We’re Megan and Richard McCrea – and the little guy is our son/future host in training! Richard and Megan are born and raised Floridians turned Tennesseans, high school sweethearts, now first time parents and the owners + your host(ess) at Southbound Stays.
Technically, when we left Florida we moved about 800 miles North to TN but as Richard often likes to say, “we’re more in the South than we’ve ever been.” That little phrase was the inspiration for our name: Southbound Stays (formerly operating as Nashville Vacation Homes).
I (Megan) grew up in corporate America (literally! I started in media when I was 15) and began to travel the US extensively in my early 20s as a Regional Director for the Gannett Company. In that role, Nashville was one of 34 cities I would visit – and as an added perk when I came to town, I got to spend time with one of my best childhood friends who had moved here in college. For a few years, I found myself in Nashville about every month or so which only made my love for the city grow.
Originally, Richard didn’t even want to VISIT Nashville. This was before it became the “it” city and he thought all there was here was country music and cowboy boots (not that there’s anything wrong with that but for those of us who live here or have visited, we know it’s so much more). After some convincing and heavy arm twisting, he finally agreed to a weekend in Nashville for Valentine’s Day. That was in 2012.
While in town, we decided to visit condos ‘just to see and dream a little.’ That weekend ended up being the beginning of our journey Southbound. Something about Nashville and Tennessee called to the both of us but it seemed like just a far- fetched dream until later that year. In October, I got an unexpected phone call offering me an opportunity within the company that would move us to Nashville. It was a difficult choice to leave the only life we’d ever known behind in Florida but something told us it was the right thing to do.
Richard was a mechanic since the day he was old enough to walk and turn wrenches in the garage with his dad. He had even done it professionally back in Florida. However, when we got to Nashville he used the move as an opportunity to make a change himself and started with an auto collision company on the business side of things this time.
8 months into our new life here, we had an unexpected turn of events. The company I had been with for 15 years did a mass round of layoffs and my role was eliminated. We were faced with relocating again to stay with the company or take “a buyout package.” We were both loving life in Nashville and Richard was especially loving his work and company. It was way too soon for us to leave. Though I wouldn’t consider us risk takers, we took one and I took the buyout. Staying in Nashville was worth that much to us.
What an amazing move that ended up being!?! Richard’s career has flourished with his new company. He still works for the same company only today as a regional manager for them. At the time, I took a role with another media company called Adtaxi that allowed me to work remotely in Nashville and travel, working with our International clients. Through this role, I worked not only across the US but also in countries like Australia, Germany, Mexico and Canada.
Ironically, it was that role that introduced me to the world of short term rentals. When I had traveled before, I would only be in one city for a few days at a time and then I’d be on to the next. Hotels were great for that sort of thing. However, when traveling internationally I would be gone for typically 1 to 8 or 9 weeks at a time! Hotel life was no longer conducive to my way of business travel. I wanted to sit somewhere other than on a bed to work and watch tv, I wanted to make my own meals, I wanted to feel at home. So… I started booking homes and apartments through sites like Airbnb.
After the whole layoff thing, Richard and I had vowed we would never be in that position again. We needed a Plan B. Interacting with hosts and staying in homes in other countries gave me the idea that maybe THAT could be our Plan B. We started looking for houses and found THE perfect home, known today as The Country Cottage.
The Country Cottage was a small, 1920s home that needed quite a bit of love. My little heart loved design so it screamed “Yay! Project!” since the moment I laid eyes on it. As a bonus, it had a second guest house out back, known today as The Little House. Our initial plan was to rent the front home as a short term rental, the guest home as a long term rental and then, if something ever happened with either of our jobs we could always move into the back house and live mortgage free. It was literally the perfect Plan B setup.
My experiences as an avid business and leisure traveler had taught us so much about hosting. I learned from the guests point of view that communication was important between the host and myself, I learned what amenities were important, what types of homes were desirable and unfortunately some not so good experiences taught me what not to do as well.
Turns out we had a knack for it! Guests started coming and leaving great reviews and I absolutely loved connecting with new people to help them discover the real Nashville. I loved it so much that eventually, we bought a small studio, The Nest… and then 2 more, Lonestar and Vibe… and then most recently a home in a neighboring town called Leiper’s Fork, Lyric.
Our newest venture is a home in Cocoa Beach that we anticipate making available to guests in June 2022.
Today, we own and host 4 traditional short term rentals/ vacation homes and one extended stay rental (for stays of 30-90 days) in the Middle Tennessee area and 1 vacation home in Cocoa Beach, FL.
I have since left my role in media and am a full-time hostess, help other short term rental owners through my company, The Hospitality Creator on the side and volunteer as the President of our Nashville short term rental association, NASTRA. June came along in 2018 and joins me on my rounds to the homes most days. Her official role at Southbound Stays is as our CCO, Chief Cuddle Officer.
Thank you for reading our story. We believe that travel helps make the world feel a little bit smaller and brings us all a little bit closer.
We are honored that you’re considering trusting us with your stay and encourage you to reach out if we can answer any additional questions for you.
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Megan & Richard McCrea
Owners & Host(esses), Southbound Stays
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