Home Swap: How You Can Experience Living Like a Local

Looking for a change of scenery? Are you tired of your same old four walls? If you’re interested in trying out a new location, why not do a home swap? Whether you’re renting an apartment in West Palm Beach, FL, or considering moving to Portland, OR, this type of arrangement can be a great way to experience a new place without having to commit to a long-term lease. However, you should keep a few things in mind if you’re thinking about committing to this type of housing exchange. 

To help you get a better understanding of how a home swap works, the benefits of this arrangement, and how to get started, we spoke with some of the top home exchange and travel experts in the country. Here’s what they had to say.

 

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What is a home swap?

Simply put – a house exchange, also known as a “home swap” or “apartment swap,” is an agreement in which you stay in someone else’s home, and they stay in yours.

That said, there are actually a few different types of home exchanges that can occur. In a “simultaneous exchange,” you stay in your exchange partner’s home while they stay in yours. In a “non-simultaneous exchange,” you stay at a home swapper second home or vacation home. In a “hospitality exchange,” you stay as a guest in a swapper’s abode while they’re also in the house.

A home swap is a great way to experience living in a new city or country without moving permanently.

Choosing the right company for your house swap

There are many benefits to using an official home swap company for a house exchange. These companies are usually run by experienced staff who know how to facilitate a home swap properly. They also have well-established systems and procedures in place to make sure that the swap goes smoothly. Additionally, official websites often have a large pool of potential swap partners, which increases the chances of finding a good match.

Travel site, International Travelers, recommends working with a reputable and well-known home exchange company. “One of the most popular online networks for house swaps is Home Exchange which currently has a $175 annual fee for membership. This site allows you to list your home, view homes in other destinations worldwide, message homeowners, and arrange an “exchange agreement” to stay in each other’s homes.”

Expert tip for narrowing down your options: “There are almost 60 active home exchange networks, so it can be daunting to pick one to join. Some key features are the size of the network and exchange options. You want the network to have a selection of homes in the destinations you want to visit and have simultaneous or flexibility for non-simultaneous stay options,” says travel advice site Share Traveler. “To make it a bit easier, I’ve created a spreadsheet of all the networks and a guide to selecting the best one for you.”

“Home exchanges offer a more authentic, warm, and budget-friendly travel option compared to traditional hotels or rentals. There are options for luxury homes as well, like HomeExchange Collection, which offers an exclusive community for those with extraordinary homes.”

Things to consider when picking the location of your home exchange 

What kind of experience do you want to have?

There are a few things to consider when choosing a location for a home exchange. First, think about what type of experience you want to have. Are you looking to be in a big city or a smaller town? Are you considering international exchanges? Do you want to be near the beach or in the mountains? Once you know the type of experience you’re looking for, you can start narrowing down your options.

Pro-tip: Consider destinations off the beaten path 

Long-term travel advice site Fifty Plus Nomad shares, “You may want to look for exchange partners in more out-of-the-way places. For example, almost every exchange service has many listings in France. Instead of looking for a partner in or near Paris or on the Cote d’Azur, you may want to consider exchanges in places in or around Toulouse, Marseille, or Lyon. These are all amazing places with rich cultural attractions that will also allow you to experience more of typical French life.”

What size and type of home are you looking for?

Another thing to consider is what type of home you’re looking for. If you have a specific kind of home in mind, that will help to narrow down your options. For example, if you’re looking for a beachfront property, that will help limit your options to locations with waterfront homes.

What is your budget?

Finally, you’ll want to consider your budget. Home exchanges can be a great way to save money on your vacation, but you’ll still need to consider the cost of the exchange itself. Make sure to compare the cost of the exchange with the cost of staying in a hotel or other accommodations to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.

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The benefits of home swapping, straight from the experts

Home exchanges offer a variety of unique benefits. Below, travel experts share some of their favorite aspects of home swapping.

You can save money traveling to your dream destinations

“Apartment swaps and home exchanges are a fantastic way to travel without spending a lot of money. Make sure you’re going through a trusted site and an owner with plenty of real and positive reviews,” recommends money-saving travel site Johnny Jet.

Home swaps can be great for traveling families 

“If you are traveling as a family, you’ve got a chance to handle young children and maintain a family routine more readily. At the same time, you’ve got a chance to take day trips and explore from your new home base. A home exchange makes perfect sense,” shares travel site Mark’s Travel Journal

The opportunity to experience living like a local 

“Doing a home swap gives you a unique opportunity to live like a local. You can experience life in a new place through the eyes of your exchange partner in a way that is even more authentic than renting an Airbnb. This “slow” style of travel is perfect for anyone who wants more than just traditional tourism. It’s also a great way to test the waters if you’re contemplating a move to a new location,” says Poppin Smoke.

Home swapping can be an all-around great experience

“Home swapping is an amazing, affordable way to travel and explore without leaving the comfort of a fully furnished home behind. You’ll experience the day-to-day life like a resident of the country you’ll be visiting, making your visit so much more immersive,” shares travel and adventure blog The Wildest Road. “The most rewarding part of home swapping is the friendships you’ll build over time, creating lasting connections worldwide.” 

Frequently asked questions about home swapping 

Do you have to own a home to participate in a house swap?

You don’t need to own a home to participate in a home exchange. Renters can do it, too, as long as you have the permission of the relevant parties. Check with your landlord and read your lease to see if you’re allowed to rent your place out to strangers. 

Can I swap cars too?

Most of the time, yes, car swapping is often part of the home swap arrangement.

How much do home exchanges cost?

Most home-exchange programs charge users a membership fee to list and search for homes and get in contact with members. Each company has various pricing structures and membership options, so spend a little time researching to find the one that fits you best.

How can I stand out from other applicants for a home exchange?

“As you might imagine, the best swaps, exchanges, and housesitting opportunities also have a lot of competition. If you want to stand out from other applicants, record a video introduction of yourself, showing off your personality, talking about your values and your unique approach to home swaps,” says travel community and advice site TravelFreak. “People want to know who they’re swapping with and feel safe and comfortable with that person, so make sure you let them know who you are.” 

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Final thoughts on home swaps  

Before agreeing to a home swap, do your research on the other party and the home itself. This includes checking out reviews and speaking to the other party to get a sense of what they are like. You should also ensure that the home is in good condition and a safe place to live. Home exchanges can be very rewarding and offer the opportunity to travel to different places and learn about other cultures while meeting new people and making new friends.

Originally published by Redfin

8 Affordable Places to Visit in Your 20s

Life in your twenties is all about having fun. Your career is on the rise, so you may not have much money, yet you have more energy and time to enjoy life. Very often, young people in their twenties have started their careers but haven’t started a family yet – a great time to travel the world. Well, if you’re one of them, this is a guide for you. Here are eight affordable places to visit in your 20s. The best locations to see something new, have fun, and don’t break the bank!

Reasons to travel more in your 20s

Still not confident about their job or future family, many young people are unsure of the best way to spend their free time in their 20s. But, we wanted to list a couple of reasons why traveling in your 20s is the best way to spend your money and time. Here’s why you should start planning your next trip as soon as possible:

  • You have more energy and time to travel at this age – the enthusiasm is pretty high in our twenties, once we’re independent and have more free time.
  • Urge to meet new people and have some fresh experiences – making friends is probably easier when you’re younger. That’s why traveling in your twenties and meeting new people and cultures makes sense.
  • Fewer responsibilities – as you’re independent now and still don’t have a spouse or children, you also have fewer responsibilities. This makes it easier to leave home and stay on the road for a while.
  • New experiences and connections – an excellent foundation for the social and business situations that are expecting you in the future.

Finally, traveling when you’re younger will ensure you’ve got a ton of stories to tell when you’re older. This will surely make the relationships with your future spouse, kids, coworkers, and friends much more exciting and prepare you for the new life chapter.

Where should you go next? Some of the best affordable places to travel when you’re younger

Thailand

If you’re into exotic travels and enjoy pristine beaches bathed in sunshine, then Thailand is a destination for you. Locals are friendly and welcome travelers with the biggest smile. Thailand is a country of beautiful natural landscapes – you see it in movies. Clear waters, greenery, and picturesque cliffs truly offer unique experiences to those who visit them. Combined with rich history, temples, and fantastic food, there’s not much you can go wrong with in Thailand. Finally, visiting this country will certainly not break your bank. Accommodation, food and drinks, and day excursions are much cheaper than in similar locations, so start browsing your next destination now.

Thailand scenery and nature
Thailand will astonish you with its powerful and breathtaking nature.

Cuba

If you’re into unique cultural experiences, then Cuba is the way to go. This colorful country has a lot to offer to its visitors – at very low prices. If you’re into sightseeing, active vacation, or just enjoying a resort – Cuba’s got it all. You can see some fantastic architecture, meet extraordinary people, try out Cuban cigars, and have a ride in their one-of-a-kind cars. One thing is for sure – Cuba is one of the affordable places to visit in your 20s.

Eastern Europe

One of the places you can be pleasantly surprised with is Easter Europe. The beauty of this area is that you can enjoy so many different things but still not travel a lot. Start with experiencing one of the best cities with exciting nightlife, Belgrade. Serbia and Croatia can also offer some first-class skiing resorts in winter. And if you’re visiting in the summer, don’t miss the beautiful coastline of Montenegro and Croatia. You can plan the route to have it all, enjoy it to the maximum and spend a minimum amount of money. And if you decide to make this travel a bit longer, take care of your items at home while you’re on the road. Place your valuables in storage so you can travel without worrying, knowing your belongings are kept safe.

Aerial view of Croatia
Easter Europe is undoubtedly one of the affordable places to visit in your 20s – you can do and see so much here!

South Africa

If you’re ready for a one-of-a-lifetime adventure, you have to visit South Africa when in your 20s. The country can offer so much, as it is home to amazing wild animals, plants, and the most beautiful natural sights. Night camps, safaris, and other experiences are available at different price ranges – depending on how much luxury you want. Its breathtaking coastline offers many ways to have fun and enjoy your best time.

Bali

The place that is also quite affordable and exciting is Bali. Its astonishing scenery perfectly blends with history and culture. At the same time, young people can enjoy lively nightlife at low prices. It’s probably one of the best locations in Indonesia, so it’s undoubtedly worth visiting. But, while you’re visiting Bali, Transparent International recommends storing your most precious items in sturdy boxes. You will want to make your trip longer and see other Indonesian gems. That’s why your 20s are the perfect time to do this tour – pack your bags, store your other valuables safely, grab your passport and go!

a historic building in Bali
Bali is for those enjoying exotic destinations filled with a rich history.

Turkey

The country is known for amazing shopping deals, unique souvenirs, the tastiest food, and rich culture. Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Izmir – there’s so much to see. It’s well connected by local and international flights so you can reach this country easily (and affordably) from all around the world. You will be able to enjoy cheap accommodation and be in one of the best places to visit while you’re in your 20s.

Cappadocia aerial view
Hot air balloon ride early in the morning? Visit Turkey for this one-of-a-kind experience.

Kos, Greece

Yes, Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos are popular and therefore more expensive, but there are far more affordable places to visit in Greece. The country includes over 200 beautiful islands, and Kos is surely one of the locations to go to if you want to experience the vibrant nightlife and the most incredible beach times.

Nepal

Last but not least, Kathmandu in Nepal is one of the affordable places to visit in your 20s that we couldn’t skip. It offers a unique experience to its visitors that mixes breathtaking views, rich culture, and history. It’s a place for those into adventures and active vacations – probably most people in their twenties.