Budget Travel? Tips For A Successful House Swap

Many years ago I lived on a pretty cool island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada (Salt Spring Island) where the people, their homes and life styles could only be described as a bohemian’s dream. One day my next door neighbour – a single well-traveled independent sort came over to say “I’m going to Ireland and then over to Paris, I’ll be back in two months; a family with two kids will be moving in here for the first month and then a French couple for the second month”

How exotic, how fun, how envious I was…….. She was House Swapping!

As she explained it – there are companies who broker for the two homeowners, and there is insurance in case the worst should happen. But really she would be driving their cars, feeding their pets, locking their doors – as they would be for her. Mutual respect!

I realized this could work! Reciprocal respect and consideration added to an appreciation of living like the ‘locals’ – great concept!

Even smarter – let the neighbours know! We of course invited the ‘neighbours for a month’ to join us when heading into town for a dance, when and where the farmers’ market was, how accurate the ferry schedule was etc….. Telling us meant we got no surprises, we kept an eye on here place and the comings and goings and we helped international relations between Canada and Ireland, and then again Canada and France – we all benefited by the house swap.

Now that I am downsizing to an apartment, I suspect the type of swap might be different – possibly easier on a year round basis with no big coastal home to try to coax along. But – those of you with beach homes, seaside retreats – there are kindred spirits out there who would love to walk a mile on your beach for a change. There are also beach people who’d like a bit of the city culture, or your ski lodge instead of shells…..

Just Google home swap and your country – you’ll be amazed at the options. (Be cautious, don’t get scammed – do your due diligence!) Perhaps check the Better Business Bureau, check on line – if someone has a complaint these days – that’s where to look. Get them to mail you an information package.

Is Home Exchange safe?

Remarkably safe! Experience has shown that even minor incidents are the exception. Your exchange partner is likely to have the same concerns regarding safety and upkeep as you do. Knowing that you are both entrusting your homes to one another, provides a natural incentive to treat it with care. We encourage you to get to know your future house swap partner in advance and to explore information regarding your vacation home, mutual interests as well as cultural highlights in your respective regions. You will feel more at ease, knowing you are entrusting your home to someone with whom you have established a rapport.

Familiarize yourself with your partner’s listing and don’t hesitate to ask detailed questions about the exchange home and your expectations.

PLEASE NOTE:  I have NOT used any of these companies so use your own intuition!

  1. Welcome to JewettStreet.com!…your new boutique home exchange agency.

  2. Home Exchange,Vacation Home Exchange,Home Swapping,Vacation Home Swapping
  3. HomeSwapHolidays http://homeswapholidays.com/page/how-it-works-3.html

How it works

House swapping, also known as home exchange, is where people vacationing or holidaying in other parts of their country or the world can save on accommodation costs by exchanging homes with others. These arrangements are often simultaneous but not always.

It’s free to join, there are no charges involved.  Anyone can browse our lists and contact our members as long as they become a member and submit their own property listing.

To become a member click the ‘Join Us’ link in the menu above. Once you have joined click the ‘Control Panel’ link on the welcome page and you will be taken to your control panel where you can add your property listing. Access to contact details of other members is automatic once your listing has been submitted.

Your home profile
Make the most of your profile page. Our members are not only interested in finding out about your home but also about your locality, things to see and do and places to visit. To help you there are many travel websites that have plenty of information about your home town that you can use for inspiration when composing your description. All you need do is search Google for your location.

Pictures of interesting places near you are always well received and can be found by searching in Google images for your location as well.

House Swap Questions

1. What types of homes are offered?

Most members offer to exchange their homes and apartments and some offer their second homes, in fact any kind of holiday accommodation is acceptable including boats and caravans.

2. Will my name and address appear online?

We value your privacy and your contact information is not made available or visible to anyone until you contact a member using our Private Messaging system. Visitors to the site see your listing, but are unable to contact you directly, unless they take out a membership and even then they wont see your email address until you reply to their Private Message.

3. Do I need a photograph?

Yes we encourage members to upload photographs, which will always attract visitors to your listing and can be changed at any time. Photographs can be of your home and grounds and also of views and attractions in you area.

4. How do I upload photographs?

There is provision with instructions for uploading up to 10 photographs during the listing submission process. These photos can be changed at any time in the future.

5. Is payment required to list my home?

No. Listing your home is free.

6. Can I edit my listing?

Yes. Use your member name and password to log in and access your listing and make any changes at all including your contact information.

7. What shall I do if I forget my password?

Click on the ‘Login’ link then click the ‘Forgot password’ link on the login page. Details for resetting your password will be sent to the email address you enter.

8. What shall I do if my email address changes?

It is up to you to keep your contact information current. Please remember to update your listing with your new email address, so that other members can contact you.

9. Will I save a lot of money by home exchanging?

Yes indeed. Think about it. There will be no more hotel, restaurant or laundry bills. Shopping for food in another country becomes part of the fun if you decide not to eat out every evening.

10. Can I exchange my car?

Yes. Many members offer the use of their car or bikes when exchanging homes. We recommend that you have a formal contract as a safeguard, should any problems occur.

11. How do I arrange an exchange?

It’s simple. Once you join, you are able to contact other members. Browse the listings and Private Message those members whose listings interest you. Introduce yourself and ask if they might be interested in an exchange with you at some time in the future. Don’t forget that other members will read your listing and will also be contacting you!

12. Will anyone want my home?

House swappers are more interested in the location of the home, than the home itself. Your home acts as a base to explore the city and the surrounding area. Homes with photographs and offering more amenities will naturally attract more interest. People are different so there is no hard and fast rules. Rural homes are also of interest to people eager to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Never underestimate the value of your home – there is always someone out there looking for what you have to offer.

13. Should I be nervous about leaving my home to people I have never met?

It’s natural to be hesitant, but in reality the only problem people occasionally encounter is a difference in housekeeping standards. Don’t forget, they haven’t met you either and will have the same anxieties of you! In fact most exchangers take even greater care of your home than their own and will invariably leave your home cleaner than they found on arrival. We do take your worries seriously and if you have any reasons for complaint against other members, please let us know.

14. What if there are problems when I’m away?

For added peace of mind you can ask a good friend or neighbour who lives nearby to assist, should your exchanger require advice about your home or the neighbourhood? Your friend could also be responsible for welcoming your exchanger at the airport, and handing over the keys to your home.

15. Is insurance necessary?

You should inform your home insurance company that you are leaving your home in the care of non-paying guests, as insurance companies prefer your home to be left occupied at all times. And rather than worry about people you have never met living in your home, just consider the added security you now have knowing someone is caring for your home in your absence.

16. Who pays the bills?

Most people who exchange homes continue paying their own bills, with the possible exception of the phone bill, which can easily be itemised for the exchange period.

17. Should I have some sort of formal agreement?

For peace of mind some members prefer drawing up an agreement which should be signed by both parties prior to an exchange. The agreement should summarise all the issues you have dealt with in your correspondence, in particular, if you are exchanging your car.


Budget Travel: 10 Tips For A Successful House Swap – from RE-NEST

If you’re an avid traveler with a pretty limited budget, this summer may be the perfect time to do a home exchange: trade apartments with someone you meet on the internet in a city you’re both wanting to visit. It’s an excellent way to save money on vacation and get an authentic, local experience. Sound scary? We’ve got some tips to help ensure it goes off without a hitch.

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1. While you can use Craiglist, we recommend going through an official home swapping website. They usually charge a membership fee anywhere from $45-$110, but it may be worth it for the added peace of mind. Digsville.com, HomeExchange.com, and HomeLink.org are all good places to start.

2. Read user reviews. This is a great way to get a sense of what people’s experiences have been, good/reputable swappers, locations, etc.

3. To increase your chances of a successful swap, look to swap with someone in a similar lifestyle or stage of life. If you’re a young couple, you’re probably more likely to find a good fit at the apartment of another young couple than at the home of an older, retired gentleman.

4. Don’t discount your tiny studio or your sprawling suburban home. You never know what people are looking for. Maybe your place is tiny, but you’re in an awesome neighborhood. Or you live in a pretty average house in a bland suburb, but you’re 10 minutes away from gorgeous mountains that make for terrific day trips. Play up what’s good about your area: cool shopping, great food, terrific views. In our case you could live in a hobbit hole, but if you have a washer/dryer, we’re so there.

5. Be honest about your home, and ask a lot of questions about their home! Take good photos of your home and describe any quirks thoroughly so there won’t be any surprises (“The heater sounds like a dying animal when it turns on at 3 in the morning, so don’t be alarmed!”). Openness and honesty on both sides is key to a successful home swap.

6. Don’t rush. You’re not booking a hotel room. There is more work involved, and it will probably take more time to find a good fit. Start planning a few months in advance.

7. Before you leave for your home, put all your bills, personal documents, and mail into a locker or hide them where they won’t be seen. Put password protected locks on all your confidential electronic documents.

8. Inform the neighbors of your plans. It’s probably not very welcoming if they think your swap partners are burglars and call the cops on them their first night.

9. Be a good host or hostess! Leave a list of favorite restaurants, cool places to visit, chic shopping stores, upcoming not-to-be-missed events. A housewarming gift, like a bottle of champagne or a restaurant gift certificate, is also a very nice gesture and will score you brownie points. It’s also good to provide the phone number of a friendly contact person to assist in an emergency, numbers for local doctors and dentists, instructions for pet and plant care if needed, info about appliances, locks, tv/video equipment or anything else in your home that may need a bit of explaining. This ensures less time spent “figuring things out” and more time spent enjoying your home.

10. Treat the home of your swappers as if it were BETTER than your own. You may not be big on cleaning in your own home, but this is not your home. Treat it with respect and always, always leave it in the same condition you found it in, or even better if possible.

Has anyone done a House Swap? What was your experience? Tell us below!
More Resources:
The House Swapping Expert Shares Her Secrets
Digsville Tips of the Trade
(Image: Leela Cyd Ross)

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