Advice, guide and practical
step-by-step guide to exchanging
this site you will find detailed descriptions of
the homes, services and facilities in the various
regions you wish to visit. Also take note of the
dates you would like to exchange.
through March are the best dates to make your
first contacts for a summer exchange. Four years
ago, we had 14 offers -- one for Tahiti and
another for Reunion Island. The other 12 were
for France: Alsace, Poitou, Normandie, Provence,
Paris, etc. We made our first selection from
these offers, and we answered all of them
whether we liked them or not!
that, we corresponded with two or three people:
checked dates, exchanged photos and details
about the house, the car and the region. Then we
had to make our final choice: where do we go
this year? The south of France is usually our
first choice; after a cold Canadian winter, we
want a warm and sunny region, even if it means
sweltering heat! However, we are open to other
areas of France.
we've decided on the main points, we make our
flight reservations and contact our exchangers
with more questions: Can we camp there? Do you
have bicycles? Which restaurants do you
recommend? We keep in touch with our exchangers
up until the actual exchange takes place.
to experience making a home exchange? Take a
good look at the offers, then subscribe.
Contact many people, send them photos via the
Internet. Check flight dates and airfare with
your travel agent. Take your time before
committing yourself to an offer, but don't wait
too long: you could miss out on a nice occasion.
Revisit the site: there are new listings daily!
Don't look for too many homes with pools in
Provence if you can't offer something similar in
you don't find anything one year, it's ok --
you're allowed to dream! At least you saw how
Another-Home.com works and there's always
advantages of exchanging
are a teacher couple living in Montréal.
Louise, my partner, and myself, Serge, are
travel freaks. Not that we've visited every
country in the world, or the most remote areas;
or that we've been to Europe at least 15 times
and know all the countries. Just the opposite!
Beside having visited Spain, Portugal and Italy,
we go to France every year.
have (time and salaries permitting), driven all
over France. We would rent a car for a month,
sleep in a hotel every night and eat at
restaurants. The Canadian dollar had a
favourable exchange rate against the French
Franc in those days, so our vacations were
affordable. But when the Loonie dropped, prices
shot up in France, our salaries froze, and our
purchasing power decreased, we had to find
another way of spending our vacations. So we
decided to try something new: home exchange.
This concept allowed us to travel to different
regions of France.
to this inexpensive formula, we were able to
enjoy the house and use the car of our French
counterparts for 4 to 6 weeks, while they stayed
at our house and borrowed our car in
Montréal. We drove from Provence to
Landes, the Massif Central to the Rhone Valley.
In all these regions we discovered quaint little
villages, met many people and soaked up the
surrounding landscapes. We visited few churches,
chateaux, abbeys and fortresses. Instead we swam
near shady hills, strolled along roads under
rows of majestic plane trees, and sat on sunny
terraces to enjoy the French
night, instead of looking desperately for a
hotel or bed and breakfast, you can come back to
your home, without tons of baggage in tow, sit
on the terrace and enjoy they evening. You can
discover the restaurants and nightlife of your
"adopted" village, knowing that a comfortable
bed awaits you that doesn't cost a cent -- all
the more reason to splurge on good food and a
good bottle of wine!
advantages, few disappointments!
the financial advantages: How much does an
exchange cost? Answer: no more than the price of
a plane ticket, or $800-$1000 per person, or $2
000 per couple, depending on the going rate.
Many things, like food, gas and clothing, are
more expensive in France, or are about the same
-- but not in Paris! Some delicacies are
cheaper, such as wine, cheese and prepared
foods. Here is an example: one couple spends a
month's vacation in an exchanged home in France
and another in Canada (assuming they don't spend
all their time indoors!). I am convinced that
both couples will spend less and profit more in
different ways than if they did not
advantages? Maybe you are dreaming of a small
chalet in the countryside, but certainly not the
rental price of $2 000 per month. And would you
ever leave the chalet? Would you really feel
comfortable there? Would you familiarize
yourself with the particular customs of the
region? Wouldn't you miss the pleasures of
France, you could invite the acquaintances you
make to your French summer house -- and next
year to another house! This is what we did to
host our guests Jean-Pierre and Monique,
René and Lorraine, Claude and Marianne,
Daniel and Lilianne, Geneviève and
Louise. They all enjoyed their stay in our
A bad exchange can happen, especially if you
aren't well prepared. Ask to see photos of the
house, the car , and of the surrounding area
where you will be immersed for several weeks,
and you will avoid any surprises.
Canadian dollar is slowly gaining ground, but
its weakness is disadvantageous for Canadians
and more advantageous for Europeans. Because the
cost of living is higher in Europe (gas costs
about $1.75 a litre!), you have to limit
yourself to exploring the region where you are
exchanging. On the other hand, Europeans
visiting Canada can go wherever they want!
Despite the long distances, Europeans will gain
qualities of a Home Exchanger
your house to total strangers for five or six weeks
is not something everyone would do. Therefore,
having faith in others is key to home exchanging.
But don't forget that while they sleep in your bed,
use your television and drawers, you are doing the
same thing at their place.
for personal property is also an essential
quality to being a good exchanger. You probably
wouldn't like it if whomever you are exchanging
with would finish your jam or bottle of scotch.
And they surely wouldn't like it if you ate all
their homemade foie gras or their
collection of Margaux wine. Finally, you will be
using each other's spices, perishable foods that
will not be good upon their return, and even
their soap, detergent, etc. Of course, before
leaving, you will replace everything.
have a cousin who would not exchange because he
was afraid of
having other people drive his car, his
"chariot". A friend of mine would not let anyone
sleep in her bed and was afraid of anyone going
through her drawers and seeing her underwear.
Another friend didn't want anyone using his
bathroom, and another his clippers. Other
friends were afraid that their valuable objects
would "disappear". You therefore have to be more
open-minded to exchange.
in someone else's house is not easy either:
often you won't be able to find where the owners
keep things, or you miss having your own car, or
you don't know how to use the washing machine
and dryer -- until the day you leave! However,
you will see that it was worth it, because you
will want to go back next year and do things
in Paris for a big lakeside house in northern
duplex two steps from the metro in Montreal.
Exchange for a "mas" in Provence...
home in San Francisco for an apartment in a small
village in the Alps...
1995 motor home in Washington for similar in
is exchangeable, but don't expect to exchange
your 3-room apartment for a mas in
southern France, or to get a huge apartment with
a terrace and garden in the middle of Paris --
the owners of these apartments don't need to
exchange their homes! Country houses have more
greenery around them and are usually larger than
city homes and apartments, and this goes for
Europe as well as Canada.
city homes and apartments have their advantages:
they are close to metros or buses, cultural
attractions, sporting events, restaurants and
other services. Country houses will better suit
nature lovers who prefer wide open spaces, being
next to a lake or river, fishing, hiking along
trails, or just enjoying the peacefulness and
isolation of the countryside and discovering
small hidden villages.
size of the house is also an important factor in
exchanging: a couple with one bedroom cannot
exchange their apartment with a family of five.
For example, French exchangers usually travel in
families or groups of more than 4 people, so you
have to have at least two bedrooms to be able to
you should correspond with 2 or 3 potential
exchangers and trade pictures of your homes.
Find something reasonable off the beaten track
-- don't go beyond your budget and rent a
seaside villa in Cannes! For Americans or
Canadians, I would recommend that they choose
any small village in France, even if it is in
the middle of nowhere! I encourage Europeans to
do the opposite and choose a home on a lake in
Canada or USA!
free to call each other to make sure that you
have understood all the details. Also,
concerning the car exchange, determine how much
mileage you will both be doing in advance; try
to agree on an equal limit, or be sure to make
up for it. In North America, long distances
separate the major towns and cities, and
Europeans will love going to Niagara Falls or
New York while you tour the surroundings of the
region you're staying in.
you've decided to go for it and spend 5 weeks in
the French countryside while your European
counterparts live in your bungalow in Orillia,
New-York. Here are some tips (non-exhaustive) to
help you prepare for your exchange. Get ready to
Tickets and Money
your tickets as early as possible. Don't wait
until it's too late: you have committed yourself
to the exchange and your exchangers cannot
cancel without any reason. Also, if you wait
until the last minute and you can only get a
flight to Marseilles but you're exchanging in
Lille, you'll have to spend extra money to get
take too much money with you. There are bank
machines throughout Europe. Take out a large
amount at once because it costs $3 each time you
use your bankcard to withdraw money in
Keys and Documents
is done more often at the airport because both
exchangers usually plan the same arrival and
departure dates. Otherwise, leave a phone number
they can call to pick up the keys, or ask
someone to go to your house to meet them, give
them they keys and help them get settled.
sure your house is spotlessly clean before you
leave, and it should look the same way
you return. Make a list of things your
exchangers should know like garbage and
recycling days, where the sheets and towels are,
that the hot and cold water taps are reversed,
how to open the garage door, where you put your
camping equipment, how to use your appliances,
how to change the fuses, or how to clean the
pool. Either give this list to your exchangers,
or post little notes around the house; on the
fridge, for instance. If you have valuable
objects or documents, lock them in a safe,
closet, or another piece of furniture.
sure your car is clean and the tank is full
before exchanging. Ask your exchangers to do the
same. Leave your registration papers in the car
and call your insurance company. Do an oil check
before leaving. Never park in front of the front
door, or you will get a ticket lest you
at least one neighbour that you are exchanging
your home, and ask them to pick up your mail if
your guests leave for a couple of days. It would
also be nice if your neighbour checked every now
and then on how things are going. Our charming
neighbour, Mr. Boisclair, does all this for
maps of your area, city and Province for your
guests. Tell them where the restaurants and the
dry cleaner are located, or where to buy good
bread (very important for a French person!).
Show them where the closest markets,
supermarkets and department stores are located,
and explain to them what a
dépanneur is (if the exchange
takes place in Québec). Do everything to
make them have the most pleasant stay
a list of the most important numbers: your
neighbour, the police, fire department and
ambulance (911 in most communities throughout
North America), clinic, doctor, hospital,
plumber, electrician, garage, your family and
friends, etc. If your exchangers need to use
these services, in case of an emergency, for
example, exchange bills afterwards to determine
how much is owed and by whom.
are on vacation and so are your exchangers, so
don't expect them to tend your precious orchids!
Give them to a friend or neighbour until you
return. Also ask your friend or neighbour to
water your lawn or garden, or hire a company to
do it. Plant fewer flowers so people don't feel
obligated to water or tend them as you
you have a big cat (like us)? Ask your
exchangers if they have any allergies, or if
they would mind taking care of your pet. If they
do mind, find someone who will take care of your
pet for a month. A dog is more complicated than
a cat. You can also put your dog in a kennel or
take it with you.
cancel your newspaper subscription?
... leave clear instructions on how to use your
VCR that never works?
... give your exchangers a spare set of
... explain to your exchangers that to start
your car you have to keep the clutch
like too many little details? Not if you want a
successful exchange and another one next year,
as most of exchangers do.