In Key West in early 2006, our home in Collioure taking shape, we put together other elements of our plan, beginning with the highest priority – travel. We explore the rapidly expanding world of home exchange.
Home exchange was started some years ago, by teachers and others, but it has really taken off since the internet facilitated the process. The basic idea is a house swap between two consenting adults. The matchmaker is the internet site, but once you find each other, you’re basically on your own.
There are many home exchange sites. We choose http://www.homeexchange.com, pay the $49.00 annual fee, and employ the site’s user-friendly procedures to describe our apartment and neighborhood, indicate where we want to exchange, and upload the pictures we took during our recent January trip for exactly this purpose.
Once our site is established, other members can access it by location or property number (we’re #52059). If they’re interested in a swap, they send us an email and we can check out their listing to see if we like their place. We, in turn, search the site for homes of interest to us.
Our apartment is small, so we look for exchanges where the exchange party is one or two persons. We also eliminate smokers and pets.
As the spring of 2006 progresses, our first summer of travel comes into focus.
Dublin is the most straightforward. Pat finds a suitable apartment, initiates a correspondence, and we’re soon set for two weeks at the end of July.
My ancestors come from Eastern Europe, and many were murdered there by the Nazis. The transition from Hitler to Stalin, and the eventual emergence of free countries from the dissolving Soviet Union, are events of great interest to me.
Pat looks for home exchanges in Budapest and Prague. She finds a listing in Budapest, but it’s not available on a convenient date. The same listing also mentions an apartment for rent. The dates work, the rent is reasonable (much less than a hotel), and now we have two weeks in Budapest scheduled for late June.
As recent converts to home exchange, we tell everybody about it. Debbie, a runner friend of Pat’s in Key West, turns out to have a brother Evan living in Paris. Debbie sends an introductory email to Evan, and we soon agree to swap apartments for one week at the end of August.
A couple from Perth writes to us. They’re already scheduled to be in France for much of the summer, and want to extend their trip for the month of October.
We’re impressed with their home, a two story town house on a resort marina, but decide that Perth is too far. Our travel objectives are in Europe. We say no.
A return email asks us please to reconsider. We say something about 300 square feet compared to their opulent residence, and they say that’s ok. So we agree to spend October in Australia.
All this is arranged before we return to Collioure in June.