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“I'd love to stay with you.” Poles are exchanging houses. For free

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– The culture of exchange is a global trend. It is difficult to say what its scale is, but from my perspective it is an important trend, says Dr. Mikołaj Lewicki from the University of Warsaw. Following the West, Poles are increasingly willing to use this form of trading in services, goods and even real estate. In Poland, house replacement is also a result of the crisis on the housing market.

A day like every other day on one of the most popular apartment and house exchange groups:

“We are nice girls, me and my 17-year-old daughter (…) We live in England. Something about us, I am a working woman, I am not afraid of any work. I will be happy to help in an agritourism or other village, I know how much work there is in the summer. If anyone “I would like to welcome two little souls under my roof, just to have a place to wash or sleep.”

Another entry: “I would like to exchange apartments in the first week of July or for a week in August with someone who lives in Gdańsk/Gdynia/Sopot and would like to visit Budapest.”

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“I live in a beautiful and peaceful place. As in any earthly paradise, however, there is a lot of work and there is no desire to do anything (…) In exchange for 4 hours of decent work a day, I offer accommodation and good vegetarian food,” writes another person.

“I will provide an apartment in Warsaw in exchange for taking care of the animals – a dog and 2 cats.”

“Maybe someone wants to go to Iceland? We're looking for a place to stay.”

And so on, a dozen or so ads a day. Someone wants to leave, someone else needs help and in return offers a roof over their heads. Everything is barter.

The “I will provide a house / I will take care of + a house, a cottage, an apartment” group, in which people barter exchange places of residence, has almost 200,000 members. users. The group is so popular that its younger sister was created – addressed only to singles. There are also online portals that make it easier to look for places to swap.

Global trend

Why replacement? Why is this solution so popular?

– The culture of exchanges, “swapping”, is a global trend. It is difficult to say what its scale is, but from my perspective it is an important trend – says Dr. Hab. Mikołaj Lewicki from the sociology department of the University of Warsaw. – Swapping is a derivative of the economic crisis that began in 2008. In Poland, its effects were less noticeable, but people in the West actually got hit in the pocket. The middle class began to become poorer, the labor market shrank, and income inequality increased. The stability and predictability of the development path of the middle class is no longer obvious. People who could afford a lot discovered that they could no longer afford some things, says Dr. Lewicki.

“Exchanging houses is an excellent way to save money because it allows you to avoid the costs associated with renting apartments or hotels. Moreover, exchanging houses gives you the opportunity to get to know new places and cultures and allows you to spend your holidays in comfortable conditions, a fully equipped house,” we read on one from portals.

“Swapping” allows you to explore new places economicallyShutterstock

In other words, replacing (not only houses, but also e.g. clothes) allows you to maintain the standard of living you are used to. – In the world of presenting yourself to others, for example on social media, not much has changed – continues Dr. Lewicki. – We have less money, but our needs have not changed. We still want to live lives that inspire admiration and envy. There are ways to do this, and the exchange of goods is one of them. We gain something of great value with a small financial contribution.

More important than money

Advertisement from a few days ago: a single mother in her 30s is looking for a place to stay with her child. In return, he offers help in the garden, house and pet care. She adds: “In addition to the work I mentioned, I am also able to offer spiritual and psychological support without judgment. I have an innate mesmerism and I am naturally very attracted to people. I care about equal exchange and a person who shares similar values.”

Comments vary. From suggestions that these types of descriptions are more appropriate for a dating site, to declarations of help. But according to Dr. Lewicki, a conversation about housing opens up discussions about what is important to whom.

– Exchange networks provide a chance to create something non-standardized – says Dr. Lewicki. He compares free descriptions to forms that must be completed if you want to list your apartment, for example on Airbnb. There is no room for freedom there.

Read also: Houses for the price of a studio apartment and paradise on earth. Poles “so fixated that they stop seeing flaws” >>>>

The situation is different in the case of exchange. Places in houses or apartments are on the same scale. On the other – help in taking care of elderly parents, gardening, animal care and various types of workshops. There is no money involved, so the impression is created that we are not dealing with a transaction, but rather a relationship.

– In such a situation, there is space to talk about your needs – comments Dr. Lewicki.

Exchange for the flexible

In Poland, house replacement is also a result of the crisis on the housing market. According to Eurostat data, real estate prices in Poland are growing the fastest in the entire European Union. The only option left is to rent. – If I cannot afford a home loan, it is more difficult to start a family or settle in one place. The rental market does not give a sense of stability and stability, says Dr. Lewicki.

On the other hand, renting allows for some flexibility. It does not restrict your movements as much as a loan for several decades. – Society is becoming more and more mobile, people move from city to city, sometimes to another country, their housing needs change, e.g. due to the appearance of a child or children in the family, changes in location preferences – lists Dr. Alina Muzioł-Węcławowicz , housing expert from the Institute of Urban and Regional Development. – All this means that, especially for young people, renting an apartment is a more convenient form, not being so attached to a given premises.

Read also: A “change in the apartment rental market” is coming >>>>>

Dr. Muzioł- Więcłąwowicz points out that needs and preferences are collided with the housing market. – If there is an opportunity to choose between a safe, affordable rental or purchasing an apartment, it will turn out that many people will be satisfied with renting an apartment – he believes.

In her opinion, the situation may be changed by investments in cheap apartments for rent. – Everything should be done to increase the supply of apartments in a more diversified investor structure. Only then will the availability of apartments for rent at moderate rents appear on a wider scale. And only then will citizens have the option to choose: rent or buy this extremely important and expensive good.

I will exchange it, but with someone responsible

It is difficult to estimate how many people use these types of exchanges. There is a lack of research and quantitative data, apart from rather superficial information, e.g. about the number of users of a given website or group allowing such activities.

Can house exchanges develop in Poland? Experts have doubts.

In Poland, house replacement is also a result of the crisis on the housing marketpixabay.com/

– I don't see much scope for developing this type of changes. As a society, we often have problems with trust, assessing the value of our assets, and fear of abuse. It is not easy for us to cooperate with others, especially people outside the immediate circle of well-known and “proven” people in such cooperation – says Dr. Alina Muzioł-Węcławowicz. – Moreover, the scale of needs may be significant, but it will not be easy to match the needs and expectations of the parties to such an exchange. This is simply a very complex matter, even taking into account the location and time of replacement of individual objects – says Muzioł-Węcławowicz.

But there is still no shortage of people willing to do so. “It would be nice to make friends with responsible (you know what these times are) people with a similar vibe,” writes the father of a family of six. And despite some concerns, he offers his house for exchange. Or maybe someone will be responsible.

Author:Natalia Szostak

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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