But how do you know you’re not walking into a scam, 3,500 miles from home?
| Choose the right site. To pick a reliable home exchange site, go to KnowYourTrade.com, a global directory, advises Nancy Wartik, an home swapping veteran and journalist.|
Not only do you get an overview of the countless home-swapping networks out there, you can find those that attract homeowners from, say, Norway versus France.
| Pay the fee. Many networks charge a modest membership fee to use their services, and it’s worth it. By using a paid service, you’re likely to get more qualified, serious swappers.|
That said, the swaps themselves should be free. If you stumble onto a site that seems to offer amazing homes, but charges a fee for each swap, that’s a red flag that it could be a scam. (Airbnb is an excellent site where people list their homes for rent, but they aren’t swaps.)
| Trust, but verify. “Swapping can be a leap of faith,” says Wartik, but there are plenty of ways to vet potential swap buddies: If the site offers user reviews, read those; and have several email, phone and/or Skype calls.|
You can ask for references, but be prepared to provide your own reference in return.
In the end, home-swapping success comes down to mutual respect—and being practical, adds Kayt Sukel of TravelSavvyMom. If you’re worried about certain precious or private belongings, store them in the basement, in a locked closet, or at a friend’s house.
Mi casa es su casa. Tell us about your home-swapping experiences—the good, the bad, the funny.
photo source: kauiartist's shop on etsy