Have you ever dreamed of a luxury villa with a swimming pool, a farm or a mountain hut? House sitting gives you an opportunity to make such a dream come true, at least for a while. If you have a positive attitude towards pets and animals, the world of luxury housing just opens up for you. House sitting is a great service of a sharing economy, thanks to which you can travel the world without paying nearly anything for accommodation. It’s also great if you want to work online from home.
What is house sitting?
House sitting is looking after the house, while its owner is away. House owners are usually looking for somebody to take care of their pets and their property, while they are on vacation. Sometimes there is also a need for garden care, flowers watering, lawn making, etc.
House sitting has benefits for both parties – the owners have somebody to take care of their house and pets, and house sitters can live rent-free in a beautiful house.
House sitting: Motivation of house owners
Maybe you are asking yourself a question: Why would anybody leave the house to a complete stranger? Although there are animal hotels or other paid service nowadays, it isn’t always the most convenient option. Pet hotels often mean stress for animals or it’s necessary to take care of livestock, making the lawn and watering flowers. In addition, house owners have always the choice who will be invited. Every house sitter has a profile with references and photos, plus there are interviews/meetings which build the trust between the house owner and house sitter.
What is expected from house sitters?
There are some important expectations from house sitters:
- love for animals,
- responsibility and reliability,
- respect for the house,
- smooth communication.
Most people will look for somebody who will give their pets as much love as they do. It always depends on the people. You may find owners who will require an hour walk with the dogs twice a day, but you can also take care of one self-sufficient cat that needs to fill up the bowl with cat food once in a while.
The owners want someone who they can trust and they are not going to be afraid to entrust their house to while they are on holiday. Communication is also crucial for some owners. Therefore, respond to the messages as soon as possible. Some owners might be happy for the daily report about their furry darlings, others are fine with 1 message per week. Again, it all depends on the people you meet.
TIP: It is best to return the house back to owners in better condition than you took it over. They will definitely appreciate if you clean the house properly before their arrival.
Advantages and disadvantages of House Sitting for house sitters
Free accommodation sounds great, right? However, there are also some disadvantages. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of house sitting?
Benefits of house sitting
The benefits are clear and outweigh the disadvantages:
- Free housing in an expensive destination.
- Opportunity to try different houses, apartments, farms, etc.
- Spend some time with beautiful dogs, cats, horses or even other farm animals.
- Getting to know locals and local culture.
- Some owners allow you to use their bike or even a car or horse.
Cons of house sitting
- You can’t choose specific dates; you have to choose from the offer.
- Sometimes happens that one house sit is not followed by another one, so you might be “homeless” for a few days.
- The need for communication with house owners and interviews or visits.
- Usually, you can’t go for an overnight trip while house sitting.
- Sometimes you might not find any offers in your desired area.
Who can become a house sitter?
House sitting is suitable for everyone, whether you are a couple, an individual or a family. Students, retiree or families with children, everyone can do it. You will find out from “house sitting job ads” who the owners prefer. Some owners prefer individuals, others prefer couples and some don’t care. You can even bring your own pets to some homes.
House sitting is perfect for digital nomads, writers or anyone who can work from home. House/pet sitting can be also a relaxing way of your holiday. In some areas, house sitting can be done also while working nearby.
How to become a house sitter?
Becoming a house sitter is very easy. Everything starts with registration/signing up to the chosen house sitting platform. Most of them require an annual registration fee, but don’t worry, the fee pays for itself literally after your first house sit. The registration is only the beginning of the whole process.
What is the best house sitting website? Where to find great house sitting jobs? How to fill in your profile and successfully approach owners? Let’s have a look.
The best house sitting websites, where to look for house sitting jobs
There are several good websites, where you can find a lot of house sitting jobs. The location is a crucial factor for your decision. If you plan to go to a certain country which has local house sitting website, it is often the best choice (e.g. Kiwi House Sitters website is the best for New Zealand). Let’s have a look at the options:
The world’s best-known platform with the biggest number of house sitting job offers. TrustedHousesitters.com has a user-friendly interface with the possibility of setting alerts about new offers. They also have a 24/7 customer hotline. The minimum age for registration is 21 years.
- Annual membership fee: US $119
The second best-known site is HouseCarers.com. They have been on the market since 2000 and are also active worldwide. They offer a limited free trial account. They don’t have as many offers as TrustedHousesitters, but they’re cheaper.
- Annual membership fee: US $50
Originally a French platform that has gradually expanded into the world. The biggest number of house sitting jobs is in France (and often in French). They offer a trial membership that allows you to take 3 house sessions for free. In addition, Nomador has a unique “Stopover” feature where homeowners can register to offer free accommodation to members in-between house sits. It is similar to Couchsurfing.
- Annual membership fee: US $99 (or 3 months membership for $39)
MindmyHouse is another global platform. It is the cheapest one, but there is also less house sitting job offers.
- Annual membership fee: $20
House sitting websites by country
- Annual membership: NZ$84
House sitting in Australia is extremely popular. You can find quite a lot of offers on global sites, but no. 1 website is AussieHouseSitters.
- Annual membership: AU$84
Kanada and USA
- Annual membership for the USA: US$30
- Annual membership for Canada: CA$59
House sitting in the UK is also very popular. You can find offers at both global and local sites. Popular UK website is HouseSittersUK.
- Annual membership: £29
The secret of successful house sitting
The first step is to select the appropriate house sitting websites to sign up for. This primarily depends on the area where you are going to search house sitting jobs. Once you pay the fee, you can move to the next, but most important step – filling out your profile.
House sitter’s profile
Your profile is very important – it is the first virtual contact with the owners. Owners decide based on your profile if they invite you to a meeting. You should emphasize these crucial things on your profile:
- Your positive attitude to animals + relevant experience: You can write a little bit about your pets at home, mention you have helped a lot at grandmother’s farm or took care of the neighbor’s dog. Try to easily find any relevant experience.
- Your motivation – why do you want to do house sitting?
Photos are a very important part of your profile. Your face should be clearly visible on the profile picture. Choose the one you smile on – it should be clear that you are a nice, pet-loving person. If you are going to house sit as a couple or a family, choose a photo of all of you in the picture.
In addition to the profile photo, most house sitting platforms have also an option to upload other photos. Those pictures should include you with pets or animals. E.g. walking the dog, having a cat in your arms, pictures with horses, etc. Show your love for animals!
Reviews and recommendations are the keys to success. Once you get your first reference, you’ll no longer have a problem getting more and more house sitting jobs. But everyone has to start somehow. Therefore, it is good to look for alternatives. Have you ever done Couchsurfing? Try to include such a reference in your profile, e.g. you can include a screenshot among your pictures. You can also ask your boss if you can include his phone number as a reference.
How to get your first review?
The first review is a real key to a successful house sitting. You can simply get it by accepting not that “hot” offers. It can be either house sitting only for a few days or in a remote area. You have a high chance to be accepted in cases like this.
For example, we found out that some cities have very high competition among house sitters, while more distant areas have much fewer people interested in house sitting. Short house sitting jobs aren’t that favorite among house sitters either. And that’s the chance for you!
Once you get the first reference, you will no longer struggle to find a house sitting job.
First contact with house owners
Did you find an offer you like? Look at what you have in common with the owners before replying. Do they have the same kind of cat or dog you love? Tell it to them! Simply try to find something that you and owners have in common and mention it in your message. It may be a job, hobby or anything else. Try to sell yourself as an ideal house sitter for the owner. Do you enjoy gardening? Perfect! Do you like long walks with dogs? Anything can be an advantage.
It’s also good to be flexible when it comes to meeting or Skype. Offer the Skype interview at a time chosen by the owner. If you are already in the area where you are looking for a house sitting jobs, offer personal meeting – it will significantly increase your chances.
Depending on where you are, you can expect a meeting or an interview.
If you’re already in the area, where you want to house sit, then the meeting is ideal for both parties. It is the best way to get to know each other. You will learn about the house and what are the expectations of owners. Form of the meeting depends on the owners. Usually, it is an informal chat with a cup of coffee and a brief introduction of their house and animals.
In general, if you are already invited to a meeting it means you have a good chance to get that house sitting. However, it depends on the number of interested house sitters. Typically, the owners in the city center get many requests, and they usually invite more candidates, so they can choose from more different sitters. Outside the center, interest is lower. It happened to us several times that we were the only ones invited and the owners started showing us practical things around the house directly.
How make a good impression?
The answer is simple: Ask!
- About details on feeding pets.
- Where to take dogs for walks?
- Details about waste management in the area.
- How often do they wish to be informed about their furry darlings?
- Details about the gardening or watering flowers.
- And anything else that comes to your mind while you are there.
Preparation is also very important. Remember the names of the owners and their pets.
Interview on Skype will be probably your first “live” contact with house owners. It is important to make a good impression. Be prepared, remember the owners’ names and ask a lot about house and pets.
If you agree on a fixed date, the arrival and departure dates are very important. It is often a good idea to arrange your arrival 1 day before the owners leave, so they can show you everything around the house. Alternatively, arrange the place where they are going to hide the house key.
Setting up Alerts – you need to be quick
Another key factor for increasing your success is to respond quickly. If you are looking for house sits in a certain area or for dates, set up alerts for new offers in a selected area. Most of the websites have an alert feature. Respond as soon as a new offer appears. Most of the house sits are arranged within 1-3 days. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to answer to older offers. Some owners can be slower than others, you never know.
Personal experience with house sitting
We started with house sitting in New Zealand, where housing is really expensive. One-week rent of a small room can be easily around $250. House and pet sitting was an ideal choice for us. We have lived on farms as well as in luxurious houses.
Since we got the first reference, there was no problem getting more and more house sitting jobs. Few times, the owners contacted us directly without any published ad. They wrote that they like us and want us to house sit for them.
Many times it happened to us, that we were invited for dinner, once for a horseback ride and a few times we could even use the owner’s car. We have never had a problem with anything and we can simply recommend house sitting to everyone!
Cool introduction video about house sitting:
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