House sitting is my passion and I enthusiastically embrace the role as its champion. There’s simply no better way to travel and truly learn about the world. House sitting suits each party – homeowners gain peace of mind knowing their home and pets are looked after and travelers have a free place to stay.
We’re a darn nice community of folks who care deeply about doing a good job of respecting property and gaining wonderful new friends.
Yada yada, you’ve heard me say it a million times, right?
Well, I have just discovered the world of home exchange by virtue of the fact that Conrad and I now have a home to exchange. Prior to May 2013 we were proud homeless vagabonds roaming around this lovely land. We felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to wander without worry of a mortgage.
But with the unbelievably low interest rates and home prices still low, (but rising), we decided it was time to purchase something for our old age, when we want to “settle down.”
I had heard about home exchange from many sources, including my dad who tried it twice. And loads of travel bloggers expound its virtues.
Home exchange means that two homeowners agree to vacation at each other’s homes. One home could be in France and the other in Canada, or anywhere. Wherever people work out to exchange, they do it. Very similar to house sitting, except you swap.
So since I’ve been looking into this fun discovery, I offer a comparison between Home Exchange, (HE) and House Sitting, (HS), for your consideration.
After posting my home’s listing, I contacted 6 homeowners in Barcelona to see if they were interested in an exchange and Voila!, the artist couple wrote back and said “Yes!”Website Procedure:
In this aspect, HS and HE are the same. The key is to place a stellar profile on either kind of site.Communication:
HS – Travelers read their email alerts each day to find new posts on house sitting assignments they like and contact homeowners immediately. Assignments get snapped up quickly, so as a house sitter you have to be on top of new assignment postings.
HE – Everyone is a traveler/homeowner, so communication can be initiated by either side of the exchange. I see this as a slight advantage, because travelers can take their time contacting as many prospective exchangers. The process can begin a year in advance or a week before traveling.Timing:
HS – Travel time is set by the homeowner, so travelers must be flexible.
HE – This is where exchanging can get tricky. Both homeowners have to coordinate their travel time to make a “simultaneous” exchange. That can prove a challenge. But there are options. There are also “non-simultaneous” exchanges, which means family A travels at a different time of year than family B, or for a different length of time. Or perhaps family A is traveling for six weeks and in that timeframe, they arrange two different families to stay at their home. Every story and need is different and requires patience to put all the puzzle pieces together. I don’t mind this but some may find it daunting.Negotiating:
HS – With the house sitting scenario, homeowners are concerned – and rightfully so – about having strangers stay in their home. Negotiations revolve around determining trust and creating a contract that leaves no question about the responsibilities involved. There may be costs involved, such as paying utilities.
HE – Negotiating an exchange revolves around coordinating two or more familys’ travel times. No money ever changes hands.Length of Stay:
HS – Here’s where house sitting has the upper hand in my opinion because the assignments can be much longer – up to a year or more. Conrad and I set our criteria at six weeks minimum for a house sitting assignment because getting to know a place –to really become a part of the community – takes that long.
HE – Exchanges are generally short at two to three weeks. Longer ones can be found, but are rarer.Pets:
HS – A great deal of assignments include looking after a pet or farm animals.
HE – Most – virtually all – don’t involve pets.Membership Dues:
HS – The lower cost of the two at $10 – $89 per year.
HE – $125 – $189 per year.
Both house sitting and home exchange are very similar. The biggest compelling feature is no lodging cost while traveling. That feature alone means both travel options are worth a look-see. Home exchange has a few advantages in that it may be easier to break into. And finding someone to trade with is a more leisurely practice. House sitting wins out in length of stay, annual membership price, and works for those with an unsuitable home to trade or no home.
Full disclosure – I have not tried home exchange yet. A trip this fall, (2014), is one we want to do a combination of house sitting, home exchange, and Airbnb stays.
There’s something for almost everyone as I see it. Which one is for you – House Sitting or Home Exchange?I started this website to help others discover and succeed at this really fun low-cost way to travel the world. You’ll find many more tips and hopefully some inspiration to begin on your own journey. Click here for a list of house sitting articles.