My first house sit had a great beach view.
House sitting has become one of the best ways to travel long-term when you are on a budget. When I first wrote this post in 2019 I had only been a house sitter for a short time. In fact, I had only done it twice. Now I’m updating this post, because as of March 2022, even with covid restricting my travels, I have managed to fit in many more house sits. In this post I will answer your questions about what is house sitting and how to become a house sitter, plus provide loads of tips and tricks on how you can do this while working and travelling around the world. So let’s get your house sitting adventures started.
What is House Sitting?
House sitting is where you live in someone else’s home and look after it while they are away. As well as the house you may need to look after their pets and plants and do small jobs like take the garbage bin out. This could be for a weekend, a week, a month or longer. For the homeowner, they get peace of mind that their home, pets and plants are being well cared for. And you get free accommodation and use of the house. Win-win.
PS: Sometimes you may be paid to house and pet sit. I highly suggest if you are being paid to get the terms and the amount down in writing so there are no disagreements at the end of the house sit. I’ve also come across where the homeowner wants you to cover the cost of utilities you use.
Why Become a House Sitter
As well as saving loads on accommodation, the worldwide house sitting community is full of like-minded people and you can make life-long friends. Also, you can immerse yourself in the local area and discover places you may not have discovered otherwise. Yes, live like a local! You can also travel at your own pace from one house sit to the next. Not only will you save money by slashing your accommodation expenses you can slash your food budget costs by cooking for yourself. This can also lead to a healthier lifestyle as sometimes when travelling we can over indulge in going out for meals. Another reason to experience house sitting is to see whether you like the area or not, just in case you are considering a more permanent move. So there are a number of benefits as to why you should become a house sitter.
How to Become a House Sitter
There are a three ways to become a house sitter. The first is through word of mouth of friends, family and acquaintances. This is how I got my first house sitting gig through a friend. It gave me the taste for it.
The second way, and I think the easiest way to start house sitting is to sign up with one of the big house sitting websites. These websites have house sitting opportunities all around the world that are updated regularly. Once you create a profile account and pay a yearly membership fee you will be able to contact homeowners and organise a house sit.
I think it better finding house sits through a specialist house sitting website because your membership includes insurance to cover property damage, theft, and public liability protection. It gives peace of mind if little accidents occur. You would need to purchase insurance yourself if you are doing housesitting privately which isn’t impossible, but one less thing you have to worry about. I am registered with TrustedHousesitters though there are others such as Nomador and Mind My House.
The third way is to find a house sit through a Facebook group. If you search Facebook you will discover a number of them for a particular country or city or area. For instance, Sydney House Sitters or Yucatan House Sitters. These sites don’t usually have the screening like the websites, so be very careful on ensuring you understand everything that is involved with the house sit before you arrive.
How to Apply for House Sitting Jobs
To apply for house sitting jobs or to advertise yourself on a house sitting website you firstly must open an account and create a profile. This is your face to homeowners and you should include a few things in the profile to attract them to choose you to look after their home. Things to include:
- Experience. If you are just starting out you may not think you have any experience but you just might. Have you rented and looked after the rental? You don’t need to list the housesits you have done but include how many you have done.
- References. Have house sitting references available if possible. House sitting is often based on trust, so the homeowner will want to ensure you are trustworthy to look after their property and any animals.
- Pets. Include how you have a love of animals and are happy to look after them because most house sits will involve caring for a pet or pets. And they are not always cats and dogs either. Be prepared for snakes and farm animals!
- Skills. Do you have a green thumb? Maybe are handy around the house? These things could be mentioned because looking after plants and fixing things could be involved. If you say you can mow the lawn, ensure you know how to use the lawn mower, and any other equipment for that matter.
- Enthusiasm. Being enthusiastic about house sitting will take you far.
How do you Contact a Potential Home Owner
If you see a house sit of interest I suggest you apply for it as early as possible because they can go quickly. Also, some house sits can get a couple of hundred applications. When you apply, write an introductory message that will accompany your profile. Write your message addressing the specific house sitting job, just like you would if you were applying for a new job. In one respect you are. The key here is to provide a good introduction so the homeowner will get back to you within a few days to discuss the house sitting further. You should try to arrange a Skype call to discuss and finalise the details, treat this as an interview. This is your chance to ask specific questions also before you become a house sitter, like:
- How is the wifi connection?
- Can you have guests?
- If you want to explore the area can you go away overnight
- Can you park your car/van on the property?
- Are you allowed to use the whole house or certain rooms?
- Can you use all the facilities? The pool, sauna, tennis court, their car?
- Is public transport nearby if you don’t have a car?
- Do you need your own sheets?
- What is the pet’s routine? Any quirks about the animal/s you should know?
- Will instructions on how to use things be there? Like how to use the TV, garage, heating/cooling, etc. remotes.
- Are there any expenses you will need to cover? Utilities?
I’m sure you will come up with other questions also. You don’t want to be blindsided with any surprise rules when you arrive, so get as much sorted and agreed upon before you say yes.
My second house sit was in the mountains
How to be a Good House Sitter
My best advice on how to be a good house sitter is firstly to turn up. Yes, if you committed to do the house sit, turn up. Secondly always look after the home like it was your own – you would want the same. Try not to break anything. And don’t loose the pet/s or kill the plants – but I know how hard this can be! That sneaky cat runs out of the door when you open it or you overwater the plant! It can happen. But do your best because getting a good reference from this house sit will stand you in good stead for future house sits.
Can you Make Money while House Sitting?
You don’t get paid to house sit, you get a free place to stay. So with your accommodation costs covered, it is up to you how you spend your time – well to a certain degree. As long as you complete all the tasks you need to do the rest of your time is yours. So if you want to make some money by getting some work or working remotely that is totally up to you. But check that this is OK with the homeowner.
Is House Sitting Safe?
I think house sitting is safe. It is just like staying in an AirBnB or short term holiday rental. While I cannot make any guarantees about the character of the homeowner I do suggest you find places to house sit through the house sitting websites like Trusted House Sitters cause the owner, just like you, has to pay to join the website and offer their home.
A Typical House Sitting Day
Taking the dog for a walk is not uncommon
Your typical house sitting day will vary from house sit to house sit. This was my typical day when I recently housesat a beach house with a dog. I wake up at a convenient time, well actually being licked on the face by a hungry dog. Fed the dog. Made coffee. Made breakfast. Took dog for a walk along the beach. Home and do some work or sightseeing. Late afternoon I took dog for another walk. It’s not bin night so I don’t need to put the bins out. Check the letter box to see if any post. Dinner. Share couch with my fury friend. Bed.
Another house sit saw me up at the crack of dawn to feed the chickens and the goats on a hobby farm. I then had my day to myself until it was time to feed the animals again.
My favourite house sit so far was for a couple of weeks looking after a unit in a ski resort. Though this was during the summer months. It still was cool at that time of year and I often would put the fire on. I enjoyed my cuddles with resident feline who was extremely affectionate and kept my lap warm! The views of the mountains were just spectacular. There wasn’t much to do in the mountains though I enjoyed daily walks and a couple of times I took the mountain bike out for a ride. It was a great place to get a lot of work done.
I’ve had my share of difficult moments though, but the positives of house sitting have far outweighed any negatives.
Final Worlds on How to Become a House Sitter and Never Pay for Accommodation
So there you have it, my take on house sitting. House sitting is a great way to save costs as you travel. This is because we always need somewhere to stay each night and paying for accommodation is one of the biggest expenses a traveller has. So getting free accommodation in return for minimal effort of just being there and looking after pets is a great. As many of the house sits are not in the centre of major towns – though it could be – you will be able to immerse yourself in the local area and what it has to offer. I have enjoyed all my house sitting gigs so far, and I hope you enjoy yours! I’d love to hear about them in the comments following.
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