Your Long-Term Exchanges Planning Guide

To live in another city or a different country is a dream to many. It offers the opportunity to experience another culture or to explore in ways that a shorter trip doesn’t allow. For most, that fantasy will stay in their imagination but, for HomeExchangers, it can become a reality. Here’s our look at how you can “go long” with HomeExchange.

Start with the basics

Before you dive in and start contacting HomeExchange Members, it’s essential to establish your expectations. These are a few primary questions to ask yourself:

  1. Define what the phrase “Long-Term” means to you. Is it two months? Three? A year? Knowing your definition will help you communicate clearly with potential Exchange Partners.
  2. Do you plan on working while on your exchange? If so, will you need any specific amenities like Wi-Fi or a printer to accomplish that?
  3. Will you do one extended exchange or tie multiple exchanges together?
  4. Do you have a specific location in mind or will you allow the fate of your inquiries to guide you?

The more thorough you are with what sort of experience you’d like to have, the more success you’ll find down the line.

Prepare before pressing “Send”

To maximize your potential of finding an ideal exchange scenario, make a point to prepare your profile to express your interest.

  1. Update your subject line to express your plan.
  2. Set Preferred Destinations and Dates to make it clear what you are hoping to accomplish. The earlier you plan, the better your chance are to find something that works.
  3. Ensure that “Long-Term Exchange” is selected as one of the Exchange Types on your profile.

Speaking of Exchange Types, making diligent use of search filters will assist in finding your possible Exchange Partners. Use Lists to “Favorite” particular Listings. Search using your preferences and make use of the “Save Search” feature to come back and discover newer listings as they get added to the system. Let the various Search tools work for you!

Make a list and check it twice

When it comes to Long-Term Exchanges, there is no such thing as too much planning. Think through the various aspects of life that will feel the impact of you being away and make a list. In fact, you might want to make a list of your lists. Some things to consider are:

  1. Mail, utilities, and bills – make sure you have everything is in place, so there aren’t any unexpected surprised while you’re away.
  2. Visas – if you’re going to spend an extended period of time you’ll want to confirm the laws and regulations that are appropriate.
  3. Contact information – both for you and your Exchange Partner. If you’re arranging multiple exchanges, we’d recommend creating a spreadsheet to keep all the essential information in one place. Arrival and departure dates, key exchange, phone numbers/Skype screen names. Having it all batched together will ease the burden of locating it if an issue arises.

When it comes to finalizing your Exchange, we recommend making use of an Exchange Agreement. While it might feel like overkill, it helps make sure everyone involved is confident in the process and that the little details get reviewed. When in doubt: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Have local support

While you’re away, make sure there is someone local who is interested in being a point-of-contact for your Exchange Partner. A friend or family member who can be called on if something occurs will help everyone feel more comfortable with the arrangement. Be clear on what you are asking of them. Will they be passing the keys along to your Exchange Partner? Letting house cleaners in to freshen your home up between exchanges? Setting clear expectations will help make sure you are still friends when you get back. Or at least make sure to bring them a little something back as a thank you!

Enjoy the adventure

In the end, this is the key. Make the most of the experience. Give yourself the permission to literally “live like a local” and explore what the world has to offer. When you don’t have to worry about the cost of accommodations, extended travel is within your reach.

Now we turn to you, HomeExchange community. What tips do you have for planning a Long-Term Exchange? Tell us in the comments below, and we look forward to traveling with you soon.

5 Comments on “Your Long-Term Exchanges Planning Guide

  1. Let your trusted vendors (e.g., landscaper, handyman) know the names of your exchange partners and allow them to authorize repairs if needed (e.g., on our last exchange, our sprinkler system sprung leaks in several places and had to be repaired.)

    Depending on your neighborhood, you might want to let close neighbors know about the strangers they will see coming and going.

    On our last exchange, we arranged for them to meet another couple ( close friends) and it worked out Beautifully as they went out to dinner several times and have kept in touch since then. Our exchange partners commented that it was their first exchange that came with friends.

  2. The COLLECTION ” long term exchange ” does not show really long term exchanges. … it would be interesting to see listings offering exchanges of, let’s say ,a duration of minimum 2 months in this COLLECTION

    • Agree – two weeks doesn’t cut it for ‘long term’. My husband and I are doing a two month exchange this summer. We had to do a lot of searching to find it.

  3. As a solo traveller it is important to get out and join a club or activity when doing a long term exchange (more than 4 months). If not, it can be quite lonely without your family or support network from your home country. I was in Paris for 6 months and joined an expats club and a board of directors for a cultural organization. It made a huge difference to my feeling of connectedness.

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