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Home Exchange; see the world!

Updated on December 11, 2012
Cambridge Choir boys
Cambridge Choir boys
Cambridge University
Cambridge University
punting on the river Thames
punting on the river Thames
Corn field Saffron Walden
Corn field Saffron Walden
English Thatched cottages
English Thatched cottages
view from house
view from house


Approximately 12 years ago, we saw an advertisement for a house swap. The family wanted a five week stay in Florida. We had a large home on Tidy Island with full access to two large pools, tennis courts, jogging and nature trails, so it was a well-matched swap. The advertised house was a red-brick in Henley-on-Thames which was ideal for us so we went ahead and answer the advertisement; we were glad we did. We swapped with a really nice family of five; their house was beautiful with a swimming pool and lovely gardens.

The family was leaving the day after we arrived so they picked us up from the airport and drove us back to our "home" for the next five weeks. We were greeted warmly and we shared a lovely evening meal after a tour of our new home. The family consisted of Susan and David (mom and dad) and their three children Phil aged 20, Sarah 18 and Susan 16. David was extremely proud of his garden and spent hours weeding and planting his vegetables and flowers. It was wonderful to sit out in and we were able to pick the fresh vegetables daily ~ our only job was to water the plants in the foyer and sun lounge; they had a gardener to take care of the outside.

We had full access to three computers, a huge flat-screen TV with Dolby surround sound. The kitchen was a dream and there was a patio with a grill area surrounding the pool and over-looking the fabulous gardens. The garden was fully lit at night and with the flip of a switch music could be piped anywhere in the garden. We also swapped a car. They had use of my Cherokee Jeep and I had use of their Range Rover. In total, we did 1500 miles during the house swap. We went to Stonehenge, the Cotswolds, Gladstonbury, Cornwall and then on to Lancashire, and saw many of the places in England we hadn’t seen for years. It was lovely to have a base to come home to. Even if we intended to be away for a couple of days, it was really nice not always having to stay in an impersonal hotel. Plus it is so much cheaper than hotels and eating out.

The other great thing about house swapping is that you make great friends. We had friends here in Florida who met our swappers from the airport; they went out together and became good friends. Likewise, we got on very well with our swappers neighbors and we still keep in touch. Plus there is also your swap family who become firm friends. Its great to have all the privileges of home; the toys if you have children; the books, DVD’s, albums, cook books, gardens, fully-stocked kitchens, refrigerators and freezers. We used a quid pro quo method with food and wines; for example we discussed before hand whether we wanted to have the freezer stocked and worked out a mutual exchange that way. We also decided to have the refrigerator stocked with the usual necessities for both families, which is a very nice touch.

My home is advertised on HomeExchange.com where thousands of people from all over the world can view your home and you can also view there’s. Name the places you want to visit and then either wait for the emails to pour in from hopeful swappers, or you email others who have a similar home where you want to vacation. It works great and for peanuts you can live in style anywhere in the world. I highly recommend it!

There is no need to worry whether your home will be 'good enough.' There are a variety of choices, from Castles to one-bedroomed apartments. You can swap long-term (what a great way to immerse yourself into a new culture) or you can even swap permanently!



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    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 7 years ago from Florida

      It was really wonderful ~ in fact, I've joined HomeExchange again this year - so I hope to have another great experience to share with you! I love Paris; one of the most beautiful cities in the world - and as you say, it would be prohibitive if one had to stay in Hotels. Thanks for sharing!

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 7 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      brightforyou...you seem as if you had a great time and what a beautiful place to visit! I really enjoyed ths article and it reminded me that I did a 'house swap' about 10 years ago and it was wonderful- I swapped my apartment on the Costa del Sol, Spain, for an apartment in the centre of Paris for a month, with 2 kids...And it was perfect. We would NEVER have been able to spend a month in Paris, otherwise!

      I'm definitely going to try it again. Thanks for info!

    • samboiam profile image

      samboiam 7 years ago from Texas

      Wow! What some beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Great ideas for a vacation. I think inserting links is a good recommendation if you want to elaborate in a subject. Good thing there are people who trust their house to other family in a span of time. Thanks for this hub, brightforyou.

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Curious Jen

      I was unable to send you the links (just one came out). I don't want to be in violation of any hub rules by trying to cut and paste anymore links, so I suggest you try an google search yourself using the words: House Swap Free website etc.

      I hope this helps.

      Helen

    • Curious Jen profile image

      Curious Jen 7 years ago from Canada/Nicaragua

      What are the best web sites to sign up for a house swap? I am very interested in doing a swap but i can't find a web site that doesn't charge a monthly fee before i get to look at the options.

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 7 years ago from Florida

      You are welcome petermdhart, thanks for stopping by!

    • petermdhart profile image

      petermdhart 7 years ago from Cornwall, UK

      This is a really good idea, especially in a bad economy ~ we may give it a go! Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

    • ehern33 profile image

      ehern33 7 years ago

      I have never done this but you seemed to have enjoyed it. What better way to enjoy an extended trip and be able to come home so to speak, instead of a stinking hotel room.. Excellent Hub and happy you got the most out of it. Thanks for sharing.

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 7 years ago from Florida

      Hi lorlie6 ~ why not follow your dream in 2010 and give it a try ... check out www.HomeExchange.com where you can view the various countries and places you can stay. Bon Voyage!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      This is an intimate dream! I congratulate you and your family for the courage and moxie to do this.

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Debby,

      Thank you for your comments - I know what you mean about trust, but when you contact ahead of time, and you work with an experienced swapper, the trust is mutual ~ both parties want their homes looked after and both have a vested interest in keeping the other home/car in good shape!

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 7 years ago

      What a great way to have a true vacation. Must be very trusting souls and clean organized people.

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 7 years ago from Florida

      Thank you DeBorrah!

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 7 years ago

      Brightforyou, What an interesting idea! This gives you something to think about! What a viable option? Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience house swapping, Blessings!

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 7 years ago from Florida

      Hi and thanks for all your comments. You can have any type of home or apartment ~ its normal to swap within a similar style or standard of home... so swapping is for everyone regardless of the location or accommodation! I am glad I was able to excite you about the possibility of a future swap ~ good luck!

    • Bail Up ! profile image

      Bail Up ! 7 years ago

      Interesting concept. I had heard of home swapping before but felt a bit unsure. You've made me reconsider with your experience. Thanks.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      What a wonderful way to really get the feel of an area, to live in a 'real' home, in a 'real' neighborhood and for such a long visit too. I'm sure you all had a great time, and I'm sure the folks who stayed in your Florida home did as well. House swapping sounds so cool. I guess it helps to have a nice home in a nice location.

    • Going2Oahu profile image

      Going2Oahu 7 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      It sounds like you had a terrific stay in England! I had no idea that there was such a thing as a house swap and you now have my wheels turning. I'm not sure if dad would be in to that kind of thing or not, yet to be discussed but I know we would love a home in Australia for a month!