In this, our third part of Home Exchange 101 Lesson 6, we’ll look at some critical steps in preparing your home to receive your homeswap partners.
To Each Their Own…
Families vary in their approach to house cleanliness, condition, and order. Standards tend to be higher in families without children, which is one reason we recommend trading with families with similar family structures.
There are also differences on this topic among cultures. Some of our friends exchanged with a Danish family and had the sense that nothing had been done to prepare for their arrival. That reflected the relaxed and casual attitude of the Danes. This was OK for our friends: it meant they could enjoy the home and not have to worry about cleaning it up when they left.
In thirteen exchanges we’ve had only one family express disappointment with the condition of our home. They were from Switzerland, a country renowned for its high standards. We could sympathize with them as their place was immaculately clean and in brand new condition despite being ten years old and housing two younger kids.
Use Home Exchange as a Reason to Clean and Organize
A house exchange is an appropriate time for spring cleaning, repair, and renewal. It is not a time for major construction projects which are rarely finished on schedule. You need to organize everything to be as simple and easy for your guests as possible. Here are some Home Exchange University tips for preparing your home:
- The home should be clean and orderly.
- Provide fresh towels in the bathrooms and fresh sheets on the beds.
- Clean (and hopefully empty) the refrigerator. It’s OK to leave staples such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, etc. We move everything to our second refrigerator/freezer in the garage. Our guests are welcome to use anything in either of our refrigerators.
- Put away anything fragile or difficult to use/understand.
- Put away anything really valuable in a secure location.
- Fix any deferred maintenance items such as a leaky faucet, loose cabinet knob, or broken chair.
- Be sure the house is safe for the incoming family. If they have young kids disclose any hazards and put away household chemicals where they won’t find them.
- The incoming family should have closet space in their bedrooms, space in the kitchen pantry for food they buy, and a place to put their empty suitcases.
- If any basic equipment such as a toaster, cutlery, or cookware is shabby, give it to charity (or to your children living at University). Buy new products to replace them.
- If there are items such as bicycles that you know your guests will use, verify that they’re in good operating condition. Extra credit for having accessories such as helmets, locks, spare tubes and a pump.
- Secure your computer and back it up before your guests arrive. If you are going to let them use it set up a guest account.
- The garden should be looking good. If you have a pool it should get a service and cleaning just before your visitors arrive.
- If you are trading the car it should be clean with a full tank of gas. It should have had a recent service and oil change. The user’s manual should be in the glove box.
Extra credit if your garage is organized and clean. We leave it as is and warn our guests that they enter it at their own risk.
So what’s on your home exchange checklist?
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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.com.