Home swap holiday

With holiday accommodation prices at peak season highs, it might pay to think about a house swap instead, reports Bronwyn McNulty.

When you hear the phrase “house swap holiday” do you quickly dismiss the notion as something that would require too much preparation to make it worthwhile?

If you do, you have got it wrong, says Bee Cogger from House Swap Holidays (www.houseswapholidays.com.au).

Apart from being far less trouble than people might expect, Cogger, who lives near Noosa in Queensland, says swapping your residence for someone else’s for a short period of time is a wonderful way to go on holidays and save some money while you’re at it.

If you think your place is not fit for swapping, you might be surprised, she says.

“Houseswapping is for everybody, from the owner of the smallest studio flat to multimillion-dollar mansion.”

A veteran of more than 60 swaps here and overseas over the past 14 years, Cogger says she usually organises her swaps based on location, but says what people look for is very much a personal thing.

“It doesn’t really matter to us what sort of house we are in, we tend to go for the location,” she says. “But a lot of people go for a house they like the look of.”

Ruth Gibson, from Eden in NSW, has been swapping with Melbourne families for six years so she and her husband Allan can head south to spend time near their extended family.

“I think it’s brilliant,” Gibson says. “When you are in someone else’s house everything is there so it’s just so convenient. It’s been a real blessing to us.”

A common denominator among swappers is that most people want the place they are going to stay in to be clean and tidy.

“Most people appreciate a place being clean and comfortable,” Cogger says. However, there is no need to put possessions away unless you are particularly concerned about something.

“I don’t put anything away,” she says. “I clear a little bit of cupboard space, and clear a shelf in the pantry and a bit of space in the fridge. Some people put valuable things in a room and lock it and that seems to work well too. You certainly don’t have to clear everything out because that’s a mammoth task.”

Instead, Gibson suggests viewing your house swap preparation as a good opportunity for a spring clean.

“You really just need to do regular stuff to prepare, like making sure your place is tidy,” Gibson says. “It’s a good opportunity to do a spring clean, because you have to do that at some stage anyway.”

As far as renovations and fresh paintwork go, Cogger says these are extremes you don’t need to go to.

“A lot of people out there have older houses that are still nice and comfy to live in,” she says. “Some people might even feel more comfortable in an older place. There are lots of photos on the website so you get a good idea of where you are going.”

As a bonus, house swapping means you might also be able to get your pets looked after in the process. Some swappers even exchange cars to use during their stay (you just need to let your insurance company know).

“It’s worth remembering that everything is negotiable in a house swap – dates, duration, number of people in the family involved, car/pet exchanges, and so on,” Cogger says. “But it only takes a little time and communication, and is very worthwhile.”

Have you ever been on a house swap holiday?


Things to know before you Can: The advice contained in this article is for general information purposes only and may contain general advice. It has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before acting on the advice, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.