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Why don't more people try home exchange?

I am an avid home exchanger. I have been exchanging my home for over six years now and have found it to be the most incredible way to enjoy authentic cultural travel. I've been trying to convince others to try it for years. It amazes me that more people are not using this fantastic option? Why don't more people try it? Do they not know about it, or do they just not trust it?

Posted by
12040 posts

Don't you have to find someone who's willing to live in your house? This probably would work well if you lived in Manhattan or Orlando, but if you lived in Cleavland or Sioux Falls... let's face it, there's not a lot of Europeans knocking at your door to visit your town.

Posted by
3165 posts

We have done 6 exchanges, and I agree that there is much to like in doing them. However, I think we've done our last; and here are some reasons. (1) After my retirement from school-teaching, I was no longer tied to vacationing in the summer. Spring and fall are much better times to visit Europe. However, a significant majority of exchangers are families with children; and they want dates in the summer. (2) It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare a house for an exchange. Something I'm increasingly reluctant to bother with. Now we just close the door and are off. (3) At this time in our lives we usually have some very specific places we want to go. You do best setting up an exchange when your destination is very flexible.
Some people do not like the idea of strangers in their homes. This is something that has never been an issue for me, but I know several people who wouldn't even consider exchanging for that reason. (I should interject here that we've never had any problem with anything going missing or being broken.) For people with children, exchanging is a terrific way to vacation in Europe; and I agree with Kerry that those who don't try it are missing out on a great option.

Posted by
333 posts

Because nobody wants to vacation in a po-dunk town of 230 in rural Nebraska with a bar, a photography studio and a taxidermy shop for entertainment. Although the bar serves good food and has keno and karaoke once a month...

Posted by
6355 posts

There's also the fact that a lot of travelers do not own their own home, so home exchange is not an option.

Posted by
8293 posts

I would rather book a hotel or apartment than spend the time and effort finding a home exchange in a place I want to visit. Then there is all the work to get your own place ready for a strange family ... closets and drawers to empty & contents of same to store somewhere, treasured items to hide away, whole house to be made spotless. If the OP wants to know "why more people don't try home exchange", that's why, for me at least.

Posted by
888 posts

I wouldn't want to go through the trouble of getting my house ready, I wouldn't want people I didn't know in my house when I wasn't there, and I don't exactly live in a tourist destination area. I'm sure a home exchange is a great option for some people, but there are many reasons why it wouldn't work for everyone. But that's great for you and the other people it works well for!

Posted by
3845 posts

Not trust it. We're in the camp of wanting to enjoy our vacation and not worry about what's happening in our home. And, when we return, we want to walk back into our clean house & relax - not start cleaning & changing bed linens. Also, we like to stay in several locations in Europe for 3-4 days each in the center of town, so an exchange doesn't fit our travel style.

Posted by
8431 posts

Aside from the fact that I also do not live in a tourist destination, it does not appeal to me in the least. I don't want someone staying in my home when I am gone and I would not want to stay in theirs. For me it is a matter of boundaries. Mine are pretty closed when it comes to my personal space and it also makes me uncomfortable to invade someone else's space.

editing to add: I have Rankster beaten by 3 bars to one, but she is ahead on taxidermy. We do have a moose or 3 on the loose in the neighborhood so perhaps that could be an attraction.

Glad it is a fantastic option for you!

Posted by
186 posts

My cousin and his wife do home exchanges at least twice a year and rave about it (we all live in Los Angeles). They even drive the other exchanger's car and vice versa, and have never had a bad experience. I hate when the topic comes up because my husband always jumps in with "we should do that!". Um, NO. He has absolutely no clue what it would take to prepare the house for "strangers" to live in it. And, what, we're going to board three cats for two or three weeks? We sure as heck aren't leaving them at the mercy of strangers, that's for sure! I admire folks for whom this concept works, but count me out!! Besides, we have trouble enough making sure we use all our timeshare weeks/points up each year, and have enough for six to eight weeks of travel. For all the evil things you hear about timeshares, I'm here to tell you that in our case they make us get out the door and travel. Otherwise it would be years between trips, I'm sure, because inertia takes over.

Posted by
2349 posts

The inability to convince anyone that Fort Wayne is worth a week. The ick factor of having someone you haven't even met in your house alone. But mostly, the work.

Our vacations have become vacations again. For years we camped with the kids. Lots of fun for them, and it was what we could afford. But we spent at least a week beforehand shopping, doing laundry, packing, finding swimsuits. Loading the van and boat with coolers, tents, lawn chairs, bikes and trikes, swim noodles, camp stove, pots, pans, s'more forks, fishing tackle, hammock, food, and kitchen sink. Trying to get the tarp fastened down over all the crap in the boat. Then there was the housekeeping outside-every meal requiring boiling water for dishes. Sweeping the sand out of the tent. Then time to pack it all up again, take it home, unpack it, wash it, put it away. Fight with spouse about who was supposed to clean out the cooler before it got moldy. It makes me tired just to write about it.

Now my vacations don't wear me out. I have no desire to get ready for strangers, and clean someone else's house before I leave it.

Posted by
695 posts

Wow, I really didn't expect so many responses!

It helped. You are right; it is more work and it does not suit people who want to move around every few days. I agree it is best for families because the cost of international travel is greatest for them; that's why it's so wonderful for my family of four. I never worry about my home being in the care of my home exchange partners, because they are all lovely families (I make sure of it.) Since our exchanges are always at least two weeks in duration, it's no big deal to clean their home before we leave it. I've always come home to a spotless home. Home exchange families are wonderful. My last exchange partner in Provence stocked her refrigerator with more food than I usually keep in my refrigerator at home - most of it homemade organic food she prepared for us herself (like yogurt and jellies). They also left us their two new cars, a Mercedes and a Landrover, while we only had one for them, a new model minivan. Next summer, my family will be exchanging with two super nice families, one in Amsterdam and the other in Brittany, France. Each exchange will be for two weeks and we will also exchange cars. If I had to rent similar sized properties and cars, I would spend at least $7,000. I'm pretty sure most people underestimate the economic value of home exchange, not to mention the cultural advantages. By the way, I live in New Jersey, and I receive tons of home exchange offers, most very desireable.

Posted by
11613 posts
  1. It's not a vacation if I have to make my own bed.
  2. I worry enough about my empty apartment when I'm away, let alone worrying about breaking or doing some damage to someone else's home.
  3. I think it's a great idea for some families, but not my style (solo).
  4. My residence is in Toledo, Ohio. Just sayin'.
Posted by
186 posts

I saw the article below earlier this year and forwarded it to my cousin since the problem "tenant" was here in California. Not quite sure how AirBnB may differ from other home exchanges, but after reading this it made me all the more sure we'd never do a home exchange. Note the first line of the article where it could be that AirBnB was possibly illegal in some areas of California, which makes me wonder if that true for other home exchange companies and in other states/cities as well. (Maybe the difference is money changing hands as opposed to homes being swapped). As someone who had to pay $18,650 (not a typo) to "relocate" someone renting the small guest house on our property after she turned herself in to the City of Los Angeles because we were not allowed to have a tenant in our area of the city, I'd never put myself in the position of having my home occupied while we were not present.

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2014/07/nightmare_airbnb_guest_in_palm_springs_refuses_to_leave.php

Posted by
2349 posts

Zoe, let's you and I exchange homes. You can spend a little time around the headwaters of the Maumee. I can splash around in Lake Erie, hoping that the water is safe. I'll toot my horn and wave as we pass each other on US 24.

Posted by
695 posts

Home exchange and AirBnB (renting your home) are two different things. The former is based on trust, the latter money. When money enters the equation, things have a tendency to go downhill, IMO. I don't know why when people think about home exchange, they immediately imagine exchanging their home with the dregs of society. Why would anyone do that??? Home exchangers in reality are a very intelligent and respectable subset; they are educated and oftentimes fairly high level professionals, physicians, etc...They are not what you all seem to be imagining. My home exchange families have been awesome people to know. But, if you can't trust, it's certainly not for you.

Posted by
8293 posts

Kerry, I can't find any posts in this thread that intimate we non-home-exchange people think we would be dealing with "the dregs of society". Almost all of us have rejected the idea of home exchange on the basis of the work involved and/or a dislike of strangers in our homes. I very much doubt "the dregs of society" would have homes to exchange, but I speak only for Canadian dregs.

Posted by
1952 posts

Kerry, I am trying to figure this difference out as I am not very familiar with either AirB&B nor Home Exchange. No money changes hands with a home exchange? It's just straight across the board? Your home for my home?

Posted by
1952 posts

Thanks, Nancy! I guess I should have thought to do that myself!

Posted by
695 posts

I know that no one on this forum said or suggested "that," but I do believe many people imagine the worst when they think of having home exchangers in their home. I just can't emphasize enough how impressed I've been with the type of people who engage in home exchange. I only say this because I want to encourage more people to give it a try - especially families who otherwise could not afford international travel.

In answer to the last post; home (and car) exchange is completely free; absolutely no money is exchanged. It is based on trust, which you must establish before agreeing to an exchange. I have found it to be more reliable than renting. (ie. I had a very bad experience with a villa rental on the island of Capri, Italy back in 1996. My family, including my one year old baby, arrived on Capri, to find out that our rental property had a plumbing problem and we could not stay there. The 'high end" rental company had not made alternate arrangements for us, nor did they try to meet us at the property to let us know what happened. We had to chase them, and then wait for hours while they attempted to make alternate arrangements. They ultimately did, but the location was not ideal and it did not have the crib that was promised for the baby. I've never had a problem with any of my five home exchanges to date; each has been amazing. I still rent, but only if I am unable to secure a home exchange. There are so many cultural advantages that come with home exchange as well.

Posted by
695 posts

HomeExchange.com is a good one; the website I prefer for the value and ease of use is HomeForExchange.com It's cheaper and I just love the way it functions.