You may prefer to exchange your apartment while traveling, rather than staying in hotels or renting a home. The way it works is another traveler agrees to stay in your home, while you agree to stay in theirs. In theory, it sounds like a win-win for everyone involved, because both parties have some place to stay in a foreign country. There isn’t always a happy ending to apartment exchanges though, also known as apartment swaps.
Pros of Apartment Exchanges
The advocates of apartment exchanges are passionate about it. They see no better alternative to traveling the world and living in comfort, because of the following benefits:
- Live in the comfort of home, instead of hotels and motels that offer limited amenities and comforts
- More space than what hotels can offer
- Use of a car (in some arrangements)
- Single persons and families want to exchange an apartment, so you can find a good match based on your personal preferences
- Many renters insurance companies don’t have any problems with apartment exchanges and you’re still covered
There is great satisfaction when these benefits come to bear, but the problem is, that’s not always the case. Many travelers don’t choose this option, for good reason.
Cons of Apartment Exchanges
You may decide to rent a hotel, motel or other living quarters during your travels, because of the following cons of apartment exchanges:
- You could exchange with someone who trashes your apartment
- Language barriers may make it difficult to clearly define expectations and address concerns
- Trusting complete strangers to stay in your apartment and take care of your things is risky
- Need to add exchangers to driver’s policy if including your car as part of the exchange
- Risk of your valuable items being stolen if not removed from the apartment
- Disputes can arise over major problems that occur during the exchange, such as plumbing problems
Keep in mind that you don’t own your apartment. You need to consider your landlord and the legal repercussions if the arrangement doesn’t work out.
How to Swap Your Apartment
First and foremost, you need to obtain your landlord’s written permission. If he’s not interested in this type of arrangement, you could find yourself in a tremendous legal mess, when your landlord attempts to evict you and the person you exchanged the apartment with. Lease agreements don’t typically address the issue, and it may not qualify as a sublease arrangement. To make sure you’re legally protected, amend the lease to include apartment exchanges.
There are many exchange communities online. Companies often charge a fee for posting the apartment you have available for an exchange, and you can view ads from others who have one in the countries where you plan to travel. One home exchange community to try is HomeLink at www.homelink.com.au. It’s well established, being one of the earliest communities online, and it lists exchanges in all over the world. You can also search Home for Exchange at www.homeforexchange.com.
If you do decide to use a company to exchange your apartment, it’s important to choose a reputable agency. Don’t enter any arrangement without a written agreement.