Home owners swap homes for vacation


If you've noticed there are a lot of tourists around in the summer, it's because a lot of people want to come to the Bay Area. And these days, more and more people are using that fact to their advantage, and saving money on travel to almost anywhere.

It was a relaxing day at home in Santa Cruz. Dick Bonner watered the garden, his wife Kristine worked on the computer and later together they poured cocktails, and enjoyed drinks on the patio with friends.

But this isn't their patio or their kitchen. These aren't their family photos or their cat, Felix.

Matter of fact, this isn't even their house and the car isn't theirs either.

So who really lives at the home? Elaine Rivas and her two sons and at the time, they were neck deep in the waters off Mexico.

"It was great being on the beach and swimming in the great turquoise water," said Elaine Rivas.

Elaine's family swapped homes with Kristine and Dick of Texas for this summer. Elaine's family got to use their vacation retreat in Mexico.

Kristine and dick stayed at Elaine's home in Santa Cruz.

"I can't get over the beautiful plants, the flowers, the friendliness of everybody," said Kristine Bonner.

But the two families have never even met. They found each other online through www.exchangehomes.com.

"They're spending exactly two weeks there, we're spending exactly two weeks here, we take over the responsibilities of their household, and they're doing the same thing in Mexico for us," said Dick Bonner.

People all over the world swap homes through this kind of website. It's a way to take a vacation, without the expense of a hotel.

"Also, it's a much nicer place to stay than a hotel room. You're enjoying this person's home," said Dick Bonner.

"It's a huge cost savings not to have to figure out where you're going to stay," said Elaine Rivas.

The websites work like matchmaking services with a modest fee. It's up to the swappers to check each other out.

"We have correspondence with them and exchange pictures with them and we feel like we've known them all our lives," said Kristine Bonner.

These families drew up a home exchange agreement too.

"It's the first question people ask me is how do you trust this person you've never met," said Elaine Rivas.

"It's a mutual respect. That's what it boils down to," said Kristine Bonner.

So while Elaine and her sons toured the ruins near Cancun and relaxed on the beaches, Kristine and Dick toured the Bay Area and strolled on the boardwalk.

The families said it was a little like trading lives for awhile.

"You're in a new community, a new base and you have a home," said Elaine Rivas.

"You get to know them by the things that are around and you can imagine the life they've had," said Dick Bonner.

"You feel immediately at home. That's the nice part," said Kristine Bonner.

The Bay Area is one of the most popular destinations for home swappers from other parts of the country and the world if you live here, there can be lots of trade opportunities.

Related Links:

  • HomeExange.com
  • ExchangeHomes.com/

  • Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.