What You Need To Know About Home Exchange Holidays

By: Rosie Stevens, ellaslist

Home exchanges—where you lend your own home to another family while you live in theirs—can be a great way of slashing holiday costs (after all, accommodation is usually one of the biggest, it not the biggest, expense while travelling) and to get the feeling as though you’re living like a local as opposed to a tourist. 

How It Works

Image: appleproperty.co

There are heaps of home exchange websites out there, but it’s important to only use ones that you trust. Our best recommendations are Aussie House Swap, Love Home Swap and Home Exchange.

The classic way of doing things is simply to join a site, list your house, work out where you want to go and then message people in that area to see if they’d be keen to swap. You then go to theirs, they come to yours and everyone’s a winner! As well as this, Love Home Swap also offer a points system, which alleviates the need to match exact dates and location. You can instead swap your home for points, which can then be used whenever and wherever suits you. 

As is to be expected, the service ain’t free, and memberships range from around $10 to $20 per month depending the site and how long you join for. This gives access to listings and allows you to add your own property to their website, then it’s up to you to make contact with other owners and arrange your own exchange.

Communication Is Key

As you’re entrusting your home to an unknown family, and they’re entrusting theirs to you, it’s important to establish very open lines of communication from the outset. Agencies advise against making the decision to swap before you’ve established a good relationship and are completely clear about each other’s expectations.

Make sure you understand exactly what is expected of you as a guest, (i.e. they might want you to take care of their vegetable garden while you’re there), whether there will be any additional cost in the shape of utility bills (usually there isn’t but it’s always worth checking), and if you plan on swapping cars too (in which case just make sure your insurance is covered wherever you’re going.)

Check Your House Insurance

If you search thoroughly enough (or not thoroughly at all), you’ll find all sorts of horror stories about home exchanges lurking in a dark corner of the internet. Tales of trashed houses and stolen possessions might cause a flash of concern, and while they’re highly unlikely (especially if you employ our tip about good communication), it’s best to find out what you’re covered for and what you’re not prior to anything going wrong.

Happy house swappin', folks!


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