Review date: September 2020
Founded in 2018
Owned and run by Drew Seitam, an Australian software developer
Free, post-pandemic there will be an optional $85 annual fee for premium membership
English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch, Portuguese
3295 listings in 98 countries
Geographic breakdown of listings:
North America: 29%
South America: 1%
People Like Us is one of the newer home exchange networks, but the fastest growing. In the past year they have doubled in membership. A remarkable achievement considering that half the year included a pandemic, which put a stop to most folks even thinking about traveling. You can read my interview with Drew last year to learn more about the network’s values and direction.
I belong to PLU and find in this network some of the most engaged and enthusiastic members anywhere. While the membership numbers are still smaller than the big players, it shows a lot of promise. The facebook group is also a good place to connect with other house swappers.
Searching: Searches start with a location box in which you type free form. The box auto-populates based on what you are typing. You can further filter the results by number of guests the home can accommodate, dates of travel, home accessibility, pet preferences, car availability, the swap type, and various other features of the home and the swap family. You can even filter by keyword (i.e. “beach”). There is also a reverse search option so you can find people who want to visit the area where you live.
Listings: The listings are slick and have a nice display of information. The search results include a map with pins for house locations. You can expand or change the search by moving within the map.
This site offers the following variations on house swapping:
- simultaneous or non-simultaneous house swap – this is the traditional model where two parties swap houses for an agreed upon set of dates.
- swap points – earn points for letting others stay in your home while you are away, and then redeem those points to stay in any of the other homes participating in the program. In the case of PLU the system uses Globes and one Globe is earned or redeemed per stay, regardless of the length of stay. All homes are valued equally in this system.
- hospitality – this allows people with extra space in their house to host visitors while the host is still at home. Usually this is in exchange for being hosted themselves at some future date.
Site design: Nice and responsive. Drew is constantly adding new features, often at the request of members of the network. There is an internal messaging system you can use to arrange home swaps.
Privacy and security: Homes on this network are not visible in public searches unless a member explicitly agrees to this. To see listings people must join PLU and create a profile. Drew is pretty vigilant about deactivating any profiles that do not appear sincere. In addition PLU will introduce a Premium membership for $85 per year at some point in the not-too-distant future. Premium members will enjoy some additional features. This fee was originally scheduled to roll out in early 2020 but was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Additional features: The PLU website includes a lot of nifty features not directly related to home exchanging but useful for traveling. While these tools definitely have value for some PLU members, I personally would not prioritize them over core home exchange feature development.
For instance, the Trip Builder allows users to set up a multi-leg trip and save searches and bookings for each segment. There are lots of excellent tools for trip planning that allow you to import more than just home swap plans. These third party tools aren’t integrated into the PLU home swap search so it’s not exactly the same. But I wonder how many people are actually getting significant value out of this feature.
In 2020 PLU launched a social network (the Feed) built into the website. For folks who don’t like Facebook, the Feed is a nice alternative for creating community. This feature is arguably important, as Facebook privacy is basically non-existent. But in spite of my best intentions, I just don’t spend time on the PLU website when I’m not trying to arrange an exchange. And so I am not active in the Feed. But perhaps when the pandemic is over this forum will gain more users like me who would love to ditch Facebook.
If you’re trying to figure out which Home Exchange network to join, check out my reviews of all the major house swap networks.