Vol 6 No. 43 - July 19, 2006
Expand your horizon with
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
Homes have come a long way from the days of simply sheltering
us from the elements to modern homes which provide a lifestyle
and make a statement. Well, theres something else your
home can do for you, it can grant you the means to travel to
countries and locations you may have only dreamed of.
House swapping, home trading, trading places call it
what you like, it has been around for a long time. In fact,
the concept started in the 1950s with teachers and professors
who wanted to travel during their long summer vacations. However,
during the past five years the numbers of people willing to
swap their homes has increased tremendously. Americans faced
with a devalued dollar, are searching for more affordable ways
to travel abroad, and fellow travelers from all parts of the
world have taken notice.
Primarily swapping homes started as a financial arrangement
advantageous for both parties. But it has turned into more of
a cultural event getting the visitor immersed in the local culture,
food and lifestyle. What started as a word of mouth network
among homeowners interested in participating, has turned into
a business with annual fees and Web sites.
Four of the more popular Web sites where you can list your home
for a trade are intervac.com, homelink.org, homeexchange.com
and exchangehomes.com. In order to advertise your home you first
need to join the listing service you feel best meets your needs.
It is not uncommon for people to list their homes with more
than one service. Annual fees range from $40 to $125, approximately.
The Web sites for these four services are all pretty interesting.
You can search by country of choice and by cities within the
country. There are profiles of the homeowners, descriptions
and pictures of the home, and sometimes, what time of year and
where the owners would like to travel.
It does take a little bit of coordination and research; you
need to find the right home, in the right location at the right
time of the year to make it work. But the benefit of not having
to shell out hundreds of dollars a night for lodging and have
the added savings of cooking your own meals is more than worth
Verify that your homeowners insurance does not present
a problem and have an alternative plan and agreement in the
event either your or the other party cant fulfill their
obligation. The use of a car is frequently provided, but this
can get into a ticklish insurance issue if there is an accident,
so consider it carefully.
Condos and apartments are also swapped, and second homes are
probably the ideal property to swap. Families tend to swap with
other families, couples with couples, etc. Guests could also
water your plants, bring in your mail and even take care of
your pets. Some people feel more comfortable locking up personal
and valuable items, but most homeowners experience is
Naturally your home has to have something to offer. Major cities
and tourist areas are always in demand. Finding people interested
in Anna Maria Island would probably not be a problem, since
it is equally attractive in both summer and winter. In fact,
I did see some Anna Maria properties listed when I was reviewing
the various Web sites.
Give your house a break. Dont just consider it a great
tax writeoff; think of it as a great travel asset, too. If you
can get past other peoples shampoo in your shower and
their slippers under your bed, it can be a great adventure and
another way to get the most out of living in a wonderful area
in a desirable home.
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