Home Exchange

Best Home Exchange Networks

best home exchange networks 2018

I get asked variations on the same question over and over: which home exchange network should I join? Unfortunately it’s not as easy as just naming the best one. But I can give you some good guidance based on your personal needs. If you’re looking to get started with home swapping, this post is for you. And if you think it’s time to join a different home swap network, this post is also for you. Read what I write below, and feel free to get in touch if you have more questions. As always, comment below if you have other input to offer!

In addition to this post, check out the other useful resources on this website. The spreadsheet of all existing home exchange networks includes a lot of comparative information. You can also read more in depth reviews of many of the house swap networks.

OVERVIEW OF THE HOME EXCHANGE NETWORKS

As of August 2019, I count a total of 63 home exchange networks (down from 71 last year). Most of the networks that disappeared in the past year were very small, though a few with more than 1000 members were purchased by or integrated into others. 9 are location specific, 25 are focused on some special interest group, and the remaining 29 are generalist. Within the 29 general networks, 10 have listings predominantly in one location even though they are not geographically limited by design.

Most home exchange networks charge a membership fee, and it takes some work to build a decent profile and go through listings, so ideally you want to only join one or two. This means it’s important to pick the network or networks that will best meet your house swapping needs.

HOW TO PICK THE BEST NETWORK FOR YOU

I created a spreadsheet of all home exchange networks for easy comparison. Every year I do a lot of research to keep this updated, including conducting multiple searches on each site to see how many houses turn up, and exploring the features of each network.

 

home exchange networks spreadsheet

You can find this spreadsheet with all the home exchange sites and relevant data on each one here.

You also need to think about what’s important to you in a home exchange network. I recommend starting with a list of your goals for house swapping. Below are some of the key considerations and goals to think about.

Desired destinations

Do you have specific destinations that you want to visit? Will you be focused in one region of the world or do you want to travel to lots of different places? There are swap sites that are location-specific or that just have the majority of their listings in one area. If you live in Australia and only want to travel within Australia, join a network devoted to that rather than one that lists homes all around the world. You can find these in the “Location” category in my spreadsheet. Within that category you can filter the “Specialty” column by whatever region of the world you want to select.

Vacation home swapper

If you have a second home you might want to only exchange with others in this same situation. That will really narrow down the number of swap options, so this might not be the best way to take advantage of your vacation home. But if you only like staying in luxury properties that are sure to be unoccupied as a primary home, these are the networks to use.  These networks can be found in the “Specialty” column in my spreadsheet.

Special needs

There are home exchange networks for special interest groups including but not limited to: several different religions, people with disabilities, gay folks, golfers, long term exchangers, and home schoolers. If it’s important to you to only swap with people in a specific category, check out these networks. These are in the “Specialty” column in my spreadsheet.

Other features offered by some networks that might be important to you include: house swapping insurance, contract templates, and variations on timing and method of house swapping (see below). You can find information about many of these options in my reviews of the networks.

Number of members

Size matters. And not just the overall number of listings in a network, but also the number of listings in places you want to travel. Where possible, in my reviews I’ve provided a breakdown of listings by continent, or for some sample countries. But I strongly recommend doing some searching yourself on any networks you are considering joining. Look at the results for places you’d like to visit, and consider that if there are only a few people with listings, your odds of finding an exchange aren’t great.

Swapping options

There are a few variations on how you can exchange homes. Here are the options:

  • Simultaneous house swap – This is the traditional model where two parties swap houses for an agreed upon set of dates.
  • Non-simultaneous house swap – In this case each party picks different dates for the swap. Non-simultaneous works best with second homes, but is also useful for people going on vacation and leaving their home empty.
  • Swap points – Earn points for letting others stay in your home while you are away (or while you are home), and then redeem those points to stay in any of the other homes participating in the program.
  • Hospitality exchange – People with extra space in their house host visitors in exchange for being hosted themselves at some other date.

I will put in a plug for networks that include the option to do points-based swapping. I don’t like to be constrained by finding someone to do a simultaneous exchange. Check out that link for a review of the pros and cons of this system of home exchange. An indicator of which networks offer points-based swapping can now be found in my master spreadsheet (hint: scroll to the right to find this column).

 

BEST HOME EXCHANGE NETWORKS FOR TRAVEL GENERALISTS

If you want to travel to lots of places around the world, and you don’t fit into any of the categories I discuss above, there are a few general home exchange networks that I recommend. There are many other great networks, but I think these three stand out from the others in important and interesting ways.

  • HomeExchange – With more than 200,000 active listings this network is significantly larger than any other. They offer both traditional simultaneous home exchanging as well as a points-based swapping system. This network charges a $150 annual fee, but also offers the option of paying per swap. Visit the HomeExchange webpage here.
  • HomeLink – One of the oldest home exchange networks, HomeLink has independent customer service representatives in each country. This is a popular network for experienced home exchangers. They have been around for a long time and have a very good reputation. I have found the country leaders to be passionate, helpful, and honest. HomeLink charges an annual fee of $95. They have 9000 active listings and offer all types of exchanges except points-base swapping. Visit the HomeLink webpage here.
  • PeopleLikeUs – This is a very new network, and quite small (less than 2000 listings), but they have grown dramatically in the past year and attract folks who are passionate about home swapping. PLU has the strongest active community (via facebook mostly) of any network I’ve seen. And they have picked up a lot of long time exchangers in the past year. PeopleLikeUs offers both traditional exchanging as well as a point-based swap system (globes). Visit the PLU webpage here.

What network do you recommend? Which network didn’t work for you? Share your experiences in comments below.

 

28 Comments

  • We have three adult kids spread out across the USA (Portland, Chicago, Boston) and would like to arrange exchanges to these cities as well as elsewhere in the US and overseas.
    Which is the best site for domestic US home exchanges, including long term exchanges? We live in San Francisco.

    • Hi Alan, I think with a home in San Francisco you will have an easy time finding swaps. You’ll need to do a bit of research to find the best network for your purposes, but it shouldn’t be too difficult with the resources on my website. You can find the proportion of membership by country or region in most of my reviews (https://sharetraveler.com/house-swap-website-reviews/) and you can find the total number of members for each network all in one place in my spreadsheet (https://sharetraveler.com/home-exchange/house-swapping-sortable-tables/). From the spreadsheet I’d recommend filtering so that you only look at the “General” category. From those two pieces of information I suggest you select the ones with the most members, which are heavily represented in the U.S. (since this is a key destination for you) and try some sample searches to see how many likely homes there are in your desired destinations. Some of the networks allow a “reverse search” where you look for how many members in city X are interested in visiting my city. This could be particularly useful for you: you can check to see how many members from Portland want to visit San Francisco, for instance.

      I hope you’ll keep me posted on what network you select and how it works out for you. I’m sure there are others with similar home exchange interests and so input from folks like yourself is always helpful.

  • Dawn does a great job on highlighting all these sites but I would like to add two others which in my opinion deserve to be in the top selection -Lovehomeswap (which does give points) and Intervac (which to my knowledge doesn’t).
    As a very experienced swapper -over 50 exchanges I have found places on those sites when I was not able to on others.
    It as all a bit of hit and miss as if your dates gell with theirs or if they or you have second homes it will change the situation as to which site may have your ideal exchange.
    There are maps on most of them so it is very useful to be able to zone in on the number of homes in certain locations. Also most of them have selection options in the search by ‘Own home’ or ‘Vacation home’ which can help to narrow down according to your needs
    Also there are some country tendencies so for example going from Europe to Australia and New Zealand we had great success with Homelink. But for USA we found Homeexchange best. For France Guesttoguest is very effective.

  • I do hope you will update this sooner than later. With the forced merger of hone exchange in to guest to guest there are a ton of people looking for other options. The G2G platform has monetized homes where most we’re wanting just exchanges. While you like the points, it feels very much like a time are or Airbnb which many of us do not want. Please update! It looks like homelink is the next best thing for true traditionalists .

    • People like us has been a refreshing refuge for people fed up with Home Exchange. It’s a brilliant site and constantly evolving with the guidance of and in the service of its community. Drew Seitam works super-hard at the software in response.

    • Yes, I agree with the 2 posts above. Very unuser friendly website on Homexchange.com now, I can’t make it work for me, the search facility is totally useless now, previously it was great! Looking for new options….

  • I signed up for Lovehomeswap and find it very difficult to speak with someone in the office there. I am in Canada and the office is in the UK. The time difference make it almost impossible :/

  • cd,
    I have had the absolute opposite experience with Lovehomeswap! They phone me back even when all I want is a reply to an email. I find them to be very responsive. Try sending an email to info@lovehomeswap if you haven’t already…I’ll bet if you ask for a call back you will get it…fairly pronto!
    Cece
    PS-I am a pretty happy LHS member with a dozen or more swaps so far (and personally, love the point schemes) but am currently branching out to see what else is available in order to find new properties. I finally finished my Homeexchange listing just yesterday and sent my first request and am MORE THAN pleasantly surprised to already have 2 swaps agreed in my first day (one standard and one points)!!

  • Hello, I’m looking for a long term exchange (1 year) in the US. We would swap our place in Madrid, Spain. Which websites would you recommend? I’ve checked your chart but I haven’t found any with that specialty.

    Thank you very much for your help

  • We are fairly new to home exchanging and joined both Love Home Swap and People Like Us. During the year we have been involved in this community, we have really come to love PLU because it doesn’t feel like we are swapping with strangers but friends. Drew has created an beautiful atmosphere led by his own example of humilty and kindness…..what I had envisaged home exchange to be has turned out to be something incredibly more. I’m not sure if we will renew on Love when we are due as the growth byPLU is incredible and I am finding people like me who are equally as travel mad easily.

    • Hi Aidan, there is home exchanging all over the world! Read through this post for tips on how to select a network and join one to get started

  • Just would like to add to Dawn’s top choices as a user with over 70 exchanges that Lovehomeswap should be in the top selection especially if you are happy with the points system.

  • Thanks so much, Dawn, for including People Like Us on your list of recommended platforms. It’s been a whirlwind of a year. I think we had about 20 listings when you did this list in 2018 and now nearly 2,000. It’s wonderful recognition for our community. There’s so many kind, generous, salt-of-the-earth people in our PLU community, people that I would throw my keys to tomorrow and let them stay in my home. It’s a beautiful thing.

    Thank you also for the work that you do on this website. It’s the best home exchanging info website around, the first place people should go to for their research.

  • Homeexchange.com has changed and is appalling now, we just finished an exchange which went well Then I got an email saying they would not be charging any deposit and returned it, being 500 euros! When I asked what this was as I had never seen it before I was told I had accepted it when I logged on back last year when they updated it, no mention of it anywhere. So basically they just changed it with no informed consent. And so many members just treat it like AirB&B and just want to stop for a few days, very hard to do traditional swaps. It was great until the merger with the new company.

    • Hi Edward my point was that I knew nothing about it as it became a policy I “accepted” merely by logging onto my site. I did not authorise it and knew nothing about it. Also if the visitor had said that there was a problem the “dispute resolution “ process was impossible as done by email and the “adjudication” was not clear. I could have had 500 euros taken without my consent although I could have had my credit card stopped by my bank to prevent it. I have spoken to other Homeexchange members who were amazed to find out about this policy as they had no idea. It has all changed from being a true home swap site as it was before it merged with the other site to now being like Air B&B, so many members only want to swap for a couple of nights using points etc. That is one of the reasons why so many members are upset with Homeexchange.com, we have been members for about 18 years and now will be moving on to one of the sites mentioned above when our membership expires. I hope that explains why I was so upset.

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