Scene

Your Place or Mine

How one Colorado home became our ticket to paradise.

August 2011

The ad in the boulder daily camera read: “Wanted: House Swap. Your Boulder for our New Zealand. Very flexible dates.” Of course, my partner and I thought it was some sort of scam. But eight months later we landed in Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island and settled into a 6,000-square-foot estate, complete with swimming pool, fruit orchard, grape-covered trellises, and accordion-fold doors that opened out to views of Lake Taupo and the surrounding mountains.

We met the estate owners, the Bartleys—they were staying in Boulder on a business-scouting trip—before we made the decision to trade lives for a month. They seemed honest. We liked them. And though we discussed it, we never drew up a formal contract. The Bartleys drove our cars, took care of our dog, and even picked us up from DIA. We arrived back home to a freshly baked quiche, still warm from the oven, and crisp, clean sheets. Exchanging homes allowed us to afford a four-week luxury vacation halfway across the world for little more than the cost of our flights.

If you own a home in Colorado, you live in one of the most coveted vacation destinations in the United States, making you a prime candidate for a house swap. While you can take out an ad in the local paper of your desired destination like the Bartleys did, you can also try websites such as HomeExchange.com ($9.95 monthly membership fee). According to the Colorado Tourism Office, a record 55.1 million visitors flocked to Colorado in 2010. Who knows—one of those vacationers could own an ocean-view condo in Hawaii or a villa in Tuscany. Time to make a deal.