This is a beginners guide to home exchange. Many people find my website because they want to get started house swapping. This post is meant to teach you the basics. It’s been over a year since I wrote my Getting Started with Home Exchange post.  Some things have changed and I have written some new stuff that I think is useful. It’s all updated below.

Is home swapping right for me?

If you’re not yet sure if you want to get involved with home exchange, start with this post: Why should you join a home exchange network? There are lots of good reasons. In summary: saving money, staying in comfort, making friends with locals.

Want more detail on the money you can save? Here’s a case study based on my trip to Iceland. And here’s my calculations of savings for a trip to Europe.

Worried about what might go wrong? Here’s a post where I address everything that could go wrong with a home exchange. It’s really not risky, but it’s good to think about this stuff in advance.

For those who are really risk averse, you could consider getting travel insurance or home exchange insurance. The former is something you can buy for any trip. I wrote up an analysis of this: Do you need travel insurance for a home exchange?  Home exchange insurance, on the other hand, is something a few networks sell to members as an option for each exchange. Here’s my analysis of the value of home exchange insurance. And here’s a list of home exchange networks that offer house swap insurance.

How do I pick which home exchange network to join?

Ok, now you’re convinced it’s a good idea. But how do you figure out which network to join? Lucky for you, I write an updated guide to selecting a house swap network every year.

When selecting a network you need to think about what kind of home exchanger you are. There are several flavors of house swapping: simultaneous exchanges, non-simultaneous exchanges, points-based swaps, hosted swaps. What’s best for you depends on your travel goals and the availability of your home. For instance, those with vacation homes for swap have a lot more flexibility.

Here are some relevant articles on the types of exchanges that differ from traditional simultaneous swaps:

How do I prepare for my first home exchange?

Once you’ve selected which home exchange network(s) to join, it’s time to start planning some trips. There are two approaches here:

  1. Sit back and wait for the exchange offers to come in
  2. Proactively search for swap partners

The first option is certainly the easiest from the perspective of finding lodging. You don’t have to do any searching. But you do have to be open to traveling wherever the folks contacting you live. If you’re flexible and excited about going anywhere, you might want to give this a try and see who proposes exchanges with you. If you’re a bit more particular, setting your preferred destinations in your account is important for helping the right people in the network find your listing. Most networks have this option.

If you already know where you want to go, you’ll need to put some time into searching for house swaps based on your travel plans. Here’s my guide to finding a good swap: How to Search for a Home Exchange

Once you’ve found a home exchange, consider these tips for being a good home exchange partner: Home Exchange Etiquette