Home Exchange; see the world!
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!