Travel Often & Richly Within Your Budget

Will my house be robbed?

Dali's Pomegranate Heart ~Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain

‘The Pomegranate Heart’ designed by Salvador Dali ~Dali-Jewels Gallery, Figueres, Spain

Is home exchanging safe? How do I know this person is who they say they are? Will there be a house there when I arrive? Here’s an introduction to good home exchanging practices so you can swap with confidence.

Are They Crazy?

You’re a reasonable person, right? Then of course you’re wondering how other supposedly reasonable people can home exchange. How do they not worry about their house being robbed?

They can’t all be crazy. The popularity of home exchanging has been growing for at least 35 years (yes, think mailed catalogs three decades ago). I’ve done more than 20 swaps without any issues. Our first exchangers had done more than 20 when we met them, and have done more than 50 now, all without a problem. I’ve also never spoken to an exchanger who’s had a problem. Major home swap websites claim the same.

I know what you’re thinking. That that’s all fine and dandy, but you still have to know who you’re communicating with, and where you’re going. And you have to trust them.

Is it Safe?

Let’s be honest. You can’t completely eliminate risk. Is crossing the street safe? I think you’d say, “Yes.” I would. We do it all day long.  But I’d answer that way because I know how to do it and what precautions to take. Ultimately, I assume you’ve decided that crossing the street is an acceptably safe thing to do and I have, too.

Home exchanging is similar. Frankly, no one needs to convince you or twist your arm. It’s entirely up to you. Between learning the steps you can take and knowing that you can test the waters without committing, you can decide for yourself if it’s in your comfort zone.

There are two parts:

  1. Good practices and precautions to take
  2. Understand the nature of exchanging.

Both are really important, but this post will focus on #1.

Good Practices and Precautions

Cross with diamond starburst, designed by Salvador Dali ~Dali-Jewels Gallery, Figueres, Spain

Cross with diamond starburst, designed by Salvador Dali ~Dali-Jewels Gallery, Figueres, Spain

Here are my top 8 recommendations. Do as many of these as you need–or your potential exchange partner needs–to feel comfortable. (For myself, numbers 1, 2 and 3 are essential.)

  1. A Reputable Membership Website: Use a paid membership site. Here’s why. And here are some home exchange websites I recommend.
  2. Photos: Always require photos of the home.
  3. Google Maps: A fabulous way to confirm where your exchange home is.
  4. Reviews: All quality house swap websites have review and/or character reference features.
  5. A Phone Call: Communication is key and phone calls are sometimes forgotten in our email world. (You actually get to speak to them!)
  6. Ownership Validation: Tax notices and utility bills can confirm name, address and home ownership.
  7. Valuables: You can secure or remove them from your home for a swap.
  8. Home Insurance: Two of the sites I recommend offer exchange-specific home insurance (conditions and apply and pricing varies of course — check my comparison info and do your reading). That’s an option for augmenting your own home insurance coverage.

There’s even more you can do, and quality exchange websites have additional information about precautions, too.

My Take

I’m completely comfortable exchanging my home, thanks to steps like the ones above and the nature of exchanging.

Remember that you can test the waters without committing to an exchange. And, that every home swap is entirely at your discretion: you decide if you’re comfortable.

No exchange is worth being tied up in knots. Home swapping is supposed to make life better, not more stressful. By taking the right precautions for you and having the confidence to say no, you’ll also know when you’re comfortable with saying, “Yes.”

I’m happy to answer questions. Feel free to contact me or drop me a note in the comments below.

Your Take

With precautions like this available, how do you think you’d feel about exchanging?

If you’ve home swapped before, what steps did you take before saying ‘yes’?

Author: Nola

Nola is passionate about travel and a home exchange diva. She shares how you can travel in comfort, save money while you do it, and splurge on travel treats with the savings. She is a travel writer, speaker and trainer.