A Guide to House Swapping Sites

  |  December 2, 2011

Need I bother mentioning craigslist.org? Well, I just did. Personally, I would list my pad with them if I were going to do this in earnest (and I’m definitely thinking about it). But there are professional house swapping websites, which charge a fee and force swappers and swapees to include some personal information, which may make you feel better about letting a stranger into your home, or venturing up to a stranger’s pad. So here are a few:

HomeExchange.com is $9.95/month if you sign up for a year, and $15.95/month if you want to only commit to three months. They say if you don’t find a home swapping partner in that first year that you’ll get the second year free (of course, if it didn’t work for you, why would you want to do it for another year?). You have to show that you honestly tried, by uploading photos of your pad and sending at least five inquiries. They have over 40,000 listings, and they have a special listings sections for seniors, which I appreciate since my job-job is editing an online magazine for hip older folks. The first listing I saw under “recent listings” was a two-bed in Park Slope, so clearly some New Yorkers are using this service, but after that was Hong Kong, Tuscany and London.

So how about upstate New York real estate for house swapping? I did a search for four-beds in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, thinking it would be nice to take some friends along with us if we swap. Came up with one listing, in an “upscale family neighborhood” in New Paltz.

This place has the opposite problem of all the others: not enough exterior photos! It certainly sounds suburban, and I can’t tell from the photos just how much of a country retreat it is. Also, they prefer to go to France or Quebec, so may not be dreaming of a two-bedroom in East Harlem!

More houses and more info on home swap websites on the jump.

When I broadened my search to include smaller pads, I came up with this one in Hillsdale, NY, which has a pool and jacuzzi tub! Very private, and, of course, Hillsdale is great, if a bit far for my taste (if you’re leaving from uptown, then it’s really great).

There are no preferred destinations listed, and it says the owners actually live nearby and split their time between NY and Hillsdale, so you’ll have to inquire to see what’s up!

Homeforexchange.com is a little less user friendly, and a little daunting when it comes to New York State real estate. There are hundreds of properties listed in New York City — folks looking to swap their Manhattan and Brooklyn pads for houses elsewhere — but only a handful of upstate New York housing swaps. It’s cheaper than Homeexchange.com — $59 for one year, and has an international focus.

This one in Halcottsville caught my eye — a lodge with three beds, in search of some summer swaps.

ExchangeAway.com was easy to use but didn’t have a wealth of upstate offers, either, and none of those folks were particularly interested in a New York City housing exchange — they all want to go to Jakarta or Tunisia or someplace more exotic than Brooklyn. Sigh. It’s still worth a try. No reason even these seasoned travelers wouldn’t want at least a weekend in the country. I liked the looks of this one, on nine acres outside of Woodstock, NY. Their destination of choice is France…but we can recommend some good French cuisine in Kings County.

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