Foreign holidays are off the cards for many this year but with the price of accommodation in the UK soaring, is house swapping an affordable alternative?
If you’re eyeing the upcoming school holidays with increasing trepidation, you don’t need us to tell you there’s a problem when it comes to cost.
Nor do you need us to spell out that the price of taking a break in the UK has risen significantly because we’re staying put. 再次.
You’ll pay a third more to stay at some seaside destinations, according to Which?, 尽管 availability is also scarce with owners of accommodation cashing in on the fact that millions of us aren’t able to go abroad.
One alternative is to house swap or house sit a property.
You often don’t have to go at the same time as the owners of the house you’re staying in, you may be able to do it without letting out your own home, and the costs are significantly cheaper than traditional accommodation.
Jenni Regan, 43, has been on several house swapping holidays with her husband and daughter and has saved between £3,000 and £4,000 on accommodation costs over the past five years.
“I love that you find out far more about the local area than you usually would. And you have someone to look after your home (and cats) while you are away.
“We did a swap in the Wye Valley recently, not somewhere we had ever planned to go but it was gorgeous. A similar house in the area would have cost us around £800 but we did a straight swap so there was no extra cost (on top of our yearly fee of around £120).”
There are lots of different ways to house swap but if you choose to do it through a website, like LoveHomeSwap, Trusted Housesitters, or Housesitmatch the swap will be organised for you.
You’ll also be able to see reviews and photos of potential house swaps, speak to the people you’re arranging the swap with beforehand, and there’s an extra layer of security as members are vetted first and some background checks take place.
For this there is a fee, which is usually per swap or as an annual cost of around £120. But after this you shouldn’t pay anything for the actual swap.
Lamia Walker, director of Housesitmatch, 说: “Housesitting works on the premise that you offer an exchange of services. Free accommodation for free home and pet care. It’s a barter built on trust and your reputation.”
When it comes to costs, as a guest you’ll also need to factor in travel costs to the property. There may be a requirement to clean it when you leave, and to look after pets or plants, although all of this should be agreed before a swap takes place.
As someone letting their home out, you’ll have slightly more to think about.
Although most websites will vet members, you may also want to lock away anything valuable.
Most sites also have a process for when things go wrong, such as removing members and banning them from carrying out further sits.
Lamia adds: “As a homeowner you are naturally a little concerned about an unknown person coming into your home. We advise that homeowners put away any precious items that concern them, for fear of breakages especially. Put them away in a locked room to give you peace of mind.”
Jon Dickenson, 56, is also a keen house swapper after being encouraged to try one out by his daughter.
他说: “The difficulty is thinking about someone being in your home, but like AirBnB, there is a system of telling others what your guests were like and so this isn’t really a problem.
“We’d advise others to give it a go. It makes our holidays a lot easier in some respects, and also allows us to spend some of that money saved on other things whilst away, like nice dinners out.”
You’ll also need to think about “selling” your own home and making sure it’s as clean as possible, and owners often leave something for guests such as fresh milk, tea and coffee, or even a bottle of wine.
Jenni says if you’re letting your house out for a swap, you do need to put some work in.
“You do have to really ‘sell’ your home, good pictures, compelling information about you and your home.
“You need to leave your home clean and clear for any swap, we are learning as we go along about what is nice to have in the house. Things like nice bedding, fresh towels, nice toiletries,” she adds.
You may also want to look at your home insurance policy to find out what you’re covered for.
With LV, 例如, you’re allowed to house swap up to three times a year, if you do it through an official company. 然而, accidental damage, money, valuables, theft (unless a break in), and the visitor’s belongings won’t be covered.
Sarah Smith, spokesperson for LV, 说: “There are great cost-effective options like house swapping or house sitting, but it’s worth organising this through a specialised company to ensure your home insurance is still covered and you’re using someone trustworthy.”