It's been an overwhelmingly positive experience. The bottom line isn't overwhelming, but the first year is going to be the expensive one: furnishing, fixing up, closing costs upon buying the place. That's okay. Those things won't be around next year. Putting up the website, setting up the VRBO page, working out contract terms, rental rules, and such have been chores...rewarding, but chores.
The great thing has been the response of the renters. Everybody seems to appreciate fully the location, the house, the decor, and their time and money spent.
We're **** near fully booked for next season, to boot!
The one thing that I sometimes wonder about is the matter of interacting with our guests. We promote the place as being quiet and private, but also as friendly and with support right next door (our own place here). So far we've visited with all our guests, either at their place or ours and it's been very nice. But after reading the "intrusive neighbors" bits here, I wonder if we should back off a little. (We're not always the ones to instigate the contact, by the way.)
In any case, we've found VBRO to be the ideal way to publicize our rental and we believe that our guests have found VBRO the ideal way to find a great place to stay.
Congratulations on the positive and rewarding experience you have both worked so hard to achieve. Our lives have also been vastly enriched by the people that have come from points quite literally all over the globe.
I write only to express my hope that you would not necessarily let the expressed experiences of others change the way you handle guests. It sounds like you have a lovely way with people. (Or, put another way, you really know people, but love them anyway!) That being the case, I'd be willing to bet that if you have enjoyed the encounters with your guests, then so have they. No question about it.
I find this forum very valuable. There is much wisdom, and humor, and passion in the voices shared here. Even so, I like to approach the whole experience as a "buffet," from which (thankfully!) I'm not expected to take as my own everything that's offered.
Some people might have a problem with this issue, but you don't. So why not just know what you know, keep serving others, and try and relax into the enjoyment of each passing day, to the extent possible? It's an ideal, I know, but none of us deserve any less.
Heartfelt thanks to all for their contributions. You are the light of the world.