What Is a House Swap?

A house swap, or home swap, is a temporary exchange of homes. It allows two people or families to enjoy a change of scenery with all the amenities of a home and without the costs and fees of a hotel.

House swaps are most commonly sought for vacation stays but these short-term arrangements may be a practical solution for many people who need accommodations away from home.

Key Takeaways

  • A house swap involves temporarily staying in somebody else's home while they stay in yours.
  • House-swapping websites have opened up new opportunities for vacationers.
  • Variations like "non-simultaneous" exchanges are available.
  • The concept would appear to work well for remote workers and retirees as well as vacation travelers.

Understanding House Swaps

House swaps typically involve an exchange of properties in different locations. Exchanging a beach house for a city apartment has obvious appeal for both parties. The concept appears to be a winner for remote workers, retirees, and people who are just restless for a change of scene.

Home-swapping sites like lovehomeswap.com, International Vacation Home Exchange (IVHE), and CasaHop have made it easier for strangers to hook up with potential house-swap partners. Some sites, such as HomeLink.org, were in business long before the internet.

Home as Launching Pad

Perusing the listings on lovehomeswap.com makes it evident that some people in attractive locations are using their home bases or their second homes as a launching pad for a house-swapping lifestyle. A luxury apartment in Barcelona, for example, has 16 reviews from past swaps. A garden flat in London has 25 reviews.

The trick, of course, is to find travelers who find your home and its location as appealing as you find their place.

The big benefit of house-swapping sites is their ready access to a wide range of listings. The sites also offer prospective house-swappers some security through ID verification as well as detailed descriptions and photos.

Home Swapping Fees, etc.

Listing a home costs a small monthly fee. Some sites have tiered services that include extras like professionally-edited listings.

Renters are welcome to use the sites, although some may have to sell the idea to their landlords.

Variations on House-Swapping

The sites are stretching the definition of house-swapping to cover more possibilities:

  • The classic house-swap is just what it sounds like. Two people agree to move into each other's home for a short period of time.
  • The non-simultaneous exchange allows someone to move into someone else's home while the owners go anywhere else, with a promise of a later stay for the host. This is a particularly popular option when trading second homes.
  • Instead of a direct exchange, a points system offers the chance to collect credits for use towards a later stay at another subscriber's home.
  • For the truly garrulous, there is the option to move into somebody else's house while they are in residence, in return for hosting a return visit later.

Other variations are negotiable. Some listings offer a car swap as well, and some offer reciprocal pet-care services.

The internet has opened up global choice for house-swappers. Users of IVHE.com, for example, can choose a thatched cottage in a South African game reserve, while lovehomeswap.com currently lists 108 residences in Indonesia.