House swapping is a great way to take a holiday just about anywhere without a huge accommodation expense. With 100's of homes up for exchange in Perth and thousands of swap options around the world, home swap is the perfect budget get-away.
Preparing your home for a house swap doesn't need to be a mammoth task. The whole point of the concept is your guests can enjoy their holiday in a relaxed home environment rather than a sterile hotel, so stripping it down to the bare essentials is unnecessary. There are a few simple things you can do to ensure your guests feel right at home at your place.
1. Clean and tidy
Give your home a good clean and tidy up. Everyone appreciates staying in a well-kept space. If cleaning's not your thing enlist the services of a professional cleaner before your guests arrive.
There are some great home organisational specialists around like Finer Details Concierge and Organiser Services who offer de-cluttering and organising services, plus they can provide a professional opinion on what to leave out and what to put in storage.
The same goes for the garden. Have a good spruce up: trim the hedges, mow the lawn and pull the weeds. There's no need to go overboard just ensure the garden looks well-kept. Again, if gardening is not your thing paying a garden care company could be a great investment.
2. Clear space
Clear out space in the wardrobes, shelves, and drawers so your guests can unpack and put things away. This applies to the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
3. Store away personal items and valuables
There will always be some things you don't want to leave out for visitors to use. Safely store all your personal items and valuables away in a lockable cupboard, or for extra peace-of-mind, off-site in a storage unit. This will help free up room for your guests to unpack.
4. How to list
Create a 'how to' list which includes all the basics, even if you may think they're obvious.
Include how to use the:
- washing machine / dryer
- microwave / oven
- pool gate (you'd be surprised)
- PVR / video / DVD player
- air conditioner or heater
- security system
- home automation systems
- garage door / automatic gate
Ensure you add instructions on how to turn off the water at the mains and the power off at the switchboard, plus what to do if the safety switch goes off.
5. Organise upkeep
It can be a good idea to organise someone to come around while you're away to take care of the garden and pool if the stay is for more than a week or two. You'll know it's being done well, and your guests don't have to take time out of their holiday to work out the lawn mower or pool systems.
Don't forget to let your guests know when the bins need to go out.
6. Find it list
It could make perfect sense to you to store the vacuum out of the way in the garage, but to others, this might not be the logical place to keep it. Write up a 'Find it' list of where the main things your guests could need are, eg. towels, sheets, hairdryer, etc.
7. Organise the pantry
Your guests will appreciate your generosity and planning if you leave the basics in the fridge and cupboards so they have the essentials for the first day or two till they get to the shops. Having things like tea, coffee, oil, flour, sugar, salt and pepper, and dry herbs on hand will make life a whole lot easier for your home swappers. In most cases, guests will replace what they use.
And toilet paper, don't forget extra toilet paper.
8. Where to go
If you've ever missed out on a great attraction or suffered through a dodgy meal you'll know having a local's insider knowledge about an area can make or break a holiday. Jot down a list, including directions, of where to go for different items they might need such as groceries, petrol, hardware items, clothes, etc. As a bonus, you could include special places to visit and the pick of the restaurants in your area.
Ok, the lists are getting a little bit out of hand but it's the best way to ensure your home is cared for and your guests have an enjoyable stay. Plus, it means they won't have to contact you every time they need to ask a question.
9. Emergency contacts list
The emergency contact list can include a friend or neighbour who is happy to help out with the small hiccups, as well as phone numbers for a doctor, hospital, electrician, plumber, 000 (fire dept., ambulance or police), your pool maintenance company, etc.
10. Pay your bills
Make sure your bills like power, gas, insurance etc are up to date. Organise the post office to hold your mail or get a friend or neighbour to empty the mailbox regularly.
Are you an experienced house swapper? If there's any extra advice you can add to this list for new house exchanger's we'd love to hear about it in the comments below. Happy house swapping!