Do you remember the movie The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz? You know the one where they swap homes and fall in love with Jack Black and Jude Law? I loved that movie! And it also inspired me to do my own exchange this year.
When I moved to Santa Monica last year, I knew that this would be a killer location for a home exchange. Who wouldn’t want to come here, live in our sweet apartment and be near the beach? So I took a gamble and posted our place on homeexchange.com. I had no idea if we would get any interest, but my gut said “hell yeah”.
In just a few days, we got a ton of offers. We had offers from 12 different countries! It was amazing. When an offer came in from a couple in Bordeaux, France, we jumped on it. Now, when I tell people about what we did, people have mixed reactions. ”What if they destroy your home? What if they steal everything? etc.” I mean, those are completely valid thoughts. But since you are exchanging homes, my feeling was that people would follow the golden rule.
But being the methodical Taurus that I am, I asked that we have a video Skype call straight away. Once we were able to talk face to face with these folks, I had a great feeling. I speak French, so it was easy. After our call, we drew up a contract. Now, I don’t think this contract would stand up legally, but it was certainly another way for both of us to feel good about what was happening. We talked about our travel dates and once we agreed, we both bought our airline tickets and sent confirmations to one another to make sure we were both *really going*.
As we approached our vacation time, we also both wrote up a document that had a bunch of information in out about the apartment (how to use the appliances, where to find things, Wifi codes, etc.) as well as information about the area, our favorite restaurants, places to visit, and fun things to do. We also left food for one another. I think this was the coolest thing ever! It just felt like we were having our friends stay with us, so we made sure to leave them food for breakfast and dinner. I wanted to make sure the apartment looked perfect for them. As I was getting everything ready for their stay, I wondered if they were making the same effort for us.
I was not disappointed!
When we arrived in Bordeaux, we opened the doors to a magnificent apartment in the heart of the city. They had left us a gorgeous bottle of red wine from Margaux, a tin of foie gras, a lovely assortment of organic fruits and veggies, and some stinky cheese (my favorite)! We were really touched and felt like the luckiest people ever. The apartment was just as they had described it. It was in a 200-yr old building and it was even cooler than the pictures showed. We spent many hours lounging on their leather sofa, with the huge french doors wide open, listening to the city outside. It was phenomenal.
I can imagine that not all home exchanges go this well, but ours did. We both had an incredible time, shared stories and pictures, and wished that we had met in person. I hope our next home exchange is as awesome as this one!