A home exchange is just that: You get free lodging by swapping homes with someone who wants to come to your area and lives in a place you want to visit. Screen your exchange partners carefully and you can feel pretty confident they’ll take good care of your home – after all, you’ll be living in theirs. But what if you can’t find the right home exchange or prefer to kick back at a luxury resort? You can still travel without emptying your bank account: rent out your home. You can offset some of your trip costs, and someone will be there to care for your home while you’re away.
Sure, it takes some extra work. But hotel stays and restaurant meals take a huge chunk out of your travel budget. Think of all the fun things you can do with the extra money!
Home Exchange Basics
Successful home exchanges are like successful matchmaking: it takes time and know-how to make it happen. But even an ordinary home is more spacious, comfortable, and private than a hotel, and you’ll have a richer experience than being sequestered in a tourist ghetto. A kitchen is a real plus if you have kids or dietary issues. You might have a fireplace, a deck, or a yard, amenities you won’t find in most hotels. You can meet the locals, explore beyond the tour book, and see what it’s like to live in a new and different place. Best of all, exchanges often become friendships that continue long after everyone has gone back home.
How Long Can a Home Exchange Be?
The timing is up to you and your exchange partner – a weekend, a week, a month, even a year or more. The length of time on each side can be different. So can the type and style of each home.
Variations on the Theme
- Non-simultaneous exchange: Your exchange partner stays in your home while you’re away, but you have a choice of times in which to use your exchange partner’s home.
- Simultaneous exchange: You and your exchange partners stay in one another’s homes during the same period of time.
- Hospitality exchange: You and your exchange partners take turns hosting one another in your respective homes.
- “3-way”exchange: Someone stays in your home while a third party from a place you want to visit stays in their home. It can be complicated, but we did Marin – New York – Rome a few years back, and it worked!
Short-Term Rental Basics
We love home exchanges – we’ve stayed in wonderful places and met wonderful people. But we can’t always find an exchange partner whose schedule meshes with ours, so we rent out our home to tourists, visiting grandparents, and others who need a short-term place to stay in our area. We still save money and have our home cared for while we’re away.
Unlike home exchanging, renting short-term is a business transaction that may be subject to various laws, rules, and regulations. The rental income may be taxed, and you may need to increase your homeowner’s insurance. The key to success is to educate yourself before diving in and to screen prospective tenants carefully.
What’s Next: Is it safe?