***I don’t have any affiliation with homeexchange.com ***
What is Home Exchange?
Home exchange is a mutual exchange of homes for the purpose of saving money on accommodation (both sides). Home exchanges can be simultaneous, meaning that each side vacations at the other house at the same prearranged time (party A comes to part B’s house and party B is at party A’s home).
Home swaps can also be at different times. For instance party A could have a second property that is offered for exchange to party B who uses it at the agreed upon time. Party B can then offer their place to party A at some other chosen time.
The exchange might also involve car swapping, and even pet swapping where both sides take care of each others pets while occupying the home. These are a little harder to find as most people just prefer a straight simple home swap.
House swap vacation:
Our home exchange came about via an old article l read. It was about a woman who wanted to travel, had somehow found out about homeexchange.com which is a site dedicated to people who want to live like locals on their travels. The site guides you through the process of listing your place.
You can then look through other listings in whatever far flung places in the world you would like to visit. You can limit your search to a specific city, country, continent etc. If you find a listing that appeals to you, you contact the lister and if you can come to an agreement, then you make plans to home exchange. Very clever…no?
House swapping sites: Some of the popular ones
- Home Exchange
- Love Home Swap
It sounded like a good idea to me. l listed our place because they were offering a 14 day trial. All house exchange companies have a yearly fee. At this point, we had made our plans for our first Budapest trip. This lady contacted me on the same day that we left ironically. Her place looked nice and l told her l would keep in touch… If we liked Budapest. As you know, four days were not enough for us , as we really loved Budapest. As soon as we got back, we decided to go for the exchange. I ended up joining homexchange.com for an extra month because our trial was over at that point.
The home exchange was with a newswoman and her psychologist husband. They had a 3 year old girl. They had visited Malta once before years ago and were looking to spend a couple of weeks in the country so their little girl could take English classes. We chatted via Skype a couple of times, and exchanged a few emails. We booked our tickets through Wizz Air on the same day, and made arrangements for keys to be picked up on both sides.
We actually ended up meeting them at the airport..in line…while we were waiting to get on, and they were getting off the plane. We chatted for a few minutes, and off we went. Their apartment was located in the 6th district. We definitely lived like locals. The places were familiar from our first visit!!!. It was less frenzied, we even spent a couple of days at the bath house. It was nice to be even closer to everything than we had been on our first visit, when we stayed in the 5th district.
There were many restaurants and ruin pubs nearby. Everything was pretty much walking distance. Upon our return, we met up with them one night to catch up and exchange stories. They left our home clean, and we did the same. It was quite a pain free experience. They were such a nice couple.
Is home exchange safe?:
As with everything, you need to do your due diligence. Home exchange is generally safe. Home swapping is a great way to see the world for cheaper. Most of the home exchange companies have been around for many years and so there is some trust there. Also both sides have vested interest and take pride in their homes, just like you do. Reputable site will also do ID verification for added security.
Getting your home ready for a house swap tips:
If you decide that a home exchange is for you, then you can sign up, pay your dues and do some needed things to make your place attractive to others. This includes:
- Decluttering. It is important to take stock of your house and make sure it is presentable to others. Tis is a perfect time to get rid of unneeded and unwanted stuff that has been accumulating. Old furniture, clothes, books,anything that makes your house look too busy and untidy.
- Write down your house rules if you have any and keep it in a handy place for your guests. No go places or closets etc.
- Check your house insurance coverage and update accordingly if need be.
- Be flexible with your guests and dates. No one likes a stick in the mud.
- Take great photos of your home. Make it inviting to others so that you have a high success rate of swaps. For inspiration, look at the current listings and emulate them.
- Lock away any sensitive information such as bank statements and your valuables.
Tips for house swap success:
- Read the reviews from past home swaps if there are any
- Pay attention to the photos, sometimes you can tell a lot from them
- Communicate and ask questions like “any parts of the house you can not go?” etc. etc. so both sides are on the same page
- Skype with your swap exchange so you feel more comfortable
- Respect the property. Leave it as you found it, clean and tidy. It is someone’s home, not a hotel
- Leave an honest review after your house exchange swap
House swap holidays:
Very enjoyable. The apartment was gorgeous and centrally located. We not only got too eat in as we enjoy cooking, something we wouldn’t have been able to do had we stayed at a hotel, but we also got to go to local restaurants as the neighbourhood was full of locals and the prices reflected that.
This was a great home exchange vacation for us because Budapest had been one of the places we had discussed moving to. Living as we did with locals, shopping at the grocery stores and interacting gave us a better understanding of the city. We absolutely loved it. Unfortunately the deciding factor was weather. After Boston, I have no desire to live in a place that experiences such cold weather :-).
We got so many requests through home exchange website that we were overwhelmed and had to turn down so many. They came from places like India, New York, Australia, South Africa and Thailand. It is a nice way to save money, and meet new people. A little common sense of course is called for. I also get the feeling that some of the listings are stale, so make sure you are searching homes that are listed recently and are still active by using the filter tool.
They don’t get taken off, even after the people are no longer members. I say this because we contacted a lot of people too, and did not hear back, and we heard the same feedback from people we chatted with. We almost made an exchange with a family from Paris too, but my husband didn’t want to be in Paris for the summer..Mr Killjoy! :-)
Would we do a home exchange again?
Yes we would. Not immediately because we have two dogs and even though you can swap houses with pets, I don’t feel really comfortable looking after cats for instance, plus l want to be able to enjoy my holiday without worrying about rushing back to feed the animals. Someday, when we are pet free, we would definitely house swap again.
My membership has expired, but l am seriously thinking of joining again. In my opinion, we saved at least €500 on lodging alone on this home exchange, even more since we cooked at their home also.
If you would rather stay at an AirBnB in Budapest like we did on our first visit, (highly recommended) as an alternative to home swapping, feel free to use our referral code to save some bucks on your first booking.
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