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Should You House-Swap on Your Next Vacation?

Should You House-Swap on Your Next Vacation?

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An Ottawa-based Canadian couple have visited the following destinations during the past few years without spending a penny on accommodations: New Zealand, Amsterdam, Sweden, Norway, Mexico, and several different parts of Canada.

And, they’re not alone.

Friends of ours living in the Laurentians in Quebec – both in their late 60s – have performed a similar feat. It helps that their home is located in a popular winter sports destination that has lots of après ski activities and is in close proximity to the allure of Montreal and all it has to offer.

Spain and Portugal are their destinations of choice during the winter, and they typically hang out in comfortable accommodations for several months at a time – free of charge. In most cases, even their cars are part of the swap, meaning no hefty car rental fees at their destination either.

How do they and others like them pull this off? How can you do it too?

Join a Home Swapping Organisation

Easy. They’re all members of HomeLink, a global organisation that facilitates home swapping on a massive, and orderly, scale. The increased popularity of this approach to travel inspired a description of the process published in The Globe and Mail recently.

The Globe and Mail story referenced two couples – Brian Lindblom and Nancy Dobson and Jean-Christian Auclair and Lyne Des Groseilliers – as a way of demonstrating how simple the procedure is. The author of the story reported:

When I reach Brian Lindblom and Nancy Dobson on the phone, they are relaxing in the living room, speaking over one another in the familiar way of a long-time couple. They’ve had a full day in Quebec City: walking around downtown, before coming home to cook dinner. But they’re not at their home – they’re at Jean-Christian Auclair and Lyne Des Groseilliers’s house, while Auclair and Des Groseilliers stayed at their place in Ottawa.

According to the story, Auclair and Des Groseilliers get about 25 requests a year for their home in Quebec City, especially in the summer months and many other couples affiliated with the same or similar home swapping organisation – HomeExchange is another, though its exchange process is more complex and is points-based – report similar volumes of interest.

Universal Appeal

Obviously, and as mentioned earlier, home swapping is not confined to Canada. The reach of these organisations is truly global, and encompasses such wanderlust-inducing destinations as Australia, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and many more.

The leader in this field is HomeLink, which has been in business for decades. According to their website:

We’ve been helping like-minded families arrange house exchange holidays around the world for more than 65 years. We’re more than just a home exchange website – we have a team of experienced Home Exchange Representatives around the world to provide personal support at every stage of your home swap holiday. Our focus is on a traditional, non-commercial home exchange experience – you stay in my home and I stay in yours.

Though not new, home-swapping is becoming increasingly attractive to Covid-clobbered, inflation-irritated, negative news-weary Canadians who’re longing for a change of scene and location that’s also affordable.

It’s worth looking into.

One piece of advice before proceeding: clear your home swapping intentions with your condominium association if you own a condo or co-op apartment, just to be sure you’re allowed to do a home swap. You may need to prove that no money is being exchanged and also there may be rules about short term usage by non-family members. 

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About the author

An avid sportsman (tennis, rock climbing/hiking, diving), prolific reader of biographies, world traveller – some of the many interests that define Geoffrey Bailey. He’s also a widely published newspaper and magazine journalist, author of two bestselling books, and a former advertising agency creative director. Working in tandem with Allyson on Everything Retirement content, Geoffrey provides impeccable research and insight into the issues and interests (from financial to social) that concern today’s retirees.