I have to admit that back in the early days of Airbnb, I thought it was strange to stay in someone’s spare room. These days I’m fully on board with it and it seems completely normal. Now, however, there’s a new rental platform in town that might give Airbnb a run for its money and quell my skepticism.
Kindred is a members-only house-swapping website that allows travelers to trade their homes with other people in the network. Currently, they have over 2,000 listings in more than 50 cities.
At first when I heard “house-swapping website” I thought of the short-lived show Wife Swap where wives swapped families and homes and it always (inevitably) ended in complete disaster, however, Kindred seems to be a reasonable proposal.
How much does Kindred cost?
Kindred memberships are free and instead of paying a cost to rent, you essentially barter where you agree to a swap with another member. You can do a 1:1 exchange on your home or host your home while you’re away to earn credits for a future stay.
While joining is free, the cleaning fee varies by home but averages about $150 per stay and the service fee, which covers 24/7 support, matchmaking service, and host protection, is up to $25 per night. People who find themselves home-swapping a lot can pay $600 for an annual commitment without having to pay the service fees.
What’s the catch?
It’s free to apply to be part of the Kindred network but those with invite codes are reviewed quicker. There is a waitlist of over 25,000 homes but the founders are very intentional about which homes they add to the network.
When applicants are rejected it’s not because they don’t have a certain aesthetic appeal to their home. It’s likely because they live in a location that is not serviced by photographers or cleaning professionals and Kindred’s team likes to make sure that each home receives a professional cleaning and complimentary guest kit.
Personally, I’m fascinated with the idea of home-swapping, but only if I have the same experience as Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet in the 2006 film “The Holiday.” (Looking forward to meeting my Jude Law.)