January 22, 2018

5 Tips to Nab the Perfect Family Home Swap


cork houseWe’re planning to do our very first home swap over the summer, exchanging my in-laws’ home in South Florida for a home that will fit the eight of us (me, my husband, our four kids, and my in-laws) in Ireland. We signed up with HomeExchange.com, posted our home profile and I made contact with at least 20 prospects scattered throughout Ireland.

Then, I heard back from owner after owner…letting me know that they had already arranged their home swaps for the summer. I was reaching out six months in advance and they had already organized their home exchanges. I was starting to feel nervous and desperate.

So, I reached out to my friend Shelley of HomeExchangeExpert.com. She let me know that I wasn’t the only one she’d heard from encountering difficulties finding swapping partners, and she wrote this great post, 6 Goof-Proof Strategies to Capture Your Next Home Exchange. She has some great tips, like doing a “reverse search” to find swappers who want to find a home in your city or state.

Now that I have found and confirmed a match (we’re staying in this house in Cork, Ireland for three weeks this summer), I have a few more learnings I’d like to share for those who are mulling over a home exchange for your family.

1. Be Flexible With Your Destination. At first, I was set on finding a home swap in County Kerry, Ireland, but then I was having trouble finding a match. I wasn’t sure what to do, then started looking at other areas and fell in love with Galway. In the end, we landed in County Cork, and we’re thrilled, but we probably wouldn’t have gotten there had I not been flexible with our desired location.

2. Make a List of Needs, Wants and Amenities. Before you get super-serious about finding and/or finalizing a home swap, make a list of what you want and need from a home exchange, whether it’s a washer/dryer, a king size bed, toys for the kids or walking distance from a pub. See my post about vacation rentals to help you decide which amenities you really need.

3. Know How Many People a Home Really Sleeps. I’m not saying you should be open to your kids sleeping on a couch for a month, but not every listing is truly accurate in terms of how many people it can accommodate. Sometimes, the listing is just plain wrong. Other times, a bedroom is huge, but only has a single bed, so it could easily fit an inflatable mattress. Just something to keep in mind.

4. Write Personalized Notes. I found that I had much better luck in communicating with home prospects when I did two things. One, I wrote out their name(s) in the email to express my interest (e.g., Dear David & Sally). This way, they knew I wasn’t just sending out a mass email. Two, I included one or two highlights about my home. In the case of my in-laws’ South Florida home, I played up the private pool and hot tub, as well as the proximity to the beach. Some swappers say they are “open to any destination” so you really need to show off what you have to offer.

5. Have a Skype Video Chat. Before you commit to a home swap, set up a time to hold a video chat (it’s really easy to do so on Skype) to see and talk to the other person face-to-face so you have a better feel for who that person is that will be spending a week or more in your home.

If you’re thinking about a home exchange, or if you’re not totally sure where to start with a home swap, be sure to read my two Q&A posts with Shelley Miller of HomeExchangeExpert.com here and here.

Photo Credit: HomeExchange.com


  1. Top of the Morning Erin, I am THRILLED that you booked a home swap! In Ireland no less! My family has enjoyed 2 home swaps on the south coast of the Emerald Isle, one was in Schull, and last year we were in Kinsale. LOVE those little Irish villages!

    I can’t wait to hear about your trip!

    • Erin Gifford says:

      Thanks, Shelley! I think we’ll be pretty near Kinsale. We can’t wait! Should be so much fun. Thanks again for planting the idea in my head! 🙂

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