By Spencer Spellman, Blog Contributor
We’ve probably all been sitting around with friends when someone said, “We should all just go in on a vacation home together.” Incidentally, many of us have probably said it while actually staying at a vacation rental with friends. However, for one reason or another, it often doesn’t happen. But for one group of friends in Austin, Texas, they went next-level and went in together on a unique spin on co-owning a vacation home. But before you dismiss it, it’s not as time-and money-intensive as you may think.
Welcome to Llano River Compound, what some people have dubbed, “Bestie Row,” but what this group of friends refer to as “Exit Strategy.” Remember in college when on the whim, you and your best friends could just throw a few things into a car and take a weekend camping or road trip? Well that was the very inspiration behind the Llano River Compound, but they wanted something custom-built, so that when times and weekends called for it, they could “exit” Austin for their own home away from home.
However, it can be daunting enough for just one couple coming to a consensus on a vacation rental property, let alone several couples working together towards one custom-built property. According to Jodi Zipp, they ran the gamut of ideas, from their own mini Airstream park to prefabricated cabins.
But they decided to first find property, which they did along the Llano River (a tributary of the Colorado River), and then identify an architect, which they found in Austin-based architect, Matt Garcia, who has a simple modernist approach. What then resulted was a middle ground: A collective of four modern, energy-efficient little houses.
It’s a bit like a modern-day little house(s) on the prairie, since the property actually sits on 10 acres of land overlooking the Llano River. These charming, contemporary 350-square-foot cabins pack a punch, featuring a queen bed, mini kitchen, and private bathroom (and with a sofa that folds out into a double bed in three units). It maximizes every inch of space.
However, that leaves out the kitchen and living areas. All of that can be found in the 1,500-square-foot commons unit, which is in the vein of the common area you expect from your token vacation home rental. This unit includes a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, dishwasher, a bunkroom (that sleeps up to six), 60-inch TV, iPod dock, and Wi-Fi. Outside is a Big Green Egg for cooking outdoors.
Being a series of little houses with a common area to share, this is really best for families or a group of friends. If it’s a couple’s weekend, with a cabin for each couple, for example, rates would start at approximately $150 per night per person. If four couples with a few kids, then the nightly rate would be closer to $100 per person. According to Zipp, the property has also been host to weddings and corporate retreats.
As Zipp put it, “The biggest benefit is knowing that we have a respite to escape to whenever we can.” A vacation rental with your best friends that you can also rent out to travelers and make some extra income with? Sounds like the best of all worlds. Now that’s what we call a proper “homeaway.”