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Anne and her husband are professional writers and live in a beautiful 19th century home in the centre of Antwerp, Belgium. The couple have been Love Home Swap members since December 2015, and have so far been on six swaps with us. Being professional writers and ‘digital nomads’ the couple love spending time on long term exchanges. 

‘Usual home swapping does not always work for us because most of the time people want to swap to do tourism for one or two weeks. We ourselves are looking for ways to make more month long exchanges, because we as writers are basically looking for quiet time.’

At the moment, the couple are taking consecutive home swaps for three months in the US and Canada., starting off with two weeks in Chicago. However, later the couple will be ‘home joining’ in Minneapolis.

‘For the upcoming swap we have in Chicago, the owners will stay in the house while we are there. They have room, and we will simply live together. This is what we mean by ‘home joining’. Our house is not always necessarily empty, and we do not necessarily look for an empty house’

The family also do not always travel together, and sometimes swappers will share Anne and Manu’s home with their grown up children.

‘When we swap, we swap in different constellations, so not always as a family. The consequences of this pattern are quite remarkable: it means that swappers go to our house while our children are there. Our children are very used to this and they are very helpful to our guests.’

Swapping and sharing has become a massive part of Anne and Manu’s life, and they love exchanging with people who have the same mind-set.

‘We feel strongly that this way of living is the future for traveling. It is more sustainable because it does not leave existing city space empty. We try not to behave as guests, but as house mates. We will mow the lawn or walk the dog, even when the home owners are home. We like to exchange with people who feel like ‘bohemians’. We like used items, second-hand stores, vintage, recyclables, sharing economies, community gardening etc. It is our way of living. We do not feel attached to the things in our house.’

Through home swapping, the couple have been able to live a lifestyle that they otherwise would not have been able to afford…

‘As artists, we could never afford this lifestyle if we had to pay for it in money’s worth. Swapping is one of our many ways to beat the logics of the economic systems. I have lists of fellow writers I can write to if it is time for us to leave our house. There is always one of them who is willing.’ 

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