Please use our help page where you can contact us with your enquiry.
Q: What is home exchange?
A: Home exchange is a mutual exchange of homes or holiday homes, usually at the same time, for an agreed period. This enables both parties to the exchange to have rent-free accommodation during the exchange. Your exchange partner may live across the country or across the world. Your homes may be similar in size and type or totally different - all that matters is that you are both happy with the exchange arrangements you have agreed in your arrangements before the exchange takes place. You can take an unlimited number of holidays with other home exchanges during your membership.
Each exchange is unique; a relationship of trust should develop as you get to know your exchange partners through e-mail and phone calls.>
Q: Can anyone take part in a home exchange?
A: Anyone with a home can take part. If your home is rented check first for permission from your landlord.
Q: What are the benefits?
A: Some of the many benefits of taking part in a home exchange:
Q: My home is not luxurious. Will anyone want to exchange with me?
A: Most members are simply looking for a base for their holiday, large enough to accommodate their family comfortably. It is not necessary to exchange like for like but do be honest in your description of your home and facilities.
Q: I don't live in a tourist area. Is it still possible to exchange my home?
A: Although of course you are at an advantage if you live in a popular area, many members want to avoid tourist areas. Look at your local attractions from a visitor's viewpoint and provide potential exchange partners with lots of information. Give distances to the nearest cities, airports and well-known attractions.
Q: My home is fantastic and I live in an area that attracts many visitors. Won't I be overwhelmed with enquiries without any effort?
A: You definitely have a head start! But a quick search through the listings will give you an idea of the many attractive offers available. Even members with attractive offers should take the initiative and contact all others whose listings are of interest. Make an effort to search out possible matches, be as flexible as you can be about destinations and dates - and you should have no problem arranging an exchange.
Check out 'Organising home swaps' for more detailed information.
Q: How much does it cost?
A:It costs from as little as £35 for 1 year online listing and contact privileges
Q: How do I join?
A: Complete an application form, giving an appealing (but honest) description of your home, facilities and local attractions. Submit your completed membership form and payment form on the secure payment site. Your listing will be added to the website immediately. You will have access to your own private member area where you can add up to eight photos (jpeg files) to your listing, browse listings and start contacting other members with your exchange offer.
Q: What is the quickest way to find where there are current home exchange offers?
A: Access the main search page. Only countries where there are current listings are shown on the drop down country list (this is automatically updated as members join). Choose any country you are interested in to browse the complete list of current listings. Listings in Australia, Canada, England, France and the USA are further sub-divided by state/county/province (again, only states where there are current listings are shown in the drop down list).
Q: It is important to know how up-to-date home exchange listings are before joining. How can I tell?
A: When you browse listings you will first see pages of 10 short descriptions of house swap offers. Click on the town name on the left of a brief listing to view a home exchange listing in detail.
Below the description there are a number of boxes with additional information including Registration Date. This is the date a member joined or renewed and enables you to see how long the listing has been in circulation. Equally important, you will also see that all listings include the Expiry Date. With both the registration and expiry dates shown, you can easily see how long any listing will be available on the website. Listings (unless renewed) are automatically hidden on the expiry date.
Listings are available on the website for one or two years from the registration date (depending on the membership option chosen on joining or renewing). The default setting for search results is by date of joining with the most recent listings shown first.
Please note: If a property has been listed for several weeks this does not mean that the owners won’t be interested in your exchange offer. Unless a member has indicated ‘Exchange Request Fulfilled’ (such listings include a small suitcase symbol), he/she will still be interested in receiving exchange offers. Registration and expiry dates are included only so you can see that no out-of-date listings are kept in circulation.
Q: How can I view only the most recent listings?
A: Check out the latest exchange offers (in the last month) here: New listings. *Note: the listings you will see are NEW exchange offers only (not a mixture of new with older listings that have had slight changes).
Q: How many exchange offers are available?
A: Search listings by country on the main search page to easily see the number of current listings available. The total number of listings will vary throughout the year, with none more than two years old.
Looking only at the total number of listings is, however, not the best way to determine how likely you are to arrange an exchange. Considering the balance of offers in each country with the numbers of destination requests and how long listings are kept in circulation are both as important as total numbers of listings. Being based in the UK, and with our association with agencies and reps in other countries, Guardian Home Exchange is fortunate in attracting members both from the UK and from all over the world.
Q: How can I tell if members want to exchange this year?
A: In both the brief and full descriptive listings you will see the dates members want to exchange. Unless the member is flexible on dates and has indicated 'open to offers', these dates include both the months and year a member can exchange. Members can update this information whenever needed.
Q: Why can't I contact members without joining myself - and why do I have to pay a membership fee to join?
A: An 'open' or 'free' system unfortunately may attract some people who are not well motivated to spend the time and care that's needed to arrange a trouble-free home swap. Guardian home exchange members want to be contacted by others who, by paying a small subscription fee and including their own exchange offers on the site, demonstrate a genuine interest in arranging exchanges. It is also reassuring to be able to view all exchange listings in full on the website before responding to offers. Importantly, for added security, Guardian home exchange do not publish complete address details leaving it up to the exchangers to communicate this with any potential swappers when they feel close to an exchange. Many free-to-list sites publish addresses on the internet for anyone to browse. Guardian home exchange offers a more secure set-up thus greater peace of mind.
Q: I do not live in the United Kingdom but see that your membership fees are in pounds sterling. Will the payment be deducted from my credit card in my own currency?
A: Yes. The rate in pounds sterling (plus the rate of exchange and date the credit card company processed the payment) will be shown on your credit card statement along with the rate charged in your own currency. Exchange rates do fluctuate slightly from week to week. Check the current rate of exchange for sterling in a newspaper or use the Guardian currency converter
Q: Do you have a secure site for credit card payments?
A: Payments are made on the Barclaycard secure site which uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology to encrypt credit and debit card details whilst in transit. When you have been transferred to the secure server to enter payment details the site address will show 'https://' rather than 'http://'. You will see a golden padlock appear at the bottom of the screen when a secure site is entered.
Q: I would still prefer not to pay by credit card on the Internet. Is there another way I can pay?
A: Yes. You may pay by cheque or international money order in pounds sterling or give credit or debit card details by phone. You may also pay your subscription fee directly into our bank account. Contact Guardian Home Exchange service provider, Home Base Holidays by e-mail or phone +44(0)20 8886 8752 for further information on different methods of payment.
Q: Can I add photos to my listing?
A: Yes, photos add to the attractiveness of an exchange offer and up to eight can be added to a listing. As soon as you complete a membership form and join you will be able to add your photos:
1. Uploading Photos: If you have digital images, edit them if needed, save as jpeg files and store in a folder on your computer (remember what you called them and where you put them!) Pictures will be automatically re-sized once uploaded but should be at least 220 pixels in height to minimise loss of quality. Pictures in landscape format (wider than they are tall) work best. Log on to your member area and click the link, Manage Your Photos (near the top of the page). Follow the instructions to find and upload one photo at a time from your computer. You will see the photos appear in the boxes on the page when uploaded. When finished, click the link back to your member area.
2. Sending Images by Email: If you can't upload your photos as described above, send us a message with your jpeg files attached. Include 'Photos for HE (your User ID)' in the subject line so that we add your photos to the correct listing. Your photos will be edited if needed and, again, to minimise loss of quality, ensure they are at least 220 pixels in height.
3. Sending Photos by Mail: No digital images? Send us copies of your photos (up to four only please) to: Guardian home exchange, c/o Home Base Holidays, 7 Park Avenue, London N13 5PG, England. Write your name and User ID on the backs of the photos. We will scan and add your photos to your listing when received.
Q: Will my exchange offer be available only to other members of Guardian Home Exchange?
A: No. Your exchange offer will reach members of all home exchange agencies and their representatives belonging to the First Home Exchange Alliance (FHEA). There are currently three FHEA agencies (our service provider, Home Base Holidays, based in the UK, plus partner agencies in France and the USA). By joining Guardian Home Exchange you will have access to a wide variety of exchange offers from all associates in the First Home Exchange Alliance. *Note: you will see a symbol beside other Guardian home exchange members' listings in search results.
Q: After I pay my membership fee are there any further charges?
A: No. Your joining fee entitles you to access to the membership database for one or two years.
Q: Am I limited to one exchange holiday during my membership period?
A: No. You can arrange more than one exchange if you wish. Some members arrange short breaks close to home as well as longer holidays abroad. You may also change any information you want in your own website listing at any time during your membership period.
Q: If I receive many enquiries do I respond only to those that interest me?
A: Please reply to all enquiries, even if it is just a short note of regret that you cannot take up the exchange offer at this time. This is just courteous and allows members to get on with pursuing other exchange possibilities.
Q: How do I arrange an exchange?
A: Look for listings in the areas you have selected as desired destinations. Or you may see an interesting listing in an area you hadn't considered. Members' preferred destinations and available dates are indicated in the listings to help narrow the possibilities. Don't totally ignore members who haven't listed your area in their destinations - an attractive offer may well persuade them to consider an exchange with you.
To give yourself the best opportunity for a successful exchange, contact a number of possible exchange partners, expressing interest in a trade and describing your home, area, family, and preferred dates. New listings are added to the on-line database every day - check often for the latest offers that may suit your needs.
Meanwhile, you will probably be getting enquiries from your listing (it's so nice to get mail from so many wonderful places around the world!), offering even more choices. From these contacts, you will gradually narrow the possibilities to those that interest you most and where dates and other details seem to fit for both parties. Don't forget to let anyone else you have been in contact with know if you are unable to pursue an exchange so that they can get on with other exchange plans.
Q: Who pays the bills?
A: Members usually agree to continue to pay their own household bills during the exchange but often arrange to have a separate phone bill for the period of the exchange - each will then be responsible for paying for phone calls made at their exchange home. *Note: many members now agree not to use the household phone but rather use their own mobiles while on exchange. There may be additional bills in one home such as for regular domestic help, a gardener, etc. Members must agree in advance who will be responsible for any extra payment to ensure fairness to both parties.
Q: Must I inform my household insurance company about the exchange?
A: Yes. It is important to ensure that your insurance policy remains in effect while your guests are living in your home. Make certain your insurance company is aware that your exchange partners are non-paying guests. Most insurance companies now acknowledge that your home is at lower risk from burglary when occupied; however, theft claims may not be met if there is no evidence of forced entry.
Q: If we exchange cars, how do I get from the airport to my exchange home?
A: A common arrangement is for both parties to arrange for a friend or another family member to meet the exchange family at the airport and drive them to the exchange address. If this is not possible, send each other very clear instructions on public transport. Occasionally members will arrange to collect a car at the airport; if not arranging to meet at the airport, you must arrange to get a message to the exchange party on the exact location of your car in the airport car park.
Q: Will I have help in arranging my exchange?
A: Home exchange is a 'do-it-yourself' holiday of necessity as you need to get to know your exchange partners so that you will feel comfortable having them in your home. 'Organising home swaps' is a detailed check list to take you from making your initial enquiries to confirming your arrangements and enjoying your holiday.
Q: Is it safe to leave my home with people I do not know?
A: Do remember that your potential exchange partner is likely to have the same concerns as you do! Although we can't guarantee that your home will be treated well, having someone in your home at the same time you are in theirs gives each of you a great incentive to treat the home entrusted to you with respect and care.
As it usually takes several weeks to arrange an exchange, you will be exchanging information, photos, etc. with your exchange partners and generally getting to know them. By the time your exchange takes place you should feel happy that you are leaving your home in good hands. Some exchangers arrange an overlap so that they have the chance to meet at the beginning of their vacation.
Take care in your preparations and your home is likely to be much safer than if left empty while you are away.
Q: How can I be sure of having a successful exchange?
A: There can be no absolute guarantees but home exchange is built on the trust that will come as you and your exchange partner get to know each other during the course of your preparations before your exchange holiday. Putting everything you have agreed in writing should also help prevent misunderstandings. Making common sense judgments on whether an exchange offer is likely to suit your needs will help to ensure a problem-free exchange, e.g. a retired couple with a house full of valuable antiques may not be best suited to exchange with a family with three toddlers. Likewise, families with young children will appreciate the convenience of an exchange to a home geared up with toys and baby equipment.
Q: What if I, or my exchange partners, have problems when occupying the other home?
A: It is very helpful if you have a friend living nearby or a neighbour who is prepared to act as your agent while you are away. They can be available to welcome your guests, hand over keys and help with any problems your exchange partners may encounter. Many 'agents' enjoy the chance to introduce guests to the local area and people; it can really add to the holiday if you have a local contact - and who is there to help with the 'quirks' of unfamiliar appliances.
Q: What is the most common problem exchange members encounter?
A: We rarely receive reports of problems but the one which does come up occasionally is simply a difference in house keeping standards. Although all members are reminded to leave their homes clean and tidy for their guests it's just a fact of life that housekeeping standards can vary. You must remember that you will be staying in a lived in home, not a five star hotel, and reflect on the space and other advantages you can enjoy even if your exchange partner's home is not up to your own housekeeping standards. People who are overly house proud need to consider if they will be able to relax and enjoy the holiday before considering home exchange. However, most home swappers treat their guest homes with great respect.
Q: What about damage to my home or property?
A: The responsibility lies with whomever caused the damage to either pay to have it repaired, or to reimburse you. Anyone can cause damage accidentally but we have never had a report on deliberate damage to property. If you are worried about damage just bear in mind that your exchange partners may have exactly the same worries about you! As this is the case, exchange members usually return to a home in the same - or better - condition than when they left it.
Q: What if my exchange partner cancels at the last minute?
A: Once you are sure your arrangements have been finalised, agree to both book your airline tickets at the same time. Then, if you each make copies of the tickets to fax or send to the other this will be an extra reassurance for both. Once significant amounts of money have been invested, it is extremely unlikely that either side will cancel except for valid reasons such as serious illness or a death in the family. Check when buying travel insurance that the policy will cover you in these instances. Any Guardian Home Exchange member known to have broken a firm exchange agreement without a valid reason will be excluded from future membership.
Q: I want to exchange to a non-smokers' home and also need disabled access. Can I find homes that may be suitable?
A: Click on 'Detailed search' and you will see a number of ways to restrict the results of your search, including Non-Smokers Only and Disabled Access/Facilities. When browsing listings generally you will see a wheelchair symbol on the left of the brief descriptions of homes which may be suitable. You must of course give details of your particular needs when contacting members in order to find out if their homes would suit you.
Q: I would like to exchange my home for a six month period. Do members only want short exchanges?
A: Although the majority of members are looking for shorter holiday exchanges, there are members who want to exchange for longer periods from six weeks to a year or more. Use 'Advanced search' and choose Long- term exchange from the drop down list beside Type of Exchange. Then click Search to find current members who want to exchange for longer periods.
Q: I would really like to do a home exchange but I have expensive computer equipment and some items of sentimental value that I would be worried about being damaged. Must I leave everything available in my house for my exchange partner to use?
A: No. Just ensure that your exchange partner is aware of what is 'out of bounds' or, better still, lock such items away in a spare room. It is expected that your domestic appliances will be available for use, with instructions left on how to use them.
Q: What about my pets?
A: Many families enjoy looking after their exchange partner's pets. However, never impose your pets upon a family which clearly does not want the responsibility. Many exchangers will use your home as a base for daily sightseeing trips and may not want to be tied down by pet care. Even if you plan to make other pet care arrangements, do let any potential exchange partners know what pets normally live in your house in case of possible allergies. Leave an adequate supply of food and clear instructions for members who do agree to look after your pets.
Q: Can I exchange cars as well?
A: Yes, certainly, but do check that your insurance covers your exchange partner before agreeing to exchange cars (we have found that this is particularly important for British members exchanging with Americans). Also ensure that you are both aware of any restrictions on car use, e.g. mileage, minimum age of drivers or areas.