Q: My partner and I live in Blackheath, which I think is a lovely area in South London. We live with our two young sons (3 years and 9 months). I belong to a popular online group for mums and saw an advert for their home swap service. This sounded ideal but when I checked their site all the homes were ridiculously posh (like really really luxurous!) plus it was so expensive to join especially when I doubt anyone on the site would want to stay in my normal (but nice!) home.
A friend suggested that I check out your site as she'd had good experiences with Homebase. It's really good to see that you do have a much broader choice of homes. There seems to be lots in England but for us this is good as we don't want to travel far while our boys are young and so it would be great if we could swap with a family living in the country or a seaside town. Do you get much requests for swaps within the UK? I am on the verge of joining but just wanted reassurance that it really is ok if your home is a small third floor flat, that we won't lower the tone and not get any interest in a swap? - Lucy B, London
A: Thanks for your question. Recently we've had quite a number of emails from families new to exchanging concerned that their homes might not be 'posh' enough to swap. I'm really sorry that you were disappointed by the luxury nature of the homes on the mums group you mentioned. Please be assured that you do not need to live in a large or grand home to take part in home exchange, certainly not with Home Base Holidays anyway. Homes for exchange vary enormously but one way to narrow your home exchange search results to homes most likely to be suitable for your family is to use 'show more options' and tick the box for 'children welcome' (and any other important criteria) before searching. This is a good starting point to find suitable homes.
Although the location of a home, rather than that the home be similar to their own, is of most importance to many members (you live in a great location in London so that's certainly not an issue), and many people are happy to swap their larger homes for a small flat in an area they want to visit, it is certainly understandable that the majority of people who live in smaller, modest flats would generally feel really uncomfortable approaching members who appear to live in designer show homes - although people interested in home exchanging are often more open to swap suggestions.
You didn't mention the cost of membership of the luxury service but membership Home Base Holidays is only £29 for 1 years membership (and only £19 to renew the following year!). I hope that seems reasonable? We try to provide the best possible service but also make sure to provide the best possible value to our members.
Look out for our post, How to find family friendly home exchange offers, to be published on 4th February, for more ideas on finding a good match. Oh and do let us know if you have any further questions.
Our website is at: www.homebase-hols.com