Home Exchanges 101

When I was younger my father joined a home exchange program and often traveled around the world exchanging his beach home with other peoples’ homes. At first it was just a sterile home-home swap, but then it turned into relationships that grew over time. He found a place he liked in France and he often went there. In return, this French couple came to sunny Florida. They would have dinners together and my dad enjoyed it very much. I remember his stories and now I am trying out this home exchange concept for myself.

There are a few home exchange websites out there but I decided to use HomeExchange.com. It is one of the larger ones. I think it is $100 to enroll for a year. I listed our Keys townhouse on July of 2016 and I have been fielding requests ever since. I get about two requests a week and they come from everywhere: France, Sweden, Norway, California, Orlando, Prince Edward Island, Montana, Berlin, Arkansas, Spain, Colorado, BVI’s, Nashville, Canada and more. There are several options for exchanging your home. You can exchange with someone simultaneously or non-simultaneous. I opt for non-simultaneous, choosing to stay in someone’s second home. There is also another, newer option available from Homeexchange. It is the Passport program. If you host someone in your home you earn a “balloon.” You can use a balloon to stay in anyone’s home in any location, as long as they are willing to accept your balloon. To me, this is pretty enticing. Just to let you know, I have yet to do an exchange, but I have one scheduled for April.

I contacted approximately 6 properties in Prague that I was interested in. I received two declines and one “possibly.” I continued an email conversation with the owner of an apartment just outside the city. We agreed on dates and filled out a form that “binds” us in this exchange. I am not sure of the legality of this contract, but I believe that most people who are interested in exchanging their own home, do so with good faith.

The Prague family will be stopping in the Keys for 9 days on their several week vacation.  They have been to the Keys before so they are familiar with the area and did not need any local area information. I, on the other hand, asked for some restaurant ideas, music venues, and any other information about Prague that she wanted to share.

With over 65,000 properties in 150 countries, I am looking forward to finding out how this home exchange process works and if it is a good fit for me and my family. If I happen to meet some cool people along the way, then that is just a bonus.

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