How International House Swapping Works (Exactly What You NEED to Know)

Are you curious what house swapping? Maybe you have dreamt about living in the south of France for a few months. Or want to visit family in another city for an extended period. There is no need to pay for expensive accommodation. 

You can try house swapping and live rent free! Below we break down who house swapping is for, ways to do it, and exactly where to find other families to swap homes with! 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about international house swapping. 

Who Is House Swapping For? 

There are thousands of house swaps available around the world. House swapping is great for anyone who owns a home. If you dont own a home I suggest looking at house sitting, there is more information in the next sections

I also love that there are options for families, couples, singles and retired folk.

Try House Sitting Instead 

Don’t own a home? Don’t worry, while house swapping may not be for you, you can still try house sitting. There are a handful of legit house sitting sites you can use to find assignments. Just make sure you look for one that offers insurance, this will make everything much easier for you. Another reason house sitting is so great is that you get to experience a location from a local perspective as well has have animals to care for.

The Three Ways To Do A House Swap 

Yes, there is more than one way to engage in an international house swap. These are the three ways you may arrange an exchange: 

1. Simultaneous exchange:

 You stay in your exchange partner’s home while they stay at yours. 

2. Non-Simultaneous exchange: 

You stay in a home swapper’s second home or vacation home. 

3. Hospitality exchange: 

You stay as a guest in a swapper’s house while they are also in the house, and you do the same for them. 

Comfort Is Key

House swapping may not be right for everyone. It is important to assess your comfort levels before jumping into a house swap headfirst.

Experts agree that arranging a house swap through a reputable program is safe. However, it is worth considering how you would feel if a stranger were to sleep in your bed. You should also have a discussion with your temporary tenants before the swap. This is to address any possible concerns.

Where To Start

A good place to start your house swap journey is by becoming a member of house-exchange websites. Sites such as HomeExchange are a good place to start learning about what they have to offer.

It is recommended to pick a destination or area you are interested in traveling to first. Then, start browsing the site to see which members live there and if any are interested in coming to your city. Once you have found a potential host, you need to stay in close contact with them as you finalize the swap.

What Exactly is A Home Exchange Site?

This is a website that hooks two homeowners up for an agreement. They swap homes for a time to experience a new culture without paying for accommodation.

Many advantages come with signing up with a home-exchange site. – The ability to try something new, connect with like-minded travelers and save money.

Below is a list of the best home exchange websites on the market currently:


HomeExchange is one of the most popular sites when it comes to opportunities. The site is a French company that has now expanded globally. This site operates on a point system which means you don’t need to reciprocate the exchange at the same time.

This means you can host people at your home when you leave for business or visit family. You can do this while getting a certain number of points per night.These points can then be used to travel to available homes. Members of HomeExchange claim that swapping out physical currency for points simplifies everything.

Their customer support is always available to help with problems. Whether they arise during, before, or after their stay. HomeExchange has a membership fee of $150 per year.


HomeLink is another great option for people who want to swap homes for their next vacation. It’s also cheaper than other platforms, with the membership fee sitting at around $8.75 a month. Although, this is upon buying a 12-month membership.

Members have reported facing a few disadvantages when using this platform.=The site is less well-reviewed than the others. It does not offer monthly membership plans and is available in fewer countries.

However, this site can be a good starting point. This is because it is a budget-friendly platform to start house swapping.


HomeStayin is another great option. HomeStayin uses money instead of points. This makes it a mix of Airbnb and HomeExchange. Signing up is free, but you will need to pay a 15% fee to Homestayin for each successful booking.

International students make up the bulk of the users of HomeStayin. However, it can be used for traveling families as well.

It’s Not Completely Free

House swapping may be a great way to cut accommodation costs but is not always free. You may be able to find some free home-exchange sites. However, the most reputable ones will charge users a membership fee.

This fee entails you to list your home, search for other homes and get in contact with other members. Each company has different pricing structures and membership options.

These start from $39 and can go up to $159 annually. This depends on whether you’re looking for international house swaps or not. Sometimes swappers may also require you to pay for services. This can be a cleaning fee, or negotiating utility bills if you plan to have a longer stay.

Communicate Your Expectations 

The best way to minimize jitters and mitigate any problems is to get to know your exchange partners well. Consider all necessary details that may arise during the process. Work through those before the swap.

It is also necessary to communicate what is and is not acceptable in your home, and vice versa. Ask a lot of questions and discuss the level of cleanliness each party expects. 

Take Part In The Perks 

Trading cars to save on car-hire fees is fairly common in the house-exchange community. You will need to check your car insurance policy to ensure that guests are allowed to drive your car. 

Other than that, you may swap cars to provide cost-saving to those who would need to rent a vehicle. 

Renters Aren’t Left Out 

House Swapping is not only for homeowners. Renters or property owners like condos can participate in home exchange too. 

You will need to check with your landlord or read your lease before. This is to ensure you’re permitted to rent out your place to strangers. 

Start Searching Early 

A first-time home exchange may not be suitable for a last-second getaway. 

Experts advise starting communicating with the house swapper as soon as possible. 

This can be three to six months before the exchange. 

Put Your Investigation Cap On 

Different home-exchange sites have different screening processes. Common way to research your swap partners is through social media. 

Apps such as Facebook and Instagram can be used to find out about your partner.

You may check and ensure that they are reliable and responsible. You may also check references and ask your home-exchange company for more information. 

What To Look For In House Exchange Partners 

Good references and a steady conversation are important. 

You getting a sense of their personality is key in deciding whether to arrange a house exchange. 

Red flags can come up as slow answers to questions or not being able to commit to an exchange.

It is also worth considering whether the exchange family includes pets or children. Some apartments don’t allow children. This is because they may lead to noise complaints or extra untidiness. 

Conversely, if your exchange family has pets, you may need to care for them while you are there. This may affect your travel plans. 

But… Is It Safe? 

 Be rest assured that home swapping is a completely safe way to arrange a stay. 

Sites like HomeExchange and HomeLink have been around for the past 60 years. There have been no reported cases of theft or vandalism. 

Mutual trust is at the core of home exchange programs. This is because your partners occupy your home while you stay in theirs. 

Experts recommend concealing valuables if you’re especially worried about expensive or irreplaceable possessions. 

You may do this by leaving them in a room that is off-limits or handing them over to friends or family. 

Bottom Line 

Home Exchange can be an amazing way to start saving up on accommodation costs. You can do this while traveling to all your dream destinations. 

Getting to know your home exchange partners is vital. However, you can expect a smooth ride from then on.

Author: Britt

I am Britt. I have been house-sitting and pet-sitting for the past 7 years. I have cared for 25 dogs, 35 cats 1 turtle, and 1 rabbit over 80+ houses in 15 countries.

The opportunity to experience different homes, cultures, and communities has been extraordinary.

Through house-sitting platforms like Aussie House Sitters and Trusted House Sitters, I’ve connected with homeowners seeking reliable sitters. This unique way of living has allowed me to save money on accommodation, explore new cultures and meet new people.

Being a member of these platforms has broadened my horizons and opened doors to short- and long-term house-sitting jobs. I’ve found joy in providing excellent pet care and ensuring the home is well-maintained.

I get many questions about how to start as a housesitter, so if you have any questions, please reach out! I want everyone to enjoy this incredible lifestyle as well!

You can read more about Jay and me here!

Or connect with me on Facebook or in our house-sitting community on Facebook.

House Sitting in Salon-de-Provence
Me (Britt) House Sitting in Salon-de-Provence, France

5 thoughts on “How International House Swapping Works (Exactly What You NEED to Know)”

  1. Clare Teresa Bonass

    I am looking for a house exchange between my own home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, UK, and somewhere in the South of France (Aude, Pyrenees) for a month. Sometime in the next few months. I have a three bedroom, mid-terrace house, with back and front garden, although no car. How easy would this be? Could you also give me an idea of costs to arrange this? Thank you.

    Clare Bonass

    1. Hiya Claire!
      thanks for getting in touch and glad to hear your interested in house swapping, I would suggest checking out home exchange which costs around 175 per year with them 🙂 when were you thinking of doing the home exchange?

  2. Hey I’ just starting into this foray of home swapping. Can you look at homes before paying the mmbrship fee/

  3. Hi Britt
    thanks for the information, we are going to try house sitting first then maybe house swapping. Do you know how we could get started with house sitting now?

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