You love to travel and the benefits of home exchange sounds appealing, now comes your first step, finding an exchange network to join. Before instantly signing up to a club or network you should consider what are the most important criteria for you. The questions above will help you in make the right decision.
If you are only interested in Direct Exchanges then you have many options, just remember that you will have to find a location and home that matches the same time you will want to swap.
If you want the flexibility of a Non-Simultaneous exchange, there are only a select number of memberships available. It is not an either/or decision as some organisation offer their members both Direct and Non-Simultaneous Exchanges. When doing your research check to ensure you are getting what you want.
Bigger is not always better. When you start looking on the internet, many organisations claim to have the world’s largest or most listings. One of them has to be the biggest, but why may this not matter to you? What really matters is you find the right exchange for you – this means locations, type of accommodation, type of exchanges and homes with good amenities. We have found that in an effort to look big, there is what we call in the industry, a lot of dead wood. These are home listings that have been around for years but are no longer valid. It will be extremely frustrating trawling through hundreds of property listings, wasting a lot of your time trying to find someone to respond to your enquiries. Be careful to select a home exchange organisation that manages their listings, keeping them current and up to date, and can offer you assistance when needed.
Now is a good time to talk about price. Some exchange networks offer a free listing. Two sayings come to mind you get what you pay for and rarely is anything really free. When home swapping sites offer free listings there will inevitably be properties on the site that are old or have owners that really are committed to communicate. This will waste your time and will reduce your pleasure in the whole home exchange experience. The other thing that often happens with a free listing is that home owners can list their property, but they cannot respond or communicate to enquiries without paying. This will cause delays in communication, another waste of your time. Remember that you are most likely going to save thousands of pounds, euros or dollars on home swapping, so the small cost of joining a reputable home exchange community makes sense; saving you time, avoiding frustration and giving you a much better experience in home exchanging.
You have embraced the idea of exploring a new location and enjoying a local home, if it is your first exchange you will most likely at some point have some anxiety. Will the home you are visiting really be all it is promoted to be? Will the visitors to your home treat everything with the same care and respect you do? These questions and feelings are natural. Remember that anxiety can also come before a hotel based vacation; is it really like the brochure or are the pictures ten years old? How can you overcome this anxiety? Look to your home exchange network for assistance. The most reputable organisations have established methods of verifying facts about its members. This is by identifying experienced traders and having a guestbook of comments for future traders to read about previous trades. There are also various methods of validation of identities and property features. While no system is foolproof, it is always good to take steps toward ensuring that you will have the best experience possible.
If you are an owner of a second / vacation property you might specifically be interested in a home exchange network that offers its members a credit based systems. Credits place a value on both the time of the exchange as well as the type of property. A good example is the notion of a holiday or high seasons. Having a beachside home in summer is worth more than during the winter, just like a ski in ski out chalet is more valuable during the ski season. We all know of small apartments in cities like New York, London or Paris that are worth many times more than a large countryside home.
Finally, would you like to exchange with only other Seniors? This is an added option on a select number of home exchange sites.
The internet is a perfect place to start your research on the various home exchange networks. Remember to ask yourself the above questions and think about what type of exchange community is best for you.
There are many options; you might consider joining more than one exchange to expand your opportunities. The most important of all is to start traveling and have fun! Enjoy!