Bendylegs Granola

Monday, 24 October 2011

House Swapping - The Preparation

How to be a House swapper

Are you…

  • Adventurous 
  • Organised
  • Open minded
  • Good communicator 
  • Proactive

Ways to get started

1. Browse the website and find properties that you like the look of in a certain area. 
2. Join and then send emails to a short list of properties.
3. Join and wait to be contacted by other people.

Things you should ensure you do

1. Give plenty of details in your description.
2. Ensure you include (nice) photos of your house/area ideally when its tidy on a sunny day.
3. Add personal touches, number of kids, able to borrow equipment etc
4. Be honest - there is no point exaggerating or pretending to be nearer the beach than you are for example. They will find out when they arrive!
5. Always reply to any swap requests you get. These come in thick and fast when you first join and it is always nice to get an acknowledgement even it is a negative response so that you don't keep people hanging on and they can move on and find alternatives.
6. Be proactive. People can always say no to you. You loose nothing by asking. You never know. Remember it is not like for like. You may not see the potential in your house or area but others will. People want different things. As well as lots of families there are many retired couples on Homelink who have large properties but are happy to swap for much smaller properties in the right location.
7. You can arrange to exchange cars or pets if this works for you. Every arrangement is different and depends on the wants and needs of each party, this is where communication comes in. 
8. Exchange emails, get to know the other family. We have made some lifelong friends through house swapping who we will always keep in touch with.
10. Consider non-simultaneous swaps. This gives you more flexibility. People use this system if they have a holiday home or if they are already away on another booked holiday. Some people move in with family or friends for the 2 weeks to enable swappers to use your house so you can then use their fabulous 2nd home at another time.. it is all flexible.
11. Don't forget long weekends or short breaks in this country. There are many families in the London area who are desperate for a seaside destination for half terms so you can take the kids to London without the ridiculous expense of accommodation.
To prepare
1. De clutter - I see it as my yearly spring clean. A good excuse to tidy up and get rid of a load of toys or junk that has accumulated.
2. Get together an information pack
3. Emergency phone numbers.
4. Neighbours names, who to contact with a problem
5. Numbers for doctors, hospital, dentist, vet, electrician, odd job person, whoever they should contact
6. Information about the area.
7. Local shops.
8. Your favourite or top 10... Restaurants, cafes, walks, views etc. You can go into as much or as little detail as you want.
9. Collect leaflets from tourist information.
10. Take away menus.
11. Any local books you may have, local walks, maps.
12. Recent copies of What's On guide and local magazines.
13. Info on playgrounds, groups, libraries and rainy day kids activities.
14. Day trips further afield.
15. Some history of the area or a book.
16. Put all instructions to appliances in a folder so they are easy to find
17. Information re putting the bins out, post etc
18. Any internet passwords or alarm numbers

Before you leave

1. Leave house tidy and clean
It doesn't need to be spotless just clean and as you would want to find it.
2. Bedding - you can either leave bedding or strip and ask swappers to bring it depending, on what you prefer
3. Valuables - Lock anything you are worried about away or in a room or if you are really worried then take it to a family or friend. Remember this is a like for like agreement. There is more information about this on the Homelink website.
4. Sign a reciprocal document via the website about who is coming to stay and your expectations. You can personalise this as you want.
5. Discuss with the swappers about what you went them to do at the end. Strip beds? In the past we have arranged to have our house cleaned after as have they, so that no one has to leave the properties cleaning the floors behind them.
6. Tell your neighbours or family about your swappers. It is so lovely to have a helpful face pop in when you arrive check all is ok.
7. You can arrange to leave numbers for childcare or numbers of friends with kids the same age. It is a wonderful opportunity for kids to meet children from other countries and even to practice their language skills.
8. Tell your insurance company. They like to know and most companies have experience in house swapping. Your car insurers will need to know as well if you are going to swap cars. A lot of companies do not insure people from USA, we had to change insurers on one occasion to be able to get cover for them.
9. Leave a pint of milk and maybe a bottle of wine. we often leave local produce and have always come home to a gift and a lovely card.
10. Arrange where to leave the keys then lock your house and head off on your adventure feeling happy that someone will be enjoying your lovely home and the beautiful area that you live in while you are away and will probably leave it cleaner than you left it!
It sounds like a lot to do and the first time it is a bit daunting but then you bring out all the information every year and each time you do it things become easier. We have managed to arrange a couple of holidays within one year of our subscription so we have now let our subscription run out but will be rejoining next autumn to get planning the holidays the following year.


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