What to Know About Home Exchange Sites

September 8, 2021 • By Amy Jo Robertson


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Are you interested in being a house swapper? Read this guide to learn everything you need to know about picking the best home exchange sites.

The coronavirus pandemic shook up pretty much every facet of life in 2020, and continues to do so in 2021. The real estate industry was no exception. One of the trends that spiked during the pandemic was the purchase of second homes.

As the old saying goes: sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. With shutdowns, travel restrictions, and social distancing, the COVID-19 pandemic made countless Americans realize that all they really want to do is travel the world. While buying a second home can allow you some escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, there is still an unscratched itch of exploring a new destination entirely.

With home exchange sites, this becomes possible. You can team up with another home owner (or second home owner) in a location you’ve always dreamed of visiting and swap homes.

How does this work, though, and what do you need to know about engaging in a home exchange? Let’s take a deep dive into all the details.

Picture of a house with a swimming pool and hot tub.

What Are Home Exchange Sites?

Home exchange sites are websites that connect individuals who are looking to do a home swap.

You will often hear the terms home exchangehouse swapping, and other similar phrases used interchangeably. This is a form of lodging where two separate parties agree to trade residences for a set period of time.

Home sharing is on the rise and disrupting the hotel industry. You can learn more here.

Many travelers find that this type of exchange is a comfortable, economical, and incredibly fascinating way to deal with the problem of lodging when traveling. Rather than staying in a personality-less hotel in the touristy part of town, home exchanges allow people to have a more interesting and authentic experience when traveling.

(Looking to for inspiration when it comes to the possibilities of luxury travel? Check out this story of ThirdHome exchange members from Italy and New York.)

Understanding What It Means to Exchange Homes

Not all people will find that a home exchange is right for them. Some people love exchanging homes and do it several times a year. This allows them to spend time in new places, while having the comfort and amenities of a home. In some instances, the family car is included in the home exchange, which means that they also don’t have to worry about transportation.

When you do a home exchange, you can experience what life is like in a local community rather than a tourist district. It is common for exchange partners to leave information about the area and to introduce their trading partners to friends or neighbors.

However, some people would rather stay in hotels and eat out at restaurants when they travel. In this case, a home exchange likely isn’t the right fit. Other travelers can feel wary about having people they don’t know live in their house for a period of time when they are out of town.

For people in the latter camp, a better choice might be a vacation rental. This way, they can get some of the benefits of staying in an actual home without having to trade their own.

Depending on your location, it can also be difficult sometimes to swap homes. For example, someone who lives in the heart of Paris might not be particularly interested in exchanging houses with someone in Oklahoma City.

However, for people who live in popular vacation destinations, there are a wide variety of options and offers.

People who are drawn to home exchanges tend to be slow travelers. This means that they prefer to stay put for a while in each location, and aren’t super strict about their itinerary.

Home exchanges can serve as a wonderful base for weekend excursions or longer trips.

Picture of a condo's family room over looking a snowy mountain.

The Different Types of Home Exchanges

According to one study, 65% of Americans planned on traveling more after the pandemic than they did before it started. These days, there are more different ways that you can deal with lodging when you travel than ever before. You can stick with traditional hotels, rent a vacation rental, stay in a yurt, occupy a treehouse, exchange homes with other world travelers, and so much more.

However, a home exchange is probably the best deal when it comes to what it costs you and what you get out of the deal. Staying in a hotel is expensive and even those Instagram-ready treehouses can set you back a pretty penny. When you exchange homes, though, you only have to pay a nominal fee and offer your house to like-minded travelers who are seeking to see the world.

One of the things you will want to know about home exchange sites, though, is that there are different types of home exchange. Depending on your circumstances and preferences, one of these types of sites might make more sense for you than others.

There are a number of different types of home exchanges. A traditional exchange involves both parties traveling at the same time and staying at the primary residence of the other.

Another less common type of home exchange is a “non-simultaneous exchange.”

This is when the parties don’t need to worry about traveling at the same time and coordinating dates. Instead, the partners swap secondary residences or vacation homes, allowing them to travel when it works with their schedule and desires. There are holiday home exchange sites where you can set up this type of arrangement.

A hospitality exchange is the third type of exchange. This is when the two parties take turns spending time as a gues in the primary residence of the other.

How to Alleviate Pre-House Exchange Jitters

It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous about this type of arrangement when it’s your first time. The best way to deal with first-time home-swapping anxiety is to get to know the people you are exchanging homes with.

You will also want to consider all of the different details that might come up as a part of the process. Are you going to hire a cleaning service and do you expect your host to use a cleaning service? Will you leave food for your guests and are you expecting there to be food left for you in your vacation destination?

Figuring out logistical concerns such as how you will exchange keys can help reduce your jitters.

Two store mansion with a luxurious pool and bar.

Are Home Exchange Sites Just For Homeowners?

Home exchange sites aren’t always just for homeowners. People who rent apartments or houses are often also able to participate. Additionally, so long as you’ve gotten the ok from necessary parties, people that own condos or co-ops can exchange homes.

If you aren’t the owner of your home or have a condo or a co-op, you’ll want to check with your landlord or co-op board first. You can also take a look at your lease to see if there is anything written about renting your place to people you don’t know. In your lease, this type of arrangement might be referred to as a temporary sublet.

While home exchanges can be a wonderful way to travel, they aren’t particularly suited to last-minute plans. It is typically advised that you start planning home swaps between three and six months ahead of time when you are traveling internationally. It might even be warranted to start planning as early as nine months in advance.

This is particularly true if you are traveling to a location where there is a major event occurring. For example, if you are traveling to Wimbledon during their world-famous tennis tournament, you will want to lock down your arrangements far in advance.

Will Your Home Be in Good Hands?

In all likelihood, your home will be safe and in good hands when you participate in a home swap. This is particularly true if you are engaging in a direct swap. In these instances, both you and your trading party are taking on the responsibility of caring for each other’s homes at the same time.

You can enhance trust and friendship ahead of time by corresponding frequently leading up to the swap. If it is at all possible, it can be good to meet in person in one of the homes before the swap occurs.

You will want to make sure that both parties are insured adequately. If a car is included in the agreement, this also includes auto insurance.

It is actually quite rare for there to be problems with home exchanges. Probably the most common issue that pops up comes out of people having different cleanliness standards.

It can be a good idea to ask for references ahead of time before you agree to swap houses. This can help prevent misunderstandings or problems. Writing and signing an informal written agreement can also help outline the agreed-upon terms.

At ThirdHome, you can exchange homes with other members of our private vacation exchange. With a robust, two-sided review system, everyone is held accountable.

Stone house in Ireland.

Are You Interested in Exchanging Luxury Homes?

There are countless reasons why a luxury home exchange is superior to staying in hotels when you travel. Given this, it’s no wonder that jetsetters and globetrotters around the world are tapping into this incredible potential.

One of the reasons that this has become such a popular way to travel is because it offers more space and privacy for families or large groups that are traveling together. It also opens up completely new destinations to travelers who are looking for an authentic experience. When you wander around the ThirdHome site, you can be inspired by places that you’ve never even heard of that offer genuine opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Many people are understandably tired of traveling between tourist hot spots and never truly feeling like they get to know the truth about a new place. When you exchange luxury homes, it allows you to live like a local. You will have access to your host’s wealth of knowledge about the community when you stay in their private residence.

This means you will have access to insider secrets about where to eat, where to go, and what to do. When you exchange luxury homes with a like-minded world traveler, you also get to enjoy luxurious accomodations that make your stay truly rejuvenating.

On top of all that, exchanging luxury homes allows you to explore the world without burning a hole in your pocket. For a nominal fee, you can exchange homes with another second home owner in a location that will allow you to relax and explore all while feeling at home.

Are you wondering if ThirdHome luxury exchange is right for you? Check out this article to learn more.)

The Best Luxury Home Exchange Site

If you are looking for a travel club for second home owners, you’ve come to the right place. Our exclusive membership club connects people who share a mindset for exploration and luxury.

The nature of having a second home is that you aren’t using it all the time. When looking for the best home exchange sites, ThirdHome is probably going to catch your eye. With ThirdHome, you can take advantage of this reality by opening the doors to a huge selection of other homes in incredible locations around the world.

Whether you’re a retiree, a jetsetter, or something in between, ThirdHome is a network for people who are inspired by travel.

Are you ready to revolutionize the way you travel? Are you ready to experience new places in an intimate, comfortable, and luxurious way? If so, you can join ThirdHome today.

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