Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 585 Retirement and Home Exchange

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery. I have entitled this podcast “Retirement and Home Exchange”.

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 And I have to inject here that this is not an ad. It is just an opinion.

I wrote the opening paragraph in February a few years ago 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 elses. The trade is cash free. No charge to members.

It is all based on trust. Trust in someone you have never met and may never met. We have exchanged with others maybe 20 plus times and hardly ever met anyone. They just send you a key to their place or tell you where it will be when you arrive. The home exchange site just puts you in contact with other people who want to spend some time in your part of the world. Then you exchange information on your own through emails or messaging. I love the idea of placing trust in people you have never met.

Ten to fifteen years ago, we went to their Internet site and 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 all over Europe, Africa, North and South America, and Asia. I love to wake up in the morning and see where we might spend some time if we wish for free. And I really like staying in someone’s home in a regular part of a region without being automatically shuffled into a tourist zone.

Our very first exchange was the one in Mexico. It was unbelievable. They just sent us an address and a key. Since it was not the owner’s primary residence it allowed for a non- simultaneous exchange. After several years they used our Vancouver condo. We have been to some places and they have yet to use our condo. And we have let people use our condo and we have never stayed in their place. It works.

Our longest trip included stays in Sutter Creek, California, Scottsdale, Austin, Texas, New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi, Durham, North Carolina, and then Washington, DC. It was then that we turned the car west and returned via the Blue Ridge Mountains, Memphis (had to see Graceland), Denver and on home.

We have now arranged for a one week exchange with some folks from Portland, Oregon and are looking forward to that. We have another one scheduled for Seattle – right down town – just above Pike Street Market. It should be fun. As you can tell, we are not really reaching out to the exotic regions of the world. Not that we couldn’t. It is just that I don’t like flying long distances. I’m too tall – and maybe too grouchy. We traveled a great deal when we were younger and when we retired we picked a place that we hoped would give travel little appeal. I think it has worked - at least for me. We have big cities, mountains, salt water, and a temperate climate where we live. I did not envision spending retirement on a tour buses, moving in a group from hotel to hotel.

One thing about home exchange: it certainly opens up the possibilities. It is interesting to look at home in Sicily, Provence, Montreal, or Prague. We have had other home exchange trips that included three in New York City and then a week in Boston. They were all great. Lately we have roamed in the western part of the US. But we are drawing the circle smaller all the time.

Another 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 local interest. It is just a very different experience than visiting a new place and checking into a hotel.

You might want to check it out. It certainly is an opportunity for retired folks. Retirement allows for flexibility and freedom to roam if we wish. Home exchange literally opened new doors in our lives. And, as I said earlier, the price is right - it’s free. And the experience is unlike staying in a hotel, motel or campground.

This is Retirement Talk.

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