Strangers in my home?
It is quite natural to be hesitant about inviting people we don’t know to stay in our homes. Just don’t forget your exchange partner, no doubt shares your own anxieties. With careful communication however, the reality of home swapping is very different. Swapping your home involves first establishing a friendship based on mutual trust. As your communication develops through emails, photographs and phone calls, you begin to get to know each other and your growing friendship builds the trust that your home will be in safe hands. Just remember....
Strangers only remain strangers until they become friends.
“We’ve done ten home exchanges over the past 3 years. The worst that’s happened is our garden watering can got broken. And our guests left the money to buy a new one! I tell our insurance company the dates we’re exchanging and they note the dates – but don’t charge anything. They recognise that a home is much safer with guests in than being left empty.”
HATW imposes no rules or boundaries, except that our members are respectful of other people, their homes and their possessions. And that’s not too much to ask.
Stephanie and her 'special friendship' with Koos & Cees in Amsterdam
...On Home Around the World I scoured the ads for listings in Amsterdam wanting to exchange with New York City. I used to live in Brooklyn with Lisa in the newly trendy neighborhood of Bushwick, but we've since moved to Manhattan.
I found Koos and Cees on Home Around The World and proposed a swap for our humble Brooklyn pad with their two-story townhouse in De Pijp. They could do only two weeks in the U.S. and we needed four weeks in Amsterdam. They graciously proposed that we stay in their guest room after they returned.
We barely knew these guys, expect for Koos having stopped by on a layover from a KLM flight he was working.
However, we became very, very close during our stay – often sharing dinner, walking around Amsterdam and having a midnight coffee together, us meeting their local friends and them meeting our expat pals, going to gay bars. We share a love of great coffee and good food, 80s music, queer culture, ribald comedy, architecture, biking, traveling, other adventures, and so much more. They took us to the beach in Bloemendaal, Lisa visited Cees’ school where he is principal, and Koos rented a car and drove us to Alkmaar when it was time to leave. I stayed with them last year for two weeks and went to their wedding!
It’s a very special friendship Lisa and I have with Koos and Cees that flourishes across continents and they are never far from my mind.
The complete article On Home Swaps & Special Friendships appears on Stephanie’s blog post.
Koos & Cees' review of their home swap with Stephanie & Lisa in New York
Some home swaps are just great, some are super, but rarely does it happen that the friendship that comes out of the home swap becomes even more important that the swap itself. And this is what happened to us during our extended exchange with Lisa and Stephanie. Don't get me wrong, their home was great, the location, just super, but to share it with them made it all the better. For those interested in exchanging with them, their house has place for two comfortably and four if you squeeze in a little bit.
Everything you need is there or in the neighborhood. Then again, even though the laundry station is just a little walk and easy to do, they left us laundry cards to make it even easier. That was just one of the small and bigger things they left for us to make us feel welcome, and we did.
Their neighborhood is really interesting and if you are a trend watcher, this is the new Williamsburg, shops and restaurants just popping up while we were there, a great mixture of people as well. Just read their blog and you get the picture.
Lisa and Stephanie are great people, a joy to have around. They stayed with us, while we were already back from our vacation and we had a very pleasurable time, they doing their thing, we doing ours and getting together when suitable for all of us. They are warm hearted, fun to be with and interesting to listen and talk to. Lisa and Stephanie, thanks for coming into our lives. We will miss you here and look forward to seeing you soon again.
Koos & Cees' HOME AROUND THE WORLD home swap listing in beautiful Amsterdam.
Stephanie & Lisa’s review of their home swap with Koos & Cees in Amsterdam
We met Koos & Cees on HATW noting that they wanted to visit NYC. After my inquiry in August, 2013 and their positive response, we had extensive email exchanges. Koos even visited us in Brooklyn when he was in NYC for an overnight flight. We became very friendly - sharing ideas and tips about our respective cities.
In April/May 2014, we finally exchanged our Brooklyn, NY apartment with Koos & Cees for their beautiful two-story townhouse in the center of Amsterdam for 2-1/2 weeks in April/May 2014. Their location is perfect, their home is extremely well appointed, and Lisa & I felt very welcome and very supported there.
We needed to stay in Amsterdam for a longer period of time, so they kindly invited us to stay, as an extension of our exchange, in their guest room, which had a kitchen of its own and all the necessary amenities – including a balcony! We enjoyed socializing with Koos & Cees, but also respecting boundaries and all having private time from each other, too.
It was a wonderful balance, and we became friends – and more importantly, family. The home exchange family is broad, and we meet folks all the time who touch us, but Koos & Cees are very special indeed.
Stephanie & Lisa's HOME AROUND THE WORLD home swap listing in exciting New York.