Top five tips for holiday house swapping
If you’re open minded and tired of treading the well worn paths of popular tourist traps, then perhaps house swapping is for you. It takes a special sort of person to open their home to strangers from the other side of the world so we’ve decided to put together some helpful tips before you dip your toes in someone else’s bath.
For better or for worse, house swapping can be a life-changing experience, but it’s also a process which takes more time than you think.
The first step is to sign up to a reputable home exchange website with an annual membership fee. That way you know everyone on the site is a serious home swapper and you won’t be wading through page after page of listings that aren’t available anymore. You also don’t want your address and when you will be away on the net for all to see.
Think of home exchange sites as online dating for your home. You want to put your best foot forward, so upload plenty of attractive photos along with a detailed profile that is clear on exactly what the home and area offers and what you’re looking for also.
Be flexible. There are hundreds of sites with thousands of homes in every location imaginable, but managing to find your preferred home and destination at the time that you are prepared to holiday is difficult. Be open about where and when you want to go and the type of home you’re looking for.
Communicate, a lot. Expect to send up to fifty emails back and forth between your potential house swapping family before plans are cemented. We suggest looking for a home swap a year in advance. Chemistry between the two parties is key and if it’s missing you should trust your instincts and rethink your plans. Lay down the ground rules on exactly what items will be a part of the deal. Most home exchange sites provide a contract or agreement for members to enter into. This is a valuable document to have in your possession if police happen to knock on the door of your foreign house swap when you’re holidaying.
Play it safe. Google the people and the house you are swapping with, and get to know them over the phone or through Skype. Call your insurance company to upgrade your cover if needed and lock away any precious possessions. Prepare a list of important contact information for the arrival of your house swap guests including instructions on how to use everything in the house, local amenities and emergency numbers. Also arrange for a friend to pop by and check on the house and its inhabitants.
Treat others how you want to be treated. Leave a token of gratitude in your home for when they arrive (a present representative of your home country is best) along with the basics like fresh linen and essential kitchen and bathroom items. It’s also a good idea to leave a thank you note or bottle of wine for when they return. Tidy the house and leave it exactly the way you found it.
Home swapping is a great way to save cash and immerse yourself and your family in the local culture. It brings like-minded people together with a common interest prepared to share what they have. Your house swap can be the ideal base for weekend excursions while making lifetime friends along the way. So, enjoy the house hunt and happy house swapping!
Have you ever house swapped? Tell us all about it!