Home exchange, also known as house swapping, is a form of lodging in which two parties agree to offer each other homestays for a set period of time. Since no monetary exchange takes place, it is a form of barter, collaborative consumption, and sharing. Home exchange can cover any type of residence including apartments, houses, holiday cottages, boats, or recreational vehicles. It can include an exchange of the entire home or just a room. The length of the swap can vary from a weekend to over a year. The swap can be simultaneous or non simultaneous. Home exchanges are usually arranged via specific types of social networking services, most of which charge a fee.[1][2]

Like all homestays, home exchanges offer several advantages over hotel lodging, including a lower cost and opportunities for cultural diplomacy and friendship.[3][4][5][6]

Some networks offer the ability to collect a security deposit.[7]

Summer is traditionally the peak season for house swapping, as families travel during school breaks.[4]


Organized home exchange originated in 1953 with the creation of Intervac International by a group of European teachers looking to travel internationally economically during their summer breaks.[8] That same year, teacher David Ostroff created a home exchange network called "Vacation Exchange Club" (now HomeLink) in New York City.[9]

In 1992, Ed Kushins started what is now HomeExchange.com after a home exchange experience in Washington D.C. In 1995, he moved the business to the internet.[10][11][12]

In 1999, home exchange was estimated to be growing at 15-20% per year.[13] In 2010, home exchange networks were continuing to experience rapid growth.[14]

Academic research

Home exchange has been a subject of sociological studies, geographical and tourism studies, culture studies and peace studies. In 2008 it became also the subject of information and information security studies.[15]

Information studies

The 2008 study by Julia Maria Koszewska explored "the role of information in modern society, particularly onaccess to information and information management as prerequisites for participative and democratic society".[15] This was done by study of history of home exchange movement and its initiatives, websites, and functionality expressed by users experiences shared with the researcher.

Participant demographics

Participants tend to be well-educated and well-traveled. Home exchanges are popular with teachers during school holidays, particularly during the summer,[16] and with senior citizens, who have more time to travel.[17]

A 2013 study by the University of Bergamo showed that participants were more skewed to higher age groups, with 28.3% aged 45–54, 18.7% 65+ and only 5.9% under age 34.[18] The study showed that 84.3% of respondents seek out museums and nature, 67% value environmentally-friendly tourism, and 98% express interest in cultural heritage. Fair trade food (63%) and organic food (73%) are also important.[18] The study noted the strong degree of trust necessary in collaborative consumption, with 75% agreeing that most people are trustworthy. 93% were satisfied with their experience, with 81% having swapped homes more than once.[18]


Home exchange services encompass various brands facilitating the exchange of residential properties for temporary stays. Several prominent companies operate in this domain:


Homeexchange.com stands as the largest global service of its kind, boasting a substantial network of over 450,000 homes worldwide. Established in the 1990s, this platform requires an annual fee of $175 for its services.[19]


Kindred employs a distinctive "give and get" model. Members, whether homeowners or renters, both host and become guests, earning nights in other members' homes for each night they accommodate guests.[20]


Notably, ThirdHome distinguishes itself as an upscale home exchange community exclusive to second-home owners.[21] Unlike other services such as Homeexchange.com and Kindred, which admit primary residences, ThirdHome's membership is restricted to individuals with secondary residences.[22]

ThirdHome, in operation for over a decade, boasts a membership exceeding 16,000 with properties located in more than 100 countries. This platform also sets itself apart by establishing partnerships with resort and residence club brands, providing unique opportunities for its members.[23]

Popular culture

Home exchange was the subject of the 2006 romantic comedy The Holiday, directed by Nancy Meyers and starring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black and Jude Law.[24]

Permanent home exchange

There are several situations in which people have exchanged homes permanently:


  1. ^ Costello, Caroline (31 January 2013). "10 things you need to know about home swapping". USA Today.
  2. ^ Miller, Shelley (7 February 2013). "8 Easy Ways to Choose a Home Swap Club and Enjoy a Dream Vacation for Half the Price". The Huffington Post.
  3. ^ Jackson, Kimberly L. (1 March 2008). "On Holiday with Vacation Home Exchange". The Star-Ledger.
  4. ^ a b Rosenbloom, Stephanie (29 June 2006). "At Home in the World". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Lloyd, Carol (11 November 2003). "Life Swapping". San Francisco Chronicle.
  6. ^ Bopp, Suzanne (18 July 2012). "5 Steps to a Successful Home Exchange". Fodor's.
  7. ^ Millard, Rosie (21 February 2013). "House swap holidays: advice and tips". The Daily Telegraph.
  8. ^ "Facts About Intervac".
  9. ^ "HomeLink".
  10. ^ Kushins, Ed (14 July 2012). "Prepared in the Pacific". The New York Times.(subscription required)
  11. ^ Martín, Hugo (29 April 2012). "Ed Kushins' home exchange firm began as a hobby". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Virship, Amy (2 January 2015). "Home Exchange 101". The New York Times.(subscription required)
  13. ^ Russo, Francine (8 November 1999). "House Swapping". Time. Archived from the original on 11 February 2005.
  14. ^ Trejos, Nancy (13 June 2010). "Some travelers choose strangers' houses over hotels". The Washington Post.
  15. ^ a b Koszewska, Julia Maria (2008). Gift, Exchange and Trust: Information (its role, management and access to information) in modern society on the example of free-hospitality networks (Masters thesis). University of Warsaw – via Academia.edu.
  16. ^ Woulfe, Nuala (8 June 2015). "House swapping - Stepping into somebody's else's life". Irish Examiner.
  17. ^ "Seniors find creative ways to travel cheaply". The Dallas Morning News. 11 September 2015.
  18. ^ a b c "My House Is Yours" (PDF). University of Bergamo. May–June 2013.
  19. ^ Eckstein, Nikki (3 October 2016). "How to Make Money From Your Second Home Without Lifting a Finger". Bloomberg News.
  20. ^ Patnaude, Art (4 September 2014). "Mansion Swap: Luxury Vacationers Are Trading Places". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660.
  21. ^ Vora, Shivani (17 March 2020). "Vacation Home Swapping for the Very Wealthy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 September 2023.
  22. ^ Bulseco, Donna (11 January 2019). "The Secret to Scoring a Vacation Home That's (Practically) Free". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 20 September 2023.
  23. ^ Hopkins, Kathryn (8 September 2014). "If you've got a luxury house standing empty, join the club". The Times.
  24. ^ Baxter-Wright, Dusty (10 December 2017). "16 things you didn't know about The Holiday". Cosmopolitan.
  25. ^ Levitz, Jennifer (8 February 2008). "Slow Market Prompts Some People to Try House Swapping". Chicago Tribune.
  26. ^ "How to permanently trade your home for another property - FAQs". Zillow. 6 June 2008.
  27. ^ Farnsworth, Amy (23 March 2009). "Can't sell your house in this market? Trade it". Christian Science Monitor.
  28. ^ Cavaglieri, Chiara (21 March 2009). "When there's no way out, try a home swap". The Independent.
  29. ^ "Swapping your council or housing association home". DirectGov.
  30. ^ Castaneda, Antonio (28 July 2006). "Iraqis House-Swapping to Escape Violence". The Washington Post.