Anne works for one of the landlords who have signed up to HomeSwapper. She helps their tenants find out all about HomeSwapper – a job perfect for her, as she herself has used HomeSwapper to find a new home in the past. Read her story here:
I have personal experience of just how HomeSwapper can improve lives. In our early fifties, we found ourselves living in a 3-bedroom council house with a large garden. The kids had all left home and we had no pets. Gardening was becoming a chore, and cleaning unused rooms had never been my favourite job! Our parents were beginning to struggle with their homes, and sorting out suitable sheltered housing for my in-laws involved a fair amount of stress for us.
We sat down and had that crucial downsizing discussion. Then we signed up for HomeSwapper. Being in the ‘trade’ I knew how it worked, but experiencing it as a tenant really opened my eyes. We had contacts from other users who had clearly not read what we wanted, and it was tough saying no.
We viewed several flats where families were overcrowded and desperate to move and felt awful when we said their home wasn’t quite what we were looking for. We set out to only view homes where users had included photos, and stuck to our guns about only looking at ground floor properties – we wanted to ‘future proof’ our home and stairs didn’t feature in that. We realised we were being quite picky, but we intended this to be our last move.
After a couple of months, we realised we’d probably seen a good cross-section of the homes available, so maybe we needed to broaden our horizons. Our ad said we were looking for a ground floor flat with a bit of a garden and within 15 minutes’ walk of the town centre. So how did we end up looking at a third floor flat with large balcony, that only had a picture of the outside of the block on HomeSwapper?! Not only that, as an affordable rent property, the rent was higher than we were paying for our house.
We’d gone looking outside the box. It did meet two of our criteria – location and size – so we agreed there was nothing lost in looking at it. We now live there!
From my perspective, I’m glad the previous tenants didn’t post pictures, as it would probably have been snapped up much sooner. I refer to it as our ‘penthouse’. There are large windows, the wrap-around balcony catches the sun in the afternoon and is big enough for a small garden sofa corner unit and pots to grow veg in. There is a lift, a door entry system and we are not overlooked by anyone.
It took a few weeks to process the paperwork as it was not all straightforward, but in the end, we signed up. To make moving day easier, we agreed with our removers to store our stuff in their van for a couple of days and we stayed in a local hotel. This meant both homes were empty to move into and we weren’t fighting to use the lift.
What about our swap partners? Since moving they’ve now had another baby and so are enjoying the space even more!
Thank you so much, Anne, for sharing your experience. It’s great to know that HomeSwapper worked so well for you and your experience is a perfect example of why we are always advising swappers to be flexible and consider as many options as possible when looking for a new home.