House Swapping: What To Expect From It?

Street and houses of upscale neighborhood on a summer morning

Today’s travel opportunities have become so extensive. Everyone is able to find the most suitable, convenient and advantageous option for how to spend their holidays wonderfully. For one it would be lazy sleeping by the pool in an all-inclusive 5-star hotel overlooking the ocean. Or maybe wandering the city streets for hours, shopping at the local shops or sunbathing on the sandy beach. While others would prefer to relax and stay in a romantic cottage or vineyard villa. Anyone who has planned their own trip knows that one of the stages of preparing for a vacation is choosing the accommodation. And that is not the easiest task. Especially when it comes to financial matters. House swapping is one of the ways to significantly save money while traveling.

There are quite a few accommodation options and one of the best known, of course, is booking.com and airbnb.com. These websites allow you to find suitable staying places that are in the most convenient location, with an appropriate price category to live in during your vacation. Less traditional ways to reduce the costs of accommodation are offered at such platforms like couchsurfing.com where you can negotiate a place to stay in on the basis of social interactions. Or, for example, workaway.info, wherein a return for work, usually few hours a day, you get the opportunity to consider the apartments of the host people as your own accommodation. Perhaps, you do not hear it so often, but at the same time in Europe and in the whole world as well, ‘house exchanging” becomes more popular. Let’s find out what it really means and how it is even possible!?

Real estate agent giving house keys to woman

What is home exchange also known as house swapping?

Home exchange or in other words house swapping is a type of accommodation in which two interested people mutually agree to stay in each other’s houses for a certain period of time. As no financial transactions take place directly in such a situation, consider it as a form of barter, collective consumption and sharing. Under this term – house swapping – there can be included any type of real estate and the sometimes movable property offers. From spacious apartments, houses, holiday homes to mobile homes, trailers and even boats.

When did home swapping appear?

Home swapping appeared in 1953 when a group of European teachers and trainers set up a company named “Intervac International”, to find opportunities to travel internationally and economically in the summer holidays. Later that year, teacher David Ostroff set up a vacation exchange network in America called “Vacation Exchange Club” or “Homelink”. In 1999, the growth of home exchange culture was estimated at 15-20% per year and continued to develop rapidly even in 2010.

10 facts you must know about home exchange or house swapping

As you learned before – the home exchange is a decades-old way of traveling, but over the years and thanks to the fast-growing technological possibilities and development, it has received an additional impetus to give this type of traveling a new wave of popularity. Before you decide to open the door to a new experience and adventure, by becoming a part of this culture, we will introduce you to 10 facts about the home swapping and its being.

Home exchange isn’t for everyone

Answer yourself to this question: ”How do you feel about thinking that someone you have never met will be living in your house?”. It is important to assess your level of internal comfort in such situations before applying to exchange your house. Of course, there are always doubts and fears about the unknown person to whom you will entrust your home. However, also take in mind that before you actually agree to exchange your house for a period of time. There will be relatively long and extensive introducing talks so that both parties of the deal are confident in their choice. Many experts say that if this process is organized through respectable and popular programs, the security risks are very low.

It’s not actually all for free

Some of the home exchange websites are for free, but most of them are not. Most of these programs – especially those with the highest popularity and reputation – will charge a membership fee for your ability to search, select and contact home swapping program members. Each of these companies has different price categories. Depending on the subscription plan, you choose where the membership fees can range from 8 to more than 100 dollars per month. Therefore, you will need some time spent researching for the most suitable so-called “price-performance” category.

There are several types of home exchange

Here are the three main types of sharing:

  • You stay in the exchange partners house while he is staying in your house (this is often called as “simultaneous exchange”) 
  • You can stay in the other person’s holiday house or in another house that belongs to them (“non- simultaneous exchange”)
  • Or you can stay in the other person’s place at the same time together with them and after that do the same thing at your home (“hospitality exchange”)

Note that some organizations offer only one of these options. Therefore, think carefully about your choice before purchasing a membership subscription on a particular website!

Exchanging ideas and plans

Evaluate your expectations  

One of the best ways to reduce anxiety when participating in a home exchange for the first time is to try to get to know the other person as well as possible. Evaluate all possible aspects and actions before the exchange takes place. For example, 

  1. Will you leave food for your guests?
  2. Will you use the service of a cleaner?
  3. Do you expect the exchange partner to use the service of a cleaner?
  4. How will you organize receiving he key?

It is worth thinking everything down to the smallest detail to feel safe that everything has been thought of. Some platforms even offer a beginner’s guide for their subscriptions to make it easier to deal with all of these issues.

Home swapping isn’t only for the owners of homes 

Also tenants of houses or apartments can participate in home exchange programs, you only need to read the terms of the lease carefully and in advance. If necessary, discuss it with the lessor whether or not he gives you permission to exchange the apartment for a period of relaxation. 

Do the research early

Basically, participation in this program is not suitable for those who leave this option as a fallback version if all of the other options go wrong. As mentioned before, it is necessary to plan such a type of vacation in time: at least 3-6 months in advance, sometimes, even more, earlier. Because it takes time to find the desired, mutually-interested accommodation as well as the time spent for preparation and communication. 

You can also exchange with cars

In case of a house change, it is popular to agree on the possibility to use the other person’s car. It allows you to save significantly on car rental if you plan to go on a further trip. You can exchange basically anything as long as both parties can agree on it and both benefit from it.

Giving Car Keys To Owner

There are some jobs you must do to fully prepare for the exchange

Different home exchange platforms have different types of testing. Some use social media to ascertain the legitimacy of the exchange partners, while others use the classical approach based on feedback. After each exchange trip, participants have to complete a rather detailed questionnaire about the other person. Future participants then get the information from the survey as a confirmation of the individual’s truthfulness and integrity. In any case, you will have to invest time in the personal research process to be sure of the planned exchange.

Home swapping or home exchange is totally safe

Home exchange is a very safe way to find accommodation during your vacation. Some companies have even decades of experience and have never received reports of theft or vandalism. This culture is based on mutual trust, as YOU are staying in someone’s house, THEY are staying at yours.

List of the most popular House swapping sites

Based on “The Telegraph” 2018 data, this is the most reliable and popular list of home swapping websites: