2012 was the second year that I rented a condo for my stay in San Diego during Comic-Con. There are both good and bad aspects to renting a condo and I’d like to address some of them. If you have any specific questions regarding my experiences, feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Condos usually rent up to a year in advanced. You can find listings on condos on the internet. VRBO.com is a useful place to start. Please keep in mind that the rates listed on a web site may not include “special events” like Comic-Con so you’ll want to request pricing for your exact dates. Don’t expect every owner to get back to you, if they have already rented their condo they may just ignore your inquiry (rude, yes, but common.) You might wonder how they could be booked already but many condos give the previous years renters the right to rent first.
You will most likely have to make a deposit on the condo. Use caution, making sure you use a service or a credit card that protects you. Get papers from the owner, get them signed and returned A.S.A.P. but not before you have looked them over.
Make sure you know the cancellation policy and fees.
Now, some of the benefits of condo renting:
A condo is a home away from home. There are kitchen facilities which can make it easier for you to save money on food and drink by making your meals rather than living off restaurant food. It is great to have a fridge!
Condos with pools won’t be closed for “special events” which can happen at some of the hotels. They also might be less crowded.
Some condos come with other amenities, like free internet. In fact, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a condo in the San Diego area that does not include free internet service. Many condos have a parking space included with the rental price, which can save you a bundle. I’ve seen condos that offer use of bicycles too. You might get a great, personal balcony, a garden, or a stunning view.
You can get more people into a condo than into a hotel room. While most condos will have a set limit to the number of people who can occupy it, many have options for 4, 5, 6 or more people to sleep. Granted, some of those folks may have to bunk on a pull out sofa or air mattress, it’s often better than the floor!
Lastly, a few of the negatives…
When considering a condo, you need to do a little math. A smaller condo, divided between four people might make more sense than a hotel room, unless that condo sleeps 6 people, then you might end up paying more per person, per night. Take all taxes and fees that the hotel charges into consideration.
There is no cleaning service that comes during your stay. You must clean up after yourself. The owner should give you a list of things that are expected to be done before you leave, including taking out the trash. Failing to do these things could cost you some of your deposit.
Unlike a hotel who can make you several room keys, you may only get one condo key. This could complicate things with roommates with different agendas. Some condos will have security doors that prevent you from even entering the premises without the key, making it hard for large groups to split up.
In general, condos during SDCC will be more expensive than hotels. Unlike the official SDCC hotels, condo renters can charge whatever they want. Do not be shocked if the price of a condo is tripled over Comic-Con.
Be aware that the condo owner may be renting their unit against the wishes of their housing authority. You will need to be discrete and if asked by other tenants, just say you are “staying with a friend.” I’m not saying this is always the case, but assume that it is unless told otherwise.
Unlike a hotel, a condo is rented by an individual. That individual could be unscrupulous. They could try to screw you over. Ask any questions you might have BEFORE signing papers. Get everything in writing. If the owner is being weird or hesitant or acting shady in any way, listen to what your gut is telling you and back out.
For many people, renting a condo is a smart and viable option. Like anything related to SDCC, you need to gather all the info you can before making any decisions! Good luck!