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School Holidays and Home Exchange

by John Mensinger on January 7, 2011

Children all over the world enjoy their summer holidays. The challenge for house swappers is that they happen at different times. If you have school age children you usually trade with similar families. It will only work if your school holidays overlap. The greatest disconnect is between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, though if you are lucky winter holidays in the north may coincide with summer holidays in the south. Summer vacation between the USA and Europe can be tricky.

Take our family for example. University and high school for our 3 kids are over at the end of May. We trade our California home with Europe, so we can see my wife’s British family. A daughter is studying in Scotland; she would like to get the family vacation out of the way in June so she has 10 weeks in California for a summer job before returning to University. She also likes the idea of sitting by the pool and hanging out with her friends.

Our ideal time for an exchange is June. An analysis of leading European home exchange countries showed that only high school students in Ireland get out at the beginning of June. Finns, Italians, Norwegians, and Swedes begin their holidays by the third week of June, with Danes, Scots, and Spaniards available for the last week of June. There are regional variations. Western Scotland is one week ahead of Eastern Scotland, which is not the only point of difference between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The variations above are slight compared to the Germans and Dutch where kids can be free by the end of June or as late as August. The French are reliably en vacances in July and August. The unfortunate English break at the end of July and begin again in early September, unless attending a private school, which has longer vacations.

There is huge variation in the US, even within states. My second daughter has to be back the second week in August. This makes a three week exchange with England impossible.

Ways out of this conundrum include exchanging second homes on a non-simultaneous basis or trading with families that don’t have school age children. Retired couples with tidy homes don’t seem overly enthusiastic about suggesting a trade with our family of five. Families with young children occasionally express interest, though our place isn’t ideal for toddlers. We might get lucky with a group of adults needing a large home in California or with the Emerald Isle. If we are flexible and exchange in July we will have many options. Like children we enjoy our summer holidays.




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