Last Updated on March 15, 2020 by Kirsten Raccuia

Learn from Our Mistakes Before Your First Home Exchange

By now you are probably sick of me droning on about the wonderful concept of home exchanging. Well, it is awesome, but it doesn’t come without a learning curve.

Since we are new to this whole concept, there are few things that we didn’t think about; don’t make the same mistakes or overlook things as we did.

Here are six considerations when you are planning your first home exchange.

Is the area seasonal?

tips for home exchange, what not to do

One of the cute shops of Mykonos

It never dawned on me that the Greek islands would shut down at any time. I know now that islands like Mykonos and Santorini have slower periods, but tourism continues year-round there. Not is Syros. Our island all but shuts down until Easter and in some neighborhoods, until June. Ours, of course, is June. There is absolutely nothing open within walking distance except a bus station.

Which brings me to my next point…


Will you need to rent a car? We knew there were buses and planned on using them to get around, which would help keep our costs down. But those buses only run three times a day. Some days the last bus is at 4:30 pm, which means we can’t go for dinner in town unless we take a taxi home for 17 euros (a rental car is E25). So do more research than we did, get the actual schedules if you can, and make sure those aren’t seasonal as well. Or better yet, try to find a place in town so you can walk everywhere.


Most places (especially second homes) will not have any food items in the house, so if you are planning to cook, then you will need to stock the fridge. We are staying at this home on Syros for three weeks, we certainly can’t go out for every meal, so we went out and bought supplies. You might need to buy toilet paper, olive oil, soap, drinking water, etc.

If there is food, it might be left over from the last exchanger. Or if it is a first home, it could be the host’s, so be sure to replace what you use or at least ask.


Is there Wi-Fi in the house? If you plan to work while traveling, you will need good internet and while that is something we have grown accustomed to, not everyone thinks that way.  If it is a second home, there might not be any internet available at all. So, if it’s essential to you, make sure you investigate that on the home exchange site before you choose a home. If there is internet, how good/fast is it? It could be a surprise expense if you don’t do your homework first.


Us in our warmest clothes, pretending we aren't freezing our asses off.

Us in our warmest clothes, pretending we aren’t freezing our asses off.

Check the weather. Sound stupid, I know but we kind of glanced over that part in our planning. We got so excited about going to Greece that we failed to think about how cold 50 degrees actually is.  We knew it would be cooler in April/May, but there have been some days that it was colder in Syros than in Chicago! Now that is messed up. Just because we are on an island doesn’t mean it’s hot…

It is NOT a hotel

It is totally different living in a home and playing house than staying in a hotel. No one is going to replenish your coffee daily and give you new towels. There is no one to clean up after you except you.

But on the other hand, you have the run of the entire house. If you want to fry bacon naked, then go for it… I don’t recommend that, but hey, it’s your holiday! It is your home for a while, so make it yours.

But just remember to leave the home nicer than when you got there. Don’t leave a mess. This is someone’s home. You certainly wouldn’t want to come home to someone else’s mess.

Hopefully, this post has given you some things to consider when looking for your first exchange. Don’t get so excited that you overlook some of the finer, or in our case more significant, details.  Learn from our mistakes, and your first home exchange will be perfect.

Let me know in the comments if you have done any home exchanges



    You’ve really piqued my interest in the home exchange concept. I’ve done over 40 AirBnBs around the world but if I choose to go somewhere to stay for a few months this sounds perfect. I submitted my condo in Thailand to, but I was wondering if you know of any other organizations that do this type of service and if you’ve heard good or bad things about them. Thanks!

    • Kirsten Raccuia

      Hi Michael!

      SO exciting that you’ve sighed up!

      Yes, Airbnb can get crazy $$$ if you plan to stay for months. Home exchange is the perfect solution. There are plenty of other websites that offer the same concept. However, I know NOTHING about any of them, so I don’t feel comfortable recommending them. I would just do a quick google search and also search for reviews for each company.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Eric Hungerford

    Hi Kristen. Good to hear of your adventures. We made the same mistake going to Malta from Malaysia. The winter was cold!
    We didn’t have enough warm clothes and the apartment was built to be cool in the hot summer. We worn coats inside as the extra gas and electricity was not in our budget.
    We are home in Oregon now after 3 months in Vietnam teaching volunteer English. We will head out again in September. Larisa is getting serious about selling our San Diego home and buying a place in Italy to use as homebase. I’m still wanting to build a tree house in Oregon as our homebase. Planning!!

    • Kirsten Raccuia

      Oh no! We actually had to get oil to heat the place we were staying in. It was a stone home so it was also built to be cool in the summer. I can’t believe how fast those three months went by!

      Do it! Buy a house in Italy so we can come for a visit! Or home exchange with you!


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