How to become a house sitter and travel with free accommodation 

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 coastThis provides fantastic opportunity to really explore a destination and the culture. Keep on reading to find out how to become a house sitter! 

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?

The answer to 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

House sitting Australia

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.

TrustedHousesitters

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • There is no free trial option and you will have to subscribe to a year membership which costs $119 USD

 

MindMyHouse

Pros

  •  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

Cons

  • 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

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

house sitting profile example

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 

long term house sitting in Greece, Europe

  • 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 

House sitting in UK

  • 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

House sitting in Canada

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 

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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15 thoughts on “How to become a house sitter and travel with free accommodation 

    • Thanks so much! There wasn’t much information when I started house-sitting so thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far.

  • Love the thoroughness of this post. I’ve started looking into house sitting myself, and this will really help ensure my success!

    • Thank you! I hope you get a chance to try house-sitting out, it’s a lot of fun. If you ever have any questions, feel free to ask 🙂

  • This is a fantastic guide to housesitting! I’ve always been curious about how people got those gigs, and you’ve provided some excellent tips for how to be chosen by homeowners. This is definitely something I’ll look into in the future.

  • Thanks for the great post! I’ve heard of couch surfing and such, and while I think that is a great way to “meet the locals,” I would also be worried that a bad experience with my hosts might ruin the whole trip. I’d never heard of house-sitting (at least in this sense), until this post, so thanks for the great information! This way, you can plan everything out with the hosts in advance, and then when you actually arrive, you can focus solely on your adventures, and of course taking care of the house. I’m definitely going to save this for future reference!

    • So glad that you liked the post Kiyoko! House-sitting is great, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to have their own private accommodation instead of sharing with others like couch surfing. Hope you get a chance to try it yourself! 🙂

      • Just a quick question… okay maybe a few questions. About how long does the process take and how flexible do you need to be? For example, if I wanted to plan a trip somewhere, would it be better to decide when I want to go based dates available for house sitting, or if I pick dates, could I easily find options available for the dates I chose? How far in advance should I start looking at house sitting? A month, three months?

        • Usually, once a homeowner responds to your application, the process moves very quickly (1-2 days to secure a sit for me). You’ll have a lot more options if you can be flexible. Homeowners get a ton of applications so if you can’t work the dates they ask then they will move onto someone else. So, I would plan a trip after you’ve secured your house sit. That’s what I did for Scotland which was great because I arrived with no plans of what I was going to do but got really great suggestions from the homeowner’s and locals which I think, created the best trip I’ve ever been on to date! From the ads I’ve seen online, homeowner’s are usually looking for a house-sitter a month or two in advance. Hope this helps, and let me know if you have any further questions! 🙂

  • Wow! Thank you for putting together such a comprehensive guide about house-sitting! I’ve always wanted to try it, but the TrustedHouseSitters membership fee always but me off. Totally going to take a look at Mind My House right now. Again, thank you!

  • Hi Jenn,

    Loving these tips. We have been house sitting since 2014. A fair chunk of our lodging over the past 3 years was sits. Good insights too into prepping the place for the homeowner’s return. We do a spit shine before the arrival and in some cases the homeowners are stunned at our cleaning service like quality.

    Ryan

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