our dog to some spaces, despite the no pet policy. Be open, be honest and be transparent. If a host isn’t feeling your counteroffer, no hard feelings!
- Stay away from places without ratings – this one is a personal preference. We tend to avoid these spaces but only because we can’t afford to be the WiFi guinea pigs (see web comment, above).