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Home Exchange in the Wall Street Journal

by John Mensinger on April 10, 2012

The Wall Street Journal of April 9, 2012 had a well written article on house swapping, Open Your Home to Strangers – And See the World, by Jim Gray. It appeared in a special section on retirement. You can read the article and associated comments online. Mr. Gray and his wife started trading their home after retirement. They have exchanged 32 times since 2006, usually for 3 to 4 weeks each. They have visited Europe, Hong Kong, Australia, Nicaragua, and Grenada. They make many classic points about home exchange:

1) Location matters. They consider their home town of San Diego, California as a second tier destination. I think it is a prime destination that allows them many choices.

2) They are flexible. They prefer to trade with couples and prefer not to trade their car. But if they want a home or location enough they will waive these requirements.

3) It is an important and much appreciated part of their retirement life style. They average five months on exchange a year.

4) They are serious and thorough about researching and negotiating potential exchanges. Mr. Gray says it takes 20 e-mails and the occasional phone call for the average exchange.

5) They encounter exchange partners with lower cleanliness standards that their own. Their response is to clean up their temporary home to their standards. They prepare themselves for returning home to a condo that will be dirty from their point of view.

The largest problem for the Gray family were the cancellation of 7 agreed exchanges. Our family has never had a cancellation. Mr. Gray says that medical problems can unexpectedly arise with older exchange partners. I can relate—my wife had emergency surgery that put her out of action for a month. Mr. Gray’s summary is right on: “These problems are minimal compared with the experience we have enjoyed living in almost three dozen homes.”

 




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Julia April 11, 2012 at 1:51 PM

I see you like to use a play on words. You talked about a Wall Street Journal article, while your picture, I am guessing, was taken at the “wall” in Berlin, at Check Point Charlie? Fun.

2 Laura April 12, 2012 at 4:22 AM

Hi there!

We have done numerous home exchanges to date. Home exchanging has allowed us to save on accommodation costs, car rental expenses, and restaurant meals…

Other benefits include the friends that we have made. We have stayed in touch with most of the people we exchanged with. And have also visited with them years later. Families with children also benefit from having a whole house rather than a single room for the duration for the holiday. We often swap with other families, which usually means our kids have new toys to play with during the holiday.

For anyone serious about trying this out, we strongly recommend that you join a reputable home exchange club. There are numerous clubs you can join, but one that has worked out really well for us is HOMEFORSWAP.com

Finding a home exchange may require some effort but we have always found that it has been well worth it.

Good luck!

Laura

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