Do I need to worry about hurricanes when I book my Disney area vacation rental home?

Of all the things in life to worry about, worrying how hurricanes could affect your Disney area vacation should rate towards the bottom!  First, you can’t control the weather.  Second, Orlando is so far inland that hurricanes are rarely a problem.  In fact, in its 42 year history, Disney has only shut its doors TWICE due to hurricanes!  That is 2 days out of 15,330 days.  Most people would take those odds!  

Compare that with 1.5 million U.S. car crashes a year (according to the USG) caused by snow, and sunny Orlando seems like a great place to be!  And if immortality is your thing, despite the impression you get from media coverage, (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods – oh my!), according to meteorology professor James Koermer, most weather related deaths are from car accidents (about 7,000 a year), not heat, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods (about 200 a year).

For the truly paranoid, however, you can drop the  risk of dealing with a hurricane to almost zero by avoiding hurricane season, which runs from June to November every year.  And, to be fair, although Orlando rarely gets a hurricane, we do get the bands of rain associated with hurricanes that move up either coast, so that can dampen things a bit.

Hurricane forecasting has gotten so good, that you will have a good idea if the Disney area is in for a good soaking days in advance of any arriving hurricane or tropical storm.

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So, relax and book that Disney area vacation rental home!  We’ll leave the lights on!

Are taxes much of a factor when I book my Disney area vacation rental home?

As anyone who has visited a tourist town has discovered, you will find tourist taxes do take a bite out of your vacation funds.  With a bit of planning, however, you can minimize this expense.

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First off, Disney area hotels (and Disney area vacation rental homes which are regulated like hotels) are required to collect State sales tax and county tourist development tax.  The total tax depends on the county where the property is located.

First off, the State of Florida collects a 7% sales tax.

Lake County collects an additional 4% tourist tax.

Polk county collects an additional 5% tourist tax.

Osceola and Orange counties collect an additional 6% tourist tax.

Thus the total tax collected on your hotel or Disney area vacation rental home bill will range from 11% to 13%, depending on the county you stay in.  Note that any items you purchase at the time of booking (pool heat, grill rental, etc) will also be subject to this tax, but as you visit the local stores and attractions you will generally only be subject to the 7% State sales tax.

You may also want to consider renting your car from a rental facility well away from the Orlando airport, as the airport rental locations are required to collect additional taxes that you won’t find at rental car locations elsewhere.

So, while you cannot avoid tourist taxes, you can, with a little planning, minimize them!  Now plan that Disney area vacation!

Why do user reviews vary so widely in the same Disney area vacation rental home neighborhood?

I was talking to my brother-in-law the other day, who was using the Internet to research places to stay in Myrtle Beach for a family vacation.  He needed several units close together, so was searching for something appropriate.  He is a sophisticated Internet user and has booked several properties over the years for similar vacations, including a Disney area vacation rental before I had gotten into the business.

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He was surprised that one building which had dozens of rental units yet the consumer reviews were all over the place.  One of the units he was looking at had glowing vacationer reviews, while the one right next door sounded like a nightmare, at least based on consumer website postings.

I surmised he was probably seeing the results of good and bad property managers (assuming the owners used property managers to look over the properties).  In fact, the villa he finally chose, was owned by someone in Ohio, so that lucky owner had a great property manager which generated great reviews on the website.

You might be wondering what a property manager has to do with the vacationer experience, especially if you are booking directly from the owner.

Well, unless the owner lives right next door and manages the property themselves, the owner is reliant on someone to make sure the unit has been properly cleaned.  Maintenance issues must be addressed quickly and effectively.  If you have trouble entering the property during your stay or have maintenance issues while you are there, you should be able to easily get a hold of the property manager to get the issue addressed.  A good property manager will be a phone call away and will quickly and effectively handle any issues.

In summary, since I have been in the business for a while, I am not surprised that vacation rental units side by side in the same building (or neighborhood, for that matter) could have widely differing user reviews!  Do yourself a favor and book your next Disney area vacation rental from a reputable company like Our Florida Concierge!

So how many Disney area vacation rental homes are there to choose from?

Good question!  Believe it or not there are something like 15,000 vacation homes in the Disney area to choose from!  Really!  The Brits basically started this industry just outside of Orlando two decades ago.  Most U.S. vacationers are still unfamiliar with the vacation rental home market and tend to gravitate to hotels.

In the Disney area, scores of communities bordering the Disney property were built to satisfy the demand for Brits looking to own a piece of Florida.  Many of them rent them out to vacationers to help cover their operating costs.  Property managers like Our Florida Concierge maintain the homes and some help with marketing the properties as well.

American vacationers are starting to catch on that this industry exists, however, and have started saving themselves money (and getting nicer accommodations as well) by skipping the hotel and opting for one of the 15,000 Disney area vacation homes instead.

With that many choices, we realize that your research on finding the right property for your needs can be daunting!  Of course we recommend that you consult with a property manager like Our Florida Concierge who has a nice inventory of Disney area vacation home properties and can steer you in the right direction, either online or via the telephone.

So surf by or call us and start planning that dream Disney area vacation!

Can I save money by renting a Disney area vacation rental home without a pool?

Absolutely!  Private pools are expensive for management companies to operate and maintain!  So if you are not going to use it, you can save a bundle by looking for a Disney area vacation rental without a pool.  Finding one, however, can be tricky because most homes built specifically for the vacation rental home market are built with private pools, and, sometimes, attached spas as well.

Some websites, like ours at Our Florida Concierge will have “no pool” in their search terms to narrow down your results.  Others will have a search term for “Condo” or “Condominium”.  Failing that, you can sort by price.  The cheapest rentals are probably the smallest number of bedrooms and/or may not contain a private pool.

While you will be saving money, you will not be giving up much, as Disney area vacation rental homes without private pools are usually located in communities that have community pools and play areas.  As a guest of the home, you are free to use these facilities if the need arises.  Some families, in fact, prefer the community pools over the private ones.

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So happy shopping for your Orlando vacation rental home.  You now know that you can save a few dollars by looking for a home without a pool.  After all, why pay for something if you are not going to use it!

Who is doing the shopping for Disney area vacation rentals?

So who is doing the shopping for Disney area vacation rentals?  Men?  Women? Young people?  Older folks?  Our hit statistics can shed some light on this fun (yet not too important!) topic!

A look at the statistics generated from our main Website, OurFloridaConcierge, shows that almost 15% of our traffic comes in on mobile phones.  Another 15% comes in on tablets.  While we don’t know the age of the visitor, we can take an educated guess that most of the mobile phone users skew to a younger demographic.

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Perhaps more telling are our Youtube statistics.  Youtube takes a crack at identifying the gender and age of it’s users, probably by keeping track of what else you looked at online.  Someone shopping for women’s apparel is probably female!  And most guns ‘n ammo Web surfers are probably male.  We would love to know how Youtube guesses your age – shopping at Rue 21 vs. Talbots, perhaps?

At any rate, our Youtube stats year to date show our visitors are 58% female and 42% male.  The ages of our visitors break out as follows:

25 to 34: 7% of our visitors

35 to 44: 37% of our visitors

45 to 54: 27% of our visitors

55 to 64: 29% of our visitors

The gender of these visitors are roughly half female and half male by age group.

So what do we do with this information?  Since there aren’t a lot of surprises here (based on who calls our reservation line looking for Disney area vacation rentals) probably not too much beyond a little tailoring of our online marketing campaign.  Not terribly useful but fun nonetheless!

What can I expect to pay in taxes on top of the rental rate on my Disney vacation rental home?

Smart Disney vacation shoppers book accommodations at a Disney vacation rental home vs. a hotel to maximize their vacation dollars.  But don’t be surprised when the total rental amount you are asked to pay is a bit higher than the advertised rental rate.  Why? Orlando vacation rental homes are taxed at between 11 and 13%, just like hotels!  This article will shed some light on this tax and how it may affect your vacation budgeting.money graphic

First off, know that every Disney vacation rental home needs to apply for a hotel license with both the State of Florida and the county where the home is located.  The state then collects 7% sales tax on every gross rental.  The counties also add a “tourist” tax just like on hotel rooms.

Disney vacation rental homes located in Osceola county (south of Disney) charge an additional 6%, bringing the total tax you will pay to 13%.  (This total tax is usually collected on all items “rented” at the time of booking -cribs, grills, etc).

Polk County (south and west of Disney) collects 5% in tourist tax, bringing your total tax outlay to 12% for vacation rental homes in Polk County.

Lake County (west of Disney) collects 4% in tourist tax, bringing the total tax bill added on to the gross rental to 11%.

So, on a typical Disney vacation rental home week, there might be a difference of $30 or so in taxes depending on the home’s location.  This county by county difference of course will increase for longer stays.

So, regardless of whether you choose a Disney vacation rental home in Osceola, Polk or Lake county, here’s to you having  the family vacation of a lifetime!

Why should you book Orlando vacation house rentals early?

Why should you book Orlando vacation house rentals early?  Simple!  Selection and price!

While it’s easy to say “Yes Dear!” but then procrastinate when the spouse asks you to book your family vacation, you really might want to get on it!  By booking early – six months out is a good rule of thumb – you will have a huge amount of properties to choose from.  From this vast inventory of Orlando vacation rental homes you can find the perfect accommodations to meet your needs.  Pool?  Spa? Game room? Close to Disney? Five bedroom? Or four? Community center?  Close to shopping?  Get everything you want by shopping early!TP7

Trust us – when we get those last minute calls from vacationers desperate for accommodations, they take what we have, not necessarily what they want!  So book early while the inventory of Orlando vacation house rentals is at its highest!

By booking early you may also be able to take advantage of specials on Orlando vacation house rentals that management companies sometimes run, like free pool or spa heat, a discount on the rental rate, buy six nights get one free, etc.  Once those deals are snapped up, they are gone until next season.

So, next time you say “Yes Dear”, jump on your computer, smartphone or tablet and start researching Orlando vacation rental homes to ensure your perfect Orlando area family vacation!

Why should I care about a South facing pool in Orlando vacation house rentals?

As you surf for suitable Orlando vacation house rentals  for your family, you may see features such as “South facing pool”, or “West facing pool”.  Should you care about this?  Maybe so, maybe not.  It really depends on what you and your family are planning on doing during your stay in Orlando.

Virtually all Orlando vacation house rentals have a private pool for your enjoyment!WW01Lanai The pool is usually located in the back of the house and is surrounded by a screened in Lanai.  Some visitors seek out South facing pools so that when Orlando is having cooler temperatures or windy winter days, the pool deck is warm enough for tanning, especially since cooler winds tend to come from the North and will largely get blocked by the house.

If this is important to you depends on how much time you will be sitting by the pool vs. visiting the parks and the other Orlando attractions.  It also depends on what time of near you come (during the winter months we will get some cooler days on occasion) and how much sun you want.

Most South facing pools have some shade so that you can escape from the sun in the hot summer months or when you no longer wish to tan.  And most Orlando vacation house rentals that aren’t advertised as South facing usually have some portion of the pool deck in the sun for much of the day.

So, you may or may not care about a South facing pool in your Orlando vacation house rental but rest assured you will have plenty of sun during your visit to Sunny Orlando!

What’s with the fence around the pool at Disney area vacation rentals?

If you have stayed at Disney area vacation rentals in the past you may have had a home with a fence around the pool.  This is for the safety of young children and is one of two options owners have to stay in compliance with Florida state law.

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The other option is an alarm that sounds if a door between the home and pool is opened.  To keep the alarm from sounding, someone tall enough 🙂 needs to press a button near the door prior to opening it.  We show this method in one of our home tour videos.  There are pluses and minuses to either method but if installed and used properly, both methods will safeguard your children!

Some of the OurFloridaConcierge Disney area vacation rentals have the fence option and some have the buzzer option.

For families with older children, the fence can be easily rolled up and placed into a corner, leaving the pool deck surface unobstructed.  So either with a fence or without, you can be sure that your small children will be safe during your stay at Disney area vacation rentals!