I’m writing this having just got off the phone with my husband who’s working and training in Australia for a few months preparing for his ambitious 100km Kokoda Trail Hike in Papua New Guinea in April.
During the call, I was distracted by a low vibrating sound coming from his end of the line. “What are you doing?” I tentatively asked.
His response came with photos of him lounging in a massive massage chair, enjoying a relaxing Thai massage, supposedly at the end of a rigorous training session!
However, this isn’t a post about how hard my husband’s working. It’s actually part of a smart, cost-effective strategy to save costs and avoid paying for two households, while my daughter finishes school here in Phuket, Thailand.
My husband is currently house sitting in Melbourne, a strategy we intend to employ fully when we start travelling full time later this year, and the massage chair is in the house he’s currently sitting.
Imagine moving into someone’s house for a couple of weeks, keeping their property secure, and caring for their pets, rent free!
That’s house sitting!
So, for us and for you, here’s the strategy we’ll be implementing and a guide on how to house sit your way around the world!
House sitting is an arrangement where you temporarily take care of someone’s home, and often their pets, in their absence. In exchange for these caretaking duties, you live in the home rent-free for the duration of the homeowner’s absence.
This mutually beneficial setup allows homeowners to leave their property in trusted hands while providing housesitters with the opportunity to stay in different locations without the usual accommodation costs.
It’s a complete win-win as homeowners gain peace of mind knowing their home and pets are cared for, while housesitters enjoy the comforts of a rent-free home and the opportunity to explore a new area. It’s a fantastic way to travel, experience different lifestyles, and even save money on accommodation costs.
It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well like anything, it’s not without its horror stories, but generally it’s a cost efficient way to travel around the world and experience new places.
Embarking on a house sitting adventure can seem a little daunting at first, but as it’s become more popular, it’s become more straightforward.
Here’s how to get your journey underway:
Before diving in, it’s essential to grasp what housesitting entails. At its heart, housesitting involves caring for someone’s home, and often their pets, while they’re away.
This responsibility can range from simple tasks like mail collection and plant watering, to more involved duties like pet care and garden maintenance.
The key here is trust – homeowners need to feel confident in leaving their most valuable possessions in your care.
Not everyone is cut out for house sitting. It requires a unique blend of traits.
- Reliability is paramount; homeowners need to know they can count on you.
- Adaptability is also crucial, as each house sit may come with its own set of challenges and routines.
- Love for animals is often a must, as most house sits include pet care.
- Strong communication skills,
- A sense of responsibility,
- A respectful attitude towards the property and the homeowner’s privacy are also essential.
For you, it’s a great way to save costs on your next adventure. For the homeowner they’re entrusting you with their worldly possessions and in most cases the loves of their life!
If you’re comfortable with that, let’s move on to the next step.
Here’s a breakdown of how to get started:
Like any good journey, housesitting starts with research. Familiarise yourself with what the role entails.
Read blogs, watch videos, and join forums or social media groups where you can learn from experienced housesitters and ask any questions.
It’s down to you to understand the responsibilities and expectations, and reading through comments and questions from current homeowners and sitters will equip you with the knowledge to get started.
With the rise in popularity of house sits, there are now plenty of house sitting websites, each catering to different needs.
Some are global; others focus on specific regions or types of sites. I’ve listed some of the most popular ones below.
When selecting a platform, consider factors like membership fees, the number of listings, and the site’s reputation.
Look for reviews or feedback from other users to gauge reliability.
Your profile is your first impression. So make it count.
Include clear, friendly photos of yourself, and if possible, photos where you’re interacting with pets.
Write a sincere, concise bio that highlights why you’re a reliable housesitter. Mention any previous house sitting experience, love for pets, and relevant skills (like gardening or DIY capabilities).
If relevant and there’s a space for it, you can even create a video introducing yourself. Remember you need to answer the homeowners main question. Why should I trust you?
If you have character references and there is a place to add them on the site, go ahead and do this too, and as you do more house sits, you’ll start to build up your portfolio of 5 star reviews which will help when applying for new sits.
Once your profile is set, start applying for house sits. Tailor your applications to each listing. Show that you’ve read the homeowner’s requirements and explain why you’re a good fit.
Be honest about your experience and set realistic expectations. For my husband’s sits in Australia, as soon as we saw a relevant listing pop up, we actually sent a personalised video introducing him and us, and our little dog Buddy.
NB: Many house sits go very quickly, so you really need to have your finger on the button. As soon as you see a relevant house sit come up that you’d like to apply for, don’t leave it a few hours. Apply immediately as the chances are it will be gone by the time you come back to it later in the day.
Effective communication is key. Be clear, courteous, and professional in your interactions. Once you secure a sit, discuss all necessary details – from pet routines to emergency contacts.
Ask questions and clarify any doubts. This not only shows your seriousness but also helps build trust.
We jumped on a Zoom call with the owners of the first house sit and had a great chat about what they expected and how to take care of their cat etc. The better the communication up front, the easier it is to manage expectations and the happier both you and the homeowner are.
Preparation is crucial for a successful house sit. Arrive on time, familiarise yourself with the house rules, and get a walkthrough of the property.
Make notes of any special instructions and ensure you have all the necessary contacts.
I’m going to presume if you’re reading this, you’re a respectful and sensible person, so I won’t go into how to care for someone else’s house, but be prepared that you will walk into a variety of situations.
Some will be top notch accommodations, beautifully clean, well tended gardens, and everything in place. Others will be a bit of a shambles, not so clean, with stuff everywhere and perhaps not what you expected. Many will be somewhere in between.
Whatever you find, remember, your primary goal is to leave the house in the same, if not better, condition than you found it.
Finding the right platform is crucial for a successful house sitting experience.
Here’s a list of the most popular to help you get started:
- TrustedHousesitters: Boasting a vast array of listings worldwide, it’s ideal for international adventures.
- Nomador: Known for its community spirit, it offers both local and global options.
- MindMyHouse: A cost-effective choice with a global reach.
- HouseCarers: Another popular choice, known for a good selection of international seats.
- USA: HouseSitter America
- UK: House Sitters UK
- Australia: Aussie House Sitters
- Canada: House Sitters Canada
- New Zealand: Kiwi House Sitters
These sites cater to various needs and locations, so take your time to explore them and find the one that best suits your preferences.
Embarking on a housesitting journey comes with its own set of rules. Here are some key do’s and don’ts:
- Do Communicate Openly: Keep the lines of communication clear and honest.
- Do Respect the Homeowner’s Property: Treat their home as you would treat your own.
- Do Follow Instructions Carefully: Whether it’s pet care or household maintenance, stick to the guidelines provided.
- Do Stay Organized: Keep important dates and tasks in check.
- Don’t Overcommit: Only take on sits you can confidently manage.
- Don’t Ignore House Rules: Every homeowner will have their set of rules. Respect them.
- Don’t Leave Problems Unaddressed: If an issue arises, inform the homeowner immediately.
- Don’t Forget to Leave a Review: Your feedback helps build the community.
A vital part of housesitting is being part of the broader community. Here’s some places you can connect with homeowners and other house sitters:
- Trusted House Sitters Hosts & Sitters
- House and Pet Sitters UK
- Pet + House Sitting Travel & Digital Nomads
Housesitting opens a world of opportunities, not just for cheaper travel, but for growth, learning, and connection. It’s a unique way to explore new destinations, immerse yourself in different cultures, and live like a local.
Plus you may end up life long friends with some of the homeowners you meet!
Remember, every housesit is a trust-based exchange. Whether caring for a countryside home, a city apartment, or a furry friend, your role is pivotal in making this exchange work.
And like my husband, you might just get a house with a huge massage chair!
The world is your oyster!
To become a house sitter, create an appealing profile on house sitting websites like TrustedHousesitters, Nomador, or HouseCarers. Highlight your reliability, experience with home and pet care, and any relevant skills. Gather references and consider a background check to boost trust. Start locally to build a reputation, then expand to more locations as you gain experience.
Good house sitting etiquette involves clear communication with the homeowner about their expectations and any specific care their home or pets need. Always respect their space and privacy, maintain cleanliness, and handle any emergencies responsibly. Ensure you leave the house in the same or better condition than when you arrived.
House sitting often involves a non-monetary exchange where the sitter gets free accommodation in return for taking care of the house and pets. However, some house sitters do get paid, especially for long-term sits or if additional responsibilities are involved. Payment often depends on location, duration, and the sitter’s experience.
Yes, house sitting can be a great side hustle, especially for those who love travelling and are comfortable caring for homes and pets. It offers the opportunity to stay in different locations without paying for accommodation. While many gigs are unpaid, some do offer payment, making it a potentially lucrative option alongside the primary benefit of free lodging.