If you want to vacation in a flat in Florence, or a cottage in Canada, or a mansion in Mexico for FREE, you’re in the right place. All you have to do is join a house exchange club. The good news is there are more than 70 clubs to choose from. The bad news is there are more than 70 clubs to choose from.
One company lists 41,000 house swaps from 150 countries! Another offers 5,000 house swaps in 81 countries. One home swap agency has a network of Christian members and yet another has gathered together Jewish members. There’s a home exchange company for seniors, teachers and those with disabilities too. The options are endless. Soooo, I’ve put together a list of…
9 Nifty Ways To Choose a House Exchange Club
1. Location, Location, Location – When you search for a house exchange you need to achieve two things: a) find a suitable home in your dream city and b) find an exchange partner who wants to visit your city. Let’s say you want to vacation in Paris. If a house exchange club has 20K members, but they have only 100 homes in Paris, you have less of a chance with them than you would with a home swap company who has 10K members but 1,000 homes in Paris. Take away: before you join a home exchange agency find out how many homes are available in the city you want to visit.
2. Number of Listings: Sometimes it’s all about numbers and increasing your odds of booking an exchange. When you join a home swap company you’ll want to remain a member with them for several years, so although this year you may want to enjoy a home exchange in Paris, next year it might be Madrid. Consider all nine ways to select a home swap club and choose the company that feels right and meets most of your priorities.
3. Price: Annual fees for home swap clubs range from free to $500. About half of the companies fall in the $50 to $100 range. Clubs that offer more exclusive homes generally charge higher fees; Love Home Swap is $159 annually and Home Base Holidays is $45. Most allow you to look around their website for free; I encourage you to invest 30 minutes on three different house swap websites and determine which one has the most homes that match your style.
4. Maximum Number of Photos Allowed – High quality photos of your home are the single most important way to attract a top home swap, yet some home exchange agencies only allow 4 photos! Other agencies like 1st Home Exchange allow an unlimited number. When I home exchange I want to know exactly what I’m getting, and like most people I want to see photos of the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and yes the bathrooms too. When getting your home ready for prime time follow these 7 Photo Tips.
5. Reverse Search: This feature is way cool! It allows you to easily find exact exchangers who want to visit your city or state, as opposed to you looking at the entire list of members and just hoping to find someone who wants to visit your region. For example, let’s say you live in Vermont and you want to visit Canada. On the HomeExchange.com website there are a total of 2,401 Canadian house swaps available. To use the reverse search feature on their website, you’d enter your destination as Canada, then add the name of your state, and click Search. All exchange prospects who live in Canada and want to travel to Vermont will pop onto the screen; as of today there are 10 to choose from. I also looked at how many Canadian members want to travel to California: 133, United Kingdom: 153 and Italy: 261. (Everybody wants to go to Italy, just get used to it.)
6. Website Ease: Website friendliness is really subjective, but there’s no question that some sites are easier to use than others. The only way for you to know for sure is… you guessed it, go online and try a few sites yourself. Remember, it’s free to look around most house exchange company websites; you just can’t contact the members until you join.
7. Language Translation: After 14 house swaps in nine countries my husband and I have always communicated with our swap partners in English. But just in case, a few home swap agencies offer translation options. HomeLink International and HomeExchange.com offer translation tools for 16 languages and Knok.com offers 5 languages.
8. Member Response Rate: I lovingly refer to this as the deadbeat rate. Some people join house exchange clubs and then don’t ever exchange; they don’t even respond to house exchange requests. (Go figure.)
I’d rather not waste my time with them; I focus on the members who are actively seeking and responding. I look for members who have a 75% and above response rate. HomeLinkInternational has member response rate that is quick and easy to see.
9. Download My Free Home Exchange Club Reference Guide – Freshly updated is my free report that provides details about seven home exchange agencies; it includes much of the information I’ve mentioned here: annual fee, number of listings, number of countries, number of photos allowed, language translation options and more.
I had planned to release it in January but decided to offer it to you as a holiday gift!
Simply sign in on the red and yellow box on the above right-hand side of this page and you can download the 2-page document. Then get ready for your home exchange vacation in the city of your dreams!