We watched The Holiday about house swapping several years ago and were inspired by the awesome way to travel in a more authentic way. It’s like a dating service for your house (and really yourselves). You can score a low cost vacation and explore a more authentic traveling experience by using any of the number of home swap services available. We used Home Exchange. We included many more pictures than the ones on this post, but this is a good place to start on the types of pictures to include. Don’t think NO ONE wants to come to fill in the blank. We were surprised by the number of requests from all over the world. Everything from someone trying to find a place due to a destination wedding, or DC being a stop on their way through to NYC. You just never knew what would bring someone to a rural area an hour outside of DC. We never had a shortage of suitors.
Overall we enjoyed this experience and had a great time meeting different people. Some of our most memorable swaps were:
- A couple from Sweden were traveling the world with their two boys. They were able to watch our chickens, our dog, tend to our garden, and we had a fantastic exchange with them.
- An urban couple in NYC and had a slice of the Manhattan life while they fed chickens, harvested a garden and played with our dog.
- A couple from Myrtle Beach and enjoyed a week on the beach during peak season. This saved us thousands of dollars and was one of our favorites!
- We used the exchange as a house sitting service when our dates wouldn’t work or we weren’t interested in the other person’s home. We were able to see reviews and the type of homes they kept before making the arrangement.
- Aside from the signup costs, the service is completely free (no cost per exchange, etc.).
- We kept a journal for people to share their experiences, and it was fun to see what they chose to do during their stay.
- We included a basket of things to do from the Chamber of Commerce and our own preferences. People used these and added additional information to inspire us to see things we hadn’t had a chance to yet.
- We did have a case where something was broken (it wasn’t anything of value) and they not only were upfront about it, they provided us a replacement item that was nicer than what they originally broke. They used the opportunity to travel through a few of the antique shops in town.
- We received nice gifts from those we didn’t exchange with, so we had house-sitters AND bottles of wine and other trinkets.
- We met some really neat people.
- Many of the overseas trips Europeans wanted to stay longer than we could.
- You have to be careful with any of your valuables and keep them locked up. Just to keep honest people honest.
- Some people feel funny about someone in their areas including bedrooms. If you’re squeamish about this – it probably isn’t for you. Unless you can lock your own room and just open up the guest rooms. Be upfront about this in your listing.
- We are pretty serious about safety, and one group let their children hang out on the roof. This made us very uncomfortable (though we didn’t learn about it until we returned). This later encouraged us to look into and purchase an Umbrella Policy just to be safe.
- We had a local exchange once for Georgetown (they were riding their bikes over) by the time we got to Georgetown, they had given up and we had to cancel the date. Not a huge negative, but if we had invested a lot of time and effort into this one it could have been much worse. Especially because this one included doggie care.
Would We Do it Again?
We cancelled our service when we moved to suburbia and frankly made a little more money and just haven’t had the time to do it again. I was really into doing this when I was a stay at home mom and had the time to put into it. We probably won’t start it up again in this house, but in the future as we carve out more time after Miss Moe heads off to college we haven’t eliminated this as an option for our future.
For reference, this is how we advertised our house
(the italicized is commentary on why we included what we did):
Our riverfront farmhouse house was built in 1892 and has since been renovated to include a gourmet kitchen, open sweeping views of the property, upgraded appliances and more (sharing why our home is unique). This three bedroom, two bath home has the charm of an old home with the convenience of a new one. We have a lovely view from the two storied back deck with plenty of seating for family and friends. Our home isn’t large, but it is very comfortable (1600 s.f.). The master bedroom has a king bed, our daughter’s bedroom a twin, and a third bedroom is a work out room. If you have a larger party we have two couches (but they don’t fold out) and a basement with a futon couch and a queen size bed with separate bathroom and laundry room (be upfront about sleeping space and size of your place – it’s better to not match than to be disappointed with the match).
Feel free to bring a metal detector (or better yet, you can use ours) and fishing poles! There may be lots of treasures to be found from the history and river placement of our home! Gorgeous views of the historical Potomac, great fishing, and space abounds on this riverfront property.
We have a huge garden, and if you are here in season you are welcome to the fruits of our labor. Loudoun county is a lovely place to live, work, and play! Come see why we love it so much!
Daisy, our golden retriever, would love to stay home and meet you if possible. However, dog care can be arranged by our neighborhood caretaker if you aren’t interested. Car exchange will be considered.