Imagine a city break without the expensive hotel, the chance to experience your destination like a local, and as bonus, your place back home being well looked after.
Home exchange (or house swapping) is not a new concept, but until now been considered the poor cousin of a hotel beak. With price a concern for many people right now, house swapping makes perfect sense.
If you’ve never swapped homes before, you’ll have a lot of questions; will my place be safe? How do I prepare my home for a swap? Who hands over the keys? How do I know who I will be swapping with…?
Home exchange experts, SwapMyCityPad, explain the house swapping process so you can change your holiday habits, see a city like a local and save money too!
1. First, let’s review the money saving sense in home-swapping. Hotels typically take the largest chunk of a holiday budget and whilst it’s a luxury to have your bed made every day, do you really need those tiny bottles of shampoo and expensive mini-bars to make you feel like you’re on holiday? Why not save that hotel money and instead swap your pad for a similar one in your city of choice.
2. The process of swapping starts with each home-owner listing their property on an home-exchange website. SwapMyCityPad uses a three tiered membership scheme. Bronze members can list their property for free and can search for their next house swap. In order to communicate directly with another member, they will need to upgrade to silver membership (£39.99) which allows full online communication. Gold members (£49.99) have the added benefit of joining a network such as lawyers, doctors etc and searching for properties in a particular network.
3. Be sure to show off the best aspects of your home with lots of photos and detailed descriptions. It’s also a good idea to provide insider knowledge of your home area such as restaurants, local shopping and tips on how best to explore the city. It’s this local knowledge that can make a short weekend break run smoothly.
4. Home swap sites provide plenty of information to help you learn more about who you are swapping with. If you’re a first time swapper you might want to swap with another newbie so you can help each other through it, alternatively you might want to exchange with a more seasoned swapper. SwapMyCityPad operates a feedback system (much like eBay) so you can read how other people experienced the property and how the swap went overall.
5. Having found a home that looks suitable for your break, the home exchange site acts as a mediator, helping each party arrange the specifics. To protect privacy, members’ names and contact details are only made visible at the point of exchange.
6. Preparing your house for the swap is actually a great excuse to tidy up and sort out any old junk! Lock away any valuables, make some room in your wardrobes, clear the fridge of any food past its sell by date, leave a spare set of towels and linen and maybe a bottle of wine. The golden rule is to prepare the house as you would like to find it.
7. Owners are encouraged to create a house manual so that your guests know how best to look after the property; all the obvious stuff should be included, such as how to work the washing machine, find the spare light bulbs and locate the boiler!
8. SwapMyCityPad recommends that a friend, relative or neighbour should act as an on-the-ground agent to meet your guests and hand over the keys.
9. Home exchanges can also include borrowing each other’s cars – a brilliant opportunity to save on car rental and airport transfers.
10. So why not give a home exchange a try? With sites like SwapMyCityPad, the process is smooth and efficient, so all you have to worry about is your next destination!
__ ___SwapMyCityPad.com is a new home exchange website launching in 2010. The site is live now ready to gather prospective swappers so that we can guide you through the process of listing your property and finding your next holiday. To find out more and to be in with a chance of winning £100 worth of Amazon vouchers visit SwapMyCitypad.com._