How to become a house sitter and travel with free accommodation
With the ever-increasing popularity of homeowners opening up their place to visitors on Airbnb, a new trend is emerging called house-sitting. As a result, house sitting is the most popular option for those with pets. House sitting provides more care and attention with a sitter compared to an expensive kennel. Furthermore, the benefit to the house sitter is that you get to stay in a place for free! Through house sitting Jugo and I have spent a month exploring the Scottish highlands and lived with monkeys on the Kenyan coast. This provides fantastic opportunity to really explore a destination and the culture. Keep on reading to find out how to become a house sitter!
Please note some links in this article are affiliate links which at no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission.
So what does a house sitter do?
In exchange for looking after a home and maybe some pets, a house sitter is able to gain free accommodation while traveling. That means having the opportunity to stay in castles and old traditional stone houses by house sitting in Europe or lying on beaches and surfing for house sitting assignments in Australia or even staying in log houses with snow covered mountains with jobs house sitting in Canada!
If you are new to house sitting and wonder what does a house sitter do, here are some common activities:
- Securing the home
- Caring for pets
- Watering plants
- Mowing the lawn
- Regular house cleaning and maintenance
Where to find house sits
There are many sites out there that you can apply to become a house sitter but here’s my round up of the top 3.
- First, it’s most developed of all the house sitting sites and runs on a system that is very similar to Airbnb. You type the destination where you’d like to sit and all the available options will pop up. They have the most available options for house sits with members in 130+ countries compared to any other site.
- Second, there are many house sitting options to choose from in US, Canada, UK, France and Australia. Best of all, I have seen postings for some unique destinations like house sitting in Madagascar, Indonesia, and Ecuador which I haven’t seen available on other sites
- Third, they have a 24/7 line for Vet Advice if you have any questions while pet sitting
- There is no free trial option and you will have to subscribe to a year membership which costs $119 USD
- This is the cheapest house sitting option I found with a year membership only costing $20 USD/year. I decided to purchase this membership and give it a try. After two weeks of searching, I was able to land my first house sit!
- You’ll find plenty of house sitting options in the UK, US, or France, so start on this site if those are the countries you would like to house0sit in
- Many of the older listings aren’t taken off once a house sit is confirmed so you could end up applying to house sits which are no longer available. While I was searching, I only applied to those that were posted the day of and got a 100% response rate
- There are less options for sits outside of UK, US and France
- Nomador lets you trial their site for free which includes applying to 3 listings. Afterwards the cost is $89 USD/year or $35 USD/quarter
- This is a very popular option for finding a sit in France with the most listings of seen compared to any other site
- There aren’t many options for house sits outside of France
- Many of the listings are in French although you can use their translator
Creating your house sitting profile
The first step to getting a house sit is building your profile. Take time in writing it and make sure your personality shines. Tips to make your profile stand out:
- Add photos to your profile. Choose photos that will show you are capable of caring for a home and pets and that you are a friendly nice person. In my profile, I include a smiling photo, one of me on my travels, two with pets, one in a home, and a final one with family
- Craft an eye-catching profile title. I like using top 10 lists such as “The Top 10 Reasons I’m The Best Housesitter for Your Home”
- Include references. Furthermore, even if you’ve never house sat before adding work, character and land lord references are a great way to prove you are reliable and trustworthy
- If there is a video option, do it!
- Use words like responsible, caring, professional, reliable, animal lover, tidy, organized and peace of mind to show that you’re a great choice for a house-sitter
Applying for assignments
- Set up email alerts for the destinations you want to house sit. This will give you the best chance of finding a great house sit and a head start to submitting your own application
- Apply the day a listing you like appears. Homeowners often receive many applications so the earlier you apply the greater chance of a response. I’ve always received a response to my applications when I’ve applied on the same day the listing came out
- Avoid sending a standard response to all homeowners. Personalize your messages by including their name and the names of their pets whenever you can. Tell them why you want to visit their town/city and relate to as much of their posting as you can. Putting in the effort for each application will help you stand out and show that you truly want their house sitting assignment
- Always reply to a homeowners message promptly. This is your first opportunity to show that you are a responsible and reliable housesitter
Arranging a Assignment
- Confirm expectations of the house sitting assignment. Besides caring for the home what are the additional duties such as pet care, gardening, water plants, cleaning and lawn mowing
- Confirm the dates for the house sit
- Get the address and find out how to get to the home. (Many homeowners will offer to pick you up however this may not always happen). If you are traveling there yourself, ask about recommended transportation and cost
- Ask about the personality of the pet, whether they are energetic or like to sleep all day, any quirks they have.
- Ask if you can have visitors if you are wanting to invite guests over
- If you are planning on any trips during your house sit, confirm with the homeowner that it’s ok first
- For longer house sits, confirm who will be paying for utilities
- If you have a house sit that’s a coupe months away, it’s nice to check in once in awhile to reassure them that you will be coming
Arriving for a House sitting Assignment
We found arriving a couple days before the owners left to be very useful. It helped the pet get accustomed to us and allowed us to ask a lot of questions to ensure we could take good care of the home. Prepare a checklist before you go and ensure to cover the following details:
- Travel details- when the homeowners will be departing and arriving
- Contact info- how to reach the homeowner while they are away, who to contact in case of an emergency, veterinarian name and number, and how often they would like an update. It’s nice to send an update anyway if the homeowner doesn’t require it so that they aren’t left wondering how things are going. We chose to send a weekly update and included a few pics of the pet and garden.
- Pet details-Feeding, walking and play schedules. Grooming and medicine instructions
- Trash- recycling days, what can/can’t go into recycling, is there composting, and where the bins are
- Phone- can it be used? making long distance calls? should the phone be answered if it rings?
- Entertainment- how to operate the tv, sound system, and Wifi password
- Appliances- how to use the stove, oven, laundry, heating and cooling systems
- Security- get a set of spare keys and instructions for locking up
- Gardening- water schedule and if you should use any special fertilizer. Whether to harvest ripened fruits/vegetable
- Property Maintenance- should you mow the lawn, how to use the lawn mower, cleaning/dusting, and mail
- Rules- anything that’s off limits like rooms, cars, etc.
- Food- what can/can’t be eaten, the nearest grocery store, if groceries can be delivered online, any good places to eat at
- Emergency- location of fuse box, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers
- Attractions- what’s there to see around the area, any special events going on
Final House sitting tips
When you are coming to the end of your assignment, it’s important to make sure you leave on good terms especially if you are planning on applying for future house sitting assignments. Here’s my top tips to end the assignment on a positive note and help you keep on house sitting.
- Tidy up the place. Ensure you leave the place in the same condition or better when the homeowners return
- Strip the bed sheets and have them washed along with any towels used
- Take out the trash and replace bins with new bags
- Re-stock the fridge with some necessities – Nothings worse than returning from a vacation to find an empty fridge. Stock the fridge with some basic stuff like milk, cheese, cold cuts and bread
- Cook a meal for their return or leave some baked treats. If cooking isn’t your thing, leave some fresh flowers on the table
- De-brief the owner on their home and pet. When was the pet last walked and fed, any maintenance that occurred on the house, where you left their mail, and any phone messages. If you can’t do it in person, make sure to leave a note.
- Ask for a reference – this is essential to gaining more house sits in the future. Also, if you are wanting to use any photos that you took with the pets or the home online, make sure to ask for permission first
- Keep in touch!
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