Home exchange has been around for several decades as a means to reduce the cost of travel. First started by educators who had lots of time off but little resources, the idea has spread over the years. Before the advent of the internet this was done by joining clubs which would issue a book of members with their relevant information. Now, with computers commonplace in households and the ease of use of the internet, the concept has exploded and is becoming a widely accepted means of staying for free around the world.
What is Home Exchange? A home exchange is an agreement between two home owners to allow one another to come live in their home. Usually this is so that each party can travel to each others location while saving money on accommodations. Surprisingly many home exchanges are not about vacations. Often your exchange partner may be traveling to your location on business or to visit family while keeping their own privacy and not imposing on the family (a great way to keep the peace).
Types of Exchange – This can vary depending on your own resources and of those with whom you exchange. For example, if you are exchanging your live-in home then you are most likely looking for a simultaneous exchange with someone for the same period of time. If you own a second home or condo, then you may be willing to make an exchange at any point in the year for the right to use someone else’s 2nd home at your chosen time period. Others are not even looking for an exchange at all, they simply want someone to essentially house sit and/or take care of their animals. In these cases you would often be responsible for maintaining the yard, the animals, etc.
Advantages of a Home Exchange!
- You save big bucks on your vacation as accommodations are often the largest chunk of a traveler’s budget. This is particularly true for long-term trips of many weeks or even months.
- Someone is taking care of your house. You are less likely to be robbed, someone is there if the water pipes burst, someone can mow the lawn, etc etc.
- Pets! If you have pets this is a great way to have the pets cared for at no expense to you while still keeping them happy within your home. The world better than a kennel (especial from the pet’s perspective).
- Your vacation experience will likely be enhanced by living in a “real” community as opposed to staying in hotels. You are actually integrated and submerged within the culture as opposed to being surrounded by other tourists and tourist oriented commerce.
- It’s a great way to force yourself to learn a language.
How can you Trust Them?
Well, this is a matter of personal comfort. If you are a paranoid type person, then this isn’t really your bag. But keep this in mind. Is it likely that they are going to rob your house while you are living in their house? After all, you do know where they live. As far as things getting broken, if you have particularly expensive or fragile items which you are concerned about, just pack them up and put them away in a closet or take them to a friends house.
What about the Car? This is just a personal preference between you and your exchange partner. Some people allow this other do not. There certainly is no obligation to exchange vehicles.
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How is this Done? In most cases this is done through websites dedicated to Home Exchange. You would become a member (often requires a fee) and then post your “ad” including descriptions of your house, your neighborhood, surrounding attractions, amenities, when you wish to travel, where you wish to travel, post photos, etc etc. etc. These sites have databases with all the information allowing you to easily perform searches for possible matches and allowing others to find you.
Once you find possible matches, you can then contact them and work out the details if it’s a go.
- There are many venues online to partake in home exchange. Some are free and others are paid. You will have to look them over to decide which ones best fit your needs.