Temp Housing: Exploring Home Exchange
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We usually think of home exchange as something for vacationers, not expats moving overseas for long periods of time. But considering how much you can save by participating in a house swap rather than renting a hotel, there is reason for some expats to consider this option: many people who participate in these exchange programs actually exchange second homes, weekend homes, or holiday homes they don’t live in full time.
The exchange must take place on both ends so this can be useful for expats who are leaving their home and not selling it prior to moving as well, or expats who have more than one home. There are many people on the other end who also exchange second homes or holiday homes.
House swapping usually involves absolutely no money exchanged between the exchanging partners. There are websites available such as HomeExchange.com and HomeforExchange.com where you can register as a member and participate in exchanges for a seriously low fixed annual rate.
HomeExchange.com was featured in the movie The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law.) If you recall the entire movie was based on just how much your life can change when you exchange homes and venture out (great movie, but back to the point): You pay a one-time yearly fee to become a member and begin searching for someone to exchange homes with then you're ready to take a vacation. Many people with second homes are also taking advantage of home exchanges as a great way to save.
Currently, they have homes available for exchange in every South American country except Paraguay - but of course that changes continuously. Home Exchange, first worldwide network since 1997, 28,000 listings in 120 countries
The website is very well organized and has a series of chapters you can read on how to make the most of your membership, including how to correspond with possible exchange swappers.
We found that HomeForExchange.com also has a good variety of listings in multiple countries in South America. But we wondered, “how can we trust our homes to total strangers?”
Their website says: Don’t forget that your potential exchange partner is likely to have the same concerns as you do! Although we can't guarantee that your home will be treated well, mutual exchanging of homes gives each of you a great incentive to treat the home entrusted to you with respect and care.
Registered members to any international home exchange organization are enough mature (average age 40+), established family-oriented professionals, executives, business-owners or retired people who are financially successful and respect property with an existed physical address. But before you make any commitment to home exchange, you should always try to get involved with your counter-party through letters, fax, emails and phone which establishes a mutual trust & understanding. You should try to get some references for neighbors since home exchange deal is completely based on trust or faith.
The advantages, if this works out for you, are obvious: you can save hundreds of dollars on hotel or temporary housing rental, the home is already fully equipped, you have lots of space, you get to live like a local upon arrival, you can save additional money by cooking your own meals, and in some cases the swap also includes a vehicle.
Check HomeForExchange.com out to see if it’s a viable option for your family.
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