Did you know your small, one-bedroom apartment can be swapped for castles, cottages, cabins, and chalets around the world?
That’s exactly what happened to Vincent and Steve. They use their one-bedroom apartment in Provincetown, Massachusetts, to see the world: Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and many more. This is all possible with HomeExchange.
Vincent discovered HomeExchange through his neighbor ten years ago, when his neighbor traded “his whole big house for a little one-bedroom apartment,” Vincent said. “Since we have a small apartment at our beach place, I thought maybe we’d be lucky too and sometimes end up with a big vacation house.”
In the 10 years and 43 exchanges that followed, Vincent and his husband have seen the world, sometimes bringing friends along. “For our first exchange, we stayed at a house in Denmark with a direct view over a gorgeous historic castle,” Vincent recalled. “We’ve exchanged with them again since then!”
Though HomeExchange is incredibly affordable, Vincent said they have felt spoiled throughout their travels. He shared that a host in France left them chocolate gateau and a bottle of champagne, exemplifying the whole HomeExchange community: “they’ve been a very welcoming people.”
In addition to being luxurious and affordable, HomeExchange’s big advantage is how flexible it makes travel planning. “A lot of people are not turned off by not doing a direct exchange,” Vincent said. “They say ‘You can use our home when you want, and then let us know when we can come to yours.’ It can be very flexible.” Because members are swapping homes, they treat each other’s house like their own, as the community is built on trust and mutual respect.
“You truly live like a local,” Vincent said. “You’re living in a real home somewhere…they have stake in it because it’s your home, and that makes it two responsible parties involved in the transaction.” HomeExchange hosts don’t do it to make money, but to open their homes to travelers around the world to experience authentic travel.
Vincent recalled when he traveled to Venice on a HomeExchange and a family from the Netherlands asked him and Steve for a grocery store recommendation. Vincent showed them around like he had lived there forever, thanks to recommendations and tips from his HomeExchange hosts. In another home, the couple took care of the family’s cat while they stayed in their home. Home swapping provides the opportunity to live like a local, making surprising connections along the way.
Though COVID-19 has slowed many travelers down, Vincent and Steve have been able to continue traveling safely and more localy. Their policy is that they don’t have guests back-to-back— “there’s a week after the cleaners are there so no one has touched things in over a week,” Vincent said. This year, they are looking forward to visiting Cambridge, Massachusetts and then Maine for Independence Day.
Vincent and Steve’s second home in Provincetown is on top of an 1875 house with a roof deck, nestled in a historic town that draws many tourists yearly. The houses they’ve swapped for have mostly been larger— “often it’s a primary residence, so sometimes a lot bigger,” Vincent shared.
The most fun part about home exchanging can be just getting that email from a member who is interested in arranging an exchange, Vincent said. “It makes me consider some place I’ve not been before,” he said. “It’s fun when I get those emails and I think, where in the world might it be?”