Realizing Your Retirement Dreams with Home Exchange

Guest Post by Sydney Lagier

As I neared retirement, I entertained a dream of selling our vacation home and using the proceeds to travel all over the world.  We’d spend months at a time living in cities like London, Paris, and Sydney. We’d be urban vagabonds and explore the world after we finally ditched those pesky desk jobs that were taking up all our time.

The thing about retirement dreams is that sometimes they change after you get to retirement for real. Luckily can help with that.


When I retired, a wise retiree advised me not to make any big commitments that first year of retirement. No big moves, no new pets, no big volunteer jobs. Thank goodness I didn’t pull the trigger and sell that house to live out this fantasy. For one thing, my husband Doug did not share this dream. For another thing, I learned after I retired that it wasn’t really my dream either.

While Doug enjoys travel as much as I do, the thought of being away from friends and family for such long stretches of time did not appeal to him at all. But he was up for frequent shorter trips. That’s where home exchange came in. Instead of selling our vacation home to travel the world, we could stretch the retirement budget by swapping that home out to snag free lodging. After all, the house would just be sitting there empty while we were gone anyway.


Over the six years of my retirement, we’ve been on dozens of wonderful home exchange vacations. But looking back over those years, it may surprise you to learn that exactly two of those exchanges were outside of the United States. Like I said, sometimes it’s hard to really know what you want your retirement to look like until you get there for real. Turns out what we like to do more than anything else is go to Manhattan.

Every year for the last five years, we have exchanged homes with the same couple for an entire month in the summer. They come to California to dote on their granddaughter. We go to New York to enjoy the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the jazz clubs, the restaurants, and the thrill of living like locals in our favorite city.


Over the years, we’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know our New York exchange partners. We’ve met their adorable granddaughter. We’ve even exchanged homes with their kids in San Francisco. They send us notes about new restaurant openings or plays they think we would like. We check in with one another when there’s a hurricane back east or an earthquake out west. When we arrive in New York and are greeted with the familiar smile of the doorman of their Upper East Side apartment, we feel like we have arrived back home–our home for one month each year.

With, we feel like we have our very own vacation home in Manhattan, the retirement dream we didn’t even know we had, come true.


About the author

Sydney Lagier retired in 2008 and has been writing about her adventures on her blog, Retirement: a Full-Time Job ever since. She is also a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and a past contributor to U.S. News and World Report’s On-Retirement blog. She lives with her also-retired husband in Northern California, that is, when they are not off on a home-exchange vacation.

One Comment on “Realizing Your Retirement Dreams with Home Exchange

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