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After years working for a home swapping site, I finally did my first home swap. And here’s what I thought...
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After years working for a home swapping site, I finally did my first home swap. And here’s what I thought...

Ellena Morgan
By Ellena Morgan - 9 minute read

Ellena has been part of the Love Home Swap team since 2017, so she’s well-versed in how to help our mem­bers arrange and enjoy the best home swap­ping expe­ri­ences. But with­out a home of her own to swap on the site, she had nev­er home swapped her­self… until recent­ly! Find out how she exchanged her life in Lon­don for a cosy fisherman’s cot­tage on the Cor­nish coast for her first ever home swap.

I knew every­thing about home swap­ping – with­out actu­al­ly hav­ing done it myself! 

I joined Love Home Swap as a recent grad­u­ate back in 2017, where­upon I launched my career in the mem­ber­ship team. This involved speak­ing to new­ly-joined mem­bers and chat­ting to them about all things home swap­ping. I then joined the Mar­ket­ing team where I still work today in a small but mighty team deliv­er­ing email cam­paigns, social media ads, con­tent for our blog and much more.

Yet despite being part of Love Home Swap team for years, I’d nev­er expe­ri­enced a home swap myself. This is main­ly due to the fact as a grad­u­ate liv­ing in Zone 2 Lon­don, my accom­mo­da­tion has con­sist­ed of rent­ing rooms in var­i­ous house shares, so I haven’t been able to offer up a home of my own to oth­er mem­bers. How­ev­er, when Love Home Swap launched their employ­ee mem­ber­ship scheme, (which enables employ­ees who may not have homes them­selves to swap for Points) I knew I had to jump on the chance to expe­ri­ence the home swap­ping lifestyle.

Solo trip Cornwall Frans Trepen cottage in Mousehole 2 min

Fran’s cot­tage Trepen’ was the per­fect hide­away for a week long home swap in Cornwall

Organising my first home swap was a surprisingly simple process.

As this was my first swap, I want­ed to keep it local by stay­ing in the UK. Liv­ing in Lon­don, I was keen to escape some­where rur­al for some much-need­ed peace and qui­et. I was after a coastal break, so I start­ed look­ing for home swaps in Corn­wall, specif­i­cal­ly the wild west’ which I love for its dra­mat­ic, rugged coast­line. This is my favourite part of Corn­wall, as it’s dot­ted with amaz­ing lit­tle towns and some of the UK’s most stun­ning beach­es and land­scapes. Places like Porthcurno, Pen­zance, and St Ives all looked ide­al, but then I found a stun­ning cot­tage in Mouse­hole, a small fish­ing port around 4km south of Pen­zance, and I knew I had to send a swap request.

I mes­saged the home­own­er Fran about her charm­ing fisherman’s cot­tage which is one of two prop­er­ties that she offers to share with Love Home Swap mem­bers (she lives in a stun­ning mod­ern home just out­side Mouse­hole if you’re after more space) then sat back and wait­ed. I know swaps can some­times take a while to organ­ise and get the details ironed out, so I was amazed to hear back with­in a day! Fran was hap­py to host me, and as I could be flex­i­ble with dates, we were able to con­firm dates quickly. 

The com­mu­ni­ca­tion was seam­less, and after mes­sag­ing each and oth­er on the plat­form to con­firm the specifics of the swap, we exchanged phone num­bers for the nit­ty grit­ty details such as how to access the keys to the cottage.

Solo trip Cornwall Fran and Adriane in their home in Mousehole

Fran’s main home in Mouse­hole, which is also list­ed on Love Home Swap

Solo trip Cornwall Mousehole min

The vil­lage of Mouse­hole is very well con­nect­ed to oth­er areas of West Cornwall

Getting there was easy.

Trav­el­ling from the cap­i­tal to a tiny rur­al fish­ing vil­lage might not seem like an easy jour­ney to take, but the town of Mouse­hole is just a short dri­ve or bus ride from Pen­zance, which is a con­ve­nient direct train ride from Lon­don Padding­ton – mak­ing this a great spot for any­one look­ing to enjoy a car-free hol­i­day on the coast.

This was a work­ca­tion with a difference. 

I’d always intend­ed for this to be a work­ing’ hol­i­day as I was trav­el­ling solo, and I sim­ply fan­cied a change of scenery where I could work from some­one else’s kitchen table. And luck­i­ly for me, Mouse­hold was every­thing I’d hoped it would be, and more! 

Mouse­hole and the sur­round­ing area is very acces­si­ble on foot, mean­ing there’s plen­ty to see and do with­in walk­ing dis­tance. I loved explor­ing Mouse­hole itself, and tak­ing lunchtime walks along the coastal path. I was able to enjoy cook­ing in Fran’s well-equipped kitchen, sav­ing those much-need­ed pen­nies so that I could splash out on some amaz­ing meals at Argoe and Mack­er­el Sky (both do incred­i­ble seafood caught local­ly in New­lyn, the largest fish­ing port in Eng­land) as well as The Old Coast­guard in Mousehole.

Although I was work­ing from home’ for the major­i­ty of my stay, home swap­ping allowed me to enjoy a much longer stay in Corn­wall than I would have been able to afford if I was rent­ing – plus a work­ing hol­i­day meant that I didn’t have to eat into my annu­al leave. Before start­ing work in the morn­ings, I swapped my usu­al swim at my local reser­voir in Hack­ney for a quick dip in the har­bour, and one lunchtime I was even able to squeeze in a walk along the coastal path, which was a big change from my usu­al lap of my local park.

Solo trip Cornwall Mousehole Harbour

Ellena was able to swap walks in her local Lon­don park for walks along the coastal path and Mouse­hole harbour

On my days off I was able to trav­el fur­ther afield. 

One of my key high­lights was a long walk from Sen­nen Cove to Porthcurno, stop­ping at Land’s End, Nan­jizal Beach and Porthg­war­ra Beach along the way. I was for­tu­nate to have a sun­ny day on my side in Novem­ber, but it was great to explore this route (espe­cial­ly Land’s End, one of the biggest tourist attrac­tions in Corn­wall) at its qui­etest with­out the crowds.

Solo trip Cornwall Nanjizal Beach

Views of Nan­jizal Beach along the South West Coast Path

I even man­aged a day out to St Ives to explore the gal­leries, artist stu­dios and the town itself. I loved this day out in St Ives as it’s such a con­trast from vis­it­ing this stun­ning town in the peak of sum­mer, where the streets are flood­ed with tourists. Instead, the town was peace­ful so I got to see even more of it. Although I had to embrace the unpre­dictable Novem­ber weath­er, St Ives is stun­ning on a winter’s day – and I was able to enjoy off-sea­son tick­et prices to The Tate and the Bar­bara Hep­worth Muse­um.

Solo trip Cornwall Views over St Ives

Views over St.Ives from the Tate Art Gallery

Solo trip Cornwall Ellena visiting Fran and Adriane in their home in Mousehole

Ellena and her host Fran and her part­ner Adri­an in their home in Mousehole

I even managed to meet my swap host!

I had the plea­sure of meet­ing Fran, her part­ner Adri­an and their son Logan dur­ing my stay, which made my home swap expe­ri­ence all the more spe­cial. They were love­ly enough to give me a tour of their main home in Mouse­hole, which they did up dur­ing the lock­down to turn into a home that would be big enough for their fam­i­ly to vis­it from Aus­tralia (which they’re cur­rent­ly try­ing to secure a swap for in Novem­ber 2023.) 

Like many oth­er locals, Fran and Adri­an have ren­o­vat­ed a 1960s bun­ga­low, and have done it up in a way that allows them to rent it out dur­ing the peak sum­mer months. They’ve done this by cre­at­ing a sec­ond pri­vate hide­away at the top of their gar­den which they lived in dur­ing the ren­o­va­tions, and where they now stay when oth­er home swap­pers or renters want to stay in their main home – mean­ing they can be par­tic­u­lar­ly flex­i­ble! The old fisherman’s cot­tage in Mouse­hole (where I was stay­ing) has been in Fran’s fam­i­ly for gen­er­a­tions, and was her father’s fam­i­ly home for a long time. They’ve done an incred­i­ble job of ren­o­vat­ing it to be a real­ly com­fort­able stay, whilst main­tain­ing all the charm of the orig­i­nal building.

Solo trip Cornwall Fran and Adriane in their home in Mousehole 2

Fran and Adri­an and their dog Meg in their home in Mousehole

I’ve been blown away from my first home swap­ping experience. 

It sounds ridicu­lous, as I’ve spo­ken to count­less Love Home Swap mem­bers over the years about their expe­ri­ences home swap­ping, with many hav­ing swapped well over 30 times to far-flung exot­ic des­ti­na­tions. Every time I’ve spo­ken to our mem­bers, they’ve said home swap­ping has changed the way they trav­el for good, how­ev­er this doesn’t tru­ly sink in until you expe­ri­ence it for your­self. It’s incred­i­ble to me that I’ve been able to stay in this cot­tage as part of my annu­al mem­ber­ship, when cot­tages of a sim­i­lar size are rent­ed out for at least £500 – 600 a week. It’s also been great to take my time trav­el­ling slow­ly, where I was able to enjoy a change of scenery and a dif­fer­ent pace of life – all while tak­ing hard­ly any time off.

Solo trip Cornwall Sennen Cove

Ellena was able to enjoy a week long stay in Corn­wall despite only tak­ing two days of annu­al leave

This has been an invalu­able expe­ri­ence which has made me feel even bet­ter equipped to con­tin­ue sup­port­ing our mem­bers with the best and most rel­e­vant con­tent, plus the chance to con­tin­ue build­ing and improv­ing our ser­vice. It’s impos­si­ble to not get the home swap­ping bug once you’ve tried it, and I’m already search­ing for my next swap for 2023. I’ll def­i­nite­ly be back for anoth­er swap to Fran’s gor­geous cottage!

Fran and Adri­an are look­ing for a Points or Clas­sic Swap to Syd­ney in late Novem­ber 2023 for Adrian’s daughter’s wed­ding. If this sounds like some­thing you’d be open to, why not pop her a mes­sage? If you’re feel­ing inspired to head to the South West Coast, why not explore homes in Corn­wall and homes in Devon? Or if you need more coastal inspi­ra­tion, read our round-ups of the best UK beach­es and the best sandy beach­es to get you excit­ed for your next home swap (come rain or shine!)