As I well know, moving to another country, especially if far away from 'home', is a major life change. If you have the option, it is a good idea to spend a lengthy period in the country before making the final decision to immigrate, and arranging a home exchange in a location you would like to live is ideal. You will get a much better feel for what life will be like once you move than you possibly can when staying in a hotel for a short period. Swapping homes is a great introduction as your exchange partners are bound to be able to point you in the right direction to find important information - on local schools, job opportunities, public transport and local facilities. During the time you spend in your 'rent-free' home, you will be able to research the cost of renting or buying a property and generally get a good idea of the cost of living.
The following are examples of Home Base Holidays members using home swaps as a first step in their planned moves to other countries:
London to Sydney: 'We are Jason and Katy. Early 40's. No children. A Photographer and Stylist. Laid back, happy and looking for the possibility of a 12 month swap in Sydney, Australia as a first step to a permanent move. We are a creative couple and our eclectic home and art collection reflects this. Our location is fantastic for getting the best London has to offer, with great transport links to visit the rest of the country and Europe.' See the couple's lovely apartment offered for home swap (includes a two storey cabin in the yard, complete with Victorian bathtub and a Queen sized bed!).
USA via France to the UK: 'I'm a 53-year old single American freelance journalist planning to move to the UK. I'm hoping to have a few exchanges in different cities to find a place I like, and eventually move there sometime in 2013. I'd be alone and working during the exchange, and all I need is an internet connection, as I'd bring my laptop with me. Ideally, I want to exchange for homes in the centers of towns, as I wouldn't be comfortable driving on the wrong side of the road.' See her home for exchange in Gap, a town of 40,000 people in the southern French Alps.
Australia to the UK: 'We are Frank and Loraine and are both retired Naval Officers. I was a helicopter pilot and Loraine a nursing sister. We are interested in travelling and are considering moving to the UK but would like to try a long term exchange before making a permanent move.' See their home exchange offer on Bribie Island, Queensland, a beautiful warm seaside holiday escape.