Your family can enjoy a two-week vacation in a flat in Rome, a townhouse in Boston or a cottage in England for free. How? A home exchange.
The concept is simple: You live in someone’s home while they live in yours. Most people exchange for 2-3 weeks, but others swap for a few months. You and your home exchange partner will decide when to swap and for how long.
My family has done 13 swaps over the past 12 years for our home in San Diego. It allowed our children, now in their 20s, to see the world without their parents having to do strange financial acrobatics. Plus, you discover a lot about a country’s culture when you live smack dab in the middle of it, in someone’s home away, from tourist central. And ultimately you discover more about yourself and your family, too. Our family bonded on these trips in a way I don’t think would have happened on a traditional vacation.
Here’s what we learned over the years about how to do it right:
Select a Home Exchange Agency
There are more than 70 home swap companies around the world; approximately 30 are based in The U.S., the remaining 40 are sprinkled around the globe. The largest has 43,000 members in 147 countries. Another was established in 1953 and has 14,000 members in 78 countries. One agency is specifically for Christians while another assists the Jewish community. There’s even a home exchange company that works with teachers going on sabbatical. Home exchange membership fees range from free to $500 annually. (You can find a list of my favorite agencies on HomeExchangeExpert.com.)