Home Swapping in Paradise

Home Swapping in Paradise

Gorgeous weather, fantastic food and easy access to both the mountains and beaches make Northern California an extremely attractive place to live and one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. For homeowners who like to travel and are looking to trim their vacation budget, or simply want a unique travel experience, the idea of home swapping may be appealing.

The use of sharing economy services like Uber, eBay and Airbnb have made the idea of swapping homes with total strangers seem exotic and exciting, not scary, in a way that few of us could have imagined a decade ago. Home-swapping sites like HomeExchange.com and HomeLoveSwap.com have gained in popularity as technology has allowed more people to work remotely and travelers look to ‘live like a local’, rather than a tourist. If this way of seeing the world is enchanting to you, here are some things to consider before you dive in:

  • Insurance Coverage: Before imagining yourself on the deck of someone else’s house or listing your own home for a swap, call your insurance broker for advice. You do not want to learn the hard way that a homeowner’s claim has been denied because some of your art collection disappeared while you were away – and it wasn’t due to a break-in. The same is true for you as the borrower. What is your liability if there is an accident while you are in someone else’s home? Bottom line, you need to be sure you have appropriate insurance coverage as both the lender and the borrower. Some home-swapping sites now offer insurance coverage that might seem like enough, but this is no replacement for personalized insurance advice. Your home is likely one of your largest assets, so take the time and ask the questions necessary to be sure it is well-protected.
  • Expectations: Will you be expected to tend to a garden or care for pets while you’re staying in someone’s home? Will you also swap cars? All of these details will be left for you and the other homeowner to work out. Home-swapping sites allow you to promote your own listing and look for others for a fee, but the details of the swap are left to you to work out. It’s also important to know that the home-swapping sites have not visited the listed properties to vet them for you. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to communicate via FaceTime or Skype so you have a better sense of both the property and person you are dealing with.
  • Details, Details: Be sure to triple-check important, but seemingly impossible to forget details, like where to get the key and how to operate the appliances of your swap home. Likewise, if there are idiosyncrasies of your place (“Just jiggle the handle when you flush!”) or your neighborhood, be sure to share them. The more you know before you go, the more likely you both are to be comfortable and enjoy your stay.

Anyone who has traveled knows the potential benefits: stress reduction, fun and appreciation for new cultures. Simply planning a trip and having it to look forward to can boost your happiness. Home swapping may seem like the ideal way to achieve all of this, while traveling less expensively and for longer stretches of time. And it might be just that for you and much more. Just be sure to do your research ahead of time so that you can truly relax and get away with peace of mind.

 

 

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