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After months of working from home, James needed a change of scenery. So he and his dog Peggy took a working break in Pembrokeshire at member Jo's amazing property near the beach…

James has been an avid home swapper for over ten years, but since becoming a member of Love Home Swap three years ago, he’s enjoyed an even better quality of home swapping. While he and his wife have enjoyed multiple holiday home swaps, swapping their apartment in Richmond, UK and their main home in Bristol, it was the Covid-19 pandemic that prompted James to explore the concept of borrowing another home for a new short-term working environment. We caught up with James to find out how he found working from home on a swap, and how it has changed his outlook on future swaps too!

James’ dog Peggy enjoying the view from his working from home swap in Pembrokeshire


Why is home swapping a great way for you to travel?

“I’ve got a family home down in Clifton, Bristol, and I’ve got an apartment in Richmond, London. Generally the apartment is available at weekends because I go home to my family, so that creates an opportunity for other people to stay there. In fact, a Brazilian couple have moved into our flat in Richmond for a month, and in exchange they’ve done a non-simultaneous swap with us to Lisbon for thirty nights over the next two years! That requires a huge trust in each other, but the community has allowed us all to trust each other and just go with it. Also, I think the big thing about it is it just opens your eyes to other parts of the world and different areas of the world that you wouldn’t naturally explore.”


What made you decide to take a working holiday?

“I needed a change of a scene. Six months of being at home, in the same room, working from the same desk every day. I was missing the vibrancy of London and then when the Prime Minister said we might be locked up again for another six months or restricted, I decided it was my opportunity to change my environment. As long as there is a good Wi-Fi connection, fundamentally it doesn’t make a difference where I’m working from at the moment.”


Why do you prefer home swapping to hotels and holiday rentals?

“I personally love it, as there is a lot of business travel in my job, and I find checking into hotels a pretty soulless experience. I prefer the environment and the ease of swaps. Even with Jo, my host from last week, I feel like I now know something about her through texting, because you begin to understand why people love their homes!”


Did you find the Pembrokeshire home was suitable for working from home?

“Yes, the kitchen table overlooked the beach and it was only a three minute walk to the shore. In between video calls I could walk down to the beach, and listen to the surf. The owner even let my small dog Peggy come down during the week, and then my wife joined us at the weekend. The Wi-Fi worked, and I could go for a walk on the beach after being on a conference call, plus I went surfing a couple of times. There’s also a pub 50 yards away where I could have a drink at the end of the day, so it was a pretty good working from home week!

I’ve got a reasonable set-up in Clifton, with a room which overlooks the garden – but six months of overlooking the garden versus six days of looking the ocean is a different thing!”


The beach near James’ working from home swap


Did a change of scene improve your work productivity?

“I think it probably did. When I’m working from home in Bristol, I’m on conference calls that are back-to-back and this was a break where I could recharge. Also, it makes you start thinking about how you want to live your life in the future, now that some businesses have found that they can run while working from home. I’d now love to buy a property in Pembrokeshire. I thought it was absolutely stunning!”


Would you recommend a ‘work from home swap’ to other members?

“Definitely. You have to be patient as it doesn’t always work out. It’s about being open and not having preconceived ideas about time and places. I’ve enjoyed travelling all my life, but Pembrokeshire was only two hours from my life in Bristol and I’d never been. I’ve lived in Bondi Beach in Australia, but I didn’t know that somewhere as fabulous as Pembrokeshire was so close to my house. Love Home Swap helped me find that.”


Do you think you'll take another working from home swap?

“Yes, I am hoping it will be in November, depending on travel restrictions. I’m thinking about going to a lake in Finland for a week to work from home there. I never thought of going there before but if travel allows it, I think it might be my next move.”

James and Peggy enjoying the surf on their home swap


If you'd like to share your swap story, get in touch and share your swap snaps on social using #welovehomeswap.

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