A home exchange (or house swap) is when two people with homes in different locations decide to trade homes for a set amount of time.
There are three types of exchange, the traditional exchange (or simultaneous exchange), the non-simultaneous exchange and the hospitality exchange. A traditional exchange involves both people trading houses at the same time. The non-simultaneous exchange is for people who own more than one home, who can then swap at different times. The hospitality exchange is when people take turns visiting one another and stay as guests while the homeowner is present.
House swapping is a cheap way to travel long-term and simultaneously enjoy the comforts and conveniences of home. The concept has been around for decades, but has recently gained popularity. New websites for arranging swaps have come up seemingly overnight and now there are tons of sites to choose from. Most of the sites have a membership fee, but many users say the money is worth it because users on the free sites often aren’t serious about swapping or their accounts are dormant.
You can chase down various swapping sites on Google, or you can go to Findthebest.com and compare websites there. We recommend the latter.
Reputable sites will have extensive information on the process; they will outline the typical procedure and things you should discuss before leaving, like how you will trade keys or how you should care for pets. Some swappers trade cars or boats, as well. Regardless of your arrangement, it is a good idea to plan early (4-6 months ahead of time is best), clearly outline expectations and get to know the person (or people) who will be staying in your house.
There is always risk in house swapping, but with the right research, terms and communication, it is a relatively safe process. When it comes down to it, they’re in your home and you’re in theirs, it’s in everyone’s best interest to respect each other’s property.