What is it like to live in a total strangers home while they are gone?

Monday August 4th ~ Edinburgh, Scotland

A lovely message greets us upon arrival

A lovely message greets us upon arrival

You may recall that back a few months ago we rented an apartment in Barcelona for two weeks using Airbnb.  That turned out wonderfully.  With the outrageously expensive hotel prices in Edinburgh during the festival, we decided to give it a try once again.

There was a BIG difference though this time around.  The apartment in Barcelona was purchased and used only as a furnished rental.  The flat we ended up choosing for Edinburgh was someones primary residence.  They simply rent it out whenever they are going to be on holiday themselves.

The location sounded interesting, located across the street from a large park and only a 10 minute walk would bring us to the start of the main tourist area ~ the Royal Mile.  

After a couple of emails back and forth with our host couple, Steve and Julita, we decided to jump in and rented their flat for three weeks.

We had hoped to meet them when we arrived in Scotland, but due to our train running almost three hours late and the fact that they had to leave to catch a train of their own, we missed each other.  Arrangements were made for them to leave a key for us hidden under a brick in the garden.

Original, I know, but it worked!

We had been forewarned, but until we arrived, I had conveniently put it out of my mind – there was NO elevator and their unit was located on the third floor.  Mind you, in Europe the floors are numbered differently than we do in the states.  Here, in Scotland, you have a ground floor, then a first floor, etc.  So by our way of thinking, the apartment was on the fourth floor!

Stairway to heaven - (well partway there anyway)

Stairway to heaven – (well partway there anyway)

And these are not short flights of steps.  The older style building was built with TALL ceilings, which means it takes more steps to climb each level.  Twenty one steps to be exact for each floor.  That equates to 63 stairs each time we come inside.

I know.

I count them each time.  Sort of an OCD counting thing I have going on.

Thankfully Tim is still strong and fit enough to carry our suitcases and his backpack while I blissfully only have to carry my small backpack.

What a strange feeling it was to unlock the doors and walk into someones home. Especially someone who you have never met, and virtually know next to nothing about.  Steve had spoken to Tim over the phone and told him to treat their place as if it were our own, to open the drawers and closets, and to make ourselves at home.

First thing we did was to look around.

The livingroom was cozy and reminded me of staying at an elderly relatives place.  A mixture of Victorian style and shabby chic, complete with blankets covering the sofa.

Living Room

Living Room

A fireplace added to the charm.

They are obviously avid readers as the bookshelves in the living room and hallway are filled to capacity.



The floors and carpets are well-worn, but care has been taken to leave the place clean and neat.  They have even emptied out drawers and the closet in the bedroom so we can unpack and settle in.

The bathroom will take a little getting used to.  A separate heating system is used for hot water.  It is on a timer that comes on in the evening to deliver hot water to the entire apartment. There is a unit over the tub for the shower.  Tim has mastered it, but so far I have been happy to soak in the long, but narrow bathtub.

There is no sink in the bathroom, so we use the bathtub or kitchen sink to wash our hand. I brush my teeth in the kitchen.  The only mirror is in the bathroom, so Tim leans over the bathtub to shave.



The kitchen is well stocked with dishes, toaster, pots, pans, glasses, silverware as well as utensils.  One more item included which I admit was a BIG motivation for renting this unit, a washing machine!

When living out of a suitcase for this long, dealing with laundry is an ongoing matter.  We have been pretty fortunate at finding solutions along the way and rarely have had to wash items out by hand.

There is no dryer however, and with the persistent rain, we have gotten creative at hanging our items.  There is a drying rack that can be raised and lowered that hangs over the refrigerator in the kitchen.  We have also simply put damp items on hangers and hung them in the closet or on pegs in the hallway.



There was a little fresh produce left inside the refrigerator which we have helped ourselves to since it will not be any good when they return.  I’m sure we will leave even more food for them when we vacate on the 19th.

The bedroom has a double bed.  Being used to a king size bed, this is a little cramped for us, but it is firm, clean and otherwise comfortable.  I think there are brand new linens and comforter on the bed.



The living room also has a pull out sofa bed that appears to be a queen size.

But I have saved the very BEST for last.  Remember that park across the street that was mentioned in the property listing?

This is our view from the living room window!

Holyrood Park - right across the street!

Holyrood Park – right across the street!

We have been here for five days now and it feels more and more like home every day.  We are settling into a routine, learning the ins and outs, and how to use things.  We can find our way to the grocery store and get to the Royal Mile.

We have cooked a few meals in the kitchen, and done several loads of laundry.

We know where we can catch a bus and where the train station is.  We have walked in the park, discovered a pond with geese and swans, found a couple of restaurants we have enjoyed, and been able to simply rest and enjoy being in one place for a while.

I think we are going to like it here…

Gratitude Moment:  Today I am grateful for our hosts Steve and Julita who have trusted us with their home, welcomed us and made us feel like we belong here, even if only for three short weeks.

About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
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9 Responses to What is it like to live in a total strangers home while they are gone?

  1. Mandie says:

    Hi Tim & Joanne! Maha directed me to your blog and I love your stories! I’ve been wanting to try Airbnb for awhile now. I still enjoy hostels some of the time, but every now and then it would be so refreshing to have my own space!


  2. Cindi says:

    We haven’t, yet — but know it will be a part of our future travels. I think living in a home helps you really feel a part of your location and environment, doesn’t it?


  3. Barbara J Yurick says:

    Hi Tim and Joanne,
    Your description of your Airbnb home sounds fantastic. I just booked my first Airbnb for Sept for when we take off to Seattle. European living is different from what we Americans are used too.
    I’m enjoying your blog thoroughly Joanne.


    • Hi Barb,
      I’m so glad you are giving Airbnb a try. I hope your rental turns out fabulous! Experiencing the differences between European living vs the States has been good for us. Enjoy your time away and let me know how it turns out.


  4. radhikaspsn says:

    Hi, Tim & Joanne. 🙂
    I’ve been loving your blog ever since I discovered it. You deserve a Liebster Award. Wish I could nominate you both for the awesome posts that you have but I myself haven’t been nominated, hahaha. Love your blog. It’s inspiring and has motivated me to write more and share more. 🙂


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