Local Search is one of the fundamental approaches to combinatorial optimization and it is used throughout AI. Several local search algorithms are based on searching the k-exchange neighborhood. This is the set of solutions that can be obtained from the current solution by exchanging at most k elements. As a rule of thumb, the larger k is, the better are the chances of finding an improved solution. However, for inputs of size n, a naive brute-force search of the k-exchange neighborhood requires n(O(k)) time, which is not practical even for very small values of k. Fellows et al. (IJCAI 2009) studied whether this brute-force search is avoidable and gave positive and negative answers for several combinatorial problems. They used the notion of local search in a strict sense. That is, an improved solution needs to be found in the k-exchange neighborhood even if a global optimum can be found efficiently. In this paper we consider a natural relaxation of local search, called permissive local search (Marx and Schlotter, IWPEC 2009) and investigate whether it enhances the domain of tractable inputs. We exemplify this approach on a fundamental combinatorial problem, Vertex Cover. More precisely, we show that for a class of inputs, finding an optimum is hard, strict local search is hard, but permissive local search is tractable. We carry out this investigation in the framework of parameterized complexity.