The Wall Street Journal of June 29, 2013 had a well written home exchange story. Emma Staub is a novelist; she swapped her Brooklyn home for a place in Los Angeles. She was working on a novel set in Hollywood and thought being there would help—which it did. She arranged the swap quickly and casually, which we don’t recommend, but it worked out well for her. They loved their Southern California home, its furniture, the pool and garden, and even the family dog.
Sadly the Los Angeleno lady didn’t fare well in Brooklyn. The city made her nervous, as did neighbors and the subway. The hot water system in the home failed but was quickly fixed. The LA lady committed a serious sin, asking that the exchange be ended early. The New Yorkers kindly agreed.
Home exchange tends to be win-win, but in extreme cases one party is delighted and the other unhappy. My advice is to avoid feeling guilty if your partners are disappointed (this assumes you have fairly represented and prepared your home.) We have had swaps over the years with unpleasant surprises—torrential rain and flooding, car in the south of France with broken air conditioning during a heat wave, and kitty litter boxes (with cats) in our bathroom. Our partners have tolerated our occasional mistakes in preparation.
Home exchange saves significant sums of money; you enjoy comfortable and cozy accommodation, and a unique opportunity to experience local culture. Tolerating problems and unexpected situations comes with the territory. A positive attitude and an ability to roll with the punches are necessary. House exchange is more than a vacation, it’s an adventure!