Home Exchanges

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Nov 28th, 2011, 09:31 AM
  #1
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Home Exchanges

I have found several old threads but couldn't quite piece together the kind of information I am seeking: what is the best home exchange website? What are people's experiences in arranging house swaps? Are there other free websites where people discuss house exchanges? If you have information, please share freely.

I posted the same thread in the Fodorite Lounge, not sure which forum is better for this kind of discussion. Merci beaucoup!
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Nov 28th, 2011, 12:17 PM
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Find and compare home exchange websites based on country, number of listings, membership fee, exchange types, search criteria and more.

home-exchange.findthebest.com

Homexchange.com the grandpappy has been in business 20 years

Good personal experience years past.. screen carefully

beware of smokers and partiers and expect the unexpected.

lots of stuff photo-shopped reviews locations not always

on the up and up but can be a ton of fun if careful...

Some nightmares recently airbnb.com sued recently over

a destructed rental so caveat emptor companies/imdividual.

MANY scammers.always pay with CC never wire money

insuremytrip.com
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Nov 28th, 2011, 05:31 PM
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Hi Tenek: We have done 24 home exchanges to date, in Europe, Australia, US, and Canada. We have used three different web sites:

1. www.Intervac.net

2. www.homelink.org

3. www.homeexchange.com

Most of our exchanges have been set up with the first two sites. I have done a few exchanges with the third one listed, but I find the site difficult to navigate and in general find the exchangers new to home exchanging.

The second site has a discussion forum, so once you join you can read about home exchange issues, post your own queries, and even post special requests like boat exchanges. The first two sites are much more user friendly and they both have been around since the 1950s. Homeexchange (the site) is relatively new.
I first read about home exchanging in an article in 1994 in the LA Times. I joined Intervac. There were no websites then, just a book that came out twice yearly. I located a couple of people (practically neighbors) nearby and telephoned them. They invited us over for coffee and cookies, told us about their experiences, gave us hints, and helped us immensely. You may want to do that if you decide to join a home exchange organization.


However, if you have some questions, I would be more than happy to try and answer them for you. It really is a great way to travel and it has allowed us to make many trips to places we never expected to be able to visit. As one person said on this board years ago, we have managed to take many trips of a lifetime through home exchanging over and over again.
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Nov 29th, 2011, 07:42 AM
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I wouldn't recommend free sites as in my experience they can be more frustrating than they're worth. The problem I've found with free sites is that you get so few replies - which makes me think that the people that join arent that serious about home exchanging and joined just because it's free and then maybe forgot about it! I've been a member of www.homebase-hols.com for over 10 years and have arranged lots of really good exchanges through them. As with some of the other sites mentioned, they've been around for as long as I can remember and so have genuine people looking to exchange.

My tips are to get to know your exchange partners first - I always message them for 1 or 2 months and call them 2 or 3 times so that we feel comfortable that we know the people staying in our home (and they feel comfortable staying in our home!).
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Nov 29th, 2011, 05:38 PM
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Thank you qwovadis, annetti, and flipzoid for your very substantive feedback. I am currently exchanging emails with a family who also have their pictures on the website. We'll see if it pans out. I might take you on your offer, annetti, to pick your brain further about the details and the mechanics of house exchanges.
Thanks again!
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Nov 29th, 2011, 05:40 PM
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Good luck and post again if you have further questions.
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Dec 2nd, 2011, 10:36 PM
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What did I miss? What's is the comment removed by Fodor's moderators? Was it anything useful?

As a side note, we have been getting some interesting offers once we posted the pictures: one in the US, one from Ireland, Germany, and Netherlands. Not the destinations we wanted, but we are open to possibilities.
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Dec 3rd, 2011, 09:32 AM
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"What did I miss? What's is the comment removed by Fodor's moderators?"

Who knows, 95% of the time, deleted posts are advertisements

"Was it anything useful?"

Probably not . . .
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Dec 3rd, 2011, 05:00 PM
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Per Flipzoid: "My tips are to get to know your exchange partners first - I always message them for 1 or 2 months and call them 2 or 3 times so that we feel comfortable that we know the people staying in our home (and they feel comfortable staying in our home!)."


Good advice.

I would also add that you should make a list of what is important to you for your home's well-being and your own during the exchange. You can discuss these points on the phone or by email.Pick a few things at a time to discuss, don't bombard all at once.

Suggested topics for discussion: (I'm sure you will come with others pertinent to your Home Ex needs.)

Clarify with your exchangers your views on smoking in your house and theirs, too if you intend to smoke or don't want smokers in your home.

Confirm in absolute terms how many people will be exchanging - I am pretty emphatic now, if I say 2 persons only, I don't want to get an email later or be met at the train requesting permission for a third person. This has happened to me. I don't want surprises.


Are pets in the exchangers' home? Is that a problem? Confirm that pets will not be present if you don't want to do pet care. The listing may not state pet care, but it's been a year since the listing was posted and your new exchanger may have acquired a cat and has forgotten to change the listing.

Discuss telephone access. Some people no longer have land lines. Will there be a phone for you? Who pays for long distance tel calls?

Washing machine/ dryer available in the house on down in the apt bldg basement or across the street? Don't assume when they list washing machine and dryer that it is in the home; it could be used by a number of tenants.

who is responsible for mowing the lawn? We were shown the lawnmower twice by our home exchangers when we arrived and expected to mow, something neither of us wanted to do. Find out about lawn service.We hired a temp for the period.

Do you plan to close off a room of your house? Let your exchangers know in advance what is off limits.

Are you going to exchange cars? You may want to put a mileage limit on distances your car will travel.


Will you be offering a cleaning service? Will they?


What about the keys? How will they be exchanged?


What cleaning expectations are there for the day you leave? Strip the bed? Fresh sheets? How about the key?


Remember it is your home, so be clear and definite, no need to be rude and obstinate, you just need to state what is important to you in a pleasant manner.

And for what it's worth, do a house exchange agreement. They will help you consider things you may have overlooked.

You get the general idea, think of what is important to you in your home and how you want people to take care of it.


It may sound difficult, but it's not and when you consider the benefits, once your home is clean and ready for the exchange and you are on your way to a new place, a new neighborhood, no hotel bills, the ability to spread out and take your time seeing an area, you will appreciate all the more that you have elected home exch rather than a hotel.
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Dec 3rd, 2011, 05:09 PM
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How do people exchange keys in simultaneous home exchanges? What if we are not meeting each other in person at one's house?
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Dec 3rd, 2011, 07:22 PM
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Several ways to Exchange Keys:

A neighbor,friend or family member meets the exchanger at your home when they arrive. I did this a lot in the beginning, but I found it a lot of trouble for my friends since planes were not often on time.

Mail them your key. My preferred way to exchange keys. It's easy. I only put my initials and city on the padded envelope. The HEs contact me when they recieve the key.

Some of our European exchangers have hidden keys under flowerpots for us or taped them to the bottom of their mailbox. It worked, we always found the key.

And occasionally, we meet in person before the exchange and hand the keys directly to each other.

Returning keys: Often meet up at the end of the vacation and then hand the keys directly to each other. If this is not the case, we generally put them in locked mailboxes or if they don't have one, you can give it to a neighbor, or I suppose mail it back.
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Dec 3rd, 2011, 07:28 PM
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Tentek: A word of caution, if you feel uncomfortable speaking with your exchanger or find any part of the discussion, written or oral disconcerting, then pull back and reconsider if this is a good exchange for you. You should feel comfortable with the proposals both yours and theirs before you finalize the exchange. Do a written agreement. And if you can get references, use them. Most people don't, myself included, but it makes good sense. Finally, if you can trade with an experienced home exchanger the first time out, it really helps, though I have met some first timers who were terrific and knew exactly how to set up their home and were perfect angels in our home. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
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Dec 4th, 2011, 12:57 PM
  #13
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Thanks annetti, I appreciate your sage advice. We've been having fun so far, browsing listings on both websites we've joined. we've received some interesting proposals so far, but nothing certain yet.
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Dec 4th, 2011, 04:47 PM
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Tentek: I'm sure you are doing this, but reply to all your prospective home exchangers' proposals "yes" or "no" or even "just considering." If your answer turns out to be negative, write and tell them. It's the polite thing to do and you will appreciate it when people are considerate and let you know one way or another if the exchange will not work for them. It's not pleasant sitting around waiting and wondering whether or not an exchange is going to happen.
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Dec 4th, 2011, 07:53 PM
  #15
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Yes, I am getting back to people right away. It is so exciting because every day or so we are getting a proposal. I have to say that so far homeexchange.com has been much better than homelink.org. We are getting many more offers and they seem to have a much bigger database.
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Dec 15th, 2011, 04:21 PM
  #16
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Wow, we are riding the roller coaster of figuring out this puzzle. We got many interesting offers, only one is very solid so far. We are interested in the other offer right now, but the other side has not made any commitments, even though they were the first ones to contact us. I wonder if you ever commit to someone and then get a much greater offer. Where are all the experienced home exchangers?

Thank you for listening to me unload...
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Dec 16th, 2011, 07:59 AM
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Once you commit to a home exchange, it is only honorable to follow through with it and not change when something "better" is offered.

If you have not committed to one exchange, that is, agreed to the exchange and are interested in one you perceive as more interesting, write an email to the more interesting one and tell them that you would like the exchange, but if they are not serious, you will take the "solid" offer.

Unfortunately, some people express interest, write emails with lots of details and then drop off the map and even when you write back asking what happened, you don't hear from them again. It can be very disappointing.

Also, the person who wrote you may have written 50 e-mails and has gotten a number of positive responses and is weighing them or just waiting for something "better." If someone keeps you hanging too long and then eventually gets back to you, they may not be a good exchanger down the road.
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Dec 16th, 2011, 04:55 PM
  #18
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I am not backing out of a solid commitment. I am just referring to the exact scenario that you outlined in your second paragraph. I think what is happening with the more interesting offer is what you have described in your 3rd and 4th paragraphs. Too bad... We got so excited about the opportunity to travel to the South of France. Oh well, Amsterdam is not bad either.
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Dec 17th, 2011, 08:10 AM
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There are a few locations that are overrun with offers. Examples are NYC, Paris, South of France and Tuscany. People obviously do get exchanges in these places, but the competition is fierce.

Also, beware the mass soliciting of letters where you get the hello greeting (your name is not there) nor is your location. Definitely not a good sign that they are specifically seeking out your listing.

Amsterdam sounds like a great location. The Netherlands is very accessible by car or by public transit.Probably the easiest country to drive in that I have ever visited. You can make tons of day trips, too. Lots of pretty small villages.

We did an exchange in The Netherlands years ago and at that time we bought a museum pass at one of the museums. Cost probably was about two museums entrance fees plus our photos. It was good for a year and we visited tons of small country museums, plus the usual big attractions. It was an incredible bargain. It was good almost everywhere. I wonder if it still on offer.

We bought a Dutch phrase book, but English was spoken pretty much everywhere, even in the out of the way places. If you bicycle you will be in seventh heaven, there are bike paths and bicyclers everywhere. If you decide on Amsterdam, I'm sure you will have a wonderful time.

Are you planning your exchange for the summer? This is the time people make plans and though not impossible of course, it is easier to arrange an exchange now than closer to the summer.
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Jan 26th, 2012, 04:19 PM
  #20
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Hi annetti, how do you know that the house is there when you do a simultaneous exchange. In other words, what if the other side of the exchange made up or gave you an address of someone else? What is the best way to verify that these people really live there?
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