The Art of Win-Win
The basic definition of home exchange, or house exchange, is that you trade the use of your home with another family for a set period of time. While you are enjoying the nuances of their home they are visiting your town and staying in your home. I found this idea compelling years ago as it would reduce the cost of traveling abroad, which was an expensive habit. You have a comfortable home away from home on vacation, you have your own kitchen, and often you trade cars as well. Home exchange is a win-win transaction. Both partners of the exchange are better off than they would be without the trade.
Sometimes it is a big win. We ended up in Stockholm one year in a large and luxurious home in the affluent suburb of Djursholm. We were to learn later that it had been chosen as the place in Sweden with the highest quality of life. Looking in the newspaper real estate pages we also discovered that it had the most expensive homes in the Stockholm region. Bringing up the average was the island home of one of the Abba band members, not to mention residences for the ambassadors of several countries.
The summer weather was gorgeous and it was a five minute trip on bicycle to the beach where we could swim, relax under an apple tree, and admire the rocky and forested islands of the Stockholm Archipelago. It was three minutes on foot to the train stop, and then 15 minutes to Stockholm, a lovely city surrounded by lakes, the sea, and forests, with more palaces, museums, and historical buildings than you could see in three weeks.
The best part of the experience was making friends and beginning to understand Swedish culture, customs, and way of life. Our exchange partners arranged for us to meet their friends. One man took us on a boat ride through the Archipelago. Another hosted us for coffee and cake at his summer home. A couple took us out on the town, a sort of pub crawl but with champagne instead of beer. I made friends with an older gentleman who asked me what I thought of President Bush. He and his wife took our family to his summer home on an island where we gathered wild blueberries, went swimming, talked, and drank. I admire the Swedes command of the simple comforts of life.
What We Brought Home
Since that exchange we notice news about Sweden. Pickled herring and smoked salmon are usually found in our refrigerator and there is crisp bread in the pantry. Most importantly, we have become good friends with the family with whom we traded houses. Their daughter is attending a California university and we have seen them several times, both in Sweden and California.
We couldn’t stay away from Stockholm. We had another three week exchange there five years after our first visit. We saw all our old friends. Our new exchange partners arranged for neighbors to take us on their boat in the Archipelago, followed by dinner at their summer home, washed down with schnapps from the island. Yes, we had done most of this before and could do it again and again. We managed to see many, but not all of the palaces, museums, and historical building we had missed on our first visit.
What is home exchange to you?
John Mensinger is co-founder of HomeExchangeuniversity.com and an experienced home exchanger. His passion is helping others experience the enjoyment (and cost savings!) of home exchange. John can be reached at jm_at_homeexchangeuniversity_dot_com.
Deren S. Monday is co-founder of HomeExchangeUniversity.com and father of two. He also dabbles in on-line marketing planning and implementation. Deren can be reached at dsm_at_homeexchangeuniversity_dot_com.