Swapping Homes Anybody?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Fair Balance

We're still undecided whether this is a rotten window frame or just one that hasn't been painted in years. This is the master bedroom French window nextto the mattress on the floor and there is black mold on the ceiling right above it. Is that an indication?
A reader commented that she found the idea of home swapping outright scary. Well, if you look at the bad examples of pictures we chose, I agree.
I went through the website's discussion board trying to get a feel for what people worry most about home swaps. They discuss whether food should be left for the exchange partners. Good idea to provide for a breakfast if they arrive late. Bad idea if they leave half eaten plates and outdated items in the fridge. Most agree it goes without saying that staples like pasta, salt etc. should be up for grabs if needed. But doesn't courtesy indicate you replace those?
Another subject was  whether and how to change the sheets and whether to launder them. Given that most flights tend to leave early, departure day is always hectic.For everyone. Our French partners had left us clean sheets on the bed. Nice, but coming in late at night one isn't happy to make the beds.That's why I had the idea of having a cleaner do this for us and them--and see how it went wrong. Next time lucky! I hope. A matter of concern also was whether to iron the sheets.Admittedly they look better ironed and some of our French ones were. Others needn't be ironed depending on the fabric. According to the boards discussion, the Italians and French put big emphasis on them being ironed. My grandmother used to do it. At least we had bought a second set for each of our three bedrooms. So if not ironed, at least they matched and fit. Nobody discussed leaking pipes, sliding toilet seats, or broken toilet roll dispensers.
Most participants were happy campers, had done many an exchange and were looking forward to the next. If, however, people are just happy (there were a few) to have a roof over their heads and room to cook a meal without having to go to a restaurant every day, they will not understand my complaints. I do not want to lower my standards that much. In my view it all depends on what you have to offer in exchange. There needs to be a fair balance. Having started looking again yesterday--yes, already!-- for next year, after I signed in to the discussion board and updated our site as requested, we will be more vigilant. In contrast do some people who asked me here: "Are all French dirty?" I do not think so and we'll keep trying. Monsieur said he would pay the ON DEMAND TV bill asap. I hope it's not too 'delicate'!
My Advice  for Home Swapping Sites: Start a rating system similar to Trip adviser. And to home swappers #7: Do not run a hotel! We had too many visitors: Friends, family, children. No matter how exciting the location, no matter how much you want to see them all when it's so convenient for everybody. They still want to be entertained, taken out while you run a household, strip beds for the next guests, clean, do the shopping and cooking. At least I did. Get some free time and relax enjoying what you have. I was almost ready for a vacation afterwards....}

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