Top 10 tips to find a good exchange home and 5 misconceptions about home exchange
By: Lois Sealey
Top 10 tips to find a good exchange home
1- Search on the Internet for reputable, established home exchange agencies with a good choice of current offers in countries/areas that interest you. Choose a private, subscription based members only service for the assurance of genuine offers and members committed to arranging home swaps.
Photo: Ludlow, Shropshire, England - 17th century, timber-framed terrace house "newly built in 1656 after burning in the Civil War". Looks onto C12th Castle and gardens.
2- Check how up-to-date the listings are (whether you can see when a member joined/their listing expires; also look for years as well as months in exchange dates wanted by members). Look for a phone number and contact the agency by phone or email if you have any questions. Join several weeks (even months) before the dates you want to exchange.
Photo:Loch Lomond, Scotland - A magnificent contemporary country house set in almost seven acres with uninterrupted views of Scotland's most famous loch.
3- Once you join, ensure your description and offer are appealing and, very important, add photos to your listing as soon as you join as exchange offers with photos attract the most attention.
Photo: Islamorada, Florida, USA - Island home located in the Florida Keys at Islamorada, fishing capital of the world.
4- For the best chances of arranging a home exchange, be as open as possible on exact destinations you will consider and, if possible, also dates and length of exchange.
Photo: Kissonerga, Paphos, Cyprus - Home on a small complex in a superb location overlooking banana plantations and with panoramic sea views.
5- Compile an enticing exchange offer message and personalise it before sending it to several members whose offers are of interest. If you don’t find interest in your offer right away, keep checking the new listings and contact new members without delay.
Photo: Nelson, New Zealand - House is a five minute walk to the beach and local restaurants. There are great cycle and walk paths nearby and in the hills surrounding Nelson.
6- Try to exchange homes with someone in a similar situation to yourself. For example, if you have young children and swap with another young family, their home will be safe for children, as well as have lots of toys etc., so you won't need to bring as much with you.
Photo: Calonge (Costa Brava), Spain - ‘Casita Vinya’ is a studio cottage situated in the Gavarres foothills, two kilometres from the medieval village of Calonge and four kilometres from the beach (Costa Brava).
7- Once you find a suitable home swap partner, exchange more detailed information on your home and local area, asking for (and offering to provide) references. Once both parties are happy to agree to go ahead with the exchange, collate a list of all the points you have agreed (you should find a standard form on your agency’s website and advice on completing a written exchange agreement).
8- Inform your household insurance company well before your exchange dates that you will have non-paying home exchange guests, and the period of the exchange. Most insurance policies remain valid while guests are living in your home (as occupied homes are safer than homes left empty while the owners are away). Also check with your auto insurance if you plan to swap cars.
9- Clean and tidy your home before your exchange, leaving space in wardrobes and cupboards for your exchange guests to store their things. Hire a cleaner if needed to ensure your home is ready for your guests.
10- Leave a folder with information on using your appliances, useful contact numbers (e.g. doctor, dentist, taxis, garage) and local information (e.g. restaurants, amusements and recreation, bus and train timetables).
5 misconceptions about home exchange
1- Home exchange means letting ‘strangers’ live in my home and I would be worried they would cause damage. (you don’t agree to go ahead with an exchange until you feel comfortable that you have got to know and trust your exchange partners, and they, you).
2- No one would want to exchange with me because my home is small and modest (all types of home are available for exchange. Most home swappers are looking for a home that’s big enough for their exchange partner in an area they’d like to visit, and not a home similar to their own).
3- I live in a rural area, not a well known tourist destination or city, so no one would want to swap with me (actually, many exchangers enjoy a complete change of pace and so, for someone who lives in a large city, your home could be just what they’re looking for for a relaxing break!).
4- My home is rented so I couldn’t take part in a home exchange (with rented homes, you do need to ask permission from your landlord but most will be fine with this once you let them know who will be living in your home).
5- I have a dog that I always take on holiday with me so I can’t swap homes (many home exchangers will be happy for you to bring your dog with you on exchange).
About the blogger:
Guest blog post by Lois Sealey, Home Base Holidays. Home Base Holidays, based in London, has been providing a home exchange service worldwide since 1987, and also publishes a free monthly newsletter and regularly updated blog, Travel the Home Exchange Way.
Visit their incredible website for more info and tips: http://www.homebase-hols.com
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