Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.
A house swap or home exchange can be an incredibly enriching vacation experience for you and your family. And guess what? It won't break the bank, either.
Instead of staying in a hotel the next time you take a vacation, why not enjoy the comforts of "home" by staying in somebody else's home? And in the meantime, that somebody else whose home you're staying in can enjoy the comforts of your own home.
The term "home exchange" leaves little to the imagination: it's about exchanging homes with another person or family, somewhere else in the world. You both enjoy free accommodations and sometimes the use of one another's vehicles, as well.
You can set the terms of the home exchange, from length of stay, to who pays for what (e.g., telephone bills, utilities, etc.), to requested chores (like watering the plants or even caring for a pet).
Benefits of Home Exchanges
Although the home you stay in may not be right on the tourist trail, many people see this as a benefit; you get to live in a local community and sample local living. You can shop at the neighborhood grocery store, and cook meals in your home-away-from-home. You'll have more space than a hotel could possibly offer, and oftentimes you can save the cost of renting a car by exchanging cars too.
There are also benefits to having somebody stay in your home while you are away; you have the security of knowing your place is not empty, and it is being maintained. Some people pay big bucks to have somebody house-sit for them - but, it's just an added perk to home exchanging.
A common - and legitimate - concern of prospective home-exchangers is that of security. If you're the sort of person apt to wake up in a cold sweat wondering who is sleeping in your bed, you may not be a good candidate for home exchanges. It involves an inherent level of trust to open your home up to other people.
But then again, they're opening their home up to you as well, so the trust factor goes two ways. It is always recommended that you take the time to get to know the people with whom you exchange homes, and many home exchange sites have measures in place to enhance the security factor.
Tips for a Happy Home Exchange
Home Exchange Sites
Here (in no particular order) are some home exchange sites and costs to join them, with various terms and coverage levels. Some will allow you to browse listings before joining.
Coverage in 130 countries
$10/month for annual membership, or 3 months for $16/month
Since 1986; has coverage in 60 countries
$39 for 2 years, lifetime is $95
International Home Exchange Network
Since 1995, offering home exchanges and vacation rentals
International Vacation Home Exchange
Coverage in over 50 countries
For non-simultaneous home exchanges using vacation properties
$150-$375 per year, but after a year if they don't place you, you get the 2nd year free
Since 1953, coverage in most countries
$99/year, with discounts for 2 and 3 year memberships
Since 1991, has coverage in 40 countries
$60 for 1 year, $75 for 2 years, $90 for 3 years
Since 1953, coverage in 72 countries
$115 for 1 year, $183 for 2 years
Home Base Holidays
Since 1985, and also offers hospitality exchange, house-sitting, B&B listings, etc.
₤29 for 1 year, ₤39 for 2 years
Global Home Exchange
Since 1998, and they also have partners with vacation home networks
Membership is $15-$99/year, depending on options chosen
Geared towards students and "young people" to rent, sublet, and swap their homes
Find place to stay, get a roommate, or exchange your room
Free to join
Green-Theme International Home Exchange
For sustainable or "green" themed homes; includes hospitality exchanges and home-sitting options
Seniors Home Exchange
Exclusively for those over 50
$79 for 3 years, lifetime membership is $100
Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under Life Balance. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions while constantly balancing life and her location independent work on the road. As a former Certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated CareOne Blogger.
I have found a gr8 Vacation Exchange Network site for home exchange.they offering both mutual and non-mutual home swaps. No need to find someone to use your vacation home.
@Jill - What's the website?
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