• Switzerland's news in English
Learn how to live for free on your next holiday
A property listed in Costa Rica on the Home Exchange website. Photo: Home Exchange

Learn how to live for free on your next holiday

The Local/AFP · 16 Dec 2014, 10:00

Published: 01 Nov 2014 09:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Dec 2014 10:00 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Founded in 1992, the Home Exchange concept has been around for a while. But it was the release of the 2006 film The Holiday, starring Jude Law, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, that put the service on the map.

The idea is simple: list your home online so the Home Exchange community can view your property. Then you can start browsing all the profiles from users around the world to find the ideal place for you to do a potential house swap.

Home Exchange currently has more than 55,000 members in over 150 countries. To date, over one million exchanges have taken place using the website.

Users pay an annual fee (120 CHF) to become a member. In return they can then use the service and stay in the home of their choice absolutely free. How many swaps they decide to do is entirely up to each user.

JOIN NOW: Get 50% off Home Exchange membership

Berlin-based Krisztina Pinter has been a member of Home Exchange since 2008. She’s already done 14 swaps, from Canada to Israel, with her husband and two children since signing up six years ago.

“I saw the film The Holiday and then googled Home Exchange and found that it was a real website. My husband and I decided to give it a go to see what it was all about,” Pinter tells The Local.

Fancy a free stay in a New York City penthouse? Click here to join Home Exchange 

Naturally, Pinter had concerns about throwing open the doors to her house to complete strangers. Key to the service’s success is the commitment to communication. Users can inspect each other’s profile testimonials, swap messages, and set up Skype calls before agreeing to any move. 

You can also contact Home Exchange directly if you have any particular concerns. 

“Our first swap was to France and it went really well. When we came back our house was cleaner than when we left!” laughs Pinter.

The mother of two says that one of the main attractions of the service - apart from saving a lot of money in accommodation fees - is how family-friendly it is, a vital consideration when travelling with young children who might get bored in a hotel room.

Exclusive offer: Click here for your free 14-day trial

“When you are staying in somebody else’s house, it feels like you are really on holiday. You have a proper kitchen, toys for the kids, car seats, bikes and the rest. You can also do a car exchange which is another big saving,” she says.

Added to that is the peace of mind in knowing that your home is safe and occupied when you are away. There is also the appeal of plugging into a new community and living like a local.

And if you want to travel three months rather than just three weeks, it’s good to know that Home Exchange isn’t considered subletting, so there’s no need to worry about confusing subletting rules.

In the hit film The Holiday the characters swap an English country cottage for a mansion in Los Angeles. With over 55,000 members, Home Exchange has something for everybody, from penthouses in New York (pictured above) to an authentic coffee farm listed in Sao Paulo (pictured below). 

How much would you pay to have Brazilian breakfast here? With Home Exchange, it's free

Users can tweak their searches to determine what kind of vacation they are after, among the choices are: family fun, weekend getaway, romantic, gourmet paradise and plenty more. 

A large percentage of the users are expats and couples with an international background who are generally multi-lingual. The Home Exchange website is available in 16 different languages. 

EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Join Home Exchange for less than €1/week

“My advice would be for people to give it a try. Obviously you are going to save money and the membership fee is completely worth it, even if you just use the service once,” says Pinter.

“For my family doing a home exchange is a regular part of our lives every year. I associate hotel rooms with work and for a holiday you want to be a bit more comfortable.

“This is a great option if you enjoy travelling and want to meet new people.” 

Find out more about Home Exchange and get 50% off your first year with our exclusive offer

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Home Exchange

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.it)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
'Protect Swiss waterways or lose our fish': WWF
Photo: Richi Stadelmann/WWF

Eighty-five percent of fish species in Switzerland are under threat, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

SBB pilots new annual pass – costing 12,200 francs
The 'door-to-door' pass includes use of an electric car. Photo: SBB

Swiss federal railways (SBB) is looking for 100 people willing to pilot a new annual transport pass that includes use of an electric car.

Immigration to Switzerland falls as emigration rises
File photo: The Local

Immigration in Switzerland has fallen considerably this year, according to official figures.

Wawrinka aces his way into Basel quarterfinals
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The home favourite returns to the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors for the first time in five years.

Illegal immigrant dies after setting himself on fire
The victim was treated at University Hospital Zurich. Photo: University Hospital Zurich

The 45-year-old Tunisian was threatened with deportation.

Swiss government rejects call for second immigration vote
Photo: Justus Blumer/Christophe G

The Swiss government has rejected a popular initiative calling for a revote on plans to limit immigration.

Bern: companies should report salary inequality by law
File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The Swiss government wants to force small companies to examine their rates of pay every four years.

Husband in custody after Orbe body identified
File photo: Bas Leenders

The deceased is a 55-year-old woman who lived in the house with her husband.

Presented by MoneyPark
How to get a mortgage in Switzerland
Houses in Zürich. Photo: Pixabay.

Ready to buy? Here’s what you need to know as an expat about Swiss regulations, how to finance your purchase, and why you should use a broker.

Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
jobs available