Is It Safe to Allow Strangers in Your Home? Yes!
For anyone new to home exchange, the notion of random people living in their home concocts images of broken furniture and missing valuables. It’s true that welcoming in perfect strangers would be reason for unease; however, by the time a home exchange is arranged, you’re putting trust in friends, not unknown people.
By Victoria Ortiz
“You’re going to let strangers into your home?” ask my parents, friends, co-workers, and the supermarket checkout person who overhears a conversation about HomeExchange.
It’s a valid question, and my answer is a wholehearted yes! I’m no Pollyanna, so this is my sincere conclusion after tens of home exchanges without so much as a missing box of cereal. In fact, of late I find myself arranging my travel plans to spend a day or share a meal with these wonderful “strangers.”
A System Built on Communication and Trust
In the last 25 years, HomeExchange has facilitated over 1 million successful, happy exchanges through a tried and true system. It’s a process that builds trust and goodwill through back-and-forth communication.
Prior to reaching out or responding to anyone, I read through their detailed member profiles, and am much more likely to respond to an inquiry from someone who has clearly read mine. Through HomeExchange’s secure messaging system, I am also able to contact someone without revealing my personal information.
Then, to arrange an exchange, I follow an easy three-step process: propose, review, and confirm. Doing so assures that everyone has the correct information and enables HomeExchange to assist should anything unexpected arise. I can see where we are in the process from the moment I propose an exchange (or one is proposed to me), and must review and confirm it in order for it to be validated.
Since prospective exchange partners usually share similar concerns about who will be using their home, we often coordinate a video conference using Skype or Google Hangouts to “meet” each other. When I finally agree to a house swap, it is only after multiple correspondences. I often know where my exchange partners’ children went to college and how they met!
Reinforcing Peace of Mind
HomeExchange’s excellent Guestbook system adds an extra level of peace of mind. HomeExchange used to allow users to leave reviews, but many members found it awkward to rate hosts as if they were hoteliers. Guestbook allows me to thank my hosts, share memories, and even offer some constructive feedback, all the while helping future exchangers to gain authentic insights before agreeing to an exchange. I always look through a member’s Guestbook to make sure that the experience was positive, and learn a little more about the person and the home.
Sharing Responsibility and Taking Care
People treat my home as if it were their own because, really, it is. If we’ve arranged a reciprocal exchange, we will be staying in one another’s homes and want to be sure that everything goes smoothly for everyone. If we’ve committed to a Passport exchange, the karmic sense of passing responsibility forward kicks in.
Sure, plates break and occasionally someone forgets to replace the toilet paper, but I’ve never had anyone intentionally disrupt my home. In any case, when the possibility of theft concerns me, I know it’s completely acceptable to keep special possessions or valuables locked away during an exchange. It’s also good to let neighbors and family members know about the house swap. They can keep an eye out for you, and be a local resource to your exchange partners. In addition, I usually leave a list of emergency contacts, and even a small gift as a thank you for taking care.
Opening up one’s home requires mutual trust and respect. Both are built one relationship at a time. The process is not quick, but HomeExchange has made it precise. Importantly, the more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it. Through HomeExchange, I’ve made friends around the world and stayed in beautiful homes. My situation is hardly unique, as these member testimonials confirm.
If you’re still not sure, talk to a real person about it! Simply get in touch with the HomeExchange Global Support Team. They are always available to answer questions or even connect you to a dedicated local representative who can give you tips and tricks learned from years of home exchanging. And once you decide to take the leap and experience HomeExchange for yourself, the team will be there for you every step of the way.