Home Exchange

Why Home Exchange is a Good Vacation Lodging Option

Home Exchange
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Every house swap website has some sort of FAQ or introductory article about why you should participate in home exchange. But they all have some financial interest in getting you to sign up, so here’s my completely free-from-financial-interest take on it.

Why should you house swap?

1. Money. This is the main reason most people start doing house swapping. It’s an easy calculation: pay for hotels or stay somewhere for free? You are already paying your mortgage/rent, why pay for a second lodging on top of that when you can leverage your home?

2. Comfort. Sometimes I enjoy the luxury of a hotel room, with it’s nicely made up bed and regular cleaning service. But unless you spend a ton of money, hotel rooms aren’t very big. And you usually don’t get a kitchen, certainly not one stocked with all the basic supplies. Staying in an actual home generally gives you a lot more space and the comfort of using a stocked kitchen so you don’t have to eat out for every meal (this also saves money!). Also if you are traveling with kids, house swapping gives you separate bedrooms for the kids without costing you an additional hotel room.

3. Friends. I didn’t really think this was a big thing when I started house swapping, but already I’m seeing just how friendly the home exchange community can be. You’re accidentally getting to know folks who have some significant things in common with you: travel, willingness to house swap, maybe other interests. People will offer to take you out sightseeing when you visit their town, even if they can’t swap with you when you want. Or some will offer to host you, with no reciprocal obligation. You  might end up friends with people you swap with, and enjoy future swaps with the same folks.

4. Insider information. You usually get local tips and information from the people whose house you are using. And you end up experiencing your destination more like a local and less like a tourist.

Is it safe?

Well aside from the fact that in my extensive research and reading I haven’t found any instances of people claiming they were robbed or otherwise harmed by home exchanging, my take is that it’s very safe.

First, there’s the barrier to entry imposed by joining a house swap website and paying a membership feel and creating a profile. And second, you know where they live! If you are doing a simultaneous swap with someone, you know exactly where they live. If you get home to find they destroyed your house or robbed you, it’s going to be pretty easy to report the crime and catch them. It would take a lot of work and trickery for someone to take advantage of this system. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it doesn’t seem to be a worthwhile avenue for crime since no one is doing that.

If you are still worried, many websites offer insurance against damages just in case you want an extra bit of protection.

Check out my overview of the best home exchange websites.


  • Most of the homes I see on homelink are not homes we would be interested in staying in and the ones that are
    do not realize what a great vacation spot Atlanta and it’s enviorns is.
    How do I find site with homes more similar to ours and people aware of the great things Atlanta has to offer?

    • Hi Karen, I’d suggest starting out by doing reverse searching on the big home exchange networks to see who is looking to visit Atlanta. If you find one with a lot of people interested in your destination, that could be a good match for you. Not all networks offer this option, but more and more are building in the functionality to “find people interested in my city” and it sounds like that’s a key feature for you to find a house swap network.

  • Just a word of advice to first timers. There is a downside to home exchange and that can include inconsiderate people who commit to home exchanges and then back out with idiotic explanations (e.g., “I changed my mind”). There are also the slobs and people who do not maintain their homes, leaving you with a myriad of unpleasant problems during the exchange. During the summer of 2013 I had a home in Toulouse, France, with an obviously unresolved sewer problem. The whole house had a terrible odor from the water. You know I am fanatic about house maintenance on my home because the last thing I want are emergency emails (but, of course, things you did not anticipate can surprise you and inconvenience exchangers). I clean up my house, fixing all the major problems that could cause inconvenience and then I walk into a house that is a mess. It happens too much, but there is nothing you can do about it except roll with the punches.

    Here is a piece I wrote about it on my site:


    I am hoping for no nasty homes this year (2014). I don’t mind if the house/apartment is tiny, but cleanliness matters to me.