If you read my bio or visit my house, you probably know that the unused rooms in my house were converted to a homeshare style AirBnb as a way to benefit the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust and to maintain and maximize my house as a resource. I would like to have the air flow and wiring and plumbing in those rooms get used.

The true way to maximize the entire property would be to have a family move in and me, one individual, move out. Seeing that I am not ready to vacate the house, I can take steps toward gauging my feelings about it through HomeExchange. HomeExchange is a way to conduct house swapping. Maybe you saw a movie called The Holiday, where Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet traded houses in the United States and the United Kingdom for an extended period of time. Their characters may have used HomeExchange (which I will call HE from here on out).

When I couldn’t find hotel rooms during my cousin’s wedding weekend, I found what I needed – better than what I needed – with HE. I say better because I got an entire property – house, garage, and yard, and we didn’t have a reciprocal exchange where the host home owners stay at my place while I stay at theirs, and used no cash. Instead, I stayed at the HE house using GuestPoints, which are convenient and flexible. GuestPoints are HE currency that is earned and used with every stay, and make exchanges between houses of different sizes and locations more equitable. Ultimately, I spent no money to stay in a charming house in a lovely neighborhood for the wedding.

While on my HE, I did some geocaching in a very walkable neighborhood, drove to a nearby recreational lake and rose garden for some fun, and generally puttered around as my empty nest self. It was quite lovely and freeing. HE has been around for 30 years, which increases my trust in its participants. I am in a couple HE communities online, and everyone seems genuinely interested in learning about a culture through living in it.

This positive exchange is what led me to give my house to a family of five for eight days earlier this year. I had to live in a different place for 8 days as this was not a reciprocal exchange (i would have done a reciprocal exchange if i held a remote job). I found this exchange to be a good test for myself as an empty nester – did I feel good about having a family using the property if it wasn’t my own family? I did. Am I ready to give up my house? Not yet, but I am definitely going to continue using HomeExchange. Family, personal, and business trips seem more fun when I’m paying one annual HE fee for unlimited exchanges and not putting money toward a hotel. What do you think about house swapping? Check it out at and if you sign up, use referral code julia-cce2f

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