Meet Kate Green and her family

December 9, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Meet WSE Members

World Schooler Exchange

Tell me a little about your family and who you travel with. 

I have 5 children ranging in age from 29 down to 10. My younger two (girl 10 and boy 13) swapped with me this summer but we often travel with the older brothers as well.


Do you travel full time?  How do you educate your children?

We have spent years as expats living in the Middle East/Europe/Hawaii and various other US states. We travel anywhere from 3-6 months a year if we have a home base. We started homeschooling after my oldest went to kindergarten in Hawaii and the school district could not accommodate him so suggested we talk to a local HS group. None of the others have been to traditional school so it’s been about 25 years now and we haven’t looked back as it’s a great lifestyle.


What are your main reasons for house swapping?

House swapping is obviously a great way to visit other places and cut costs. But it also lets you live in a areas you might not have thought of before and so you get these amazing surprises and gems of places.


How long have you been swapping homes? How many swaps have you done? Where have you been?World Schooler Exchange

This is our first true synchronous swap and it was from Florida to Saffron Walden, UK. We have had various friend’s places before that were similarly homes rather than a rental. We had a wonderful place for 3 months in The Hague, Netherlands that was somewhere we had never thought of before and yet fell in love with the city.


Have you swapped anything other than houses eg cars, Rv’s. boats?

With our current swap we included cars. They had no issues with ours but sadly I was lacking in skills of driving theirs. Handling a stick shift on the other side of the road on quaint but tiny roads was just too much for my stress level so I rented an automatic. It was cheaper than buying them a new clutch had I continued driving their lovely AudiJ But I would certainly include cars again.


Tell me about your favourite swap ever?

This current one ranks pretty high. We got to live in an amazing town in England that was a short walk into an old market town and close drive to Cambridge and various other amazing places. We hopped onto the train and in an hour were in central London. The house was lovely and comfortable with apple trees so we made pies and applesauce. And we got to know a lovely worldschooling family somewhat (I still want to hang out with them f2f). But best of all was the ease I felt knowing they were in our home. We had been able to see how similar our views to educating and living life were based on blogs and FB posts and chats. We just clicked and I felt completely comfortable with their being in our home.


How far in advance do you organise your travels? 

It really depends but too far out and I get stressed! I aim for a couple of months out but sometimes it’s been a few days. We once had a trip to Jordan planned and 3 days prior we swapped and went to Luxor in Egypt instead. Getting locked in too far in advance means you might miss out on specials or something fun but when you are house swapping or pet sitting it’s often good to organize early on.


How much money do you estimate you have saved on travel accommodation by swapping vacation homes?

This past summer we were able to spend 5 weeks in a top English town. I think that saved us at least $3,000 as Europe in summer is so expensive. That’s about the only way we have been able to afford Europe in the peak seasons before. So over the years it’s thousands.


What would you say to other people considering this type of travel accommodation?  Tell me your best swap tip?

Trust your instincts. If on FB together then look at pictures and posts or blogs. Chat or skype with each other and see if it clicks. We turned a family down a few years ago because of a few strange things that just didn’t feel right to me and I have never regretted it.


What do you worry about, if anything,  while arranging a swap? How would you put potential swappers minds at ease who are anxious about letting strangers stay in their home?

In our case I worried about our swappers staying in our home because they have a toddler and we have an unfenced pool. It was worrying for me but we talked it through and I was able to trust in them. Again it’s about communication really. Being able to voice concWorld Schooler Exchangeerns or mention “watch out for …” is important. Don’t sugar coat your place and be honest if something breaks or doesn’t work. We also tried to give each other a good list of who to call or how to get things fixed. Both of our families live in the area so that was really helpful too. Thankfully neither of us needed to call in the help!

But having a booklet or at least a Word document with info about house and garden plus car is important. We tried to do a walkthrough of the house and think about appliances etc.


Some people say they like to swap homes rather than stay in a hotel as it feels more like a ‘home from home’ experience – Does it really?  Can you really make someone else’s home feel like your own?  How do you achieve this?

We felt very much at home. Their place was delightfully restful and uncluttered. Plus we laughed at how many shared books we had and similar items from S.E. Asia etc. But our family is good at nesting – settling in and feeling at home. We’ve done it so often now it just happens.


What one thing do you travel with that you couldn’t do without, even when staying in someone else’s home?

Teabags (PG Tips). Technology. That’s about it really.


Tell me what you do in preparation for your swapper staying in your home?  Do you clear a wardrobe for their clothes?  Put your valuables away for safe keeping?  Do you worry about other people staying your own home?

We cleared drawers and wardrobe space in each bedroom. We did not clear everything out but I did try to ensure there wasn’t anything grubby looking around. We did not worry about valuables as really we have very little that would devastate me to lose. If I had then I’d have put it into our storage unit or given it to my family members. I’ve heard some people clear out file cabinets but I did not. I would if I hadn’t felt a good trust with the family but in this case it didn’t faze me. We cleared out lots of things from the fridge but I left condiments etc. and I encouraged them to use these up and anything in the cupboards. It’s hard to buy all those things for a few weeks.


So, where to next?  Any more swaps planned?

If I could find a swap in South Africa for March I’d be happy! We are heading out again in spring but no swaps organized as our plans are too fluid right now. Plus with a dog and a young adult son who is at university here, it’s hard to organize placements for them right now. But it is certainly hoped for from summer onward.


Anything else to add?

This is a wonderful way to see places around the world. Be open to new places you haven’t thought of before as they can be gems.