All About Home Exchange and Top House Swap Destinations
What if I told you there was a way you could have that summer home in Tuscany, a winter cabin in Aspen, and a beach bungalow get-away in Key West all for free? Would you be on the next plane out to go visit all your lodgings? The house swap ideology makes all this possible.
What is a home exchange?
This growingly popular trend of exchanging homes with someone else has become the new way to travel. The idea is simple- instead of paying for expensive hotels or constantly switching rooms in local hostels, search for whoever has a listed home in the area you want to travel to. Contact them, work out the details, then arrive at a beautiful, fully furnished house in the destination of your choice. With how many people across the globe who participate in various house swap websites, there is someone sharing their home everywhere you want to go.
“Wait, whoa, hold on… you mean I just let someone live in my house, with my stuff, and trust that everything will be OK?” …Yes. At first, opening up your doors to a stranger might seem like a scary, even rash thing to do. However, the home exchange community is built upon honesty. Everyone is a little nervous the first time they participate… for all of about 5 minutes. By the time that sixth minute rolls around, you realize no one is taking advantage of you, but that this world is filled with hospitable people who know the importance of providing a unique travel experience while eliminating the cost of accommodations. Most exchange websites have some system by which users are monitored and rated and a service that helps you set guidelines and responsibilities when swapping homes. The number of testimonials of people who have traveled for decades this way without one negative experience prove what a wonderful system this is filled with charitable people. Besides, people don’t spend money on an international plane ticket to come stay at your place, just to rip you off.
You've decided to swap. How to do it?
So now that you’ve decided to embark on a home swap journey, what does that mean? The first step would be to find a website. There are plenty of websites out there catering to this niche, ranging from generic ones with hundreds of thousands of houses in their database to very specific ones, such as home exchange between architects, interior designers, snowbirds, and environmentally friendly homes. When you find one that’s right for you, go ahead and register. Some websites will charge a membership fee, whereas others are free. After registering, all that is left is finding someone you want to swap with! And don’t dismay if you have an apartment… check with your landlord first, because plenty of apartment leases and contracts allow for you to participate in a house swap too.
There are three main ways to exchange homes:
- You and your exchange partner switch homes at the same time.
- Go to another’s home while they are staying at their second home.
- Stay at your exchange partner’s house while they are also there.
Check if the owner has a car and if they’re willing to swap that as well or if you will be needing . Some people even go as far as to trust you to take care of their pets, so make sure you read the listing before contacting someone.
When listing your house, be honest. You wouldn't be pleased if the house who thought you were staying in ended up being completely different that it appears online. So make sure you accurately describe your home (and add plenty of pictures) so people know what to expect.
Some tips on how to prepare your house for a home swap:
- ✓ Leave plenty of clean sheets and clean towels for your guests.
- ✓ Prepare a homebook. Put in it all your “do’s and don’t’s.” Let people know if there is a closet that is off limits, what appliances they can use, instructions on operating your TV and sound system, etc. Your guests will really appreciate it and you don’t have to worry about anything going haywire.
- ✓ Make a space for your guests and put your personal items away. Many home exchangers have a closet or drawer where they put personal items like jewelry or electronics away. This also clears space for your guests, so that they may put their clothes up in the closest you are not using and have some space on the wardrobe for their belongings
- ✓ Leave a small welcome gift for your guests. Obviously, this isn’t required… it’s just a nice gesture and will leave your guests feeling warm and welcome in your place.
We can’t stress enough though, the key to a successful home exchange is the same as what makes relationships work: Communication. Don’t hesitate to discuss details with your house swap partner. Make sure to discuss insurance issues. Most house swap sites have a form to use for this, should something happen that way liability has already been deliberated. With more talking comes less confusion… and you also get to know your partner better. By the time these discussions are done, people generally do not feel like they have a stranger coming to their houses, but a new friend.
Top House Swap Destinations
One of the southernmost points of the United States, Miami has a little of everything. The beaches are beautiful, just like the celebrities who fill this city. Filled with culture ranging from Art Deco to South Beach’s Wynwood Walls street art, Miami has a little something for everyone. Come here for a chic atmosphere, trendy shopping, and fantastic tanning weather.
Las Vegas, NV
Neon lights, casinos, shows, and wild nights. Las Vegas is a world in it’s own. Come walk the strip to experience big city glitz and glamour. Come with an open mind, as you will see anything and everything. In the city that never sleeps, there is excitement and bewilderment around every corner.
The largest city in the Southwest as well as the 6th most populous city in the U.S. More and more people are flocking to Phoenix to see this city in the desert. With a plethora of museums, theaters, fine arts, golf, nightlife, and outdoor activities, this city offers the chance to explore an interesting city in a unique environment.
Also known as the “theme park capital of the world.” Millions of tourists flock here each year to visit one of Orlando’s many adventure parks. All within a short drive of each other is Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and Discovery Cove to name a few. Besides theme parks, Orlando also offers many great spas, restaurants, and cultural activities to keep you busy all day long.
This Pacific northwest city has it all. Nicknamed the Emerald City for it’s beautiful green foliage, it retains a relaxed, chill atmosphere. You can explore the wonderful landscape here, such as the Cascade Mountains. Or head into the city center to visit the famous Pike’s Place Market and see the original Starbucks and the iconic Space Needle. Don’t skip out on the Chihuly Gardens!
This destination is rapidly growing in popularity, becoming one of the top places to visit. If you enjoy the outdoors, visit here for some world renown hiking, swimming, and adventuring. Cities like Cape Town are known for its marvelous mountains and botanical gardens, which is why even locals spend their days outside. With the recent blossoming of many trend, edgy, and chic markets, boutiques, and restaurant throughout the country, now is the time to visit.
It’s easy to feel as if you’ve slipped into a dream when traveling through Spain. See Barcelona and it’s surreal architecture, like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Walk along the Spanish coast and try some the best tapas and paella you’ve ever had. Enjoy this warm hearted country, filled with bright colors, lovely people, flamenco, and siestas.
Vibrant, modern yet classic, and teeming with culture, Germany has become a top destination for many travelers. The country mixes contemporary culture with its ancient history. Experience everything from the southern Bavarian culture to the liberal hip north. Take the Romantic Trail to see quaint idyllic German towns, visit the big cities to a mix of old and new engineering, or hike and ski the Alps. No matter what you do, it will be an experience of a lifetime.
This beautiful romantic country will leave you awe inspired with its cobbled roads, ancient architecture and bright colors decorating the cities and countryside. Eat the best gelato while tasting the freshest cheese, washed down with the best wine. With each area of the country from Tuscany to Venice to Sicily offering you something completely different, traveling through Italy is a step back in time. Enjoy warm weather and good food as you explore the birthplace of the world’s most famous painters, sculptors, and inventors.
France boasts some of the world’s most beautiful scenery. It has everything from the ocean to the French Alps and Pyrenees mountains. Millions of tourists come here to see the fashion and modernity of Paris, try some delicious wine, and see the castles of Brittany and the Loire Valley. With a rich history and culture, France will leave you awe inspired and with a million stories to share.
Need a car rental while swapping houses?
If you do need a car while you’re house swapping, Sixt offers a special deal for home exchangers, where those swapping houses can get a discount on their car rental. To get your discount, make your reservation here