There’s no reason to be unsafe when traveling. There’s also no reason to not travel due to lacking money. It’s hard to mix both. If we were, to sum up, this HomeExchange review already, that’s how we would sum it up. HomeExchange is a platform that allows for home exchanges meaning that you can have better travel experiences without overspending. That sounds great, right? Is HomeExchange worth it, though?
Most people? They have a nice home. Whether it’s a villa, a family home, or an apartment. After all, we all do our best with what we have. But just because you have a nice home doesn’t mean that you are able to travel to locations like Iceland or even Paris while staying in the center. Especially if you live in locations where the currency isn’t worth as much.
If you are young, you might be able to stay in the cheapest place out there, but when you have a family, that’s not always possible. Neither is going to a country that is just naturally more expensive. It’s not that you can’t take your family abroad without going broke, but you will, in most cases, have to sacrifice on things that make holidays great such as attractions or otherwise, well, you’ll go broke. Both versions suck. And neither has to be the reality with HomeExchange if HomeExchange is worth it in the first place.
And is HomeExchange worth it? Well, we’ve spent around 2 years working on this HomeExchange review to complete this most complete guide to HomeExchange to tell you why HomeExchange makes a lot of sense, why it’s worth it while telling you why it also doesn’t always work, depending on your needs.
Sounds good? Let’s dive into it.
How HomeExchange Works & Why it works
A standard home exchange involves swapping a home for a home.
HomeExchange allows that, but it also makes home exchanges far more practical.
You might want to go to New York City. That doesn’t mean that someone else wants to go to the middle of nowhere in Iceland. Someone will. Someone won’t.
That’s where HomeExchange comes in with a points system called GuestPoints or GP, which you shouldn’t confuse with pounds as we did at the start.
GuestPoints allow for exchanges that don’t involve you going to someone’s home and someone else going to yours.
You can get 1000 GP for someone coming to your home for 10 days, and then using these points to go to someone else’s home.
This system was traditionally on GuestToGuest before its merger with HomeExchange, and based on reviews, some people don’t like it, but it does, in reality, make exchanges far more possible for everyone, which allows the platform to grow.
Of course, if both parties are happy, you can still do a traditional exchange.
As far as reaching out to people, the process is just like on any other platform. You search for where you want to go and put in your dates.
HomeExchange will then show you homes around the area you want to go, while also showing you which homes are verified and which aren’t, mixed with their rating.
Since this isn’t Airbnb, you then need to reach out to people, introducing yourself personally.
HomeExchange does have a great platform for doing that, though, as it’s able to change the name of the person while keeping the message you sent last if you are doing bulk contacting for a specific location.
People Love Their Homes
There’s no better platform for getting homes/apartments then HomeExchange when it comes to the standard of living.
On Booking.com & Airbnb, the lower you go as far as pricing, the worse it generally gets. You start to witness mold. You start to lack basic items.
That is not the case on HomeExchange because, in most cases, people love their homes, regardless of where you are.
That sometimes means that you are going for a more classical look and sometimes for a more modern look, but either way, the quality of living on HomeExchange is incredible. You feel like you are at home.
On the 12 different exchanges we did, we never lacked anything. On Airbnb? We often lacked simple things such as the essentials for being able to cook what we want, nevermind salt or oil.
Every single home we ever exchanged with on HomeExchange had everything we needed. That means cooking wise, that means essential ingredients that you don’t want to buy wise, and yes, even boardgames wise.
People on HomeExchange
We aren’t going to lie telling you that everyone on HomeExchange is great. Some people are rude. Extremely rude.
Like this person.
You have GuestPoints? Really? No Sh*t.
With that said, most of the people that you will end up exchanging with are incredible people.
In Montreal, we met an incredible set of people that we, for sure, hope to visit back in the future. Not only did they greet me with a bowl of great soup, spaghetti, and wine, but they also kept a forever welcoming atmosphere while helping us out with the printing of tickets.
Of course, some exchanges require people staying in their homes like the one in Montreal, but some also involve just you, and those were often great too.
In Iceland, I got greeted to a new “Icelandic culture” starter kit while being greeted to wine both in Toronto as well as in Le Havre in France.
The Process of Doing a Home Exchange
HomeExchange isn’t a commercial service, and thus, not everyone is the most efficient at exchanges.
In most cases, it’s a self-check-in with a code and that works great, however, sometimes you have to meet someone, and that can be problematic because almost every single trip we took, there were delays. That’s part of travel.
Once or twice, a delay resulted in me getting a lower rating — nothing I can do about that.
What HomeExchange could do here is to have some content that will help people improve that process. There’s isn’t really anything there about that right now.
How Easy Is It to Do a Home Exchange
Ultimately you need points to do an exchange, or somebody needs to want to go to your home.
When you sign up, you get some points that will get you started, but what about after you run out if you live in the middle of nowhere?
Well, that’s exactly what some people want. People in big cities are trying to get away from big cities. Regardless of where you live, there are people that will want to stay in your home, and people will reach out to you.
One thing that we did find annoying on one occasion that it looked like the people weren’t going to be there, and they were. That’s fine, but it’s nice to know before.
What about cancellations?
We had to cancel 3 exchanges in the US in the past and 1-2 in Europe.
How did that go?
Most went smoothly. Most people refunded the GuestPoints. Some also didn’t, and that’s understandable.
What if someone cancels on you, though? Well, that brings us to the subscription fee
The Subscription fee
One of the negatives mentioned on the web about HomeExchange is the subscription fee.
You either pay $15 per night or $150 for a year, and we strongly recommend the year.
People complain about that.
I absolutely don’t understand it.
We want to feel secure doing these exchanges, yet we also want it to be free? HomeExchange isn’t a charity. Customer service costs. Running the company works. Marketing so that you get more exchange costs. There are so many costs, and if HomeExchange doesn’t make money, well, how is it meant to exist?
Like we already mentioned, not everyone is a nice human. We personally never had any brutally bad experiences, but what if someone was to cancel on your last minute? That’s where paying that subscription comes in. If something was to happen, HomeExchange will take care of you, and vice versa of your home.
It’s a small price to pay.
Especially if you can get homes like in the picture below, without paying $300 per night. And we for sure prefer $150 for the year than paying $300 for one night.
However, we do agree that HomeExchange could have handled the situation slightly better with introduction of this subscription. At the start, when the service was still called GuestToGuest, you had the freedom to go with insurance or not. Most people went with it, but more importantly, you had the freedom, which you don’t really have anymore. And I think that’s what people are disappointed about.
HomeExchange Fails on Communication
We’ve had a close relationship with GuestToGuest when they were called that. Then they merged with GuestToGuest, and we didn’t hear about that until it happened. We were very interested in covering the details about that merger and still are, but almost a year later, we are still waiting for any relevant information. Even though we asked a numerous amount of times.
Not only did they fail to address the change to the public, but they also failed to then address it to the media, resulting in nobody still knowing what is going on, which is also the case with a lot of changes with this service.
Talk to us! It will make a big difference!
And I think this is something they really need to work on. Better communication.
The Asian Market Needs More Focus
Our biggest issue with HomeExchange is the Asian market. It’s very hard to get an exchange in Asia. Almost impossible. That’s because there are very little homes in Asia on the platform.
Perhaps this has something to do with culture, but either way, there’s a clear need for expansion in that market, and I hope that heavier efforts are made in that sector in the future!
France Is Always Your Best Bet
To be clear, it’s not that we reached out to someone in every single country, but as far as exchange success goes, France is your best shot.
So far, we did 5 exchanges in France, and while two of them were in Paris, there 3 others weren’t. They were in far less known places such as Clermont-Ferrand or Le Havre, which is great to see.
That perhaps has a lot to do with GuestToGuest being from France.
Europe Itself Is a Good Bet
Whether it’s the Tatra mountains in Poland, Portugal, or Iceland, people are very open to home exchanges in Europe.
With that said, the UK is a very hard one as, during the two years of testing, we have not yet managed to get an exchange, even while being ultra-flexible. The same applies to the likes of Norway and Sweden.
The same applies to Ireland, although we have seen a vast growth when it comes to homes in Ireland, over the last year.
(We’ll update this guide with more specific locations as we continue to test.)
Canada and the US Are Also Okay with a But…
Most North American exchanges seem to consist of access to basements.
To be fair, they are pretty incredible, but it’s just worth knowing that this is the major difference between Europe and North America.
As far as exchanges, we always succeeded whether it was New York, which we had to cancel or the likes of Toronto or Montreal.
The North America side, for sure, is much better at self check-ins.
Is HomeExchange Worth it?
HomeExchange makes travel better. There’s no doubt about it. It’s not a perfect platform due to poor communication, but it is a platform that everyone will benefit from, and it’s a great platform to use.
Why not use what you already have, which is a home to travel more without overspending on places that aren’t even that great? Why not spend that money saved on experiences?
Don’t you want to show other people how cool your home is? Don’t you want them to write great reviews about your home?
Speaking of places to travel to, make sure to check out guide about the top 5 cities to visit in 2019 if you are still reading this in 2019.