My wife and I did our first home exchange 4 years ago. Since then, we have been willing participants in about 20 others. Last summer we did 6 home exchanges. We went more places and had more fun than any other summer in memory. Why would anyone do a home exchange? Here are a few reasons:
Here’s how a typical week at our favorite oceanfront motel in Oguquit, Maine works out.
7 nights @ $300 – $ 2100
7 days of dog sitter – $350
7 dinners at chichi oceanside restaurants – $500
3 breakfasts & 3 lunches – $240
Beach parking – 0
Kayak rentals – $100
2 tanks of gas – 80
Tolls – $10
Normal food for breakfast and lunch NOT in restaurants – $50
T Shirts and tchotchkes – $50 Total: $3490
With the home exchange, the numbers look like this:
7 nights at our home away from home – 0
No dog sitter – 0
2 dinners at chichi oceanside restaurants – $140
1 breakfast and 2 lunches in restaurants – $100
Beach parking – $60
Kayak rentals – 0
2 tanks of gas – $80
Tolls – $10
Regular food bought at local supermarkets – $200
T Shirts & tchotchkes – $50 Total – $640
Exchanging our home lets us have 5 home exchange vacations for the price of one conventional vacation. Since we really enjoy getting away, the home exchange maximizes our vacation budget.
Because we are living in an actual house, we have lots of room to spread out. We can invite friends or family to come visit and even stay over in one of the extra bedrooms if they choose. We have the use of a full kitchen and so can prepare our own meals when we don’t feel like going to a restaurant. This works particularly well for breakfast and lunch.
If a family with young children exchanges with another family with young children, things like cribs, strollers and toys can get left at home. Sporting equipment like bicycles and kayaks get exchanged as well, so there’s no need to drag all your stuff along with you on vacation. And there will be a yard for your kids to play in away from home.
If both families agree, you can exchange cars as well (check with your insurance company first), saving you hundreds in car rental fees. Often you leave your car at the airport for the other family and they leave a car at the airport for you. Both save on long term parking.
3. Community Involvement
When you stay at a hotel or motel, you find yourself isolated from the community around you. When you exchange homes, you are part of it. You get to bike or walk through the neighborhood and meet the people who live there. It is a much more immersive experience that adds an extra dimension to your time away.
How does it work?
There are many companies that are ready to help you arrange a home exchange. We have been members of Home Exchange.com for the past 4 years and are very satisfied with the service provided by them. Membership is a modest $120 per year. If you exchange with someone for one night during the year, you will more than offset that cost.
Our experience with home exchanges has been very positive and we recommend it frequently to friends and family. We have visited places we would not have gone to otherwise. We have made new friends. And we have had lots of new adventures that have enriched our lives.
If you have questions, contact me via the Comments section and I will do my best to get you the answers you need.
Photo by the author.