What is House Swapping?
It is exchanging your home (or second home) with another homeowner somewhere else in the world for a vacation. Shop in their local supermarkets, live like a local, find out much more about a culture and way of life than you would ever experience on a traditional holiday in a hotel or vacation rental.
For a small annual fee your own home is listed, and you can contact other home owners who are keen to swap to your area. You can search by where you want to go, or a reverse search and see who would be interested in coming to your own area.
Since joining https://www.homeexchange.com/ about in back in 2009, we have already had two exchanges (to Dublin and Boston/Cape Cod) in 2010, have another one to Galway (tomorrow!) and just finalised one to France for this summer.
My Top Ten Benefits of house swapping (interspersed with photos of our first two swaps)
1. It is an economical way to travel with a family of 5. Your main expense will be getting there, and perhaps car hire (although sometimes cars are included in the swap)
2. You get to stay in a real home, not an annonymous hotel which could be anywhere. And the home may just be exceedingly beautiful!
3.Live like a local, not a tourist. You get the inside track on the things the locals like to do, great restaurants that the locals use, the best parks etc which may not appear in a guide book which will more likely focus on the traditional tourist haunts in any town or area.
4. The home you stay in will be better equipped than any vacation rental – games and toys, maybe bikes and body boards, buckets and spades for the beach.
5. You will get around to completing lots of small jobs that needed done in your own house before the swap.
6. Your own house will never be more tidy and organised!
7. Exchanges may not be necessarily simultaneous, depending on your circumstances. In our last swap to New England we were met by our host at the airport, after a trans-atlantic flight, with home baked cookies, so cool drinks, and the keys to her second home in Cape Cod! Now, how often do you get an airport welcome like that?!!
8.You may travel to an area not typically visited by tourists which you might not have chosen otherwise, off the beaten track but with it’s own beauty to discover.
9. You will find out more about what is happening in your own area, as you gather information for your guests.
10. You may get to make friends with the families you swap with, exchanging emails and cards long after the swap.
Yes, it is a risk and you do have to place some trust in others. In any of our swaps we have always got to know our swap-families before the exchange – phone calls are better after the initial emails.
You may think you don’t live in an area particularily appealing to tourists, but you might be surprised at some of the offers you may receive. Just because your home may be smaller, it is the experience the swappers are looking for, not necessarily a mansion!
A few interesting links
https://www.homeexchange.com/ (who we use, not sponsored to write this in any way …. I wish!)
Brief encounters – why I love house swapping an article the The Guardian Newspaper January 2011
“The Holiday” – yes, THAT movie about house swapping, but I have yet to meet Jude Law on any house swap I’ve done!
If you fancy considering a house swap to Northern Ireland, HERE’s our listing
Have you ever considered doing a Home Exchange?