Put $$$ back into your holiday budget, and more
Is the grass truly greener? House swapping or home exchanges, open up one-of-a-kind travel experiences by stepping into each other’s shoes, and testing the theory. Better still, you’ll gain richer holiday experiences; friendships, and; add extra cash to your holiday budget.
What is house swapping or a home exchange?
House swapping or a home exchange is where you literally swap the keys to your house (and sometimes your car as well) for an agreed length of stay. This arrangement gives both parties freedom to enjoy a unique travel experience as non-hosted guests, living as locals in each other’s homes.
Rewarding, low risk, memorable home exchanges are formal arrangements agreed ideally via a trustworthy community membership based platform.
What are the benefits of house swapping?
Provided you’ve done your research on choosing a reputable platform and that everyone is crystal clear on the terms and conditions, the list of benefits are extensive. Here is a taste:
- A healthier holiday budget. There is rarely an additional accommodation cost. A nominal annual membership fee is all you need to budget for.
- Unique holiday stays.
- Living like a local.
- Having a comfortable, well equipped home base to explore from.
- Making new friends. It is not uncommon for house swappers to become great friends, particularly when they want to keep repeating the experience. And then there are the locals too!
What do I need to consider before listing my home?
There are a number of considerations to iron out before registering as a home swapper. Below are some of these:
- Insurances. Do your home and contents insurance cover guests and their belongings? Do you need additional or upgraded insurances to cover personal risks to guests?
- Safety. Are there balcony railings that need to be secured? Do security doors lock? Are there leaks or other potential damages that can be avoided through repair? Do you have working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers?
- Neighbours. It would be a welcome courtesy to let your neighbours know of your intentions so they are aware that the people coming and going, aren’t trespassers or squatters!
- Are there any resident restrictions or regulations? For example, can you sub-let your home? Could the body corporate have concerns?
- Identity protection and privacy. Do you have a locked, reliable safety security where you can store valuables; legal documents; financial statements; passports; passwords and any other information that could compromise your identity or security in the wrong hands?
- User guides and instructions for appliances. Is your espresso machine tricky to use? Does your microwave oven confuse visitors? A folder of clear instructions will make for happy guests.
- Clear terms of the condition of the house on exit when it comes time to swap back again.
What do I need to consider in choosing and accepting a home exchange opportunity?
Once registered with a reputable house swapper community, you’re almost there. Browsing photos, reading up on features, reviewing ratings and feedback are all helpful filters. Get to know your potential swapper by telephone, email or through a voice over internet protocol (VOIP) video conferencing service such as Skype or Viber. Use Google Street View or Google Maps to check the location is as convenient or as isolated as you are aspiring for.
Make money by hosting guests
As an aside, Airbnb is not a house swapping platform but an example of a reputable community marketplace where you can actually make money out of renting out a spare room or bungalow in your own home to holiday makers and travelers. It may be well worth a look. It could be a handy way to add some cash to your own holiday savings. If you’re over 65 make sure to check the viability of earning extra income with your financial adviser first.
Keen to explore a little more?
Below are just a handful of some of the most marketed house swapping platforms, to get your travel buds salivating. Indulge in some browsing!
Certified Home Exchange Clubs – an umbrella home exchange directory that only accepts home exchange marketplaces that meet specified criteria.
Love Home Swap – a global online travel club for house swappers.
Aussies House Swap – an online house swap marketplace for New Zealand and Australian destinations.
Home Link Home Exchange – a long term, not for profit player in the home exchange space.
Herald Sun article, February 14 2014 – Ten tips for a successful house swap as trusting Aussies open their doors to a new way to travel.