I personally love hearing the “why” behind a company so we’re happy to share ours. If you already read our About Us page, you know that I’m Megan. My husband is Richard, and the little guy is our son / host-in-training. Here’s the rest of the story…
In addition to being your Southbound Stays hosts, we’re high school sweethearts, former dog parents, and now proud mom and dad. Both of us were born and raised in a small town on the Space Coast/ Cocoa Beach area of Florida.
At the age of 15, I began an internship with a local newspaper, launching 20+ year career in media advertising and marketing. Nearly a decade in, I began extensive travel across the US, including near-monthly trips to Nashville. This is what sparked my love for the city. After Richard joined me on a Valentine’s Day trip in 2012, he too was hooked on Nashville. Later that year, my company offered me a position there but just 8 months in, my role was eliminated. We faced a choice to relocate again or take a buyout to stay in the city we already considered home. We chose the buyout.
What an amazing move that ended up being!?! Richard’s career flourished with a new company (and he still works for them today). At the time, I took a role with another media company that allowed me to work remotely and travel to our international clients in Australia, Germany, Mexico, and Canada.
That is when I was introduced to short-term rentals. Hotels were great for 1 or 2 day trips however mine were 5 days to 9 weeks! I didn’t want to sit in a bed to work and watch tv and I wanted to make my own meals. I started booking rentals through sites like Airbnb because hotel life was no longer conducive to my way of travel.
Interacting with hosts and being a guest sparked an idea. Perhaps hosting could be the plan B to our day jobs. We started to look for houses and found two fixer upper homes on one property, known now at The Country Cottage and The Little House. Our plan: rent them both but live in one while renting the other to cover our mortgage if we ever needed to.
We welcomed our first guest in September 2016 after a few months of remodeling. Come to find out, my experiences as an avid business traveler and our combined leisure adventures had taught us so much about hosting. Guests were leaving great reviews and we loved building connections with them.
While I continued working and traveling, we expanded our rental business and joined the Nashville host group, NASTRA. I served as President for five years, fostering connections with fellow owners to promote excellent hosting and neighborly relationships. As our rental business and my passion for hosting grew, so did my career; I was promoted to Senior Vice President. However, when my grandfather’s health started to deteriorate in Florida, it became overwhelming.
In July 2018, I left my job to manage our rentals and start a side business assisting other hosts, granting me the flexibility to spend a week each month in Florida while living in Nashville. My grandpa passed away in January 2019, however we continued our regular trips to Florida to visit our families.
Come January 2023, Richard received an offer from his company to relocate to Central Florida. With a nearly 2-year-old by then, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to be closer to family more.
While we now officially reside in Florida, we still spend time in Tennessee and will always consider both places “home.” Our lifestyle and history with each location provides us with the unique perspective of having experienced both places as locals and tourists.
Vacation rentals were never part of our life plan, and I often jokingly call myself an accidental host. But beyond my family, vacation rentals have become my life. I manage our five rentals in Tennessee and two in Florida, assist other hosts through my business, Hospitality Creator, and serve as the chapter lead for the Florida Alliance for Vacation Rentals in Brevard County.