Home swapping is such a fantastic and budget friendly way to travel. However, when planning a home swap holiday, it’s important to take your time to discuss all details to avoid any potential issues later on. Shown below are five tips on how to prevent a mismatched home swap.
Tip 1: Decide what’s important to you
Experienced home exchangers know that flexibility is key. You’re staying in a real lived in home and most homes / locations have quirks. So don’t go into a swap looking for everything to be perfect or like a show home.
Still, you’ll be more successful if you are clear about your must-haves. For many, one of the key requirements is the location and obviously that the home is big enough for their family. You might be looking to enjoy city life where you’re within walking distance of cafes, restaurants, museums, shops, open markets, and more. Alternatively, when visiting a city, you may prefer to stay in a quieter neighbourhood in the suburbs but with good public transport into the centre.
You might need high speed internet and if so, make sure to check this is available before agreeing a swap.
As mentioned, when home swapping, you’re staying in a real home, not a show home. So don’t worry if your home is not super luxurious – most home swappers homes are just nice normal lived-in homes. If it’s very important to you to stay in a super stylish home, make sure to carefully check the photos and description of the property before agreeing to a swap.
There’s one more thing, and it’s non-negotiable – all home swappers much make sure that their home is CLEAN and welcoming!
Tip 2: Learn as much as you can about the exchange home
To avoid a mismatch, study the photos and the home description. Examine the map to make sure the home is where you want to be. If you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask; your home swap partner should be happy to fill in the missing details.
For example, many older buildings in European cities do not have lifts. Therefore, if you have any mobility issues or simply do not fancy walking up several flights of stairs – double check with your home swap partner about access to their apartment.
Tip 3: Make sure your exchange partners knows what to expect in your home
While surprises are part of every home exchange - sometimes the best part - no one wants to find that their temporary home is not at all what they expected. Try to find out what’s important to your home exchange partners. Address important questions they might not think to ask. For example, if they’re coming to attend an event, alert them to traffic patterns or roadworks that might create delays.
Mention relevant facts about your home and furnishings, as well as the type of neighbourhood you’re in, even if those details are in your listing.
Be sure to tell your exchange partners about anything in the listing, such as a community pool, that won’t be available while they’re staying in your home. Always alert them if a pet has lived in the home recently because many people are allergic to animals.
It’s always a good idea to create a welcome pack for your guests with information about your home (e.g. how to turn off/on the alarm, the knack of turning on the niggly cooker hob, etc) as well as tips and recommendations about your local area (e.g. public transport, recommended cafes / restaurants, etc). It’s also helpful to include your “house rules,” such as keeping noise down after ten at night or not parking in neighbours’ spaces, and a description of anything you’d like your partner to do, such as take in the mail, water the plants, etc.
Tip 4: Have direct conversations with your home swap partners
As well as using the home swap website's messaging or emails, it’s always good to schedule in a phone or even video call when discussing a possible swap.
Think of conversations as part of the screening process. Talking directly helps you and your partner build the trust and confidence that are key to home exchanging. You can learn more about what your exchange partner expects in your home, find out whether the exchange home meets your must-have criteria, clarify details and clear up any misunderstandings. A direct person-to-person connection also makes it much easier to resolve any problems that might come up during the exchange.
Tip 5: Confirm details of the swap in writing
There’s one last step for preventing a mismatched home swap: put the details into a written agreement to be signed by both partners. The agreement should summarise the key points you’ve discussed and give you and your swap partner a chance to spot possible issues.
How you write the agreement is up to you. But to be useful, it should include at least…
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