House Swap - done it? Please tell me about it....(3 Posts)
Anyone done this? We are seriously considering. We live very close to a touristy town, have a fantastic house and it seems crazy year on year to leave it empty and pay to go and stay somewhere which is generally inferior to the accommodation we have here.
Please share your experiences, good or bad and what are the upsides/risks. We're thinking of California next year ideally.
I know you can do direct swaps and indirect but I'm not sure how that works. And presumeably it costs to join the website - how much?
Three years ago, we swapped our house in a small French village for an apartment in Paris. Never met the couple concerned but spoke to her by phone. We had a fantastic place a block from the Seine with views of the Eiffel Tower. They wanted somewhere quiet for ten days between switching jobs. We both left each other's homes in mint condition. Would definitely do it again. Btw, we heard of the couple through friends locally who have swapped several times in Europe and the US (through an organisation--don't know which one) but couldn't accommodate "our" couple's dates. Would definitely do it again but probably by joining one of the home swap companies as members are thoroughly vetted.
We've done several house exchanges, both in the uk and abroad. It's fantastic but it needs plenty of advanced planning. We usually start looking in the Autumn for exchanges for the following summer but for one exchange (to oz) we planned it two years in advance.
The first exchange was hard as we completely de-cluttered and cleaned our house and wrote a detailed 'house handbook' on how our dishwasher etc worked, what to feed the pets, what to do if the water went off etc etc. We gathered info for our guests (local maps/recommendations for places to visit etc) and made sure that our boiler was working and that any minor DIY jobs were done. It was a lot of work but worth it. We hid stuff we didn't want people to see in the attic/garage. Some exchangers have a locked room for all their financial /personal stuff/crap.
Out of 8 or so exchanges we've only had one that was horrid, mainly because the house was a tip. We've swapped cars on two overseas exchanges which worked very well.
We were members of a few different on-line companies, though now I'm just with www.homeexchange.com. I've never had any problems with them and their customer service is excellent. It costs about £100 to join but you get the 2nd year free if you don't exchange in the first year.
Also good are Intervac, which is slightly cheaper.
I looked at love home swap which seemed full of very flash second homes. Not for us.
My main recommendation though is to be open minded about where you want to go. We have received lots of offers from all around the world, from places we wouldn't normally have considered. Don't set your heart on one place.
If you want to DM me for any more info I'd be happy to help. Be warned though, home exchanging is addictive!
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