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Trade houses, see the world

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis July 30, 2012 09:39 AM

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Sure glad I didn't pay attention to the advice on the comment board of this blog when my wife Karen was exploring our first home exchange three years ago.

It was jumping the gun a bit, but at the time I blogged about how Karen and I were hoping to do a house exchange with a family in Europe.

OK, I guess must be thin skinned since I still remember the barb thrown out on the comment board by a self-proclaimed expert on the home exchange market.

No one is going to be interested in your lowly Natick fixer-upper - they are going to want to trade places with a family in some fancy Back Bay townhouse!

Pure nonsense, as it turns out.

I am happy to report that I just got back from a week of vacation in Quebec City with Karen and our three little ones, eating lots of delightfully rich food and walking around one of the most beautiful and historic cities in North America.

This marks the third year we have done a summer vacation home exchange - last year we spent two weeks outside of D.C. and the year before that we traded homes with a Dutch family.

We spent a week in a house in the Quebec version of West Roxbury or Roslindale, while our new friends Erick and Emilie and their three young children spent the week in our house in Natick.

It was a great way to get a feel for both life in Quebec and for urban living again after having spent the last decade as a suburbanite.

At this point, we wouldn't go on vacation any other way - why pay a couple thousand to cram into a small hotel room for a week when you can have a whole house to yourself? OK, there is some sweat equity involved - you need to leave the exchange house sparkling clean - but what's a few hours of dusting up?

I now have an offer to exchange with another Quebec City family of next summer - we also routinely get offers from families in Europe as well.

Yes, my humble fixer-upper doesn't have the glamor of a Back Bay townhouse, but if you are wealthy enough to own such a prized piece of property, you are likely not looking to save a few bucks and do a home exchange.

Here's a link to the website we use -

So what's the moral of this story? Beware of advice from anonymous strangers claiming to have inside knowledge. Go with your gut.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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