Post image for Home Exchange 101 Lesson 3 – Finding Your Ideal Home Exchange

Home Exchange 101 Lesson 3 – Finding Your Ideal Home Exchange

by John Mensinger & Deren Monday on January 5, 2010

Our last lesson focused on the mechanics of searching for home swaps using www.Homelink.org as an example.  Now we turn our attention to finding what you want by using your newly acquired knowledge.

The Basic Method

If you are searching for an exchange in a particular country or region, you could choose browse listings and then click on that country or a region within it.  You will get a summary with photos and basic information.  You might find you can quickly choose the most interesting possibilities from the photos and information.  You click on the photo and get the full listing.

The Advanced Method

Alternatively, you could use the advanced search.  With the advanced search you choose a country for your destination and also:

  • limit the results to those wanting to go to your country
  • indicate the dates and duration of your exchange
  • ensure the house is large enough to accommodate your party
  • indicate if you are looking for exchange partners with or without children
  • declare if automobile use is required
  • avoid or embrace smokers

Once entering the above criteria you get a summary list.  Unfortunately this summary does not contain photos; you have to click on the listings, which are sorted by country and/or city or region.  If you have a basic understanding of a country you can first look at listings in those parts of the country that interest you.

Hot Pants Hot Lists

Homelink.org has a great feature called hot lists, which collate members indicating they are looking actively for an exchange.  You may choose the 7 day, 14 day, or 30 day hot list, which is the elapsed time since the member indicated they were looking.

Homelink.org allows you to save a listing and make comments on it. You can save several listings and examine them over days or weeks as you wish.

Real World Example

You and your family should carefully consider what you are looking for in an exchange home.  Here is my family’s list. The percentage indicates our success rate in getting that criteria:

Location

  • Country where we speak the language or where English is widely spoken (100%)
  • Region with enough tourist attractions to keep us busy (85%)
  • We like discovering new regions (70%)
  • Scenic or beautiful countryside (85%)
  • Activities of interest to the children (65%)
  • Pleasant and tranquil as opposed to noisy (100%)
  • If near big city, good public transport links (100%)
  • Congenial to bicycling (100%)
  • Not too hot during the summer (85%)

The above list explains why we have traded twice in Stockholm, three times in France, and five times in rural England and Wales.  Three of the British exchanges were in National Parks. The other two were in officially designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  70% of our locations have been excellent; the remaining 30% were good.

The Home

  • Comfortable, casual, modern, kid friendly (85%)
  • A bedroom for each child (85%)
  • Master bedroom, hopefully with attached bathroom (45%)
  • Pleasant garden with table to eat outside sheltered from sun or rain (85%)
  • Exceptional views from the house or garden (57%)
  • Car, newer or larger instead of smaller or older (60%)
  • Good quality well maintained bicycles of the right size with helmets, locks, and pumps (80%)

The above bicycle figure is high because in France and England I have my own bicycles available.  Otherwise it would be more like 45%.  We would rate 78% of our exchange homes as excellent.  22% had minor problems but were still good.

The Family

  • Friendly, trustworthy, patient, understanding (93%)
  • Two or more children in their home (100%)
  • Spoke English (100%)
  • Upper middle class (100%)
  • Highly educated (100%)

Most home exchange participants are outstanding.  We have seen 43% of them since our exchange was completed.  I consider 30% to be close friends.  We remain in touch with 78% of them.  100% of these families had neat and clean homes and left our place the same way.  100% did anything we asked and often more to make our exchange a success.

You can use your checklist to get an idea of the home exchange opportunities that appeal.  The information and the photos of the listing should give you a good idea if it will meet your needs.  If you are unsure, you can do further research. That’s a future topic in Home Exchange 101.

Click here to go to Home Exchange 101 Lesson 4: First Contact.

John Mensinger is co-founder of HomeExchangeuniversity.com and an experienced home exchanger. His passion is helping others experience the enjoyment (and cost savings!) of home exchange. John can be reached at jm_at_homeexchangeuniversity_dot_com.

Deren S. Monday is co-founder of HomeExchangeUniversity.com and father of two. He is also a remodeling coach teaching others how to make their homes exchange-worthy.  Deren can be reached at dsm_at_homeexchangeuniversity_dot_com.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bob January 9, 2010 at 2:33 AM

I used to follow your description of the advanced search method. It gives a nice selection you can sift through.
Having done several exchanges, I realised that I limit myself to much when I only select families that have indicated they want to visit our country or region.
In most websites, the number of preferred countries (or regions) you can mention is limited.
I experienced that people can be pleasantly surprised when receiving an invitation from The Netherlands.
A well written invitation and a comprehensive and complete listing will be even more important then.
For that purpose, I have written a “standard” invitation that I customize for each family I write to.

2 John Mensinger January 9, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Bob makes an excellent point. I live in California, so if I limit myself to those searching for California I get a few hundred hits. If I want more choices I reverse search for those looking for the USA. We had one of our best ever exchanges in The Netherlands, which is the #1 country on the planet for cycling, one of my passions. If you live in a destination that is not top of mind or large, such as Delaware, Nova Scotia, or Denmark you should be open minded and creative like Bob and contact exchangers even if they haven’t specifically mentioned your country, state, or province. If they mention a neighboring country or even the same continent they probably would consider trading with you.

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