The whole idea of arranging your successful house swap might at first appear somewhat daunting. Don’t worry, we are here to help. This page gives you some top tips on how to create the holiday experience of a lifetime.
Communication is key
First and foremost, a successful house swap is based on communication, mutual trust and understanding. It is vital to invest the time and effort to get to know your potential house swap partners and clarify your expectations. If you have questions, ask! Begin by getting to know your potential partner through our internal emailing system and then take it a step further by phoning or Skyping them, adding them as friend on Facebook and so forth. In other words, do your homework.
Remember that honesty and trust are vital attributes of our community. You wouldn’t want to be disappointed on your arrival at your destination because you feel you’ve been misled, so don’t mislead others. Someone wants to stay in your house for what it is and not because you’ve “sold” them on something it isn’t.
Find partners with similar lifestyles
Look for a house swap partner that is similar to you. If, for example, you are a foodie and want to spend time sampling local produce and eating out, it makes sense to find a smaller place with a good kitchen close to restaurants. On the other hand, if you’re travelling with energetic children, it will obviously be important to find a child-friendly house with unfussy furnishings and a garden.
Do your research
We don’t visit our members’ properties (although we do confirm they are in fact the owners through our unique Deeds Office search requirements), so study photos carefully.
Discuss bills and chores
You need to agree upfront on how the water and lights accounts will be settled, as well as phone calls (if there is a landline). If your swap includes the care of pets and watering the garden, discuss exactly what needs to be done and what you are willing / not willing to do.
Your household insurance should not be affected by a house swap, as it is not a commercial agreement – but do check to be sure and always remove valuable personal items. If you agree to exchange cars as well for the duration of your swap, check with your insurance company whether this is permitted – and if not, put alternative arrangements in place for protecting your car. Just in case of a last minute cancellation, you should also ask your travel insurance to include cancellation cover for any costs associated with cancelled flights and car hire.
On a more practical note:
- Clean and clear: empty refrigerators, declutter surfaces and scrub bathrooms.
- Book afternoon flights going there and back. Trying to race out of a house at 6am and leave it all shipshape is no fun.
- Leave an idiot’s guide to running your house, with details on everything from how to use a temperamental oven to the TV remotes. Also include details of local pharmacies, doctors, restaurants, supermarkets and entertainment options.
- If you have children, find a household with kids around the same age so you don’t have to lug paraphernalia. This is especially useful for baby equipment.
- Have a back-up plan. Look into cheap-and-cheerful guesthouses in the area should you have to evacuate.
- Don’t be shy – meet the neighbours. When you activate the alarm at 2am and can’t turn it off, you’ll be glad you did!
The above are just some basics. Keep an eye on our blog for more tips and tricks.