Many people would be wary of the idea of 'strangers' living in their homes. However, with a home exchange, both parties will be living (temporarily) in each other's homes and this gives a great incentive to get to know each other well by regular communication in the run-up to the exchange dates. So, a home swap arrangement is more like having friends come to stay rather than strangers.
You may still be concerned about precious or valuable items being broken (editor's note: Home Base Holidays, established in 1985, has had no reports of theft during an exchange), or that your home exchanger will forget to lock your house. In either case, the possibility of this happening is pretty slim. Studies have shown that a home occupied is safer than one left empty while the homeowner is away. Not only that, but home exchange can be a wonderful experience! You have your own space for you and your family, and you’re able to feel more a part of whatever culture it is you are experiencing. But, before you leave your house to switch with theirs, there are a couple tips and tricks you should leave behind for your future guests—this way, you’re left with even more peace of mind.
Safety for Your Valuables
- There should be great communication between you and your future guests. You both should establish 'rules”' in the household for things that can and cannot be used.
- Leave any doors locked that you don’t want them going through—this could be closets, a certain bedroom, etc. If doing so, let your exchanger guests know in advance what will be specifically off limits.
- Any items that you own that you’re afraid of being broken, place in locked rooms.
- Write down a list of items for them that you don’t want moved. This could be TVs, bookshelves, tables or chairs, etc.
- Lastly, tell a neighbor or a friend you trust about your future guests, so they can keep an extra eye out for you.
Safety Guidelines that They Should Follow
- You have all of your favorite possessions locked away, and you’ve established a set of ground rules for them to abide by. Now, what happens when they leave your house?
- Most of the time, it’s easier to leave a 'manual' for your guests to read, and have handy in case they forget any sort of password that they may need.
- If you have a security system, you definitely need to leave a manual for them to read through. Make it easy though—leave out any sort of information they wouldn’t need to know; the simpler the directions, the better. Tell them the code to use, how to turn it off and on, and in case of emergency, the local fire department or police department phone number.
- Leave a set of keys with a neighbour or friend living close by and let your exchange partners know how to contact them in the unlikely event that they misplace your keys (leave a note by your front door as a reminder on how to lock up and other security precautions when they go out).
- Let your guests know how to set timers for lights in or outside your home. Leave steps for them to take and follow when leaving the house, and when they are going to bed.
- Besides establishing these rules for the house, it is helpful to leave notes above any switches—saying what turns on what.
- If they’re borrowing your car too (this should be arranged well before they arrive), then leave a manual 'how to' for the car as well: how to unlock/lock your car, how to use the AC, tips on how to use the radio in the car, and how to adjust the seats/mirrors.
After creating these steps and guidelines for your future guests, remember that they’re expecting the same care for their home when you arrive. Home exchange is great fun but be thorough in providing detailed information on security in your home. Happy vacation!
Naomi Broderick is a professional writer who is secure in her abilities and even more confident in her parenting. When she’s not juggling her three children in the front yard she writes for ProtectYourHome.com, a leader in home security.