How do I arrange a home swap?
What if I am having trouble arranging a home swap?
How long are home swaps for?
Is there a limit to how many swaps I can make?
How do members know about my listing once I have joined?
I have specific needs, how will I find a swap that suits me?
How can I trust my home to a stranger?
I am a little uncomfortable with home swapping, is there a way to ease in to it?
What if something happened to our home when swapping?
What can go wrong?
I have pets and a garden, who will look after them?
Who would want to stay in my home?
Would people want to visit my area?
Do members follow a Code of Ethics?
Will anyone home swap with a family?
Is the HomeLink database up to date?
I want to get more of a feel before I join, is there anyone I can speak with?
How do I join?
What do I get for my membership?
When is the best time to join?
Is membership renewal compulsory?
When you become a member you receive full access to all member details in the HomeLink community, to which your own property details will be added. As a member, you simply send out offers to places of interest and it goes from there.
Your home swap may result from these offers you initiate, or offers you receive from other members. Your membership pack will contain a "guide to home swapping", which most first-time home swappers find useful.
Answers to common questions are listed in the Members area on this website. We are also available for support and advice on our Freecall number 1800 85 35 35, 9am to 4pm Monday through Friday.
Our helpful hints set most people off on the right track. If you are having specific problems, our Member Discussion Forum is a great way to glean tips from exchange veterans.
We are always available to help in any event; home swapping is fun, and we are committed to assisting our members to get their system working for them!
All durations, from weekends to many weeks. It depends on what you and your home swap partner arrange. If you are swapping within Australia, your preferred time period may be different than if you home swap to Europe, when you may want to enjoy at least three weeks in your holiday home.
Because our members' listings allow them to specify their preferences, you can easily identify suitable home swap partners.
No. Once you become a member you can arrange as many home swaps as you are able to fit in.
Retirees get great value out of their membership, many living semi-nomadic lives in almost back-to-back swaps! Other families have been inventive, taking their children on a round-the-world-swap.
As soon as you join, your details are added to the online database and highlighted in the "Hot Listings" section, which immediately alerts members that new properties (yours!) have listed.
There is no better way for members to know about your listing than by initiating home swaps, so be bold and send out your offers straight away!
Our database has universal symbols so that important details are immediately apparent.
For example, you may be a non-smoker and allergic to pets: you will be able to see if the member is a smoker and/or has pets. You may need disabled access, or you may be a young family who would prefer to swap with members who also have children.
Whatever your needs or preferences, member listings are comprehensive and detailed, with symbols and search facilities allowing you to find what you are looking for with ease.
Anyone who enjoys travelling! HomeLink appeals to a very broad demographic, so it is perhaps easier to identify "who" is a home swapper by personality:
They are adventurous types who are stimulated by new experiences and sense of discovery;
They are socially motivated, trusting, independent, and practical.
Most people come to the world of home swapping from their 30's onwards, and many stay well beyond retirement.
Provided you have your landlord's permission, of course you can!
A complete variety, from inner city apartments to beach homes, from small suburban houses to large rural properties.
Why not try our search engine, where you can browse through all the member listings for the entire HomeLink global community? (contact details are removed for members' privacy)
Yes, families are very successful in getting home swaps. There are many reasons for this. For example, the cost savings in home swapping are greatly multiplied when there are more people to accommodate. So it is often families who are attracted to HomeLink ... and these members obviously look for a "child-friendly" home swapping partner.
We think the best reassurance for you is to read some personal success stories from other HomeLink families. Check out our News section (Ch 7 "Sunrise" story) and also the "HomeChat" monthly newsletter archives (eg, the Sep 2005, Feb 2006, June 2008 and July 2008 editions).
Yes. HomeLink provides a simple contract for both parties to set down the terms of the home swap, and all agreed logistics, such as date and time of arrival, exchanging keys and so on. We also offer a Car Exchange Agreement form, plus Checklist and Evaluation forms to complete before and after your home swap.
All these forms are available free for you to download.
Alternately, members can use HomeLink's online Exchange Evaluation .. the most comprehensive and advanced system for documenting your home swap in the industry.
Yes, very often cars are included. You may need to check first, that your insurance policy covers other parties driving your car.
You may wish to use our Car Exchange Agreement form, available free for you to download.
Alternately, members can use HomeLink's online Exchange Evaluation to include all the details of a Car Exchange too. It is the most comprehensive and advanced system for documenting a home swap in the industry.
Usually each party continues to pay their regular household bills, although separate arrangements might be made for the telephone. Members should agree in advance who will be responsible for any extra payment, to ensure fairness to both parties.
Hospitality swapping is where members come and stay with you and vice versa, as opposed to swapping homes.
Members do this for a number of reasons. Some new HomeLinkers prefer hospitality swaps to ease themselves into this new world of travel. Others take up hospitality swaps because over the course of their correspondence they have formed a friendship, and would enjoy having each other as guests.
Another reason is that one member may be keen to go to a specific area but the approached member is not able to reciprocate a swap at that time; they may offer hospitality swapping in order to facilitate the other member's travel plans.
Generally yes, but not necessarily! The parties determine the arrangement; the agreement may be purely one-way, or reciprocated by a hospitality or a home swap.
No. Many HomeLink members offer non-simultaneous (also called "non-synchronous") as well as simultaneous swaps.
This brings a lot of flexibility to the community, being able to accommodate swaps at times which may not be personally convenient for you.
For example, a HomeLink member at your preferred destination may not be free to visit your home for the dates you suggest, yet they are still able to offer you their home - this is now a non-simultaneous swap.
There are a variety of circumstances when this might occur. For example, the other member may have a second home available; or, they may already have a hospitality swap, or their own non-simultaneous swap arranged with another member.
It sounds more complicated than it is, but it works!
A youth swap is really just like a Hospitality swap, but for your kids!
You send your child/youth/student to live with another member or, you offer to host another members child with you.
This is a fabulous way of introducing children to the mind-broadening (and maturing!) experience of international travel, and living in a different culture, with a different family.
It is a great choice for experienced swappers, in particular those who have home swapped with and met the other member before.
Home swapping is built upon trust. The HomeLink community reduces risk by running a "closed system" in which members swap only with other HomeLink members.
In the end, the decision to swap with a particular partner is yours. As you get to know each other through discussing and organising the swap, your partner becomes less of a stranger. Many members forge lasting friendships.
If you are concerned, we recommend you swap with an experienced member until you feel more comfortable with the process.
We also recommend that you address specific concerns with your home swap partner as you arrange the swap. This often breaks the ice as they may feel exactly the same way!
Yes! Why not first try "Hospitality" swapping, where members arrange to host each other in their homes.
In over 60 years of HomeLink, theft and vandalism have never been an issue.
Problems have tended to be simply misunderstandings, and a few instances of accidental breakage (see the next FAQ). Insurance companies often advise that your house is safer from theft and vandalism with guests present, than if left vacant.
Although we cannot guarantee a flawless experience, most home swaps do work really well. Problems that members have discussed with us tend to be low-level issues, limited to accidental breakage or a difference in house-keeping standards.
Disappointments can be managed (and best avoided) by communicating openly with your partner beforehand, discussing expectations and, where necessary, locking away items which are irreplaceable or not for their consumption, such as cellared bottles of wine!
Whilst many members do enjoy looking after their home swap partner's pets, and do not find it troublesome to water the garden occasionally, you cannot in all fairness impose this upon them.
Remember ... like you, they are on holiday. They may have long day trips planned, or simply do not want to commit to a routine.
Even if you arrange for a neighbour or family member to take care of your pets, you should still let your home swap partner know of your furry, feathered or finned friends in case they are allergic to certain animals.
The idea of a "fair swap" is up to the individual. Whilst some people do seek similar sized properties, not everyone does; many people value the variety of experiences. Often people just want a comfortable, clean base from which to explore the area. They are not interested in critically appraising the architecture or style of an individual's house.
This is your home. You may consider it humble in comparison to a property you would love to swap with, but this does not make it in any way inferior. Most HomeLinkers recognise that homes cannot be rated according to tourism stars, because they are spaces where people live their lives, making them comfortable, unique and intimate.
The people who have the most success in exchanging are those with an open mind, who do not presuppose what others in the HomeLink community will think.
Whether you live in an established tourist honey-pot area, or in a place far from the tourist's beaten track, people will definitely want to visit. Our membership base is diverse, as are people's travel habits. Whilst some prefer popular travel destinations, others seek genuinely new experiences - that is, after all, how tourist hot spots develop.
Our members are both international visitors and fellow Australians who may be looking for a base to catch up with family or to explore the area.
When entering your property listing, think about all you enjoy about living in your area. Look at all the things the locals do, from entertainment to the natural habitat, and list these down to accompany your property details.
Yes. We ask all HomeLink members to abide by the Code, and always to act in good faith. The sense of mutual responsibility, honour, and respect encouraged by the Code is the cornerstone of HomeLink's successful home swapping tradition, built over more than 60 years
Click on the FAQ "HomeLink Code of Ethics" to view our 10-point Code.
Yes, families are very successful in getting home swaps.
We think the best reassurance for you is to read some personal success stories from other HomeLink families. Check out our News section () and also the "HomeChat" monthly newsletter archives (eg, the Sep 2005, Feb 2006, June 2008 and July 2008 editions).
Yes! New members are added immediately. And quite importantly, unlike the "new" breed of internet-only home swapping networks, HomeLink does not artificially inflate our total membership numbers by keeping expired listings online. Our member's listings are removed as soon as they leave the community. With HomeLink, you won't waste time trying to contact expired members whose listing information has been kept "live".
HomeLinkers also update their own details to help you. When you search our database, it is possible to see the current status of each fellow member: which periods they are available for swapping, and whether they have already made arrangements with another member.
Yes! You can always call us, we're happy to assist.
Shortly we will have a new facility, where our members will be available to chat with you in a Visitors Area.
Right now though, why don't you try our search engine, and browse through the global database to have a look at our members' properties?
Simply go to Getting Started on this website. If you prefer to speak with us first, please use our Freecall number, 1800 85 35 35, 9am-4pm Monday to Friday.
Full details of HomeLink membership are listed in Getting Started
Naturally, we are always eager to welcome new members. But there is something much more important to HomeLink. We seek happy, enthusiastic new members who will want to stay with us for the long term.
We want you to join our community when you are truly ready. When you really understand what our community is about; what home swapping is about. When you are genuinely eager to get actively involved in our community and the world of home swapping holidays. Once started, HomeLink members very often stay with us for life. We are hoping you will too :-)
While you are considering whether to join us, we simply ask that you bear one factor in mind. That is, our members generally prefer to correspond with you at length .. getting to know you .. before agreeing on a firm holiday plan with you. Many begin looking 6 or even 12 months in advance. Please take this into account in your planning, and allow plenty of time after you subscribe to secure a home swap.
There is no requirement to renew each year. You can allow your membership to lapse, and as a former member we will still welcome you back at a later date.
However, it is wise to maintain current status, even if you have arranged a home swap for the coming year. Simply, you cannot receive customer assistance from HomeLink Coordinators in other countries, if you have allowed your membership to lapse. Also, it is not unheard of for international HomeLink members to pull out of a pre-arranged home swapping agreement with you if your membership lapses. Why? If one party is not a current member, then both parties lose the protection of conducting a valid swap under the HomeLink International umbrella.
For your protection and that of other members, it is best to maintain current membership status, even if you have already confirmed your holiday plan for the coming year.
Many other home swapping websites claim that they are largest, premier, etc. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many "artificially enhance" their totals through clever marketing "strategies". Things like offering instant, one-click, free "sign up" via social media links, and by advertising special "introductory" or "free trial" membership offers. These tactics tempt people who were only toying with the idea of home swapping into becoming just another number in their database, and in their marketing boasts.
But one of the most "clever" of the modern dot com start up strategies, is to achieve rapid growth in headline numbers by continuing to list expired members ... forever. All too often, this includes literally thousands of "members" who only signed up for a limited duration free trial offer, and were never seriously committed to swapping homes in the first place.
Why do so many businesses do this? Over the last decade or so, what we have seen all too often is that these new startups are solely interested in "capturing" big numbers quickly, because the venture capitalists who financed their rapid growth are just seeking a fast path to an Initial Public Offering on the stock exchange, hoping to "cash-in" and earn a big windfall on their initial investment.
At HomeLink, we have always believed in helping people make informed decisions, by giving the bare facts. So unlike these dot com-era networks, HomeLink does not artificially inflate our total membership numbers. We do not offer free "trials", or easy one-click sign ups. We do not tempt undecided web surfers (that is, people who are not serious or committed to the idea of actually doing a home swap) into clicking on a free "sign up" link. And our members' listings are always removed as soon as they leave the community.
With HomeLink, you will not waste time trying to contact uncommitted members, or thousands of expired members whose listing information has been kept "live" just to artificially boost a headline claim to fame.
Style or substance? Do not be misled by more stylish, flashy home swapping sites. HomeLink has the fastest site, offers the most features, and has been designed to make reading and navigating the website both easy and enjoyable for our members, many of whom are retirees and/or people who are less confident using the internet.
We maintain separate websites for (currently 27) major countries around the world. These sites are in the domestic language(s), and run by HomeLink Coordinators who are native to that country. These are real sites run by real people. Each site is tailored to the needs of citizens in that country, whilst allowing access to the central home swapping server databases.
Every HomeLink Coordinator in the world has complete 24-hour access to administer the central database. New listings may be uploaded, passwords administered, and listings edited 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere in the world.
HomeLink offers the best search facilities. We have several distinct search engines, each designed to match your preferences in searching. We also offer "Key Word" searches that allow you to specify your requirements in as much detail as you choose. During your database searches, you may "Tag" listings that interest you by clicking on a button. Later, you may retrieve such listings for review. You may add notes, such as a correspondence record, to any of your "tagged" listings. Of course, listings that no longer interest you may be deleted from your private file.
We have websites in all major countries, in the native domestic language.
When you join HomeLink, your listing details are translated by us into Danish, Dutch, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Estonian and Russian, so that other members can read your listing in their own language.
On our website, HomeLink translates the listing information into the user's choice of languages "on-the-fly". Because the site has been translated by the HomeLink staff, the syntax is correct and grammar is good - unlike the free translations provided by various web-based translation services.
Best of all, when you are travelling with HomeLink you need not worry about language difficulties. You have the peace of mind that comes with knowing our HomeLink Coordinators are nearby. You can get support, advice and help from 27 HomeLink offices around the world, each staffed by experienced exchangers who speak the native language, AND English. If you have a problem overseas, help in our own language (though perhaps with a strong accent!) is only an email or phone call away.
After more than 60 years, we believe HomeLink has developed the safest, most secure system for home swapping holidays.
Members of HomeLink may be contacted only by other bona-fide registered members, whose homes are listed as well, and are well acquainted with our customs and Code of Ethics. For our members' security, addresses and phone numbers are made available only to other registered members. Regular contact with our members means we monitor and safeguard the high reputation which HomeLink has enjoyed over more than 55 years.
By comparison, many of the "new" breed of internet-only networks offer an Open System, in which any anonymous visitor can contact any member for free, even though they have not even registered or provided a listing themselves.
Unlike many faceless internet-only organisations, HomeLink has real people behind it.
Only HomeLink has representative Coordinators in most major countries (currently 27) around the world. By comparison, almost all other home swapping networks are based entirely in one country (usually USA or UK), with few or no offices in other countries.
Simply, no other exchange network can offer the local expertise and assistance that HomeLink provides.
Often people ask, Why is HomeLink more expensive? I can join "XYZ" home swapping network for only US$49.95 ... or GBP29 ... or FREE.
The answer is, HomeLink is the best. Simple as that.
Once you have read all our Common Questions, you will clearly see the overwhelming advantages of HomeLink compared to faceless, internet-only networks. HomeLink's community pioneered the concept of home swapping for more than 60 years, and has over 13,000 loyal members who will build relationships with you according to our long tradition of mutual respect and trust.
Even if you only consider one fact - that only HomeLink has highly experienced local organisers, right there to help you, in almost any country you care to visit, we think you will agree that this alone more than justifies our price difference. A difference which, when you stop and think about it, is actually a very modest sum compared to the cost of a holiday. And this is before you consider all the other advantages of HomeLink! After all, what price can you put on peace of mind? So why would you trust your home ... and holiday ... with any other exchange network?
Our thousands of loyal members around the world (many of whom have renewed every year for 3 decades!) would testify to that wonderful old saying - You only get what you pay for.
Why would you wish to penny-pinch on membership fees with a cheaper, faceless internet-only exchange network? Why would you trust your home and holiday with a faceless, foreign-owned business, and/or one with no Australian representatives?!
It is all about your precious home, and finding your once-in-a-lifetime holiday. HomeLink offers the most comprehensive local service all around the world, and the best opportunities to find exactly that.
1. Describe your home honestly in your listing and in all correspondence. You want your home swap partners to be pleasantly surprised when they arrive, not disappointed. Never hide the existence of pets.
Home swapping has tremendous potential for creating goodwill among people throughout the world. In keeping with this philosophy, we believe that if you are on the receiving end of a home swap offer, courtesy requires that you acknowledge each offer, whether or not you intend to explore the proposal. Even a brief e-mail will suffice, stating simply:
"Thank you for your offer, but home swapping to _______ is not in our plans for this year."
In your own initial invitation you can add:
"May we ask you to express any possible interest in this proposal by (give date 1-3 weeks hence), after which we will assume our swap offer does not fit in with your plans".
To help prevent your messages from being discarded as spam:
2. Leave your home clean. Standards of cleanliness vary, so make sure that floors are vacuumed and mopped, refrigerator emptied, stove and oven grease-free, bath and shower free of mould and grime, windows see-through, and surfaces dust-free. No need to repaint the house.
3. Clear away enough of your personal belongings to leave space on shelves and in wardrobes and drawers so that your guests can empty their suitcases, arrange their things in bedrooms, bathrooms, and entry halls, and feel at home.
4. Leave at least two sets of clean sheets per bed and two sets of towels per person.
5. Compile a clear, useful "Guide to Your Home and Surroundings" which includes local tourist information and household notices about the use of electrical appliances, pool maintenance, pet and plant care, garbage day pick-up, etc. Phone numbers of a recommended doctor, dentist, babysitter, good restaurants, and helpful friends are always welcome too.
6. Use our Home and Car Exchange Agreement forms to avoid all misunderstandings and clarify who pays what in terms of telephone, electric bills, gas consumption, insurance deductibles in case of accidents, and staple foods such as flour, sugar, oil, etc.
7. If arrangements are such that you cannot meet, arrange for a family member, neighbour or friend to come by and welcome your swap partners when they arrive. They will certainly have questions, and such a welcome will be much appreciated.
8. Leave the makings of a first meal. Nothing fancy, but your guests will be tired and hungry and grateful not to have to go out for dinner.
9. It has become a HomeLink tradition to leave a small gift of welcome: a bottle of wine or champagne, a local speciality. Always a special surprise.
10. Close the door, turn the key, and go off on holiday knowing that your home is in the good hands of another HomeLink member like you.
Have you subscribed?
Have you received our confirmation, including your "Member Number" and "Password"?
Great! Now, all you need do is enter these in the "Members Area" login boxes.
[NB: the HomeLink International members log in does not use the term "Member Number". It uses the term "User Name". Don't worry, these terms mean the same]
This is an important security precaution. It is intended to prevent unscrupulous persons joining HomeLink as members, gathering a large list of email addresses, and then sending mass unsolicited emails ("spam") to our members.
We offer a "closed" email system in the Members area for you to use when sending emails to other members.
Simply go to the member listing that interests you, and click on the link "Email this member".