This morning, my day started with a flat white and a little morning sun, out on the deck in a backyard dotted with palm trees. Then I walked a playful English Bull Terrier cross dog on a pristine beach, whilst breathing in the ocean air.
Once home I setup my laptop and began a morning of writing for my blog (with more coffee), whilst the doggo snoozes peacefully in her bed.
My partner is here with me, chilling out watching movies on the flat screen TV. And later on today we’re going to go down to the bay, kick back on the beach and watch the cruise ships come in, probably with some fish & chips and a beer.
We’re in Mount Maunganui, in the sunny Bay of Plenty region, of New Zealand.
And get this. We don’t pay any rent, or utilities and we’re here for 4 whole months.
How do we do this? By House Sitting.
We travel around the world, looking after people’s houses and their pets, and living rent-free in exchange for our House sitting services. The Homeowners get to have peace of mind that their home and pets are looked after whilst they’re on holiday or vacation and we get a free place to stay!
Most of our travelling over the last four years has been through house sitting jobs, and this means we have been able to stay in some places much longer, than we’d normally be able to afford to.
We’ve been able to live for several months in cities with a high cost-of-living such as; Sydney and Perth in Australia and Auckland and Mount Maunganui in New Zealand.
We’ve had awesome experiences house sitting in Thailand and Malaysia as well.
House sitting is becoming a more popular practice now and many people are often using it as a way to save on accommodation costs, when they travel.
It’s not only long-term travellers like us that can house sit. Even if you fancy a weekend away in the country, or a week-long city break, there’ll be a house sitting job out there perfect for you.
House sitting jobs can range in duration, from a short weekend, to long-term six month stretches. The shortest house sit we’ve had has been 2 nights; the longest we’ve had was 5 months.
With our years of experience and excellent work ethic, we have now built up a solid reputation with lots of brilliant references. Now we get requests from all over the world, to look after people’s houses and pets.
And we’ve made some pretty awesome friends through house sitting too, a lot of them with the Homeowners themselves.
When we meet new people they often ask us about our lifestyle, and about how to become a House sitter.
But what if you’ve never heard of house sitting or are unsure how to enter this world?
There are house sitting jobs perfect for everyone out there, you just need to know where to look and how to approach house sitting.
So in this step-by-step guide How To Become a House Sitter, I’m going to help get you started with house sitting so you can get your perfect house sitting job.
WHAT IS HOUSE SITTING?
The first thing to do is to have an understanding of what the concept is.
House sitting is when a Homeowner goes away and entrusts their property, belongings and pets to a House sitter, for an agreed upon period of time.
House sitters get to live rent-free in exchange for House sitting responsibilities such as; taking care of their pets, maintenance and housekeeping, taking care of the gardens/land, keeping the property secure and making sure everything runs smoothly.
House sitting involves two parties, the ‘Home owner’ and the ‘House sitter’ and is a trust based “fair” exchange, equalling a win-win situation.
WHY BECOME A HOUSE SITTER?
Pets to Cuddle
I love dogs and I’ve got quite used to living with dogs, so when I travel I do miss having a loveable doggo to hang out with. House sitting means you can have pets to be active and have fun outdoors with, or just to cuddle and chill out with.
You can save so much money by house sitting, especially in expensive cities.
We have saved thousands by House sitting in places like Sydney and Auckland.
We did a House sitting job in the beach resort of Mount Maunganui in New Zealand for 4 months duration. The same amount of time in a holiday apartment or an Airbnb, would have cost us S18,000 NZD.
We’ve also stayed for 10 days, for free in the highly popular suburb of Manly, in Sydney, Australia. This would have cost us $1,800 AUD, for a hotel room in that area.
You can Travel Slow
I love to travel and see lots of places, but I prefer to stay and really feel the essence of the place I’m travelling to.
House sitting enables you to slow down, take time in your destination and let go of the rapid itinerary mindset of check-in, see things, check-out, and move on.
Live Like a Local
House sitting opens up a new type of travel, where you get to discover unique, local places and meet interesting people, by immersing yourself in someone else’s lifestyle for a while.
You won’t need travel guidebooks anymore, you’ve now made contact with the ultimate travel mentor of that destination. The Homeowner will be able to recommend all the places they know and love and can help map your way around their neighbourhood, plus the cafes, parks, beaches and supermarkets.
We have also created some amazing friendships out of our house sitting jobs and there are some friends we’ve made and experiences we’ve had, that we owe entirely to house sitting.
Try Out a Different Place to Move To
Finding a house sitting job in a country or city you’ve been thinking about moving to, is a great way of getting an initial feeling for what it’s really like to live there – before actually making the commitment to move.
WHERE CAN I HOUSE SIT?
Anywhere that you can! By this I mean some countries have a current house sitting community or movement. From my experience, I find most Western countries are familiar with the practice of house sitting such as; Europe, UK, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
The countries that don’t really have a house sitting presence, often don’t because they don’t recognise the practice of ‘House sitting’ as part of their culture.
Some locals in some countries wouldn’t consider it culturally or socially acceptable, to let a stranger stay in their house in their absence.
In those countries, only consider the ones that have a large expat population, such as; Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE, Mexico or Costa Rica.
WHAT DO I DO ON A HOUSE SITTING JOB, OR WHAT IS EXPECTED OF A HOUSE SITTER?
As a House Sitter, you are expected to look after the Homeowners house, possessions and pets in the same way the homeowner would, whilst they are away.
This will involve any or all of the following tasks; walking the pets in the local area, feeding them and cleaning up after them, giving the pets attention and enrichment, watering plants, mowing the lawns, pool maintenance, putting out rubbish and recycling for collection, keeping the house clean, collecting the mail and checking the property is always secure.
Most homeowners will leave you instructions or guidelines to follow, on the finer details of their house and pets.
Some house sitting jobs can be really cruisey and some can involve a lot of work. Research the house sitting job you’re taking on by asking questions and don’t take on anything beyond your ability.
DO I GET PAID TO BECOME A HOUSE SITTER?
Generally the answer to this is no. The trust based ‘fair’ exchange is essentially the ‘payment’. You get to stay in a house rent-free with all amenities and comforts, and the homeowner gets their house taken care of and their pets are happy in the environment they are used to being in.
Some homeowners are generous and will leave a ‘kindness payment’, we’ve had things like; a stocked fridge, chocolate or a bottle of wine left for us.
Sometimes we get left an emergency fund for pet-related issues, but there’s no actual payment for the house sitting job itself, (unless you operate as a House sitter who charges, then you have to establish yourself as a business).
HOW TO BECOME A HOUSE SITTER AND GET HOUSE SITTING JOBS
We’ve been house sitting for years and have become experts in applying for and getting accepted for the house sitting jobs we want. It IS possible for you to do this too, if you just work on your approach and the process.
This post will now guide you through the steps of how to become a house sitter and massively increase your chances of getting house sitting jobs.
1. Must Love Pets
Being an animal lover, is the most important criteria for becoming a House sitter. The majority of house sitting jobs will have pets and some might even have farm animals to take care of.
Having a love of animals, a caring nature and hands-on attitude is almost a prerequisite for house sitting.
Having a House sitter alleviates the stress of a Homeowner having to put their pet into expensive pet accommodation and they have peace of mind that their pets will remain in their own environment, with their regular routines.
2. Decide Where You Want to House Sit
There are literally hundreds of opportunities for house sitting jobs all over the world. So first you need to decide where you’d like to start house sitting, then you can narrow your search.
Do you want to house sit in your local area, in another city in your home country, or in another country or continent entirely?
Deciding on this will also help you when choosing which house sitting website is best for you to join.
3. Collect some References
This is the key to house sitting job wins – references. Most Homeowners will ask for references and they WILL check on them.
They are leaving their treasured pets and all their worldly possessions to you, a potential stranger. They are entitled to know things about you, and you are morally obligated to be honest with them, as this is a trust-based exchange.
But it’s where most people fall down and give up with house sitting. So what if you’re just getting started with house sitting and you don’t have any references? I hear you.
Get some references on your profile from anyone, who you have shown responsibility to. An employer, a volunteer project, someone you babysat for, a friends business you helped out in, a neighbour you did errands for – anything!
Having references will lead to you getting accepted for more house sitting jobs and then one good job leads to a great reference, which leads to another.
Soon you’ll have lots of great references, which will enable you to get accepted for the more competitive house sitting jobs. Trust!
4. Where to find House Sitting jobs – Join a House Sitting Website
There are lots of house sitting websites out there, although to know which one is the best house sitting website to join, depends on what kind of house sitting job you are looking for.
And if you’re simply looking everywhere in the world for house sitting jobs, maybe places like Thailand, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Caribbean islands, as well as cities like Sydney, London or New York, then Trusted House Sitters is the best house sitting website for you.
Trusted House Sitters have house sitting jobs everywhere! They are sometimes heavier on the UK, Europe and US house sits, although they still have hundreds of house sits in places like Thailand, Japan, Singapore, UAE (Dubai), Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
They’re my favourite house sitting website because for one membership fee, you get access to one of the largest available ranges of house sitting jobs – all over the world. This is often much better than paying multiple membership fees to different websites.
For a more detailed review of the house sitting websites we’ve used (or to just skip ahead to the joining stage), read my post on the best House sitting websites to join. (Opens in new tab, so you can still come back to this page).
(Free limited option or $89 USD for a year)
Nomador has a huge number of house sitting jobs in Europe and is gaining ground with worldwide house sits too.
($60 USD for a year).
Aussie House Sitters has the largest amount of house sitting jobs in Australia, with options for house sitting jobs in all the main Australian states and territories.
($60 USD for a year)
Kiwi House Sitters has the highest number of house sitting jobs available in New Zealand, with options all over the country from alpine to coastal locations.
($119 USD for a year)
Possibly the most popular website for worldwide house sitting jobs, Trusted House Sitters has house sit opportunities in 130 countries and is my personal favourite.
The platform is easy to use, the house sit listings are beautifully detailed and there are resources available to create yourself a winning profile, such as options to add your own video intro.
We got our awesome Bangkok and Koh Lanta house sits through this website.
($89 USD for a year)
One of the largest house sitting websites, House Sit Match is heavier on the house sitting jobs in Europe and North America. House Sit Match also runs ID/background checks on all members, which is included in the cost of membership.
($40 USD for a year).
House Carers was the very first international house sitting website and they have a wide range of house sits all over the world. Bonus tip: Some sitters have said, it is sometimes easier to be successful on this website, as it isn’t as competitive as some of the larger websites.
5. Create a Great Profile
So you’ve signed up to a house sitting website and you’re browsing the amazing looking house sitting jobs that are available. What next?
Creating a winning profile is half the battle when you’re searching for house sitting jobs.
Yes it’s true; there is a lot of competition for landing the awesome house sitting jobs. You might have even read things on social media, which say there are more house sitters than house sits available.
I don’t personally know the statistics to support this statement, but one thing I do know, is not all the house sitters out there are necessarily, brilliant house sitters.
Homeowners get a LOT of applicants, especially if they have a house in a popular location, and they have to sift through all those applicants themselves.
So make it easier for them and make sure you stand out in your profile.
Make sure your House sitter profile:
- Reflects your authentic self
- Is well-written and up to date
- Includes your house sitting or pet sitting experience
- Includes any other relevant skills you may have; languages, pet grooming, handy with maintenance & tools, gardening skills, horse whisperer
- Details what you are doing now and where you are in the world
- Includes some photos of you with pets or animals
6. Sign up for Daily Email Alerts
Most house sitting websites have an email alert feature, where you can set up alerts for when house sits are listed, that match your personal preferences.
Trusted House Sitters actually email all their paid members a list of the brand new house sitting jobs, 24 hours before they are put on the website. So you can always have a chance to be the first to apply.
And House Carers email house sit notifications for free and *bonus tip* all of their new house sitting jobs get posted hourly to Twitter – so you can get them earlier on their Twitter account here.
7. Keep Checking and Be The First To Apply For Your Perfect House sitting Job
Now that you have your email alerts setup, you can jump on the ones that you prefer straight away.
If you are looking for house sits in popular cities like New York, Sydney, Auckland, London or Singapore, you will need to check the website regularly, to check for new listings.
When I’m looking for house sits in Sydney, because I know how insanely competitive it is, I login several times a day to check listings.
Sometimes a House sitting job ad can be added and the homeowner will get 10 replies in the first couple of hours, so then because they don’t want to be overwhelmed with more replies, they’ll close down the ad.
Then you’ve missed out. So keep checking and jump on them as soon as the popular house sitting jobs are posted.
8. Start Applying for House sitting Jobs
So now that you’ve been browsing the house sitting jobs in the area you’ve decided on, you can now make a shortlist of the ones you like and start applying!
If you are just starting out with house sitting, try to be flexible. Be flexible with your dates, as Homeowners will most likely have rigid dates, due to their booked travel plans.
And try to cast a wide net. You might really want that gorgeous New York apartment on that side of the city, because it’s where the good tourist attractions are. But there’ll be huge competition for it and there might be a brilliant house sit in the next borough over, that’s much easier to get accepted for.
Now craft your perfect message to the house sits you want to apply for. A good introduction is the key, ensure you are polite, friendly, and enthusiastic and show your caring side.
Do not send a generic copy and paste message to lots of house sit listings at once. Most Homeowners will be able to tell and you run the risk of sounding salesy.
Really read the house sitting job ad closely, tailor write each message and address the criteria, in the same way you would for a job ad.
If their description and photos show their pets a lot, then focus on the pets when you’re talking to them. Most Homeowners would prefer you love their pets first and their house second, so always focus on the pets.
If they mention their dog is large and energetic, tell them if you have experience handling or running large dogs, if there is a pool in the picture, tell them you’re confident doing pool maintenance.
Tell them a little about yourself, why you’re house sitting, your experience and your love of animals.
Be honest about why you want to house sit, we often just tell Homeowners that we love pets, we like having home comforts when we travel and we love having fun, lovable doggo’s to walk.
9. Meeting the Homeowner and seeing your house sitting job
Once you’ve applied for a house sitting job and have engaged in conversation with a Homeowner, they will probably want to arrange to meet up with you.
The most common way to do this is for you, to go meet the Homeowner at the house you would potentially be house sitting at.
FACE-FACE MEETING: To create a good first impression, make sure you actually turn up when you have arranged to meet them, and try not to reschedule. Rescheduling will only open up an opportunity for another house sitter to swoop in and take your house sitting job.
You don’t have to ‘suit up’ like at a job interview, but make sure you look good. Of course be yourself, but keep any potentially undesirable behaviour (if you have any) such as swearing or smoking, until the meeting is over.
VIDEO CALL MEETING: If you’re in a different location to the house-sit, suggest doing a video call or Skype interview with the Homeowner, so they can meet you and so you can see the pets, the house and environment you’ll be looking after.
We have secured a lot of our house sits through a video call interview and Homeowners we’ve spoken to, agree it’s much more personable and interactive than a regular phone call.
Most Homeowners know a lot of House sitters are travelling, so they understand that you might be in a different location to them.
You’re going to be living there, so now is the time to ask questions.
Are the dogs good with other dogs? Where can you walk them? Is there a supermarket nearby? Is there a workspace available? How is their Wi-Fi connection? Are you able to leave the pets for a while to explore the area? Would they want you there a few days before they leave to go over everything?
Keep up good communication throughout the process, so you can build trust and really learn about their house & their pets.
YOU GOT THE HOUSE SITTING JOB!
Yay! It’s an awesome feeling to know you’ve been accepted for the house sitting job you wanted. Especially if it’s full of new potential furry friends or in a new location you can’t wait to explore.
Now that you have the house sitting job, make sure that you:
Respect the Homeowner and their House
Aside from the agreed tasks that are expected of a house sitter, always respect the Homeowners house and belongings. They are entrusting you with their personal possessions and their fur babies who are part of their family.
Only use rooms and items that the homeowner has OK’ed you to use and don’t use their space to throw social gatherings or parties.
Stick to the Homeowners Guidelines
Always stick to the guidelines the Homeowners have left you. If they’ve taken the time to explain something to you, there are probably good reasons why Fido can’t eat chicken or isn’t allowed off the leash.
Keep the pets’ feeding habits and daily routines the same, as this is what they’re used to, plus changing it will affect their behaviour and it’s you that has to deal with that.
Similarly with the house, if you are told to keep a door shut, or not to touch something fragile, not to leave food out or to turn something off every day – just trust that these things are also done for a good reason.
Give the Pets Attention
I am a huge animal lover and very empathetic, so I genuinely love looking after the pets and I always give them attention. After all, their human is suddenly gone and there might a certain amount of fretting on their part.
So we never go out on the first day or night of a house sit, especially if the pets are prone to anxiety.
I’m not suggesting you can’t go out at all; we go out for a couple of hours to look around or grab some essentials.
But I would never feel good about arriving to a new house sit and then going out for most of the night, leaving the pet wondering what is going on.
I usually work from home, when I am house sitting, so on a daily basis, I would not leave a dog alone for longer than 4-5 hours, as it completely negates the need for having a house sitter if you’re never going to be there.
Are Prepared for Tricky (and sometimes) Yucky Situations
Yes, there are plenty of happy, fun and playful times to be had, but plenty of yucky instances have also happened, in my years of House sitting and Pet sitting.
Literally today one such instance of ‘yuck’ happened, where the two Cavalier/Kelpie cross dogs we were walking in a Sydney park, sniffed out a dried up bat carcass and started to eat it – ARGH!
If you’ve ever tried to get a dog to drop something that the dog is fully convinced is super tasty, you know what a difficult task it is.
Another time I was at a Dog Park and there was this cute little Pug dog sniffing my shoe for ages… and then he peed on it.
Nothing surprises me anymore.
Be prepared to be hands-on, sometimes covered in mud, hair, slobber (or all of the above) and to have to pick up a lot of poop and maybe some hairballs.
In the case of houses, we’ve had to clean up the garden after a small hurricane in New Zealand ruined it, and we had to mop up after a storm caused our roof to leak in Australia.
Just be prepared to get a bit down and dirty sometimes.
Keep Up the Comms
The Homeowner might be having a great time on their holiday but they’ll still appreciate updates from you. Always send a text or email update a few times a week and send a few photos of their pets too, so they can see everything is all good and in hand.
Let them know straight away, if any important deliveries have arrived, any pet food has ran out or any house maintenance issues arise.
After The House sitting Job Is Complete
As the House sitting job is coming to an end, think about how you would like the Homeowner to remember you. You probably want a great review or reference and you might want to repeat house sit for them, in the future.
Send a follow-up email or text a few days after the house sit has ended and just tell the Homeowner how much you loved house sitting for them.
Then tell them you would love to house sit for them in the future and politely ask if they would mind leaving you a review on the website they found you on.
So that completes our post on How To Become a House Sitter and Get House Sitting Jobs. We hope this has been helpful in deciding which house sitting website to use and has given you some inspiration to get started in the world of house sitting.
Get started now!
If you want to know more about house sitting and how it can save you money when travelling, check out these articles:
I am in the process of writing an eBook on How to Get House Sitting Jobs, which will include even more detailed tips and wisdom on how to write a brilliant profile, examples of messages to send to Homeowners, contract examples and other house sitting tips.
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