You may enjoy reading this great article published in The Australian on October 27. As more of us stop to think about ways to keep enjoying life .. while saving money too .. it seems that home exchange holidays are even capturing the attention of the Executive Lifestyle set.
Did you know that thousands of HomeLink members use the Christmas holidays to arrange exchanges for next year? Christmas is Prime Time for getting your 2009 exchange offers underway.
Just a reminder - if you have been thinking of joining our global community some time in 2009, make sure you get in early. Our office is closing for 2 weeks - 20 December to 4 January. Be sure to take advantage of Prime Time, and join before 20 December, so that you will have access to the members areas during your Christmas break, and, so that northern hemisphere members will be able to contact you during their Christmas break.
Occasionally we receive contacts from HomeLink offices abroad,
seeking help with finding an exchange partner at the last minute. We
recently received a request from Caroline in the UK office. Her
HomeLinkers, Diane and Brian, have previously booked to come to
Australia from 18
December 2008 to
1 January 2009. They had booked a hotel, but are hoping that someone
may be able to offer a non-simultaneous exchange instead. For anyone
wanting to experience life in beautiful Devon in the South West of
England, here's your opportunity!
"We live in a three bed roomed cottage in a beautiful, quiet, rural Devon village in the South West of England. We are close to the coast and numerous sandy beaches; we also have the rural delights of Dartmoor on our doorstep. Thirty minutes travel will put you in either Exeter or Plymouth, whilst two hours travel could see you on the beaches of Cornwall or in the City of Bath or Bristol. We have a very fast train connection to London and our regional airport at Exeter has connections to the North of England, Scotland, Ireland & some European Cites."
If you are interested in offering your home for this exchange at short notice, and have not yet joined as a member of HomeLink, please contact our office. It is important to note that only full fee-paying members of the HomeLink community can contact Diane and Brian with a view to taking up their non-simultaneous exchange offer. So, we do not recommend that you become a HomeLink member on the basis of this exchange offer only, as they may choose to exchange with someone other than yourself. However, as a full fee-paying HomeLink member, you can contact Diane and Brian to ask if they wish to exchange with you. We simply wish to emphasise that there is no guarantee that they would accept your offer.
trust you will enjoy this entertaining account from one very
experienced HomeLinker, sharing how they began home exchanging
with us many years ago. In future, we hope to bring you later
instalments from Barbara and Brian's "career" with our global community.
Our adventures with house exchanging started about 8 years ago when, on watching one of the holiday shows on TV, I saw a program about exchanging houses. At the time we were still working and in our fifties and were planning on retiring in the next few years. We had thought we would do a bit of travelling when we retired. Back then we were thinking more about caravanning or motor home type trips. But when we saw the show about house exchanging we thought this may be just the thing, as long as it works. Like everyone we were just a bit worried about how it would work? and would our house be trashed when we got home? what will we do with all our things? .. all the thoughts everybody has before exchanging.
I was keen to get in and have a go. Not that easy as at the time we did not have a computer, and I had no idea how to use one. The Homelink site had very few e-mail addresses and most were still in to writing letters or phoning. So our first thing was to use our daughter's computer, as at the time we were managers of a block of holiday units on the beach on the Gold coast, and I did not have time or the energy to start to have computer lessons. We decided to exchange one of our holiday units, as we owned a couple of the units in the complex, and we could not use our own unit as it was the managers unit for the complex. So to start with we had to find a relief manager so we could take a holiday. Not an easy matter, but we did find a couple who would mind our business and look after our cat, and so we joined Homelink. Who would think it would lead us to where we are now.
I guess I should tell you something about us. We are a normal middle class family, if there is such a thing. We have three daughters and we now have four wonderful granddaughters. We were married in Sydney more years ago than we care to remember .. we were both young, 20 and 26. I had come out from the UK with my family when I was 15, and Brian my husband was born in Brisbane, a dinky di Aussie. We lived in Sydney most of our married life. I am a bit of a gypsy according to my husband, and I get sick of the same view out of the windows all the time. I like a change, so as you can see, Homelink was just the thing for me.
We had been overseas once, when Brian took his long service leave when the children where young, and we went to South Africa to visit the game parks and see the animals. We always liked a little adventure.
Other than that and a couple of weeks up or down the coast from Sydney, we had just our annual holidays once or twice a year to the Gold Coast which we have always loved, and twenty years ago we decided to move to the Gold Coast. Have never regretted, it we love it here.
When the last of the children left home, I said to Brian that I wanted to go back to Ireland where I was born to see family. I had not been back since I left in 1958, and felt that I wanted to go home. But I was of course an Aussie citizen, as being married to an Aussie on our first trip to South Africa when I had to get a passport, we all wanted to be the same nationality. So I became a proud Aussie.
I was happy to go back and just stay with relations. But Brian, who had never been out of Australia except for our South Africa trip, said if we can get our daughter to look after our business for six weeks he would take time off and come with me. We had unfortunately never heard of Homelink at the time, so we booked our flights. We were going to Ireland, England, and then a 32 day trip around Europe. Brian had never been in Europe before, and it was a real eye opener. We loved all the different places we visited. Who would ever think we would go to Paris, Madrid, or Athens, and we really enjoyed our trip. I loved it, but at the time I thought, "Well this is it, I will never go over to the UK again", as it was very expensive and we were saving for our retirement. We planned on retiring to go on lots of trips, as we both wanted to travel but were thinking more along travelling in and around Australia.
But now we had found Homelink. Where would we go? How do you start?
We have a lot of friends who think, "What a good idea!", but then never do anything about it. They go overseas and stay with relations, and then come back and say, "Well, we did not get to do all the things we wanted to do", or "It was just OK", as when if you have ever stayed with relations or family, "The time just gets eaten up by cups of tea and talking". Or, "They take you to the places they want you to see, not necessarily the ones that you want to visit". And, "What can I say about the beds in the second bedroom!" Usually the old one they put there when they got a new one. They can be really uncomfortable, but how can you say anything without upsetting them as they have had you to stay. So the visit may not all that you had hoped it would be. It is also not that cheap, as you eat out more and then you have to offer to pay. This can be very expensive depending on the country you are in. So this is not really the cheap trip that you thought it would be, and ends up costing a lot more that you thought it would.
How much better is it if you have your own home! You can do what you want when you want. If it rains stay at home, have a day in bed, curl up with a good book. It just makes the difference from just a "not so good holiday" to a really terrific one. With a car exchange you will also have your car and not relying on other people to take you here and there so can do what you want. A big plus.
I suggest for your first exchange you pick a place you would like to see in Australia till you feel comfortable with exchanging, as the first exchange is always a bit of a worry .. "Will it work?", "What will happen?", "What will the other people be like?", etc
On watching another of the holiday shows on TV, we saw the Mornington Peninsular in Victoria and thought how nice it looked. We discussed it and thought "We should try to get somewhere there .. we will try for an exchange there". After looking on the site, we decided on a couple of places and sent out a couple of e-mails. "No" to both. Oh well. We looked up a couple more and then got a "Yes" from a couple not quite where we wanted but close. They did not want to come to the Gold Coast when we had arranged our holidays in September, they wanted to come in April. That was OK with us as we would come to them later in the year. This works if you have a holiday house or unit, ie, if you have somewhere else to go. They arrived at our units and we found them to be a very nice retired couple. They told us they had had a very enjoyable holiday and they were looking forward to seeing us in September.
This, our first exchange, was nearly our last as when September came and we contacted them the husband had just been told he had cancer and they would not be able to exchange with us. They were very sorry, and they said they were happy to pay for the couple of weeks holiday they had at our place. As it was a holiday unit they paid us the rate for the unit for the two weeks, but we need a holiday and had been looking forward to it. We were devastated as we had our relief managers all arranged. What were we going to do at this late date? I still wanted to exchange so I rang the home exchange office. They were so helpful and gave us the names of several people they thought may be able to help. It was at this time I realised that Homelink is a community, and the people in it are just great.
We got offers of a flat under an exchangers house, a house in country Victoria, and a couple of people said "Come and stay with us". They were all so kind, but not what we really wanted. I rang the office again and this time was told, "I think we have a lady that can help you". I got the phone number (the internet was only just beginning when we first started), so I rang and spoke to the exchanger. She had two homes as her partner had just moved in with her, and his home was vacant. And guess where it was? Just where we wanted, on the Mornington Peninsular! What luck!! We arranged where we would find the key and got the address. We decided to drive down the coast to Victoria. We were not sure about exchanging the car yet - "Let's see if the house exchange works first", we decided.
So off we went on our first exchange. After a lovely few days driving down the coast, we made it to the house. "Yes, this is the street". It was so near the beach, and it had a view, both really great for our holiday. It is always an adventure finding the house and opening the front door and exploring your new home.
This was a big house. Old, but very clean, and well stocked for a holiday home. We even had a table tennis table. It was just one street from the bay, and we had a patio with a nice view where we could sit and relax.
Our exchange partner just lived in the next suburb, and asked us to her place for coffee. They were coming to our place on the Gold Coast the following month. These were a very experienced exchanger couple, and they had been to so many places. They gave us a lot of confidence in the Homelink system as they had been with Homelink many years.
We had a wonderful holiday after a shaky start, and on driving home we went via Canberra and thought, "What a great place, we will do our next exchange here." Yes, we were already thinking about our next exchange as we felt happy with our first one, and had had a great time.
We had not really thought about it but if you want a budget holiday, home exchanging is the best way to do it.
Barbara and Brian
"New Zealand is a country of rare seismic beauty: glacial mountains, fast-flowing rivers, deep, clear lakes, hissing geysers and boiling mud. There are also abundant native forests, long, deserted beaches and a variety of fauna, such as the kiwi, endemic to its shores." - lonely planet
We've mentioned recently that home exchanging in Australia and New Zealand is a fantastic way to still enjoy a holiday while avoiding the high costs of accommodation (and the fallen Aussie Dollar exchange rate). Another great reason to consider New Zealand right now is that Valerie and John in the HomeLink NZ office have reported a record intake of new members in September and October. That means more home swapping opportunities in beautiful New Zealand than ever before.