I get asked this all the time. Inviting a home exchange partner –someone you’ve never met– into your house might seem a leap of faith. So how are experienced exchangers so confident?
Been There, Done That
Not long ago I received an email from our first home exchange partners. In it, she’d written:
“…the version we sometimes get from home exchange virgins – “What about my stuff?!”, to which we simply raise an eyebrow and reply, “They have your stuff; you have their stuff.” Usually that ends the ‘what if’ questions, at least in that department!”
~Sam & Judy, 50+ home exchanges
How Do You Trust a Stranger in Your Home?
That was your question, right? You’re not alone. Usually the first questions are
- How do you know who these people are?
- How do you know the house even exists?
To answer them, I shared several steps you can take. But those are just rudimentary basics, mere logistics.
When you ask, “How can I trust strangers in my home?” you’re going beyond the mechanics of references, contracts and insurance coverage (which is available).
Now you’re talking about matters of the heart and weighty words, like trust and confidence.
When you trust your exchange partners, you’ll relax on your vacation. You’ll think of nothing but the warmth of the sun and the breeze in the palms as you lie on a stretch of white sand thousands of miles from home.
When experienced home exchangers lock their own door behind them without a second thought, their confidence is usually rooted in the nature of exchanging: mutual respect.
Mutual Respect: Alive and Well
It’s crystal clear to me: mutual respect is alive and well. More than two dozen successful exchanges have led me to believe that respect is the norm, not the exception.
Simply put, I know that my parents weren’t the only ones to instill the norms of good behaviour and a healthy respect for others’ belongings. How does this translate to home exchangers?
- You’ve worked hard for your home. They have, too.
- You care about your home. They do, too.
- You know what’s appropriate when you’re a guest in someone’s home. They do, too.
- You know how you want others to treat your home. They do, too.
- You want to return to your home intact, as you left it. They do, too.
You Care, They Care
You’ll want to be worthy of the trust your exchange partner has in you.
As you leave their home, you will care that you’ve left everything as they left it — as if you’d never been there.
You will genuinely care that when they return and open their door, they’ll think, ‘It’s perfect. This was an amazing experience that I can’t wait to repeat. I’d exchange with these people again and give them a reference in a heartbeat.’
In my experience, exchange partners care. Just like you do.
It’s not a one-sided, ‘pure faith’ move. It’s an exchange. They’re in your house and you’re in theirs.
As you stand in their kitchen, there’s little question about the care you’ll take in it. Your expectation for your own home has set the bar for how you’ll treat their home. And as they stand in your kitchen, their bar is likely just as high.
I’ve paired some home swap know-how with some good sense and a healthy dose of faith in mutual respect. It’s rewarded me very, very well. I’ll continue to play the odds that have proven out so far: 25-to-zero, in favor of mutual respect.
What are your thoughts about your home and mutual respect?