Fed up with forking out for hotel accommodation when you go away? Holiday home swaps are becoming an increasingly popular way to cut the cost of your summer break.
By swapping your home with someone else’s, you can not only save yourself accommodation costs, but you also get to experience life as a local. Another bonus is that your own home is lived in while you’re away, making it less of a target for burglars. You may also be able to request mutual plant and pet care with the person you're swapping with, saving you the hassle of finding someone to look after them while you're away.
Today, signing up as a home swapper couldn’t be simpler.
There are plenty of home swapping websites where you can advertise your property and find people to swap with in destinations all around the world, whether you want to stay in the UK or visit some far-flung location which you’ve always dreamed of going to. Many sites boast tens of thousands of different properties in hundreds of different locations, which would often cost a fortune to rent.
Home swap websites include Home Base Holidays, which charges £29 for a six month online listing, or £49 for two years, but you can sign up for a free two week trial before committing to either of these options. There’s also Love Home Swap, which also offers a free two week introductory trial, after which membership is £144 a year for unlimited swaps. Also look at www.homelink.org.uk, which charges £115 for one year of membership, £195 for a two year membership and £265 for a three year membership. If you don’t swap your home in the first year, you get the second year’s membership free.
Make sure you supply as much information as possible, including details of local attractions, and distances to the nearest towns and airports
Once you’ve chosen to register with a site, you can explore members’ homes in your ideal locations and then read reviews and find out availability.
When advertising your own property to potential home swappers, make sure you supply as much information as possible. For example, provide details of any local attractions, as well as distances to the nearest towns and airports. You should also leave instructions for any appliances they are likely to be using, such as the oven or shower.
You don’t have to arrange simultaneous swaps with the home you want to visit. So, for example, you may be able to arrange things so that you go to their home in August, while they come to yours in January. You usually message members directly to start swapping. But before you hand over your keys, there are a few things you should be aware of. First, don’t assume you have to clear all your personal possessions away ahead of your home swap. Usually all you need to do is clear one kitchen cupboard and a bit of wardrobe or drawer space. It’s a good idea, however, to lock away any valuables you have, even though home swap sites claim that they rarely experience thefts or breakages by members.
According to Homelink, most home insurance policies will cover home exchangers but you must contact your provider before you exchange to inform them of your plans, as some companies may alter the level of cover or excess payments during their stay. If you rent your property and want to swap it, you will need to check that your landlord is happy for you to do this.
Some people opt to swap their cars at the time of their home swap so that they can save on car hire costs. If you want to do this, again - check with your car insurance provider that this is allowed, and if an extra premium is charged, decide who will pay it. Usually you will have to get your exchange partner added to your policy.