Staying in beautiful homes for free

August 20, 2019

by LIOR ZOREF @lior

I’m on a family vacation in France. Instead of booking a hotel or AirBNB apartment, Ayala my wife organized a home exchange for us. Here’s what she wrote on her Facebook page:

Those who follow the Zoref family’s home-sharing adventures knows that we are always anxious flying to houses we don’t know. In the early Skype conversations with the family that planned to host us in their home, they told us that they would be in Peru (they used our “balloon” to stay at another home in Peru. Anyone who attended my lectures knows this strange but cool mechanism). We were also told that the house is actually a 250 year-old building, in a small town 40 minutes north of Paris. We didn’t really know what to expect.

We arrived last night and were shocked and surprised. It’s the most amazing adventurous home exchange we have had by far: the house looks like a castle, including ancient stone walls, huge wooden shutters, centuries-old stairs, and many medieval antiques. The house has 8 bedrooms, each of which is a separate housing unit, including a bathroom and toilet. In fact, these are not rooms, but suites. And it’s all free. Sharing economy is so cool.

Across from our house is the local church. On the other side – a river. Last but not least, the local Boulangerie. Living in front of this amazing bakery a big challenge. The local French pastries taste so good. Not too sweet, with tasty fruit, freshly made on the spot every morning. After two days here, Lior has already become a local, standing in line with everyone for croissants, baguettes and most of all – sweet pastries.

There are also disadvantages. the Internet does not pass well through these ancient stone walls. There’s very low WiFi reception. I would not survive more than a week. Lucky we are here for exactly a week.

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That’s what my wife wrote. Here are a few explanations and answers to frequently asked questions:

How can you exchange homes? The leading platform is called home exchange. After you subscribe, you can upload pictures and a description of your home. Share details on your availability for home exchanges and what areas of the world interest you. They make sure the details are accurate and then allow their subscribers contact you for potential exchanges. You can also exchange cars.

How much does it cost? An annual subscription fee is $159. And that’s it. You don’t pay for hotels and stay in amazing houses all over the world. The real price is that other people are staying with you at home (last Passover, a nice couple from France stayed at our house after they impressed us during a Skype call).

How does this relate to crowdsourcing? Wisdom of crowds allows people to share their thoughts (mind sharing). Shared economy enables people to share their resources. And it’s much more than home exchanges. Many organizations share offices, vehicles, equipment, and much more.

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