Member Stories - Jill Chapman

Jill Chapman and her family have three homes - including a converted barn near Plymouth in the UK and a ski chalet in Morzine, in the French Alps, which they have converted into two self-contained apartments. Jill works as a sports physio. She lives in Morzine during the ski season with her husband and four children aged 6, 10, 13 and 14. She has been a Love Home Swap member since 2012.

How many times have you swapped through Love Home Swap?

Three times so far, with several more in the pipeline for this summer. We have some swap points in the bank as well. Love Home Swap has generated a lot of interest for our properties.

Did you have any reservations before doing your first swap?

I was mainly worried that the house wouldn't meet people's expectations, or wouldn't be clean enough. Also whether people would look after it, break the kids' toys or damage things. You do have to be quite trusting.

What have been the highlights of your swaps?

They have all been fantastic for different reasons. We have met some wonderful people through our swaps.
We swapped our ski chalet with a family who had a beach house near Falmouth. It was such a wonderful experience kayaking every day and playing cricket on the sand. They had a cat that we looked after while we were there. We loved it!

We also had a fantastic time in Planes, near Barcelona. The house had spectacular harbour views. There was quite a big group of us, as we also took my godson and his family. Because it was so well located, we could all do our own thing. It wasn't at all touristy and we felt completely immersed in local life.

Last October we went to Port La Galère in the South of France. The apartment had tennis courts, a swimming pool and a high diving board which the kids spent hours on!

What do you look for in your home swaps?

A house has to be big enough to accommodate a family of six plus friends. We also prefer to drive - flying is expensive for us. We like to do things which are different from our normal daily activities.

What are the benefits to your family of choosing home swapping for your holidays?

You can get innovative with the swap points, which opens up more opportunities. You see different places without having to pay for accommodation. I value the local knowledge and the insider tips such as the best beaches or restaurants. Swapping means you make less mistakes.

There is often a friendly neighbour at hand to help you. It makes it a far more authentic travelling experience - more real than a hotel with lots of English speaking people.

Home swapping seemed like a great way to leverage our property. Although we could rent our property out for a lot, swapping saves us the hassle of moving all our stuff out. It's also great financially - you don't have the tax implications of renting your property out, plus I reckon we have saved between £1000 and £4000 per swap.

Any downsides?

You have to have the expectation that swapping someone's house is not akin to staying in a hotel. We did have one swapper who was annoyed when the wifi didn't work for a couple of days and one swapper phoned me a lot before they booked their flights. I think they were worried our house didn't exist.

What advice would you give someone thinking about embarking on their first home swap?

It's important to get the cleaning arrangements clear from the outset. Cleaning and laundry is expensive in the Alps.

Prior communication is very important. Make sure they know where the key will be or who is meeting them. It's helpful to send a picture showing the location. Tell them where not to park to avoid upsetting your neighbours. Tell your neighbours that you are doing the house swap. Make sure there is space in the cupboards for people to hang their clothes. And make sure they have the correct wifi details!

Why did you choose Love Home Swap?

It feels lively, full of colour and imagery. It's also very user-friendly. I was impressed with the standard of the homes and exciting locations on Love Home Swap. You can find really quirky and unusual properties on it - house boats, estates, you name it. I even spotted a renovated water tower in London. Some houses have really interesting furniture or clever gadgets and solutions which gives ideas for your own house.

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