See Inside Kindred, the Ultra-Exclusive Home-Swapping App

  • Some have compared the new home-swapping app Kindred to Raya, the exclusive members-only dating app.
  • With homes that are largely luxurious, the average length of a Kindred stay is six days.
  • Members do not exchange money, but pay an annual fee as well as cleaning costs, and there is a waiting list.

Those with an eye on real estate and tech savvy websites might have read a bit about Kindred, a new and very exclusive home-swapping app.

Home-swapping, defined as trading homes with another person a lá Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz in “The Holiday,” is only a few decades older than the internet. But, until recently, it was relatively low-tech, facilitated by dedicated groups, Craigslist, or sites like

Kindred gives home-swapping the (fancy) app treatment. Like competitor Behomm (and similar to Raya, the exclusive dating app), it is a members-only club; the easiest way to join is by invite from another member. And Kindred has a waitlist that it pulls from to build its housing inventory in locations popular with its members. 

Kindred also takes a more active approach than Behomm, which is invitation only but is focused on creative and design-oriented people. Kindred serves as a type of matchmaker and pairs members based on what they have in common, like mutual friends, pets or alma mater.

Loft-style home with plants at a Kindred Home in Vancouver, Canada

Kindred Home in Vancouver, Canada


Screening room at a Kindred Home in San Francisco, California

Kindred Home in San Francisco, California


Living room in Kindred Home in Miami, Florida

Kindred Home in Miami, Florida


“We also help people find others who have similar interests or jobs, so designers or founders, or a popular one is actually people with dogs who want to swap homes with other dog-friendly homes,” Kindred co-Founder Justine Palefsky said.

A “give a night to get a night model”

Membership is $300 a year. After that, swaps only require a $30 service fee and a cleaning fee that varies by home. 

Everything else is paid for with participation. In order to stay in someone else’s home, you must offer your home for the equivalent number of nights to another Kindred member. Palefsky called it the “give a night to get a night model.”

“We’re one of the few products where people who give more are the ones who get more, vs. the people who pay more,” Palefsky said. “It also means that no one can be a freeloader – you all have skin in the game.”

There is no minimum or maximum duration for a swap, but the average length of a swap is about six days. 

Kindred takes care of the logistics, from having the house cleaned and ensuring toiletries are provided, to providing protection for hosts should anything go wrong. 

A gifting culture has emerged between swappers, with members leaving handwritten notes, bottles of wine, dog toys, Polaroid pictures, or crystals for their guests. One guest recorded a song using the sounds of the house and left it as a gift for their host. 

“It was absolutely gorgeous and incorporated the sound of kitchen cupboards shutting, the birds chirping, and doors creaking,” Palefsky said. “The whole company listened to the song on repeat when that happened. It’s actually on Spotify now.” 

Kindred doesn’t look for luxury, but still…

Both renters and homeowners can join Kindred. As far as the home interiors go, Kindred has claimed time and again that it doesn’t necessarily look for luxury.  

After all, there is no minimum home value — but judging by photos provided by Kindred of actual homes on the site, these are far from shacks. 

“Where we have a long waiting list, we do give preference to places that have character and really feel like home,” Palefsky said. “We love accepting homes with soul that make for comfortable stays and have a unique style.”

Kindred vets, and personally photographs each of the homes on the app to ensure residences look like pictures. 

Geography, Palefsky said, is now the most important criteria for new members. Kindred prioritizes homes in locations its members want to travel to.

So, who is using Kindred so far? The only demographic information Palefsky revealed is that users are mostly, “remote workers who have a tremendous amount of flexibility and are looking to travel frequently.”

‘I felt like I discovered a cheat code

Palefsky got the idea for Kindred after participating in an ad hoc home exchange. She swapped her San Francisco apartment for a place in Lake Tahoe occupied by a couple she had never met, but who also also attended Brown University.

“When I got back home to San Francisco, my plants were watered, my packages were taken in, and there was a lovely thank you note on my dining room table,” Palefsky said. “I felt like I had discovered a cheat code — I had the most amazing stay, in accommodations that were nicer than anything I could have afforded on Airbnb, and I only paid for house cleaning.”

Kindred recently raised $7.75 million from big name venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz. Opendoor CEO and co-founder Eric Wu is among their backers. 

In a July story, Curbed’s Clio Chang called Kindred “Raya for Home-Swapping.” When asked how she felt about the title,  Palefsky commented instead that the company prioritizes “reviewing applicants” and trust.

“We want to scale our product thoughtfully to ensure we can provide the best possible service for all community members, and balance the supply and demand,” she said.

Kindred only operates in select parts of the United States, but plans to expand. In the future, it hopes that home exchange can reduce more controversial lodging like Airbnb, which has been blamed for tax and home price hikes in some cities. 

“In the future, we see a world where people don’t have to pay double rent in order to travel, and don’t have to buy multiple homes in order to split their time between cities,” Palefsky said. 

Living room in a Kindred home in Sausalito, CA

Kindred home in Sausalito, CA


Pool/game room in a Kindred Home in Denver, Colorado

Kindred Home in Denver, Colorado


Water view at a Kindred Home in San Francisco, California

Kindred Home in San Francisco, California


Related Posts