Read more about home exchange experiences in the following articles published in the Guardian:
"Both of us had also left suggestions about the best local restaurants, where we did our shopping, how the buses worked, how to sign on at the local doctor's, and provided telephone numbers of friends and neighbours who were every bit as curious as we were to see how the new people got on. Like almost everything else about house swapping, friends have a double role. On the one hand, they provide visitors with a bit of local social contact; on the other, they can keep an eye on what's happening. And then everyone relaxes. We newcomers find our way around, join the local health club, get to know which bakery has the best croissants, what butcher can cut a proper steak and start behaving like proper locals.
Which is what a house swap is really about. It's not merely a holiday, at least not if you're staying an appreciable length of time. You don't feel the need to see as much as possible because, what the hell, you're a local - you'll come across Federation Square on a walk, discover the beauty of the Yarra Valley when you're out hunting for local wine or get on a tram because you want to go somewhere.
It works. And not because it's cheaper, but because it is an entirely new experience. Not just a house swap, but a car swap, a friend swap - in fact a life swap."
"We have house swapped 10 times in the UK and abroad and they have been fantastic holidays. However for peace of mind although we would recommend notifying your insurance company and locking away/hiding any small valuables, the most important thing is to exchange simultaneously, - occupying their house while they are in yours - because, somehow being in each others' houses makes you extra respectful. Good tips include leaving out a welcome pack of food and bottle of wine and also getting neighbours to pop round to say hello, help out with any queries and make sure all is well."
"I don't like to stay in hotels any more. If I rent a hotel room, I am a tourist. I prefer to exchange flats, because that way, not only can you travel two or three times a year, but you can live in exactly the same way as a person from a different country. In Manhattan, I had the same habitat. I was an American for a month and that's the way I like to travel."