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September 12, 2019

A Look at House Swapping

by Laurie Bauer | Business Development Manager, TW Insurance

Longing for adventure, vacation, or world travel? If your dreams of sand between your toes or pictures with that landmark are being spoiled by cost, home swapping may be for you. It means a nearly free residence wherever you want to go with the bonus of knowing your home won’t be sitting empty while you’re gone. Although leaving your home in the hands of a stranger can be daunting, the relationship that is built leading up to the swap can ensure that your swap partner is trustworthy and respectful of your space. When done well, a home swap can be an enriching experience for both parties.

What Is Home Swapping?

Home swapping is when two consenting people or couples swap homes for a period of time. There are several kinds of home swapping.

  • Simultaneous swapping is when both parties leave their homes and go to the other at the same time. This is the most common type of swap.
  • Hospitality swapping is when the two parties take turns being guests in each other’s homes.
  • Non-simultaneous swapping is when one party stays in the other party’s secondary residence, while the other continues to stay in their primary residence.

You can organize a home swap on your own, but a multitude of websites exist that can help by introducing you to a swap partner and facilitating the relationship-building conversation and trust.

How Do I Home Swap?

The first step to home swapping is finding a partner. There are many websites to help and each one has something different to bring to the table. Some have a points system, others specialize in students swapping. Look around and find the right community of swappers for your needs.

You will need to advertise your home to appeal to potential swappers. Take nice pictures, describe what’s around you, and set rules (is it pet-friendly? Smoke-free?). Make sure to note extras such as a pool or hot tub.

Once you have a partner to swap with, set your dates, make expectations clear, and get to know each other. Ensure they are the kind of people who will respect your space, and make it clear you’ll respect theirs.

This whole process should be happening well in advance of the actual swap. Sometimes months of preparation are required to make a seamless exchange.

Make sure you are ready at the time of the swap. Tidy your home, lock up your valuables and personals, and maybe leave a list of local sights and restaurants for your house guests. Inform your neighbours what is happening, so they aren’t startled by the sudden appearance of strangers in your home.

Common Concerns

Home swapping for the first time can be scary. Letting a stranger into your home should be handled with care.

According to a study from the University of Bergamo, Italy, ninety-three per cent of home swappers were happy with their experience, seventy per cent of whom had been home swapping for over a year.

One thing that many home swappers have in common is a mutual trust for one another. Since you will be staying in your partner’s home, treat theirs with the same level of respect that you hope they will have for yours.

Insurance Coverage While Home Swapping

Every insurance company is different, and your policy may not cover strangers in your home. Before agreeing to a swap, call your insurance broker and ask. Get all the information you need to keep your property safe before deciding to swap homes.

Some home swappers also swap cars. If you do this, make sure your car insurance policy allows guests to drive your car without you with them.

If travelling is a priority for you and you are looking for ways to save some money while seeing the world, home swapping may be for you. If done right, a home swap can be a fantastic experience for both parties, allowing you to experience a new culture in a different way than you ever could in a hotel.