In recent years, house sitting has emerged as one of the best ways for budget-conscious travelers to embark on extended journeys without the burden of accommodation expenses. By taking care of someone else’s home (and pets), you can enjoy free lodging and immerse yourself in diverse communities worldwide.
Why Become a House Sitter?
The perks extend beyond mere cost savings! The global house-sitting community is brimming with like-minded travelers and adorable pets. Here’s why it has become our preferred mode of travel:
Instant Local Connections:
Forge friendships with locals, gaining immediate insights into a place that make you feel connected and rooted, no matter how long you’re on the road. Through house sitting, we’ve befriended eight dogs, nine cats, four chickens, and sixteen humans (the homeowners) to date.
While spending a few days in each city along a predefined tourist route is a great way to see the world, house sitting offers a distinct experience. It allows you to take a break from the constant movement, unwind in the comfort of a home, brew your morning coffee, lounge in the daytime, and cuddle up with pets at night. It’s like being at home, but away.
Trimming accommodation costs not only saves you money but also allows you to cut down on travel food expenses. Having breakfast and lunch at home frees up funds for a lavish dinner! (Just ensure your outings align with the pet’s schedule.)
Moreover, if you’re considering a relocation, snagging a house-sitting opportunity in your desired location provides a taste of what living there would be like.
How to Become a House Sitter
If you’re new to house sitting, start by tapping into your existing network. Inquire among family, friends, and colleagues about potential opportunities. There’s a good chance someone in your circle is about to leave home. Offer to care for their house to get hands-on experience.
Register on House Sitting Websites
Several excellent house-sitting websites connect homeowners with sitters, matching you with great opportunities. While these sites have membership fees, they are a negligible investment considering the savings on accommodation.
The best house-sitting websites include:
TrustedHousesitters.com (Annual Fee: $129-259):
The world’s largest house-sitting platform, offering numerous opportunities in the UK, Europe, North America, and Australia.
Nomador.com (Annual Fee: $99-199):
Primarily focused on Europe, especially France, Nomador is expanding globally. Its unique “Trust Profile” helps establish trust between homeowners and sitters.
MindMyHouse.com (Annual Fee: $20):
With a low joining fee, this site features many house-sitting opportunities (mainly in North America and Europe) and has a user-friendly structure.
Housecarers.com (Annual Fee: $50):
Emphasizing Australia, New Zealand, and North America, Housecarers has numerous opportunities. However, the website’s structure is less user-friendly.
When perusing available house-sitting jobs on these sites, be flexible in terms of location, timing, and other requirements to enhance your chances.
Craft an Outstanding House Sitter Profile
Your profile is the face you present to homeowners, and a well-written, up-to-date profile may lead homeowners to contact you directly. Include:
- Photos (with pets if possible):Showcase your love and proficiency with animals.
- Experience:Highlight your house-sitting or previous homeowner experience (are you familiar with basic appliances?).
- Pets:Express your affection for all things furry, scaly, or feathery, if applicable. Most house-sitting jobs involve some form of pet care.
- Special Skills:Language proficiency? Green thumb? Tool-savvy? Summarize these skills in your profile.
- Enthusiasm:Convey your excitement about this newfound “profession.”
Write a Compelling Introduction Email
When applying for specific house-sitting jobs, each website allows you to attach a letter that will be sent to potential homeowners along with your profile. A key to a good introduction is brevity, while still highlighting essential information and, of course, enthusiasm.
Carefully read the job listing and tailor your email to match its details. For instance, if there’s a dog involved, mention how much you adore miniature schnauzers and that they’re one of your favorite four-legged companions. If there’s a substantial yard that might need attention, highlight your agility and strength, emphasizing your capability to handle such tasks effortlessly.
Sharing specific details is crucial, so pay attention!
Speed is Key
When a six-week house-sitting opportunity in Manhattan was posted, I applied within the first few minutes. I exchanged emails with the homeowner within the first hour and virtually shook hands via Skype the same day. Appealing house-sitting jobs get snatched up quickly, so being the first applicant significantly boosts your chances.
Subscribe to email alerts or follow social media pages related to your preferred regions to stay informed and be among the first to apply.
The most crucial aspect homeowners will scrutinize is your references. Given the high level of trust required for house-sitting arrangements between strangers, having quality endorsements is vital. If you lack previous house-sitting experience, consider seeking references from former landlords, neighbors, or employers—people who can vouch for your character, reliability, and trustworthiness.
A good reference begets another job and another positive reference. Once these start accumulating, potential homeowners will be more willing to collaborate, making subsequent house-sitting gigs easier to secure.
Expect an Interview
Even if the homeowner doesn’t explicitly request an interview, consider asking for one. It’s easy to get carried away with the idea of almost free lodging in a foreign land, potentially overlooking crucial job details. Therefore, schedule a (virtual) face-to-face conversation via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or WhatsApp to discuss expectations, rules, and any uncertainties. Ask questions—leave nothing unknown. Can you have guests? Is nighttime exploration of the nearby area allowed? Is a car available for use? How’s the Wi-Fi connection?
You wouldn’t want to be caught off guard by rules or surprises upon arrival. Trust your instincts—we’ve turned down house-sitting jobs before due to a mismatched vibe with the homeowners.
For a more in-depth understanding, watch TrustedHousesitters’ video. It covers various aspects of the house-sitting experience!
Be Serious about the Commitment
House-sitting is a responsibility. In exchange for free accommodation, you’re entrusted with someone else’s property and, perhaps, their beloved furry (or feathery) family members.
We’ve chased dogs through muddy fields (dealing with a half-eaten rat by a dog included).
We’ve spent a night in the dark alleys of Harlem, searching for a runaway chubby cat.
After a downpour in our temporary Caribbean house in Ireland, we cleaned up the mess.
Most of the time, you can sit back and enjoy your stroke of luck, but there are moments when effort is required. The key to getting more house-sitting jobs is consistently doing an excellent job and accumulating positive references.
First and foremost, be punctual! Once you make a commitment, it becomes your responsibility to fulfill it. Homeowners make significant travel plans based on someone caring for their home and pets—they’re counting on you!
Upon arrival, treat the house with utmost respect from the get-go. When you return it to the homeowners, it should be in the same or better condition than when you arrived.
Additionally, adhere to the homeowner’s communication guidelines (do they want daily pet pictures, or should you only contact them in emergencies?). Follow instructions on handling mail, caring for pets, etc.
Be prepared to handle setbacks (like chasing a dog in the mud or dealing with a deceased chicken). Bad things might (and probably will) happen at some point. Always carry emergency contact information, and be honest about anything that occurs with the homeowner.
Also, a crucial tip: if you have an international house-sitting opportunity, consider what you say to customs officers at the border. Some may cause trouble, thinking house sitting is a “job” that locals can do. Tell them you’re visiting friends and consider even preparing a story about how you met beforehand in case they decide to make a verification call! (I know someone who was denied entry at the border for this reason.)
Lastly, don’t forget to share your house-sitting experiences. Whether on your social media or through a blog, spread the word about this travel method, potentially encouraging more people to join the ranks of house sitters and create more opportunities.
In conclusion, becoming a house sitter is a unique and exciting way to travel for free, make new friends, care for adorable pets, and gain deeper experiences in new places. We hope these tips help you kickstart this incredible way of traveling! Good luck!