Have you ever wanted to visit an exciting vacation spot at a fraction of the price you’d normally expect to pay? Then home exchanging might be for you! Home exchanging opens up the world for you in ways you can’t even imagine!
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What is Home Exchanging?
Home exchanging at its most basic is an agreement between two people to exchange their homes for the purpose of visiting each other’s location. For example, you live in Vancouver and you’re interested in visiting Paris. Michelle lives in Paris and has always wanted to visit Vancouver. You talk to each other, exchange details, agree on dates, pack your bags and Bingo! You’re on vacation in Paris and Michelle is on vacation in Vancouver. Neither has to pay for hotel costs, and you both get a nice place to stay on your vacation. You can also agree to exchange cars! If you do, you also get a reliable vehicle to use while you’re on vacation!
How do you find an exchange partner?
There are many home exchanging websites that facilitate home exchanging. One of the oldest (since 1992), biggest (more than 65,000 homes in 150 countries!) and best (and the one I’ve used three times) is Homeexchange.com. Getting started is simple:
- Create and post your listing. Homeexchange.com makes it very easy to create your listing and provides excellent advice and tips for a great listing, such as creating a detailed profile, keeping it up to date, and being proactive
- Add photos – homeexchange.com recommends lots of photos which helps to provoke more interest in your listing
- Find your match: there’s lots of features at homeexchange.com to help you find the right exchanges partners for you.
- Send lots of inquiries. Homeexchange.com has a secure messaging system you can use to get in touch with prospective exchange partners
- Arrange an exchange! Get to know your exchange partners, agree on dates and other details, and when you are ready, sign an exchange agreement.
My Experience in home exchanging
I’ve completed three home exchanges through homeexchange.com in locations I had been longing to visit for years: New York City, Denmark and Cambridge, England.
New York City
My New York City exchange was one week in an apartment in the meat packing district of mid-town Manhattan, close to everything and really walkable. New York City hotel prices are astronomical, especially in mid-town and I would have easily spent more than $400 per night for something similar. There were two resident cats who I was very happy to take care of during my stay, as I had left my cats at home for my exchange partners to take care of! The apartment was clean and comfortable – having a kitchen to use was a definite bonus in Manhattan!
My exchange in Denmark was two weeks in an apartment in Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark. It was a very traditional Danish apartment with big bright rooms. It was furnished in typical Scandinavian style with a small kitchen and a tiny bathroom. We also exchanged our cars so I had free transportation which was fabulous. It was fascinating to live in this home for two weeks and to get a real sense of how Danish people live day-to-day. They also made bicycles available to us so we got to travel around town like typical Danes. It was a great exchange!
See Line’s post for everything you need to know about planning a trip to Denmark!
My exchange in England was two weeks in a house in Cambridge, the ancient university town. It was a lovely 2-storey home with all the amenities. It was so nice to be able to have a home base complete with all the comforts of home while I toured around southern England. Being located in Cambridge was a real treat; it was a short train journey into London. I really enjoyed this stay!
Is it safe?
Home exchanging is based on honesty, trust and commitment. When you exchange, you and your exchange partner are entrusting your homes to each other, which means you’ll both have the same concerns about safety.
Before I first started exchanging I definitely had concerns about safety. However, I knew quite a few people who were experienced exchangers using homeexchange.com who assured me they had never had a bad experience, despite years of exchanging multiple times. This was quite reassuring to me!
When I was arranging my first exchange, I took great care selecting my exchange partner and thoroughly read their listing. When you list your property on homeexchange.com, you’ll notice that phone numbers, email addresses and Facebook accounts are linked and verified. That also provided a measure of comfort to know these were real people! Many exchangers also have multiple reviews from their former exchange partners detailing their exchange experiences.
I also spoke on the phone and Facetimed several times with my potential exchange partners, and exchanged many emails as well.
Once I was satisfied with the location, the accommodations, and was confident with my exchange partners I always felt ready to book my tickets!
Homeexchange.com also helps with drafting exchange agreements that detail your expectations of each other during the exchange.
Do I have to have a model home to do a home exchange?
Not at all!
I have exchanged both a large home and a 2-bedroom apartment, both of which were definitely not model homes! We ensured that they were left clean and ready for guests. A few drawers were emptied in each bedroom and we left some closet space so our exchange partners could feel at home. Home exchangers typically leave a few essentials in the fridge for their exchange partners. Bread, milk, cheese and coffee and a bottle of wine are always welcome after a long journey! I’ve always agreed to allow my exchange partners use whatever staples are in the kitchen such as condiments, spices etc. as well. It helps to know you don’t have to rush out to the store the minute you arrive.
The homes we visited during our exchanges were just ordinary homes too. They were definitely different from our home and always reflected the norms of the area they were in. I’m always curious to see how people live in other countries. Home exchanging is a great way for curious people like us to broaden our cultural horizons.
Home exchanging is particularly convenient for larger families, especially those with children. Home exchangers with families typically won’t need to travel with all the gear young children might need. Things like high chairs and car seats will generally be available at the home. Very convenient! Don’t forget to make sure your passport is up to date before you finalize your exchange!
A great thing about Homeexchange.com is that they also offer an excellent guarantee that if you don’t arrange an exchange in your first year of membership, you get a second year free! It also offers live chat 24/7. They will help resolve any problems you might have; I have found them to be very responsive.
Try out home exchanging today at homeexchange.com. You’ll be glad you did!
Have you tried home exchanging? What was your experience?