You might recall the movie, “The Holiday” which starred Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz who played two women experiencing relationship problems so they decide to exchange their houses for a holiday. In the ten years since that movie debuted, house swapping has taken the world by storm and has become a wonderfully affordable accommodation option – and there are now literally thousands of homes of all shapes and sizes across the world that people swap.

As the name suggests, house swapping is an exchange of homes, for an agreed period, at no cost to either party.

Swapping has many advantages over traditional holidays, including:

  • the cost savings make it possible to travel to destinations you might not ordinarily afford, or to stay for longer than you normally could;
  • being able to enjoy the privacy, space and comfort of a real home (you might even have a swimming pool to yourself);
  • the option to swap vehicles – save money by not hiring a car; or having to rely on public transport;
  • getting to experience life as a ‘local’ rather than just being a tourist;
  • access to local knowledge about the best places to eat, shop and visit;
  • staying in locations away from the noise and cost of tourist areas.

Other advantages include:

  • the security of having your house occupied while you’re away, and
  • the opportunity for someone to take care of your pets at home saving you money on kennel fees and making your pets happier too.

There are a number of websites to help you find a suitable house to swap and, generally, they only require a small membership fee to help cover the costs of the site. To find a website to best suit your needs, simply type “house swapping” into your favourite search engine.

Of course, there are downsides. In particular, you are entrusting complete strangers to use your home while you are absent. However, with the growing number of registered websites that allow users to be rated or reported, this risk may be reduced. Doing sound research and getting to know your potential swapper early is crucial. Leaving your holiday contact details with neighbours is always a good idea. And for more peace of mind, lock away or remove any precious or valuable items such as jewellery.

House swapping is by no means new – it “officially” began 60 years ago in the US – and with the explosion of websites catering for this growing demand, the only problem now is deciding where to go!


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