© Walkers' Home Swap, 2013
What is a home swap?
When two parties agree to exchange homes for a period of time. In some cases, such as ours, these exchanges take place at the same time. For other people (who have more than one home) an ‘exchange’ can take place at any time.
Where can you exchange to?
Almost anywhere in the world.
Why home exchange? • cost savings – no hotel, car rental, restaurant expenses. • freedom – most exchanges also include a car exchange allowing you to travel and explore. • space and freedom of a private home. • enjoy the comforts of home – listen to music, enjoy BBQ’s, relax when you feel like it • you have the opportunity to live in another country like a local, not a tourist. We have had some great times getting to know another family and enjoying another way of life. • you often meet your exchange partners friends and neighbours • Many exchange families remain life time friends. We are still very good friends with a family from Michigan who looked after us on one of our first exchanges.
How does it work?
You make contact with others who you would like to exchange with, or someone will contact you with a view to exchanging homes. If interested, you can then discuss details such as dates, car arrangements, will you meet up first, computer usage, utilities, etc. You should bear in mind that most people will probably have several offers, so it is important that if you are not interested you should let the other party know as soon as possible.
It is important that both parties are honest about the description of their home and area. Some parties do not want children, some request that they exchange with non smokers, others may need pets looked after or gardening done.
If you have any valuables these can be left with family or locked safely away. It is important to respect the wishes of those you are exchanging homes with.
Most insurance companies prefer that your home is occupied during your absence and most car insurance policies cover other drivers. If necessary additional short-term specific coverage can be purchased under your policy.
Some people prefer to exchange contracts – this needs to be discussed early in the exchange. Others may ask for references – if you have exchanged before then a reference from a previous exchange is suitable. We have always found that by the time an exchange has been arranged we feel as if we know the other party really well as a result of lots of communication.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions -if you want to know something………….Ask.
Don’t assume that your visitors will know how to operate items of equipment in your house – leave detailed instructions. Also leave details of local customs, places to visit and names and contact numbers of emergency services.
We sometimes meet with our exchange partners at the start of an exchange. This means that we either travel out slightly earlier or they come to Ireland before we leave. This has worked really well in the past. It gives you a chance to get to know people you have been communicating with for a few months.
Is it worth it?
Simply, yes. We have had great exchanges in England, California, Arkansas, Michigan, France, Canada, Germany, Italy and Australia. Our children have had the opportunity to travel the world for a fraction of the cost of package holidays, lived as part of a local community, made new friends, sampled new cultures and food. We have spent time in a beautiful thatched cottage in England, been to Disneyland, Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Las Vegas, Mexico, a farm in Arkansas, Niagara Falls, Mackinaw Island, the delights of France, watched the World Cup final in a small cafe in Nantes when France lifted the title (with Christopher wearing a Brazil outfit!), played with kangaroos, been to the Olympic stadium and village in Sydney and the ‘trots’ in Melbourne, swam in the sea at Surfer’s Paradise, met relatives for the first time and made lifetime friendships whilst in Michigan, enjoyed the beautiful cities of Verona, Venice and Padua and the sights of Lake Garda to name but a few of the experiences to date.
One of the most enjoyable parts of exchanging is getting to know the people you are swapping with through emails and telephone calls.
Our exchange partners have had the pleasure of enjoying the sights and lifestyle in Ireland.
If I can be of any help (even if you don’t want to exchange with us) please contact me.