Home Exchanges Are Great Vacations: Trade Houses With Seniors, Boomers to Test Drive Retirement Locale

Why pay rent for a vacation when you can own a vacation or second home? If you like to travel to the same place each year, it makes sense to own a vacation home, condo or fractional at your favorite resort or getaway town.

It could be a ski town that is great in the summer, like Aspen, Colorado or Killington, Vermont. It could be a place by the shore or on a lake a few hours from your fulltime residence. It could be a city pied-a-terre in a place such as San Francisco, New York or even Paris.

Vacation Home Insiders Tips

You don’t even have to spend a nickel. Instead, swap houses with someone who wants to visit your town.

There are numerous Web sites that cater to home exchanges. For example, the International Home Exchange Network says it “can be your passport to an exciting and affordable vacation. Do you dream to escape the cold and vacation in Florida, Mexico, Italy, Costa Rica, California or even the Virgin Islands. Or do you yearn to hit the ski slopes of Canada, Colorado or Utah? To explore the major cities of France, Italy, England, Ireland, The Netherlands or New Zealand? IHEN can assist you in making your dream a reality.”

This Web site, and others like it, offer a large selection of privately owned, unique vacation rentals as well as homes ready for swapping. Listings span the United States and Canada as well as abroad.

Some house exchange Web sites, specialize in seniors and boomers so you don’t have to be concerned about young children finger-painting your walls. Many sites charge a fee to become a member of the house-swap network while others are free. There is also Craigslist, of course; just choose a location and look under the housing swaps.

This is a no-fee, no-fault way of checking out a region that you are thinking about for retirement. House swap boomers and seniors report that they first became interested in a town or city as a place to buy a second home, resort condo, fractional or single family vacation home when they went to that place as part of a swap. Many say that’s how they test-drive the best retirement towns.

Before making a house exchange, it is wise to swap photos with the people whose house you will be using. Put in writing what is included in the swap, such as telephone usage, electric bills etc. You also might do a nonsimultaneous swap.Visit another house while the owners are away, in return for the use of your house by them when you are away.

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