For almost all of our home exchanges we swapped our house in Dedham, Massachusetts. Last year we swapped our Emmaus, Pennsylvania, house for the first time.
Dedham and Emmaus are very different places, but in terms of home exchanges they have one thing in common—they aren’t places like Paris, London, or New York that are at the top of everyone’s “must-see” list of destinations.
Dedham’s top attractions (according to TripAdvisor) are Legacy Place (a mall), the Fairbanks House (a home from the 1600s), and downtown Dedham (shops and restaurants). Not bad places, but you could see them all in a day—two if you really took your time.
In Emmaus, we have two top-billed craft breweries and a Wildlands Conservatory rounding out our top three. Again, great places, but not a draw for a weeks-long home swap.
But here’s the thing. Home exchangers are explorers. They want to see new sites, try new foods, and explore new areas. Include the right details in your listing, and they’ll be intrigued.
Start with the things you like to do, close to home. What do you do with a free day? We might visit a local winery, shop at the Allentown Farmers’ Market, or go to an Iron Pigs baseball game.
What do other people in your area do for fun? We’re not into art museums, but there’s one in Allentown and a bunch more in Philadelphia.
We don’t go camping, but there are lots of great places that people love. We don’t shop much, either, but there are some nice outlet malls nearby. When we exchanged with a family from Ireland their four teenagers brought an extra suitcase each so they could take home the bargains they found.
Include kids’ activities. Our kids are getting older, but lots of families with younger kids are looking to exchange. In our listing we point out that a big amusement park, Dorney Park, is nearby. There’s also a trampoline park, an escape room, go-karts, laser tag, and movie theaters.
Add in day trips, with drive times. From Dedham, our exchange partners could explore Boston’s historical sites, visit the beaches of Cape Cod, and take a boat out onto the ocean and try to spot whales. From Emmaus they can check out Philadelphia’s museums and restaurants, hike the Poconos, and see a different culture in Amish country.
Don’t forget one- or two-night getaways. What cities and sites can people reach in a few hours? For us, that includes New York City, the Jersey Shore, Washington DC, and Baltimore.
Look at your home and neighborhood from the outside. Your exchange partners might want to go for walks, or ride bikes, or grill in the yard and let the kids play outside. European kids accustomed to city life love the open space of the American suburbs—we still talk about the year when our partners’ kids got out of the car in front of our house and just ran around the outside of the house in circles like puppies.