So, you want to be a House Sitter? Housesitting is a wonderful way to discover new parts of the world, meet new people and connect with animals. Since selling our house in the middle of 2017 we have been house sitting. We spent six months house sitting in our hometown Wellington, New Zealand and are now housesitting in the UK and Europe.
What is house sitting? House sitting is where you look after someones home and pets (more often than not) while they are out of town. We love house sitting and this post describes how to get your first house sit, where to find house sits and what to do once you get that first house sit. Hopefully, this post will give you a few tips to help you get your first house sit, enjoy it and maybe get asked back to sit at a later date.
You will find this information in this article
House sitting is a great way to see new parts of the world while also living locally. Before venturing into the house sitting world it is important to think about why house sitting is for you. Over the last year, I have been noticing loads of blogs discussing how to ‘travel the world for free’ by house sitting. And every time I see those blogs or articles I get a little annoyed. House and Pet sitting is not a free ride. It takes effort, commitment, care and time – sure you get free accommodation, but that is a by-product of a much fuller and richer experience.
We House Sit because
House Sitting is a responsibility. You are looking after someones home and treasured pets, so being clear about your intentions and expectations is really important. Home and Pet owners are placing their trust and confidence in you to ensure their home and pets are in the same condition (if not better) than when they left.
Quick tip: Be clear about why you want to house sit. Are you in it for free accommodation or because you genuinely enjoy looking after homes and pets?
Where to start?! We started by working out why we wanted to house sit and what skills and experience we thought we had to be top notch house sitters. We then started to build a profile which could be used as the basis for our profiles on various sites, and future house sit applications.
Your profile is the first (and sometimes last) thing Home Owners will see when they are looking for house sitters or wading through applications for their house sit. It is important that your profile is clear, concise and captures the important information to enable a homeowner to make a quick decision about whether you are the right fit for them. Your profile needs to be focused on the needs and requirements of homeowners, they are looking to find someone to stay in their home and look after their pets, so be honest and open!
Here are the main things you should think about including in your profile:
Quick tip: check out other sitter profiles on house sitting sites (see below). Are there aspects you like or don’t like? Think about how your profile may look in comparison.
References are an important part of your House Sitting journey. At a minimum, you should aim to have at least four good references to support your House Sitting profile and applications. References give an independent view of you, your trustworthiness, skills and experiences. Several of the homeowners from our house sits have contacted our referee’s – so make sure your referees know that when they put in a reference they may be contacted.
If you are at the beginning of your House Sitting journey you may not have loads of references – but don’t worry, there are plenty of ways you can get references that reflect your skills, experience and trustworthiness for homeowners and the potential house sits. If you need more references, think about:
Quick Tip: Think about volunteering to regularly walk a friend’s or neighbour’s dog. Ask them for reference.
There are several websites you can use to find house sits or housesitting vacancies, but what is the best housesitting website you ask? The best housesitting website is the one (or ones) that get you a housesit. We have found that using a combination of a local housesitting site with large international sites has given us a good mix of sits, and ensured we are booked up for at least six months ahead. We find it is good to use house sitting sites as they also have toolkits and/or for homeowners and sitters, plus some offer additional vetting or potential house sitters.
We found Kiwi Housesitters to be a great local site for when we were sitting in our hometown. The site is free to browse for everyone, but through paying a $65 NZD/£33/$47USD you can correspond with homeowners and apply for sits. Another great thing about this site is that any references you get can be linked to an Aussie Housesitters or House Sitters UK accounts you open up in future.
Trusted Housesitters has a big market presence and costs £89. Their website is easy to use with the added bonus of live chat. They have a verification system for house sitters, you can see how many people have applied for the sit, and you can check out feedback from previous housesitters. The site also has a good dashboard function that makes it easy to keep track of your applications. There is a good range of house sits on the site, but you do have to be in quick as many homeowners get inundated with lots of offers.
This site appears to have a heavy European focus, although we have successfully gained a house sit in Morocco through Nomador. Nomador was profiled on French television in 2017 so there are also lots of French house sits on the site. We have also noticed that there is longer house sits listed on Nomador (compared with other sites). It is a relatively easy site to navigate. We also really like how they have a Seasonal filter too – so if you were looking for a house sit in Winter 2019 you can easily search for it.
There are two membership options available –
Mind My House is an easy site to navigate, very user-friendly and accessible. It costs $20USD to register as a sitter. We haven’t had much luck with this site yet, but will keep going!
House Carers is a fairly straightforward site – there are no bells and whistles (which we like). You can register for updates on house sits that meet your criteria. While we have registered with House Carers we have not yet been successful in securing any sits – but will persevere with the site. House Carers has two membership options with a free limited membership for House Sitters that enables you to view available sits. By upgrading to the full paid membership ($50USD) you can also read messages from Home Owners.
Facebook is another option for finding house sits. There are several groups focusing on house sits in specific countries (France, Italy). We have joined a couple of these groups and find them useful from a community perspective. These groups do not necessarily offer any infrastructure (unless they are linked to sites like the ones listed above) so there may be an added element of risk. As always make sure you do due diligence and check references etc.
Using your own networks is a great way to build up your confidence and experience in House Sitting (and get some references!). You don’t necessarily have to be house sitting for weeks on end
Now you have prepared your profile, got your references sorted and identified potential sites it is time to identify potential house sits. Each house sitting site will have different ways to search for house sits. Home Owners upload sits regularly so it makes sense to set up notifications on your preferred sites for house sits that meet your criteria. When starting out, think about your ideal house sit – what are the things you need to be clear about – these are your criteria:
Be sure to check the listing details and the descriptions the homeowners have provided. For example, will you need a car? Is there a local shop or supermarket? Will other people be present and/or visiting? Check the homeowner’s reviews – what have other house sitters said? Are the owners expecting a contribution towards bills and expenses?
Quick tip: house sits in popular locations get many applications – very quickly. If you find a house sit that fits your criteria, get in there and apply quickly.
Now you have identified a house sit to apply for it is time to swing into action and get your application in. We find the easiest way is to develop a standard application that concisely describes who we are, our house sitting skills and experience and why we are the right persons for the house sit. We also ensure to personalise each application. If the homeowner names pets or identifies specific requirements in their ad, we ensure we refer to these in our application.
We also make sure to ask questions if anything is unclear in the ad for example, when would the homeowners expect you to arrive at their home for the sit – the day of, two days beforehand, the night before. , and then When applying, make sure to have a personalized application – name the pets, space etc
Many homeowners like to also schedule a Skype interview or meet you in person. We have found this is a very good way to initiate a relationship and ask questions. It is important that you are prepared, ask questions and communicate clearly throughout the process. Trust your instincts too – if the homeowner has lots of specific rules you need to follow to look after their home or pets – and you aren’t a rule follower – then perhaps that house sit is not for you.
If you do make it through to the stage of your application being considered, try and get confirmation about the homeowners’ expectations. If it is unclear, don’t assume. Here are a few prompt questions to keep in mind:
Quick Tip: Don’t make assumptions. Ask if you are unclear or need more information.
Congratulations, your hard work has paid off and you have booked your first house sit. Now what? Well, the hard work is really just beginning. Here are a few things to think about in the run-up to and during your house sit. Of course, you can adapt these to your own style and approach, but we know these things work for us – so they might work for you too.
So there you have it…
Hopefully, you have found this post helpful, and it has given you some tips for getting your first housesit. Housesitting is a rewarding experience. We love it, hopefully you will too.
If you found this useful please share! And of course, if you need any further information get in touch!