Home Exchange House Swap
Home Exchange Testimonies
Home Exchange to San Francisco area
We were painting and landscaping this past summer, so any extensive travel plans were put on hold. Instead of summer camp, our kids decided to stay home and read books.... Nice thought but a no brainer to think that would last.
Perhaps it was our hot July weather or the constant, "What's there to do?" that drove us to our decision but we knew we needed to get away for a week, a sanity break. We couldn't afford much so looked at opportunities to do a short trip, enjoy some change and get our kids off our backs.
I was sitting in the chiropractors office when another patient started talking with the receptionist about home exchange. They just returned from a weeks trip to Disneyland and stayed free by swapping homes. I was intrigued.
"You let strangers stay in your home while you weren't there? She answered that home exchange was built on mutual respect and trust. She added two thought provoking questions. Why would someone come all the way from LA to rob or trash my home? Don't you think that they may be just as concerned about you being in their home as you are about them being in yours?
That night I browsed through the listings on the website she belonged to. Global Home Exchange had several listings and I spotted several that were open to swaps this summer. I joined taking out the least expensive option. After sending out 15 emails with no positive response, "too late we arranged a exchange", I was starting to give up on the idea. That is when an email inquiry came to my inbox from the East San Francisco Bay area. A family from Berkeley California whose oldest was going to be attending University in our area wanted a home base to search out possible places for him to stay. They asked if we were open to a last minute 8 day exchange. They added their 4 story home was older, built in 1904 and had a home based business on the bottom floor. We were welcome to stay on the other three levels.
We exchanged photos, phone calls and arranged to also take our dogs, we had a Bichon, they had a Maltese.
Two weeks later, after a long drive we arrived late. We honestly didn't expect much in the way of a house. But wanted the break and opportunity for free accommodation. The house was old on the outside but wonderfully decorated inside. Huge and spacious with room to move around and be away from the kids. The 4th floor bedroom had an awesome view. The city of San Francisco in the center, Golden gate bridge on the left and Bay bridge on the left. A full moon was positioned just over the Golden Gate.
During the next 8 days we took BART (Bay area rapid transit) to downtown San Francisco, drove across the Golden Gate to Marin County, shopped at outlet malls, spent a day in Monterrey at the aquarium and relaxed as a family on their porch and in the back yard.
As most of our meals were eaten in our home away from home, the short vacation cost was quite minimal.
When we returned, we found our own home looking cleaner than we left it. The family from Berkeley even watered our plants and cut the lawn. We appreciated staying in a large home, having the opportunity to cook our meals and really loved that it didn't cost us a dime. We are eager to try a home exchange again.
Home Exchange to Perth Australia
When we first planned to go on a home exchange we thought of an exchange to the USA. We wanted to experience more of American culture and limited our vacation destinations to a home exchange only to an American destination.
Well, things didn't work out as we planned!
My wife was cleaning out our overstuffed file cabinet the other day when she came across a copy of a 4 year old home exchange listing that I wrote. She laughed at what I said in the ad and I wondered how anyone could have answered this.
It was mid November, 4 years ago, and 21 below zero. Our car wouldn't start the day I wrote the home exchange ad. It's days like this that ones thoughts drift to a south seas island like Hawaii. A beach home exchange would be wonderful. We had talked with a neighbor that completed a 6 week home exchange to the Caribbean. The Caribbean family had arranged a short sabbatical and needed housing. A home swap worked out as a very positive opportunity for both families.
So encouraged by our neighbors success, never imaging that we would receive a response, at least for a beach home exchange vacation we submitted a home exchange ad. I even wrote under preferred destination, "wanted, anywhere warm, preferably a home exchange to a south seas beach destination, I just want to get away from this cold wind swept prairie."
Several weeks and a new year went by and we had forgotten about the exchange ad. One day, out of nowhere was an inquiry from someone in Colorado wanting a weeks home swap just after New Year. We took several days to respond. We wanted to think about it. An error in hesitation that I learned not to make again. By the time we sent a response stating that we were interested, the family had secured an exchange with someone else.
About a month later we received another home exchange offer from an Australia couple living in the Waikiki Beach near Perth Western Australia. They wanted an exchange to Canada during their summer holidays, Dec 20 for approximately 3 weeks. After talking it over as a family, I wrote back immediately saying we had an interest in an exchange and asked if they could share more about their proposed exchange.
Soon photos and information arrived of their home and community. They had never experienced snow and cold and wanted to get away from their heat! Hmm...let's see... we wanted a break away from the cold, they wanted a break away from their heat.. A vacation home exchange match that both families could take.
Honestly, we thought we were getting the best part of this exchange and were actually feeling guilty thinking that they would be huddled indoors shivering, while we splashed at the beach and relaxed under palm trees. They did have palm trees in Western Australia, didn't they?
The rest of the year went by fast as we planned our trip. Our Australian exchange partners called in early December to say how excited they were to be finally experiencing a white Christmas. Soon our departure date came and we were aboard a plane and whisking off to summer.
We didn't meet our exchange partners but arranged for friends to meet them at the airport, have them over for a meal and teach them how to drive on icy roads. In return, we were met by their family members in Rockingham, near Perth and given the same hospitality. The Coopers home had three smaller bedrooms, a room with a shower and bath and a separate room for the toilet. It more than adequately met our needs.
We had so much fun touring around southwest Australia and wouldn't you know it, a hammock was in the back yard. I still fondly remember laying on the hammock, under a big tree watching the parrots fly about, imaging our friends back home shoveling snow. We received an email from home in late January. Our Australian home exchange partners were having a ball...Snowmobiling, ice fishing, curling, hockey, skating, relaxing in an outdoor hot tub at 20 below, cross country skiing. Seems our Australian partners were taken in by the community and treated to all kinds of winter activities that they could never have experienced at home.
So much for us thinking that we were the only ones benefiting from this exchange. Our house swap partners got the white Christmas they dreamed about and we got the beach, a hammock and a warm south seas island.
The exchange was a terrific idea. No cost for accommodation meant we had more to spend on other things. The experience will be forever in our memories and we are so thankful for the home exchange concept.