Home Exchange

This Home Exchange is Fabulous; I’m Leaving Early

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On a recent home exchange in Malaysia I stayed in a fabulous, top floor condo with stunning views of the water. It’s an entirely new condo building with a huge infinity lap pool. The two bedroom, three bathroom flat was spacious. And every room (except 2 of the bathrooms) had incredible views. Actually the views were so good they were scary. I didn’t want to get too close to the windows.

I did this home exchange through Love Home Swap, a network I’m considering leaving at the end of the year. And it was a points-based exchange. Coincidentally I was hosting someone in my home during the exact same dates, but through another platform: HomeExchange.

The Malaysia condo is going to make for an incredible home exchange opportunity for people who stay there in the future. Also, the host was lovely. He was very responsive to communications. And he sent me a bunch of pictures with maps and suggestions for things to see and places to eat. He also had a very nice property manager who met us at the condo and stayed in touch to help out as needed. I’m pretty sure this is going to be run as an Airbnb when the host isn’t using it, as the property manager thought we were Airbnb guests.

So why did I leave early? Well like I said, it’s going to be incredible, in the future. But right now the building isn’t ready. The unit was barely unwrapped, literally. The front door still had cellophane wrapping on it. And there was dust and debris in the hallways of the nearly empty building.

And while it was furnished with the basics, it felt more like a hotel than a home. There were just enough dishes to have two people eat one meal. And barely any cooking equipment. I think only a few units in the large complex were actually occupied, so it had a creepy empty feeling. And the mall downstairs was just a shell of construction.

All of these things aren’t the end of the world. In fact, I visit Malaysia in large part for the food tourism. So I didn’t mind the sparse kitchen. And at least the elevators were quick because no one else was using them.

My main problem: the WiFi was not yet working. The host advertised WiFi in his listing. I needed to do some work while in Malaysia, and that wasn’t possible. I had to go sneak onto the WiFi in the lobby of the Hilton across the street just to book a bus. In addition, the promised gym was also not yet open. In the heat of Malaysia I really like having a gym since I’m not going to get much exercise outdoors.

Lessons Learned

To be fair, I think the host reasonably expected his condo to be ready when we agreed to the stay months in advance. But I would have appreciated a heads up about these missing features. In the end, with other fun places to visit on this trip, we decided to cut the stay in Malaysia a day short. It certainly wasn’t a bad visit. Just a reminder to me that it’s important to be totally honest about the features of your home.

It’s ok if something breaks, you just need to tell your guests. I actually had a small pre-swap disaster recently, and my first action was to notify my guests and to make sure it wouldn’t be a problem for them.

As a guest I decided to handle this after the stay by privately messaging my host with suggestions about how to improve the listing while construction and set up is still not complete. And I left a good review just mentioning that people should check on the status of these things if they are staying in the near future.

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