Done on either a temporary or permanent basic, home exchange or house swap refers to the trading of homes, condominiums or apartments at a time that is convenient for both parties. The practice dates back to the 1950’s when it started as the swapping of vacation properties between the Swiss and Americans and then grew throughout Europe and the rest of the world. To facilitate contact between those desiring a house swap, organizations developed that put people in touch with each other. Home exchange has been on the increase in recent years due to the decline in the real estate market in the United States.
Home exchange is different from hospitality exchange in that with hospitality exchange people host each other in their homes at specific times. You stay as a guest with your house swap partner in their home and then they stay with you as your guest. For a hospitality exchange that may involve different states in the United States or different countries around the world, there is somewhat of a social aspect to this kind of exchange as well as having an immediate tour guide of your new environment.
A home exchange occurs more than 250,000 times a year so it is a very popular activity and can bring unexpected rewards. One of the advantages of doing a house swap is that you get an opportunity to look at and participate in other cultures, getting a feel for places you might want to visit again in the future. The people with whom you exchange homes might become more than a connection and the relationship may turn into a true friendship. In addition, you know that someone is taking care of your own home while you are away. By staying in a home, rather than a hotel, you have more freedom and flexibility as you can prepare meals at home and move about as you please. There is more privacy than staying at a hotel and the price is free.
As with all activities of this nature, there are some risks in doing a home exchange or house swap. You may have some reservations about strangers living in your home for an extended period of time. There may be concerns about neatness and keeping it as clean and tidy as you do. You may also be concerned about their breaking something in the home and their knowledge of available resources to fix it. In addition, there is a chance that the home you are getting may not be as was described to you and so you are disappointed with your exchange. Besides, the people with whom you are exchanging homes will face the same risks. However, there are steps that can be taken when making arrangements for the home exchange that can alleviate many of these concerns.