Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 357 Home Exchange

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery

Here we are sitting in a beautiful penthouse condo on the beach in Peurta Vallarta, Mexico. Exotic! The blue waves crash on the rocks directly below our windows.  Beautiful sandy beaches reach out on either side of the rocks. The sun sets in the west. The perfect picture of paradise - just like out of a magazine. It is all ours – for two full weeks – for free. That’s the best part. Compliments of

I wrote the opening paragraph in February, when it was rainy and dark where I live. Not so in Mexico.

We heard about this place on the Internet where one could participate in a home exchange network.  You agree to trade the use of your residence for that of someone else’s. The trade is cash free. No charge to members.

Six years ago we registered as members. It cost fifty dollars at that time. I think the price has gone up since then. We filled in all the information about our condo in Vancouver, BC. Took some pictures of it  and the surrounding environment and posted everything to the Home Exchange site.

Within days we started to receive emails with invitations to participate in exchanges. They came from all over the world. Australia and New Zealand were well represented. Then we were offered a chance to spend, “April in Paris”. Since then we were enticed by possible exchanges from Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Argentina, Ireland, Montreal, Vancouver Island, Los Angeles, Mexico, Seattle, and others that have faded from memory.

We started our experience with an exchange fairly close to home. We traveled to Eugene, Oregon and took up residence just a few blocks from Oregon State University campus. The owners of that house were attending a conference in Vancouver and wanted to use our condo. It worked out perfect. We explored Eugene by bicycle, our favorite mode of transportation. We even meet up with a former student of mine from some thirty five years ago. It was a treat. The owners of the brick home were professors. They used our condo in Vancouver at the same time to attend a conference.. The only sign that they had been there was a note of appreciation. Perfect.

Our next exchange was the one in Mexico. It was unbelievable. We enjoyed two weeks in the sunshine. Since it was not the owner’s primary residence it allowed for a non- simultaneous exchange. Four years later they used our Vancouver condo. We were off to a very satisfying adventure.

We then exchanged for a week in Portland and then another week in Ashland. Each trade resulted in complete satisfaction. We were hooked. We headed farther south the next winter and enjoyed beautiful accommodation in San Lois Obispo and Santa Monica. We were almost two weeks in San Lois Obispo with two different exchanges. We split the two up with one full week in Santa Monica. It was a great trip and remember we were in homes or condos were we had total privacy, all the comforts of home and it was free.

We grew more adventurous with each success and our next trip ran from coast to coast. We would drive two or three days staying in hotels or motels and then stay in a prearranged exchange for four to six days. Enough to let us feel at ease and explore the area without rushing. Stops included Scottsdale, Austin, New Orleans, Savannah, Durham, and Washington DC.  We interspersed these with visits with friends or relatives in Sutter Creek, Ruidoso, Sarasota, Florida, Jackson, Mississippi and Denver, Colorado.
Each exchange proved different and more than pleasant. They were just so much better than staying in hotels or motels.

Since that trip we took a similar road trip in the American Southwest. Great exchanges in Salt Lake and St. George, Utah and then Tucson, Arizona. We were six weeks on this road trip in the fall. It could not have been better.

The last of our home exchange ventures took us East to Chicago, New York City and Boston being our focus. A beautiful exchange crashed for Chicago when we lost contact with the other partly a month or two prior to our departure. We were never clear on what exactly happened but it had to do with a change of email addresses and a failure to establish a backup method of contact. We will watch that in the future. But our exchanges in NYC and Boston made up for the Chicago blunder.

We had three exchanges in New York City that added character to our visit. One loft on 23rd street just off fifth avenue, a million dollar condo on the 39th floor adjacent to the Lincoln Center and a condo on Blecher St. in Greenwich Village. They were each amazing and took us to very unique neighborhoods.

Our last exchange in Boston was on the twenty third floor of one of the Harbor Towers. It was a beautiful place with a million dollar view and immediate access to downtown.

One good thing about home exchanging is that you get a local look at the place you are visiting. You’re in a neighborhood. In all of our home exchange experiences we have found notes concerning good restaurants, coffee shops, places to buy groceries, and points of interest. It is just a very different experience than visiting a new place and checking into a hotel.

It is all based on trust. The organization just furnishes a way to contact others who are seeking an exchange. I love the idea of sending off a key to someone you have never met. We have never been burned. To the contrary, we have met some wonderful people who also have faith in good behavior  of others. All the communication is between members scattered all over the world via the Internet. Select the country, city or region you want to visit and click search. Pictures of the houses, apartments or condos will pop up. A bit of information concerning the owners will appear. You can then contact them via home exchange and start the process. No money is involved. Other than the fee to join Home


You might want to check it our. Retirement allows for flexibility and freedom to roam if we wish. Home exchange literally opens new doors in life.

This is Retirement Talk.

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