Apartment Swapping

December 4, 2012

Mountain cabin with red door

By Koseli.

I’m fascinated with the idea of apartment swaps and home swaps. I’d love to trade with someone who lives in a secluded mountain town, or spend a summer biking and exploring in Stockholm or Copenhagen.

I’ve been kind of obsessed with the whole idea lately and found 3 helpful links if you’d like to share my passion. For those who want to swap into NYC, this Airbnb neighborhood guide is brilliant and will make you sound city smart. Here are some great tips for prepping for a swap. And for the more adventurous, tips for swapping internationally.

Would you ever try an apartment swap? Or does staying in a stranger’s home — and having them stay in yours! — creep you out?

P.S. — Dibs on a cabin with a red door.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michele December 4, 2012 at 10:28 am

My son and his wife used Airbnb exclusively while traveling in Germany last year. They loved it.

I’m certainly open to the idea but seriously, nobody wants to come to Houston in the summer. Winter is not too bad but not great either.


2 Koseli Cummings December 5, 2012 at 6:33 am

We’ve used Airbnb while traveling abroad and rent out our apartment in NYC for one or two week stints when we visit our families across the country. We love it. It’s super easy and the people that have stayed at our place are considerate, clean, and kind.


3 Jillian in Italy December 4, 2012 at 10:34 am

I have done a few swaps and I’ve had good experiences. But that’s not to say that there wasn’t that “ick” feeling every now and then. Having strangers stay in your home can feel pretty weird.

We even did a swap in Tokyo last spring and it was great. My advice is to skype with your fellow swappers to see what they’re really like.

(I wrote an article on our house-swapping experiences over on the blog Classic Play! http://www.classic-play.com/traveling-with-kids-house-swapping/)


4 Jess December 4, 2012 at 10:37 am

This time of year always makes me think of home swaps because of the ‘The Holiday’ film (you can have the one with the red door, as long as I get the one next door to Jude Law!)



5 Koseli Cummings December 5, 2012 at 6:32 am

Yes, I definitely thought of Holiday while writing this post.


6 Giulia December 4, 2012 at 11:45 am

oh. house swapping is the best thing we’ve ever done as a family. some reasons:
- nothing makes you feel cooler than walking around venice with grocery bags full of toilet paper in your comfy (well, THEIR comfy) rain boots when all the tourists are getting wet.
- especially with kids, if you want to go to a museum one afternoon or go to a concert one night, you can leave them home playing with the other family’s toys (they’ll love it).
- they might recommend you to read some of their books about the city. They’ll give you maps. And they’ll probably leave you some yummy local ingredients, like yummy cheese or maple syrup, so you can cook a special dinner one night.
- they tell you the local’s secrets and put you in contact with a few of their friends in case you need help or advice.
- you make so many friends. we were once invited to a neighbors’ party and, with the families we swapped with, we are still really good friends.
really. do it.


7 erin December 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I’ve been using Airbnb for over 2 years now and have been pretty happy with it. A tip to lower the ick factor- get separate linens, pillows, and towels that are only used by your guests. And a mattress cover!


8 Koseli Cummings December 5, 2012 at 6:34 am

Ditto that! We ask that they bring their own linens when we rent our place out. But I supply fresh pumpkin bread!


9 Katja February 11, 2014 at 4:40 am

Really late to reply, but I just came across this post and discussion via designmom.

I understand what you mean with the ick-feeling, but linens can be washed, and with them any feeling can wash away. For me the whole reason of renting via airbnb while traveling is NOT having to schlepp linens and towels with you. Sorry to say, but whoever feels this way probably is happier not sharing their home with others.

We have experienced both sides of airbnb (17 times we sublet our home, 9 times have we rented homes while travelling) and there was one bad hosting-experience (someone stole something), and one less than brillant stay in a provate home (not so clean). About the cleanliness: Same has been experienced in a hotel many times, it just happens.


10 ClumberKim December 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I would love to do a house swap with someone in England. Who wants to come to Pittsburgh for the 2014-15 school year?


11 Roxanne December 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I’ve never done it, but hope to. My home isn’t very big though but my family is.. It’s on my bucket list — kinda. Loved that movie The Holiday.


12 julie December 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I had a wonderful pastor 20 years ago who was “retired” (he couldn’t stop serving, just didn’t get paid!) but he and his wife did this home swap for several months at a time; one year in Hawaii, and one year, 1996, in London. They were able to travel and do what they love, and open their home to others.


13 Koseli Cummings December 5, 2012 at 6:35 am

oh that’s so cool, Julie!


14 Kristin December 5, 2012 at 5:38 am

Would love to do this! For those of use who think we live in an undesirable location (ie. me in suburban Minnesota) I recently read about a family that used house swap because they needed to be close to their son while he was recovering from surgery. It is not always for tourists. You never know who may want to come to your home town.


15 Koseli Cummings December 5, 2012 at 6:36 am

Great point, Kristin. I know there were many Airbnb hosts opening up their doors for Sandy victims—to stay on the couch or in a spare bedroom. Apartment swapping can be about much more than a vacation!


16 Jamie January 4, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I second that! My first use of AirBNB was to be near my brother at Upstate Medical Center after a near-fatal car crash. I would never have traveled to Syracuse in search of a house share otherwise, but it proved very comforting to be in a warm, cozy home with a private space during such a tough time.


17 Heather December 5, 2012 at 6:21 am

I did it when I had an apt on the UWS of Manhattan, and it was AMAZING! I swapped my little 1 bedroom for a truly outstanding apartment overlooking the harbor in Monaco! It was one of the best experiences of my life! You do have to be careful though, and I established communication over a period of time w/ the people I was trading with. I also stayed friendly with them which was a nice bonus. I used a service called homelink.


18 Koseli Cummings December 5, 2012 at 6:37 am

That sounds amazing. Apartment swapping into an exotic dream vacation? Yes please.


19 Mills December 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

For me, staying in an apartment elevates the travel experience from feeling like just an average tourist to settling into the life of a local, no matter how brief the stay in a place may be. Koseli, if you want to swap places for an alpine mountain town, you can totally swap with me! :)


20 thema jones December 9, 2012 at 6:26 am

what a cute line of clothing


21 Jennifer December 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I did an apartment swap with someone in Paris for a few months. It was wonderful and ended being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – I met my fiance while I was there! As it’s unlikely to find a Parisian who was interested in living in Calgary, I considered it ‘providential’ that the exchange happened. Someone up there is looking out for me!


22 Mina March 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm

I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do this!! I used to look up Parisian apartments all the time to swap with. Then I got married and had a baby. So, I stopped looking. : ) Someday! Someday!


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