Susan posted this question about her Paris home swap goals on my Best Home Exchange Networks post during my website design transition so the comment was lost. I’m reposting it here with my response because I think it’s relevant to others.
Hello, My husband and I are interested in jumping into the home exchange community. We are interested in spending a month to 6 weeks each year in Paris, we have a 2nd home in San Francisco/Bay Area (Oakland) and would like to know what you think the best homeshare site would be. I have looked at your spreadsheet (thanks for that and for all the invaluable information you share) but thought we would just get your opinion on where to go first as a jumping off point.
Here’s the response I emailed Susan:
With a place in Oakland you should have an easy time finding people wanting to swap. But in the case where you want to go the same place every year, what you really want to find is just one exchange partner, interested in doing the same thing regularly. At least I think that would be easiest. If you can’t find that, you may prefer to earn points by hosting people in your place in Oakland (which should be easy) and spend them on stays in France.
I can tell you that Guest to Guest is based in France and so they have the largest presence there. I’d guess that this is your best bet for finding lodging in Paris if you go the points route. If you want to try to find a regular exchange partner who wants to visit Oakland every year, or even just find different folks for a simultaneous swap, you might want to try Intervac as they are based in Europe and tend to have older members who have more time to travel. Homelink has a similar profile. But as you can see from my spreadsheet, these networks have far fewer members than the big networks, so for sheer numbers you might have a better chance with HomeExchange.com.
To start I’d suggest signing up for a few networks and seeing what you can find. The marginal cost of joining is pretty low, especially relative to the tremendous savings in travel lodging for such a long trip. And you can always quit the one(s) that don’t pan out for your very specific travel desires.