My husband and I have used HomeExchange for a few years now. It’s a platform where homeowners pay an annual membership to create a profile of their home and share it with likeminded homeowners around the world. It allows us to connect with people across the globe and arrange a home (and sometimes vehicle) exchange. Someone in Spain comes to our house in the United States while we cross the pond to hang out at their home in Basque country. It fosters worldwide travel while negating the prohibitive cost of long-term accommodations. It’s wonderful! But we still encounter friends and relatives who can’t fathom doing such a thing.
At which point we relate the pros and cons of our experiences with home exchanges, as well as why we have no plans of stopping any time soon. Here are the top 5, pretty-basic-and-rooted-in-logic-when-you-stop-to-think-about-them, tips to approaching an exchange like a pro.
Your things are just things. And your home exchange partners are not going to care about your things, beyond needing them somewhat out of the way so that they have room for their things. That’s right, they have things, too. Some things that they take with them and some which are left behind. You can bet your exchange partners have the same anxieties you do about their home and possessions. But you have to remember that you are not renting out your house (that’s when you should be terrified and oh yes, there will be consequences), you are exchanging your house. It’s a two-way street. And that’s why home exchangers take extra care and show respect when staying in another’s home. Stay calm. Everything is going to be okay.
|It’s okay. They’re just things.|
Don’t use as-the-crow-flies distances to describe the proximity of local attractions to your home. If it’s two hours to the ski lift or the beach, then say it’s two hours. If your home comfortably sleeps four, don’t tout it as a perfect place to host family reunions. And a stainless steel appliance doesn’t make your kitchen worthy of the descriptor gourmet. Be honest when representing your home and the surrounding area. It’s what you expect from your exchange partners and what they deserve in return.
|Yes, that’s a lovely toaster. Still not a gourmet kitchen.|
|Nite Glow at the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic.|
Don’t throw offers out that you can’t follow through on and keep in mind that sometimes you have to let the location choose you. It’s okay to change your mind (and plans change all the time,) but if you propose an exchange, you should do so with reasonable assurance that you’ll be able to make it happen. Inquiring about six months in Paris because you daydream of doing such a thing, but without a clear plan of the logistics and circumstances needed to make such an exchange a reality is unfair to your home exchange peers. Make sure you’re fully on board before you say you’re on board. Is the duration of the exchange workable? Are you comfortable with the cost of living in your destination city? We once had a couple from the Netherlands arrange an exchange with us because they wanted to visit Boise in the summertime. And then they canceled because they learned that Boise in the summertime is, well, hot. Do your due diligence before committing to an exchange.
|Up all night at Carnaval in São Paulo.|
|Making friends in the Amazon.|