In October my family of four flew to Oregon for free (with credit card points) and stayed for a week in a million dollar house for $150. And an Oregonian family stayed in our house for the same.
We signed up for HomeExchange this summer, a site that facilitates trading homes with like-minded people looking for cheaper, authentic, unique experiences. Within days of creating a profile and uploading some photos I was getting requests from, Denmark, France, Colombia, Mexico, California, and Oregon.
Look, Denton, Texas is a great place I’m happy to call home, but this is middle America with no forests, mountains, beaches, interesting architecture, or religious history. We do have a Chairy Orchard (someone’s yard with a bunch of chairs…).
So I wasn’t expecting many requests from places objectively more desirable. But people need to come to Denton for lots of reasons: house hunting, weddings, family gatherings, surgeries, or just one of many stops on a tour of America.
There are two options when exchanging homes:
- Reciprocal Exchange – a literal trade, staying at each other’s home during the same period.
- GuestPoints Exchange – pay a nightly rate with GuestPoints when someone is offering up their home during a period they won’t be using it.
Our first HomeExchange experience was with GuestPoints. When you sign up and complete a few tasks you earn points you can spend. We went to Galveston and stayed in a lovely house 2 blocks from the beach for free*.
*There is a $150 annual fee that covers cancellations and property damage, but there’s no limit to your number of exchanges.
Not only was the house that we stayed in perfect for us, but there were so many touches you don’t get with a hotel or Airbnb. Our host (who we only ever texted with), left us personally addressed toys and snacks for our kids and cookies & wine for mom and dad. Because you’re opening your home up for others there’s an added level of pride and care that’s certainly absent at hotels, and rare among rental homes.
Then came our reciprocal exchange with the Oregonian family. They also have two young kids, and so the week spent in each other’s homes was as good as an amusement park for kids who are always more excited by another kid’s toys. Their family was exploring DFW as a possible new residence. We were just in awe of the gorgeous city that is Bend, Oregon right at the start of Fall.
We have more exchanges lined up and look forward to a lifetime of trading our home in order to explore places we’d never have thought to seek out. There’s no education like traveling, and what better way to do it?
An unexpected pro of participating in home exchanges is that it motivates you to keep up with all those little home maintenance projects you otherwise put off. Paint touch-ups, fixing a sticking door, replacing the bathtub drain stop that leaks a little.
Want to swap houses for a week? Check out our house here. I’d love to answer any questions and share more about our experiences.