When we decided to move my eldest overseas to New Zealand, we agreed we would spend a month getting her settled, opening her bank account, navigating public transport etc. But we didn’t have anywhere to stay; the family home having recently been sold. So instead of renting AirBnb or imposing on friends and family for a month, we decided to try a home swap with HomeExchange. We were also deliberating on HouseSitting (there are a few websites) but didn’t want more responsibilities during a potentially hectic time. We have been delighted with the program & thoroughly recommend it!
If you do not know, with Home Exchange there is no money transacted except for a small amount for the maid fees, if necessary. Plus, the points which you collect can be used anywhere in the world. For example, my home in Malaysia is worth 300 points so I can use those 300 points to get a home anywhere in the world including New York, Spain, Japan.
“With over 100,000 homes in 133 countries, discover an affordable, authentic and safe way to travel the world. Discover how you can exchange homes for your next vacation.”
Home swap: what we learnt
- How it Works: in summary, you list your home, provide proof of identity and get verified. You pay an annual fee. Then you list the dates your home is available for booking. Once you get some points (you get some upon signing up), you can then use these points for future rentals. You need to list well in advance so people have time to book airfares and plan for the future (i.e. no changing plans). The website takes a EURO500 deposit for any breakages so we were quite confident going away. Plus I had my mum to oversee the cleaner which was a HUGE help. Don’t recommend this if you don’t have someone to help manage, although the home we stayed in NZ, only had a cleaner and they seemed to manage alright.
- How long did we wait: we had bookings within a few weeks from 2 families based in Europe. One stayed 11 days and one stayed 7 days. We started the process in March and got our first house in NZ by April and our second by beginning May. We flew to NZ mid-July. Plan and sort plans as early as possible. We were heading to Wellington, NZ the same time as the Women’s World Cup was on, so didn’t have as much choice, but were still happy with how it turned out.
- How were our hosts: super friendly and helpful, and very responsive to our queries. One home even provided new bottle of olive oil, loaf of bread in the fridge and a bottle of milk! We made sure to clean up after ourselves and pointed out anything outstanding – e.g. garbage was outside, and we broke a bowl unfortunately.
- How were the guests staying in our home: most of them are rated, so you can determine how comfortable you are with each guest. Our first guest was amazing and very honest, pointing out a broken toilet seat (bizarre but easily fixable) and a leaking tap. On checkout, they stripped the beds and placed towels next to linens ready to be washed by my cleaner. Our second guests were equally sincere and candid and left our home in a clean state.
We paid on average RM105 per night for 24 nights and stayed at a kind relatives’ place for 5 days.
In summary, it was totally worth it – not only for the convenience of staying exactly where you wanted to be (Karori the first house and near our daughters school, Brooklyn where our daughter would stay permanently and Seatoun our final destination and near to the airport), but also having homes that were lived in – getting access to daily consumables like herbs, spices, oats, juice (one place had wine!), coffee, teas, etc, as well as fully set up with laundry soap, bathing soap, fireplace, heat pumps etc. Of course we replaced what we used, but it was lovely coming to a ready-to-use home.
We are looking forward to our next holiday whether it be in the South of France or in New York or maybe Barcelona. Or maybe we’ll just head to Langkawi. Happy travels!