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How to successfully house swap

Monopoly making money with houses house swap

House swapping is an art form. Wait? You haven’t of heard of swapping houses? Well, house swapping is where you, quite literally, swap houses with another homeowner, couple, or family. This is typically done on a relatively long-term basis (longer than your typical vacation) and is done with the purpose of experiencing a different way of life in a different part of the world.

Does this sound enticing? It should. But if you’re even a little bit reluctant, don’t worry. House swapping requires patience, strategy and open-mindedness but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to do it successfully. To help, we’ve created a guide that will enable you to house swap with ease and confidence!

Step 1. Establish a timeline (and destinations)

First and foremost, you’re going to need to know when you want to swap. This isn’t one of those decisions that you can make in the morning and be done by the afternoon, it’s where you need to have quite a bit of time to plan and quite a bit of flexibility to adjust those plans. Think months of planning and a lot of finagling to get the right right situation. But to start, you need to establish a timeline of when you want to go and for how long. From there you can start to communicate with other house-swappers about best times and options.

Step 2. Take (proper) photographs

Camera professional photographer

Would you agree to stay at someone’s house for a month or more without first knowing what it looked like? Probably not. So, if you want to successfully swap your home, you’re going to need to provide would-be visitors with a full and complete picture of what living in your home feels like. How do you do that? Start with photographs! Better quality photos the better chance you have of capturing the hearts and minds of would-be travellers. Consider hiring a professional photographer. Many photographers who make their bread and butter photographing homes for sale would be ideally suited for a job like this and typically charge $400 to $1,000 CDN, depending on the size and location of your home.

Step 3. The written word


You need to treat your home like a product, which means advertising it as such. When you put your home up for exchange, it needs to have all of the complementary pieces. That means knowing when your home can be made available, having a solid view of your home, and writing out all the finer details so that no stone is left unturned. Don’t want people to smoke? Want to keep pets out? You have to make sure you make it clear. Plus add in some extras. Provide a map that shows nearby amenities (grocery stores, coffee shops, bus stops, etc.) as well as sights to see (viewpoints, parks, etc.). These little touches go a long way in making someone new to your home and to your city feel more at ease.

Step 4. Address insurance concerns

Young couple signing contract at insurance agency office

What if something goes wrong? A hugely important consideration is to consult with your home insurance to ensure that you are covered should something go wrong. Another type of insurance you need to consider is “emotional insurance,” this might include asking a neighbour or a family member simply to keep an eye on things to make sure that your home doesn’t become a frat house or a landfill.

Step 5. The finer details

legal fine print

Have you sorted out how to house-swap and where you’d like to go? You need to also sort out the finer, legal details. Is it possible within your lease to exchange? What about zoning bylaws for your home? You need to ensure that you’re legally allowed to house-swap or short-term rent your place out. You want to be sure that you are not breaking any rules that could land you in hot legal water.

Step 6. Keep in touch

Woman talking on phone important questions for realtor

So long as you aren’t on the pushy side, keeping in touch with the people you are home-exchanging with is a good idea. Check-in from time to time, to ensure that they have everything they need, and expect the same on your end.

Step 7. Get started by listing your home

Need to know where to get started, or where you can list your home? Some great options include Home Exchange, Love Home Swap, and Homelink. All three can provide you with the opportunity to learn more and to put your home “on the exchange” starting as soon as today. Just make sure that you have all your ducks in a row!

Hopefully, this guide will help you get started on home swapping and help you make the most of the experience along the way. When done right, it can be an exciting opportunity to live somewhere new, to really live like locals, and to do the same for someone else. Sounds like a win-win to us!

Image of Max Specht

Max Specht

Nothing makes Max Specht happier than telling people where to go and what to do—and not in an authoritative sense. He prides himself on being a tour guide par excellence and has the recommendations to prove it.