Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Swap it Up

My name is Kerry, and I have wanderlust. There, I said it. But seriously - the fact that I'm only JUST about to hit the quarter century mark, and own a place of permanent residence is sometimes scary. I love getting on a plane and travelling to new spots, but right now between our mortgage and the reno's, regular travelling has been put to the back burner for a moment.

Whether it's a major good score on a trip to Dublin, or renting a car and making it a road trip to Pittsburgh, I'm always looking for one way or another for B and I to get out of town and check out a new place. This would be how I came to my latest and greatest idea for us to travel abroad - House Swapping!

I'm sure most of you have seen The Holiday - so you know exactly what I'm referring to. If you haven't, the idea behind house swapping, is that you vacation in someone's home in another city and/or country while they stay in yours. Not bad, right? Except for the obvious questions. What about my valuables? What if they destroy my house? and so on, and so forth. I am sure most people have some extreme reservations when it comes to this type of thing, but it's really got me thinking recently, and thus began my research into the act of house swapping!

When doing my initial research, there were two sites that seemed really legitimate and got me interested. HomeforExchange.com and HomeExchange.com (which is apparently the website that was featured in the Holiday... according to their home page).

The basic premise for both websites is that you would sign up, pay a monthly/yearly fee (varies depending on what site you decide on), register your home and provide basic information and photos. You also provide information on particular places you are interested in travelling to, as well as when you are interested in travelling.

Once everything is all set up, you can begin your own search for a city and home you like and then you can directly contact a member to discuss swapping. One of the sites compared the process to online dating, which I thought was pretty smart. Most people will message with a potential swapper before making the agreement to swap homes, to make sure that they are "a good fit". On top of this, to enhance your comfort with someone being in your home, they suggest you lock up any valuables. In our case, I'm sure anything of extremely high value we would leave with my parents or a friend.

I could go on forever about a lot of the details of home swapping, but each website is different, and I believe that each individual person will have their own opinion and concerns when it comes to house swapping. Here's a quick rundown of what I believe to be the pro's and con's:

  • Save money on accomodations and food when travelling
  • Experience your vacation spot as a local, as opposed to a tourist
  • Someone is watching over your home while your away - essentially free house sitting?
  • You pay a fee, and if you don't make an exchange in your first year - your second year is free (at least for the two sites I investigated)
  • According to HomeExchange.com - "In 14 years and tens of thousands of exchanges,we’ve never had a report of a theft, malicious vandalism, or a case of someone getting to their exchange home and finding a vacant lot". I did find this comforting
  • Most sites will show how many exchanges a member has made. This can also be a comforting thought - the higher number of exchanges, the more promising it seems to me!
  • I'm a nervous person, so I may feel a little on edge having someone else in my home... at least on a first time swap
  • The fears of showing up to a place that is not quite what you expected. False advertising? Misleading pictures?
  • No house cleaning - of course, you would expect someone to take care of your home if they're staying in it, so you should do the same! Therefore, unlike a hotel, there is no luxury of having someone else clean up after you. Laundry, dishes... it's all in your hands. It's a matter of whether you see it worth the swap (I think i'd take it!)
In the end, I figure that myself, as well as most of my blog friends, enjoy being able to share the beautiful work we have done to our homes (why else would we be blogging about it?). What better way to share it than to swap homes and let someone else vacation in your own little santuary!? Just a little food for thought.

What's the verdict friends? House Swapping - yah or nay?

(I also found these two home swapping blogs that may help provide some more info for anyone who is as interested in this whole thing as I am!)


  1. I know a family who have done it, and swear by it...but its definitely not for us...with that said, I would use an agency to go stay in someone else's place (a vacation rental property) ...but I wouldn't open mine up for others...am I terrible? I hope not, its just what if they wore my clothing? Or do you send that to your friends...or what if they accidentally spilled juice on my couch? or what if they broke a dish? I mean, that could happen, right? Its a little like, "what if I got hit by lightening?" (I don't like to go outside during thunderstorms either)

  2. It's funny that you bring this up because it is something that I actually wanted to try! But now that I have a roommate I don't think I can... haha I am not sure she would appreciate having strangers staying in the house with her... lol.

    Any place in particular you were thinking? I would love to do Hawaii or Australia!

  3. What a fun idea! I would be too freaked out to have people stay here, but if other people like it, go for it!


  4. I would totally consider this with our place on Nantucket — thanks for the idea! I will definitely check out those sites. Any chance to live out The Holiday in real life is a go for me :)

    Thanks so much for the birthday wishes! I'm happy to count you as a new follower!

  5. The idea of this sounds fantastic! I love the idea of staying in someone's house and being all "local" and stuff. I'm on the fence about strangers in mine though... that first swap you'd be SO nervous!

  6. that is a fun idea~ and the Holiday is one of my favs!

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