Most house swaps are organised so the two parties directly exchange – they come to your house, you go to theirs. You can swap for as long or as short a time as you both decide. There are also ‘non-synchronised’ swaps; for example, you go to their house, but they won’t necessarily go to yours – they’ll stay elsewhere or in a second house.
The best place to access the house-swapping community is on the internet. Membership-based house-swap organisations offer search facilities, a guide to exchanging and helpful customer support, such as providing you with a simple contract. Once your membership is paid, you can start to contact other members directly. Many people start planning six months or a year in advance, in order to get to know you and your house before choosing to commit.