The Story of Sandra and Anne

What happens when two home exchangers get together to share? A whole lot of fun. Meet Sandra and Anne. They don’t know each other, but they do share the similar values and aspirations for home exchange. Sandra started to exchange her home in the Netherlands using GuesttoGuest, while Anne is a Member of HomeExchange from Sweden. HomeExchange asked them to interview one another to discover what they had in common. What results is a conversation about their experiences and fears, their expectations, and their opinions about the world of home exchange.

Sandra: What was your most memorable exchange so far and why?

Anne: Oh, that is tricky... Hanging at the playground with a lovely Canadian exchange family in Panama, an amazing house in the Costa Rican jungle, spending the day with Exchange Partners in Spain, Puerto Rico and Brazil, having our own home base in Buenos Aires for a month, dinners and interesting discussions in Florida during our hosted exchange. The exchanges have so often been above expectations, and it is a combination of a fantastic home and lovely Exchange Partners who quickly felt like old friends. After all, it is the meetings with the local Exchange Partners, the political discussions over a cup of coffee, that leaves the strongest memories.

Sandra: How do you manage to find such interesting exchanges like the ones you took to Central and South America? What’s your secret?

Anne: I have previously worked and studied in Latin America, and would like to spend every vacation there if possible... I think the secret is that they are extremely lovely and warm people (both locals and expats!). In general, my feeling is that the response rate for some is maybe 20%, so asking broadly is needed to find good exchanges.

Anne: How about you? What is your most memorable exchange?

Sandra: We have had different memorable exchanges, in fact, they have all been very nice so far! I like the destinations that combine different things we like the best. City, beach, and beautiful landscapes, like our stay in Cagliari in the south of Sardinia, or Ericeira on the coast in Portugal, near Lisbon. We also very much liked staying in a wooden house in the forests near Hamburg, Germany. Our ski-trips to France and Germany, with my sister and her family coming with us, were also memorable. We have not been outside Europe so far, that’s still to come!  Stockholm would also be a great destination, combining city, nature (and maybe even winter sport!)

Anne: Have you had any experience where your home wasn't treated with care? How was that being dealt with by HomeExchange?

Sandra: In my experiences as an 8-time host, my house was always treated with care. Sometimes it was extremely clean and spotless, other times it was OK but never dirty or any damage. Once people broke the lock of a bike of ours but they bought a new one. So I never had to address HomeExchange with a problem.

Sandra: Do you do more reciprocal or non-reciprocal exchanges?

Anne: We have never done a simultaneous exchange. So we do either non-simultaneous (where it sometimes takes years between the exchanges), but also quite a few non-reciprocal which is extremely convenient, especially overseas.

Sandra: If the sky was the limit, where in the world would you go?

Anne: Colombia is on my wish list... and a longer exchange to Moçambique. But honestly, any house with a well-equipped kitchen, lots of toys, fruit garden, and nice neighbors is a dream destination!

Sandra: Is there anything in particular that an exchange partner left you once as a welcome gift that you especially enjoyed?

Anne: I would say it is more the gesture than the gift itself, but we still look fondly upon the soap in the form of Hawaianas from Florianopolis, and having dinners with hosts we have always really appreciated. Oh, and one host in Puerto Rico had bought the cutest clothes for our daughter who was 6-months old when we were there. That exchange we actually postponed with just a few days notice, due to the Zika outbreak as I was pregnant at the time. We went one year later instead, after Kiara was born!

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