A holiday house swap or home exchange is the latest up and coming trend for families that are looking to save money on their next getaway. It’s the perfect solution to skipping accommodation costs and getting a home away from home.
You can save an average of £2,200 per holiday through home swapping!
What is a holiday house swap?
On holiday, do you want to…
- Enjoy free accommodation
- Have no car hire costs
- Experience life like a local
- Enjoy the comforts of home
If you answered yes to any of the above, then a holiday house swap might be right up your street.
Ever seen the film ‘The Holiday’? Home swapping is pretty much like that (just without Jude Law, unfortunately).
You advertise your home, a fellow home swapper – from the UK or elsewhere (Italian villa with a pool perhaps?) agrees for a swap and off you go.
It’s great if you have school age children, and can only get away during the peak periods and don’t want to pay peak prices. You could do a holiday house swap and pay nothing instead.
It’s a lot more than simply swapping homes – you can get a real insight into where all the best restaurants are, the nicest pubs, take advantage of local knowledge – even make new friends.
There are a number of different websites that can help you with your holiday house swap. Some of them have a higher fee than others. But the savings soon make up for it – plus a joining fee gives you a bit of security (for one thing, it means that everyone on the site is serious about swapping their home).
According to Love Home Swap, you can save an average of £2,200 per holiday through home swapping!
So what home swap sites are out there?
Guardian Home Exchange
Guardian Home Exchange (run through The Guardian newspaper) offers a home exchange service that means you can mutually exchange homes for a holiday in the UK or abroad. It’s a direct swap so no rental charges for either party.
It’s great if you want to house swap just within the UK, but it offers less choice if you want to swap with someone abroad (they only have around 200 house swaps in the US, for example).
The local moving Lorton VA offer comprehensive moving services to make your move as effortless as possible. We can handle the entire move from packing to unloading, or we can control just the loading/unloading, it’s up to you!
Cost: £35 for a one year online listing and contact privileges
Established in 1953, Homelink is one of the biggest home-exchange sites in the world. Access gives you the chance to speak with a professional team of experienced home exchange co-ordinators in 24 major countries, and there’s plenty of house swappers to get in touch with.
Cost: One year costs £115 – but they say that if you don’t manage to arrange an exchange during the first year, they will give you the second year free.
Knok is a snazzy site that presents the holiday home swap experience in an easy to navigate format. The site has great graphics, a simple pricing policy and search. With thousands of members in 159 countries it’s worth a look.
Access includes insurance and you can even take a test to see if home swapping is for you.
Cost: 30 day free trail, then £29.70 for three months, or £82.80 for the year.
Love Home Swap
Love Home Swap is a stylish and popular website, with some nifty features (including the option to look at renting homes, secure messaging and Skype integration). Access includes insurance.
Costs: You can join for £10 for three months. Free to list your home and review swap matches
UK Holiday Swap Shop
If you’re not fussed about going abroad but want to explore a different part of Britain, UK Holiday Swap Shop is worth checking out. You can contact any member to arrange a swap, post up to three listings and have featured status on the homepage. One of the best value home exchange websites.
Cost: Currently £19.95 per year (full price is normally £24.95)
Home Base Holidays
A simple to use website – we like their little video on the homepage to explain the process. It’s not as big as some of the others but very reasonably priced. You should be able to find your dream holiday pad on Home Base Holidays – with listings including everything from beach villas, to city apartments and even house boats!
Cost: One year online listing and contact privileges £29, or two years for £39
House swap FAQs
My home isn’t that fancy. Will people still be interested?
Probably! Most home swappers tend to value the location over the property. So if you live in a nice city or part of the countryside, it doesn’t matter if your house is a bit ordinary and the toaster sometimes doesn’t work.
However, be realistic – while swaps don’t have to be ‘like for like’, you probably won’t have much luck swapping your bedsit in Skegness for a villa in California.
What about valuables?
If you have anything particularly precious, you can always put things in a locked room, cupboard or in external storage. But many people like the fact that they know their home will be occupied while they’re away (especially if they have pets!)
Does home swapping affect my insurance?
Most insurers view the fact that your home will be occupied as a positive thing.
However it’s best to give your insurance company a quick ring to put your mind at rest.
The British Association of Insurers says that, generally speaking, having strangers stay in your home isn’t an issue – but if you spend longer than two weeks away from your property (occupied or not) you may need to increase your premium.
If you’re intending to swap vehicles, both parties will definitely need to inform their car insurance company.
Top tips for a holiday house swap:
- Take some good quality, attractive photos of your property. You’ll get a lot more interest than if you put up some dingy, out of focus shots.
- Don’t be shy and wait to be contacted – start contacting people yourself.
- Be honest – be clear about any downsides to your property (e.g. if you don’t live near public transport/shops/amenities).
- Your home does need to be reasonably presentable, clean and tidy.
- If your home isn’t in a particularly desirable location, perhaps your friends or parents would be interested in swapping their home? You could make it a family affair!
- It’s important you feel as secure as possible about the swap, so set up a skype call, exchange emails and build a relationship of trust before you embark on the exchange
- Communication is key. Agree in advance on acceptable use of food, petrol, what chores should be done while you’re away etc.
- Make sure your home insurance is valid, as well as car insurance
- Make sure you sign an arrangement document
- Before setting off on your holiday, consider whether you want to lock away your key valuables (or ask a friend to take care of them for you)
- Leave basics such as bread, milk and butter (some house swappers also recommend preparing a meal/ wine/gift basket for their arrival)
- Leave a book of basic instructions about the house, useful telephone numbers and recommendations of things to see and do
- Keeping a spare set of keys with your neighbours or friends may be an idea, just in case they lose their keys or get locked out!