Trading places: could a home swap save your summer holiday?

Fed up with staring on the similar partitions? Desperate to be someplace – anyplace – else however can’t discover an reasonably priced vacation cottage to hire? Why not swap your home with a like-minded soul in one other a part of the UK, and save this 12 months’s summer vacation.

For years, these within the know have been utilizing home swaps to journey the world or see completely different components of their very own nation, saving big sums on the price of accommodations or vacation properties as they go.

As a results of the coronavirus pandemic, home swapping could be about to return into its personal. You and your household get to remain in a self-contained place with entry to the amenities you have got at home. It will hopefully be as clear as any cottage rental, and in case you are staying within the UK, there are not any pre-flight Covid checks, apps or vaccine passports to fret about.

Finding a swap is so simple as placing up a profile on-line and contacting folks till you discover somebody who matches. It is far more time-consuming than a typical journey however when you’ve agreed the dates – and given your home the clear of its life – you simply pack up the automotive.

And the most effective bit about it, it’s virtually free, that means you have got extra money to spend on consuming out or sights: the issues that make holidays extra of a vacation.

Arguably, the Guardian has received the whole course of coated via its tie-up with Home Base Holidays. In previous articles on home swaps, the Money workforce has been fairly lukewarm concerning the Guardian’s home swap web site as a result of it at all times had a number of UK properties listed and never a lot alternative for many who have been seeking to go overseas.

The thatched Hawk End Cottage in Elmswell, Suffolk, dates from about 1560 – you could swap metropolis life for a break in a village. Photograph: Home Base Holidays

However, with the principles round international journey nonetheless unclear, this summer the positioning matches the invoice, with properties listed in virtually each a part of the UK.

“We’ve seen a boom in interest in recent months,” says Mark Sealy, the proprietor of Home Base Holidays, established in 1985. “People struggling to find holiday rentals in the UK are increasingly thinking of alternatives and are looking to try a house swap instead. Swapping homes is a fantastic way to travel in normal times but it is perfect for what’s going on in the world right now.”

The draw back is that it does take fairly a lot of labor; to search out the swap and get your home prepared.

How does it work?

House swapping began amongst educational workers who have been taking sabbaticals and lecturers who wished to go away for the lengthy summer holidays however couldn’t afford to pay for six weeks’ lodging. In the early days, the change organisations produced quarterly booklets that includes these seeking to swap. Now it’s fully web-based.

There are a handful of internet sites to select from. is the most important, with about 315,000 properties out there world wide. However, in case you are seeking to swap within the UK this 12 months, you’ll not discover a web site providing far more alternative than the Home Base/Guardian web site. You additionally get to swap with fellow Guardian readers.

A room with a view in Portobello, Edinburgh.
A room with a view in Portobello, Edinburgh. Photograph: Home Base Holidays

On this web site you’ll be able to record your home for six months for £35 – or pay £59 for the total 12 months, and there may be a two-week free trial. Take flattering – however not too flattering – photographs of your property and write a witty, however perhaps not too witty, description of you and it. Include the issues to do close by and the sensible journey instances to sights additional afield.

Don’t disguise any downsides. Swappers can be eager to know that you should have tidied up and that you’ll clear the home correctly. Mention if there may be a dishwasher and a backyard – an absence of both can be a dealbreaker for some, for others it gained’t be a drawback. Put all of it within the description – from pet allergic reactions to automotive parking choices.

Once your home is posted you can begin contacting potential swappers who meet your necessities. Write a template letter and call a number of different house owners, and see what comes again. The extra open to locations and dates you might be – and the extra messages you ship out – the extra provides you might be prone to get.

Don’t be involved that nobody will wish to go to your home. People wish to be in an space for a number of causes. They might have household residing close by. They may lengthy to be in a metropolis with a explicit museum or in an space they’re researching for a e book.

Once you have got a match, speak to the folks on the telephone to debate the way it will work and whether or not you each wish to go forward. Ideally, you wish to discover folks with related properties, and lives, to you. If you each have youngsters the identical age, their toys will swimsuit yours. Retired {couples} could have completely different expectations to youthful swappers. If it doesn’t really feel proper, pull out and wait for an additional alternative.

It’s agreed – what subsequent?

Hebden Bridge houseboat
Swaps aren’t restricted to land – the Misty Lady is a newly renovated Sixties houseboat moored in Hebden Bridge. Photograph: Home Base Holidays

An impending swap is a good motive to repair these little issues round the home: the leaking faucet or the cracked tile within the lavatory.

Home Base advises decluttering – it’s common to place all of the undesirable detritus of household life in a single room that gained’t be utilized by the visitors. Valuable jewelry and tech might be put out of hurt’s means.

A name to your insurer to advise it of the swap is a good thought. If it declines to cowl your visitors, purchase top-up insurance coverage. The specialist insurer will present cowl for 30 days for about £40. In my expertise, most swappers take significantly better care of the opposite individual’s home than they do their very own. A glass or two might get damaged but it surely’s unlikely to be a drawback for most individuals.

House swappers normally present a file for his or her visitors with particulars of native sights and beneficial pubs and eating places, close by transport, helpful details about your home similar to learn how to flip off the alarm, TV system, wifi code, helpful telephone numbers (taxi, physician, and so on) and emergency contact particulars.

Cleaning and bedding

Even earlier than Covid, the primary rule of home swapping was that your home have to be super-clean. Although the transmission of Covid-19 is now considered much less possible via surfaces than a 12 months in the past, disinfecting the home earlier than you permit is a should. Lots of normal swappers use a cleansing agency to provide their home the total works earlier than they depart.

Even as soon as cleansing costs are taken under consideration, the invoice for your break remains to be prone to be a fraction of renting a similar-sized home in Cornwall or related.

In regular instances, swappers normally put clear sheets on the beds and supply towels, which the visitors throw within the washer as they go away. If you would favor to take your personal, agree it with the folks you might be swapping with. There are not any arduous and quick guidelines and so long as each events agree, something goes.

A property in Kennington, London
You could have a metropolis break in London – right here’s a property on supply in Kennington. Photograph: Home Base Holidays

What in case you are pressured to cancel?

Home Base Holidays says last-minute cancellations occur very hardly ever however itthey are a threat.

The largest worry this 12 months is that one swapper could discover themselves locked down once more or take a look at constructive for Covid-19.

In reality, there may be not a nice deal to do about that, besides search for a last-minute swap to take its place. The web site promotes last-minute provides, and says it has saved loads of cancelled journeys previously. The solely comfort if it can’t be salvaged is that no less than you gained’t have spent 1000’s on a vacation you’ll be able to now not take.

House swap web sites – the lowdown

Hammersmith bridge, London
Hammersmith bridge in London. Photograph: Gibson Blanc/Alamy is by far the most important swapping web site, with about 450,000 claimed listings, of which 315,000 are thought to belong to folks at present thinking about taking a vacation. It prices $150 (£108) a 12 months to be a member. In normal, large is nice within the swapping world as you have got a giant pool of choices, with, on this case, heaps in North America. However, it additionally has a lot of UK properties listed. It has turn into overly difficult lately by the introduction of a factors system for members to permit them to rearrange non-mutual home exchanges. is the second largest, with about 13,000 listings all world wide. UK-based swappers have reported it really works properly and the listings have a helpful ranking rating. It prices from £8 a month, paid yearly. is the oldest home change group – it goes again to 1953 – and prices £108 a 12 months. It has about 7,000 lively listings and a loyal buyer base, lots of whom have been with it for years. In comparability, the Guardian web site has about 2,500 lively listings. is a good free web site. It has about 3,200 listings, with heaps in Europe. It is properly laid out and simple to make use of – and did we point out it’s free. is one other free of charge web site that’s predominately itemizing properties in Europe – with about 2,500 in complete. is the place to go in case you are fortunate sufficient to have a luxurious second home to swap. But you and your property first must be screened to verify “the club is a mutual fit”. Membership is free however every change prices between $495 and $1,395.

The website has a superb evaluation of the varied websites, together with a few extra worthy of consideration.

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