I thought this might be a good post for a lazy Sunday. When we describe to people what we are doing there is always this pause, a funny look, and then the questions start. I thought I would take a moment and answer the questions for those of you that haven't had the opportunity to give me the funny look.
The home exchange idea was borne out of a conversation Jen and I had about the possibility of living in the Philippines for X amount of time because the opportunity to work there for APC was possible. Once we shelved that idea for various reasons, Jen had to find another way to take the family on an adventure. Without going into even more details we discovered two sites: www.homeexchange.com
. You can visit those sites for the details on how things work, but here are the questions we always get.
Aren't you afraid the people are going to trash your house / car?
This is always the first question. Always. Maybe it's the idea that everyone who is a stranger to you is a vandal. Maybe we all really think other people are inherently bad...I'm not sure. We have always thought that the people who are willing to trust you with their house are people who would take care of your house. I'm pretty sure there isn't a nefarious gang of home exchangers who are bent on destroying other peoples houses. People who are your friends now at one point were strangers to you.
I wouldn't want people going through my stuff
Ummm....put it away. I don't have some weird compulsion to dig through other peoples things. Both parties have put away the stuff they want off limits and either locked them up or put a sign on the door. We respect that. If you think about it...what stuff do you have lying around that you don't want people to see? If you don't want people to see it, it's already hidden or locked up. I'm not even going to speculate what that might be.
I made this a simple header because it is simple. We continue to pay the bills and mortgage for our house and things and they do the same. Easy. The only cost to the exchange is getting there and back. There is a market for exchanging home within the United States, so you don't have to travel abroad if you don't like. It sure cuts down the costs of staying someplace for a long term visit. We are already trying to think of the places in the U.S. that we might want to visit in the same manner. The only thing you have to have is a house in an area that other people might want to visit and who knows what that might be.....
Exchanges gone bad.
As with anything there are pitfalls and horror stories. The biggest problem we have heard about home exchanges are missed expectations. People who don't give full disclosure, make their house seem bigger, cleaner, or better than it is. The cure for this is to have a dialogue with the people that goes beyond the logistics of the exchange. Get to know them a little and you will get to know if there are possible problems. Even if your expectations are off a bit it isn't like you have committed to living there the rest of your life. You have to be prepared to shrug your shoulders, make the best of it, and move on.
There ya go...tips and tricks from the guy who has half an exchange under his belt and didn't even do most of the planning for it in the first place. We can really only say great things about our experience so far and frankly I'd rather keep it that way.