Swapping Homes Anybody?


Friday, February 3, 2012

To fix or not to Fix? No question for me...

So far my search for this year's home swaps hasn't brought any results. The German bet is off as predicted and the French are mulling things over. It's still early in the season, you would think, to make travel arrangements, but like last year, many Germany families already booked their trips. They know in advance when exactly their children will be on summer holidays - this changes every year. And the breadwinner puts in his vacation request accordingly- if they have children that is. We also heard that for some people flights were too expensive this year.
If you are thinking about a home swap, there is still plenty of time in my experience. Don't let the following story deter you.Maybe I shouldn't start off on less than positive note. But you can still draw your own conclusions; sometimes one has to learn the hard way.
So, right on time for the new season we got a newsletter from our chosen agency. One story they shared for their members reminds me of what happened to us on our second exchange. If you have followed our travels, you will remember that the scenario described here sounds familiar:
After a house swap with Australia this lady writes: "When I returned to town, I invited some neighbors over for grilled dinner on the patio to meet them. The Aussie gentleman was setting the table outside and noticed
that my umbrella table was crooked. The next thing I knew, he was under the table straightening it out! After I thanked him for doing a fixit job, which had stumped me, he remarked that he was able to “fix that shower door” (which hadn╩╝t shut correctly in about3 years!) By the time our 4 week exchange was over, and I returned home, I found that a plastic bathroom faucet handle had broken and been replaced, the wheel on my bicycle was fixed, and my wonky kitchen cupboard door was good as new!I never anticipated having free handy-man services as part of the home swap deal. I told them they were welcome to visit me any time, and I would gladly supply the tool kit.
I have tried to conceal the identity of this wonderful Aussie couple, since I am sure they
would be bombarded with home exchange requests from everyone who read this article."
Yes, indeed! That was the impression that we had in France: that this family used home swaps to have their house fixed up(toilet seat, toilet roll holder, missing light bulbs in several rooms, and cleaned. They left every trash can overflowing and conveniently placed wipes (lingettes) all over the house. Garden furniture and pool cover were garnished with green algae which kept us busy for the first 2 days before we could enjoy the house. In contrast, we had touched up paint everywhere, even repainted the porch, bought new sheets and towels etc. to have everything  sparkling for our guests.
My tip: Clarify if they have a cleaner and if you can call upon her.

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