things to do in key west

VRBO Florida Keys it’s A Great Option

If you are looking to stay longer than a few days, then you should check out VRBO Florida Keys and Key West. It’s a great option to give you space, save money and immerse yourself into the Keys culture. I find that staying in vacation rentals, lets me truly immerse myself in the area.

(affiliate link – which means we may make a small commission should you choose to book with our link) 

What is VRBO?

Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) is a website where you can “rent” a property for a few days, a week, or longer in the destination you want. In the Florida Keys, there are so many options to choose from. Up and down the Keys there is usually something for everyone. Be it in Key Largo, the lower keys, or in the middle of the action of Key West.

Advantages

Privacy – 

Imagine no interruptions.  If you want to sleep until noon, no need to worry about housekeeping knocking on the door. The cleaning staff usually comes in after you check out (unless you have made other arrangements).

Lodging Choices – 

Choose from waterfront, beachfront, secluded, or right in the middle of the action.  Then choose from a condo or an entire house, versus the cookie-cutter options of a king or queen room at the hotel.  Yep, your vacation rental can match your lifestyle. Want a private pool or a hot tub? Many options include private pools and other amazing amenities.

Pets

Some VRBO properties even are pet-friendly.

No Hidden Fees – 

Since you pay for the rental upfront, you have no hidden fees.

How Do You Use?

Click this link,  to get started on your search.  Input your destination, travel dates, and the number of people, and then browse the selection.  I usually put in some screens to narrow down the choices. There are a lot of VRBO vacation homes to choose from and being able to narrow the choices makes a perfect choice stand out better. 

The first would be the budget.  What is the upper limit of your nightly budget?  Second, put in your wants … such as a pool or location.  For the location..note is it close to Duval Street? In walking distance to the activities, you want to do?

Then browse the selection.  Pay attention to the reviews.  Properties that don’t have a recent review, I tend to skip.  But, don’t automatically assume a bad review means that the property should be passed over.  Read why it was a bad review.  Was it the location?  Was it the shape of the property?  Just like reviews in Google and Trip Advisor, read them for the context of the complaint.

Booking the Property

Once you have settled upon a property. Reach out to the owner. Ask any questions you might have. Do they have a support phone number you can use if you have questions, need help, or have an emergency? See how responsive they are and if you are comfortable with the price and the owner, then book the rental. It’s really that easy.

Some property listings are managed by rental companies versus by a rental owner. I have rented properties from owners directly and through rental companies. I haven’t found much difference. Watch the night stay requirement. During peak times of the year, some rentals require a longer minimum night stay.

When looking at rentals in Old Town Key West, I tend to choose those located in Truman Annex. These are usually listed as Shipyard Condos. They are the perfect place for us. There is a community pool area, they are close to Mallory Square and we find renting a condo fits our vacation style better than a hotel room. I prefer a 1st floor unit versus one on the second floor. We have access to a back yard patio instead of an upper deck. Usually, the patio offers a table so we get an outside dining area which is perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail or light breakfast.

One of the popular options to screen for is parking. In Key West, parking is at a premium, as you go up the Keys, not so much. That’s what I like about Shipyard, each unit comes with a parking spot. It may not be right outside your front door, but it’s very close to the unit. Didn’t drive to the Keys? That’s ok, the parking spot is the perfect place to park a rented golf cart or moped.

If you are traveling with a large group, consider one of the house rentals.  Usually, the cost to rent a home is cheaper than multiple hotel rooms.  

I was truly overwhelmed when I first started to use VRBO (there is such a large selection of choices) but found all sorts of helpful tips, which I am passing along to you.

To find a great place, know what you need (how many beds, bedrooms, and bathrooms), have an idea of where you want to be located (is it a great location next to where the action is?), and know your budget (each listing shows the total cost so there are no hidden fees). I usually recommend for a first trip to the Keys to stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast. This gives you the option to truly explore the entire island and find the perfect location for you for your return trip.  Trust me, you will be planning a return trip before you even finish your first trip.

Some people choose to use VRBO because they can get a truly unique house rental, or they want to be in the historic district or have access to the best amenities. Whatever reason you choose, check out VRBO, we have stayed in such cool places and have had a great time enjoying our little private slice of paradise.

We have found all of our places have been excellent properties that provided the creature comforts of home and were owned by wonderful people who wanted to provide an amazing experience to their guests. Each rental property we have stayed at had beach towels we could use and some even offered bikes.  So, ask before booking, what “extras” the host offers with their place.  I bet you will be surprised!