Have you ever wondered what it would be like to do a house swap? How would it work? Would it be a swap for a weekend getaway? Could we find a house exchange for a month long family holiday in France?
I had no idea what would be available, but I had always been curious.
I had contemplated trying a house swap at various times in the past, but this year I got serious! The impetus for me was an upcoming extended European vacation timetabled for 2017. I wanted to know if it was possible to swap our house for a french property. I really wasn’t enjoying the thought of staying in small hotel rooms for the duration of our holiday.
I realised there was only one way to find out if it was possible. I listed our Coffs Harbour beachfront home on a house exchange website.
Listing on the website was simple. I just uploaded a few photo’s of the house and added a quick description.
The house swap website also ask you some practical questions;
- Which months you would prefer a house exchange
- Countries you are interested in visiting
- If a simultaneous exchange is required
I went ahead and answered all the questions. Naturally, I let my imagination run wild about where I would like to visit. As I was completing the property form, my husband suggested we should also add Sydney so we could find a swap over the New Years period. I thought this would be a great way to “test the waters”, so I added a few Australian destination to my list of preferred places to visit.
Surprisingly we received six really interesting house swap offers!
The first offer was from a French couple currently living in Brisbane that own a studio apartment in Paris and a second studio apartment at the old harbour of Les Sables d’Olonnes. They suggested we could visit both properties.
The next offer was a little closer to home. A property owner living in a unit at Cremorne Point overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge approached us about a swap. He was looking for a quiet holiday location over the New Years period. Whilst the unit itself doesn’t have any views, just outside the front door is Cremorne Point Reserve. The reserve has an amazing view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Centrepoint tower. It was the perfect location for us to stay for the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
We organised some mutually agreeable house swap dates and then waited for our first house exchange.
There are a few practicalities to finalise in the week before the exchange. These took just one phone call, we discussed the following items;
- Arrangements for the keys
- Instructions for any tricky appliances
- Advising neighbours of the swap
- Cleaning the house and organising fresh linen
- Leaving the wifi password
- Leaving milk, bread and breakfast items
Given that our swap was happening over the Christmas period I also left some homemade shortbread cookies, gingerbread men and a jar of lollies. I wanted to make sure our guests were looked after. I told them about a few nice walks in the area and suggested two restaurants. They had also previously read my story, Free Summer Fun in Coffs Harbour so I knew they had some activities planned for their holiday.
When we arrived at the unit we found we were absolutely on the harbour! We took a moment to check out views and then went inside.
Inside the unit, we found a detailed map of the area had been left for us. The map highlighted the location of the ferry which was just a little over 50 metres away. It also showed a harbourside walk along the reserve which went past two children playgrounds. The kids made use of the playground whilst we relaxed on the reserve.
A restaurant was suggested for dinner and a fish & chip shop had been marked on the map by hand. There were parking permits on the sideboard and a brochure regarding the upcoming “special event” parking arrangements for the area.
Most importantly for the kids, the owners had left sparklers for the kids for New Years Eve! The kids were so happy!
We decided to go for a walk and explore our new surroundings. The photo’s in the story are from the walk. We were treated to a preview of the fireworks on the night of the 28th December. It seems we picked the right location.
Now we just need to stake our claim on the reserve for the big night and enjoy the fireworks.
Have you ever considered a house swap? Is there any questions you would like to know? I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments.