My first house sit had a great beach view.
To be honest, I’ve only been a house sitter for a short time. In fact, I have only done it twice now. In comparison to some who have been house sitting for many years and house sat in many places, I am only a newbie. But what I have discovered is for minimal effort of feeding pets, watering plants and just generally looking after someone’s place I get a maximum reward of free accommodation. With free accommodation it meant I had money to spend elsewhere and immerse myself in my new local surrounds. So here is my take on why I became a house sitter and why I think you should house sit your way around the world.
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 so small jobs like take the garage 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.
How to become a house sitter
There are a couple of 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. Some house sitting websites to consider registering with are TrustedHousesitters, Nomador and Mind My House.
How to apply for house sitting jobs through a website
To open an account on one of the house sitting websites you will need to create a profile which will include your details and any previous house sitting references if you have them. You will also need to pay the annual fee, which can vary from site to site. But it is well worth the money as you will have access to many house sitting opportunities around the world.
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 contacting the home owner you should include in your message information about who you are and why you should be the one to sit for them. Hopefully they 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.
My second house sit was in the mountains in a small ski lodge. The owners liked to follow the snow.
Things to know about the house sit
If you are successful in being the one chosen to house sit expect to receive a welcome guide that should include everything you need for a successful house sit, or maybe you discussed those details during the Skype call. You should receive the address and security information to enter the property as you don’t want to set any alarms off when you enter. Also, emergency contact details, any instructions for the house maintenance and a list of possible jobs and what days to do them such as putting the bins out.
If there are pets to look after you will want to know how to care for them. The owner should leave food or money for you to buy food for the pets. You will want to know the pets routine such as do they go for a walk at a particular time each day. Other things that I like to find out are how to use the TV remotes and what is the Wi-Fi password.
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.
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
This was a 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. Feed the dog. Make coffee. Make breakfast. Take dog for a walk along the beach. Home and do some work or sightseeing. Late afternoon I take 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.
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.
Sharyn has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. In her 20’s she went overseas and spent 4 years living, working, playing and travelling through many countries. Her travels inspire her ‘Live Work and Play’ series of working holiday guides and LiveWorkPlayTravel where she shares her knowledge of travel, being a digital nomad and blogging. Sharyn continues to travel and currently calls Melbourne home.