Home Exchanges Are the Way to Vacay -- Let's Swap!

Paris flat

A flat in Paris -- wanna trade?

Think about how much you spend when you go on vacation -- between the hotels and food, you rack up a pretty hefty bill. But what if you could nix all that, and instead, after a long day of sightseeing, come home to a vast apartment with cable TV, a stove to cook on, and a huge tub to soak in. Really live in the place that you're visiting -- a tiny Manhattan apartment located in the Village, or a chic Parisian flat off the cobblestone streets of Montmartre? Doesn't that sound much better than staying in a hotel that's identical in both?

Well, it's possible, if you're willing to give up your home in exchange.


If you saw the movie The Holiday, starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, you know what I'm talking about -- one character in L.A. (Diaz), on a whim, swapped homes with another woman from the U.K. (Winslet) that she met through a home exchange website. But in real life, it doesn't quite happen that quickly. It's actually a several-month-long process to iron out all of the details, and by the time all of the t's are crossed and the i's dotted, the two parties aren't quite strangers anymore.

I've actually always had an inkling to live in Paris and have said that, heaven forbid something happens to my career (knock on wood that it doesn't!), I'd pack up and head to Europe. But if I was to do a home exchange, I could have that "living in Paris" experience, but on a much more temporary level. Two weeks living in the city of lights at practically no cost? Sign me up! Or does anyone out there living in rural Connecticut want to switch for big city life? I could definitely use a relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle. I would have no qualms about giving up my Manhattan apartment to someone else for two weeks as I strolled down the Champs-Élysées or relaxed on a back porch sipping lemonade (though I have a feeling the small size would make it difficult to bargain with).

I admit that it does come with risks ... the idea of a stranger in your home isn't exactly thrilling. But Shelterpop gives some really great tips, the most important being do your homework.

"Good communication can minimize misplaced expectations," Keghan Hurst, director of PR and marketing for HomeExchange.com, tells Shelterpop. They also suggest using the templates from HomeExchange.com for contracts and agreement letters, and to look into insurance specifically for home exchanges.

So tell me, would you be up for swapping homes with someone? Where would you want to go?


Image via HomeExchange.com

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