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Are you curious about how to become a housesitter?
I had always wondered how to become a house sitter. I perused websites and started dreaming of unique opportunities. Was I brave enough to be a solo housesitter? Finally, I put this dream into action, my first housesit being in Cambridge looking after two chickens!
Partway through 2015, I adopted a nomadic lifestyle. Since then I have stayed in many Air BnB’s (oh… that jungle house in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica), hostels (my favourite being in Managua, Nicaragua), guesthouses (Sri Lanka, you win here) and the smallest hotel I have stayed in? The capsule hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
Interspersed amongst all the “regular” ways to sleep when travelling I have also been a professional house sitter. I have completed 24 housesits some through Trusted Housesitters and others for family and friends.
I get asked a lot of questions about “how” to become a housesitter? Here is everything you need to know about how to be a house sitter from someone with a lot of experience as a housesitter!
How To Become A Housesitter
1. What Is House Sitting?
Housesitting is a reciprocal arrangement between two parties. One, the homeowner, and the other, the professional housesitter. Through a series of considerations, conversations and steps (outlined below), an agreement is made. The housesitter lives in and cares for both the home and pets while the homeowner is away.
2. How To Become A House Sitter and Why?
Questions I am often asked about how to be a house sitter are:
- “How do you find these amazing house sitting jobs?”
- “How do you connect with the right people for these home sitting jobs?
- “Why would people just let strangers in their home?”
House sitting is becoming much more common. Yes. You can travel the world, stay in someone else’s house while you look after their pets and embrace the opportunity for slow travel. Living in the community is a much different and deeper experience than being a tourist passing through for a couple of days.
Get 25% off your new membership with Trusted Housesitters.
3. How To Become A Housesitter: The Benefits
I feel like this equation says it all:
Free Accommodation+ Pets+ Slow Travel+ Home Away from Home = A Marvellous Way to Travel the World
Free Accommodation While House Sitting
One of the most expensive parts of travel is accommodation. As a professional housesitter in exchange for looking after someone’s home and animals, you live for free in a location you have always wanted to visit or possibly one you have never heard of! I spend a lot of time on google maps scoping out where housesits are available, and if a particular housesit is in an area that interests me.
Looking After Pets While Home Sitting
If you are a pet lover, and in the midst of your travels, housesitting is a lovely way to connect with animals. That cat purring on your lap? Taking the dog for a walk through the forest? Feeding the donkeys? Connecting with animals on your journey gives you that “home away from home” feeling. Beware though! A soft spot for these animals develops and it is hard to leave them.
Professional House Sitting Is The Ultimate In Slow Travel
Housesitting is slow travel and living like a local all bundled together. Returning to the same market week after week, meeting up with the neighbour while walking the dog and sinking into the local culture create a different experience than staying in a hotel. Making connections is the essence of slow travel. It feels authentic chatting to the neighbour who walks by your front garden every day.
Home Away from Home As A Housesitter
Especially as a nomadic traveller, I love having a longer housesit (4 + weeks) so I can settle in and really feel like I have a home! Jamming to some tunes while I cook up a feast with local ingredients and putting my clothes in drawers are a few things I have come to appreciate.
Be A Housesitter In Your Own Backyard
For me, this is Canada. I housesit in Canada giving me the opportunity to be close to my grown children, parents and friends. I have discovered new areas in familiar cities.
Read More | How to be more eco friendly as a housesitter…15 Eco-Friendly Travel Products: What’s in Your Bag?
4. Housesitting Benefits For The Homeowner
It can be very stressful figuring out what to do with your pets when you are planning a vacation. I know. I’ve been there. Usually, we ended up taking them with us, but that’s not always possible. (Picture a 52-hour drive from Canada to Mexico.)
It is a lot to ask family and friends to look after those lovable pets. This is where housesitters come in.
Kerry has used Trusted Housesitters and this is what she has to say about it,
“Your pet doesn’t have to adjust to the noise of a kennel or the strange atmosphere of another’s home and gets to maintain all the “creature” comforts of their own home hence reducing the stress on the pet. Also, you get to have someone stay in your home who has been vetted by other pet owners. You can travel knowing your home is being watched, yard maintained, pet lover giving love to your furry family member and your pet’s needs being lovingly met.”
I feel like this sums it up:
Happy Pets + Safe Home + Free Arrangement= Peace of Mind While on Vacation
You know your pets (ahem – family members!) are happiest lying in their favourite spot at home, rather than in a kennel.
A Safe Home With A Housesitter
Having someone living in your home while you are away, offers a different kind of peace of mind.
Save Money With A Housesitter
Having a housesitter look after your pets and house for free is a nice little money saver.
Peace of Mind For The Homeowner
Knowing that your animals are being looked after in their own home and bed and with their usual routines is the best-case scenario for many pets.
And while you have all this organized? Why not take a few extra days vacation!
The added bonus for both the homeowner and the professional housesitter is that personal relationships are made worldwide, some long-lasting.
Read More | What are the potential benefits of housesitting? Here are 10! 10 Unforgettable Benefits of House and Pet Sitting
5. How To Become A Housesitter: Is It For You?
There are many questions to ask yourself about how to become a housesitter.
- Are you (as a solo traveller) brave enough to stay in a rural setting?
- Are you flexible?
- Are you adaptable?
- Are you reliable?
- Are you a good communicator?
- What’s your sense of humour like?
- Do you get disappointed if things don’t turn out as expected?
- Are you a hard worker?
House sitting jobs are not easy. It is a huge commitment to the homeowners and if you are travelling solo, you alone are responsible for everything the housesit entails.
Become A House Sitter: Do You Like Animals?
This is the first thing to check. There are home sitting jobs available without animals to care for, but the majority have an animal component. What kind of animals are you comfortable looking after? It is definitely fine to look after animals that you haven’t before, for example, I have looked after chickens, donkeys, goats and sheep, but make sure it will be in your comfort zone. I, for example, would never look after guinea pigs, snakes or gerbils. Not my thing!
Be A House Sitter: Are You Willing To Commit?
Once you commit, as a professional house sitter, to the dates and expectations of the housesit you are tied in. There is no wishy-washy changing of your mind. So give the dates, location, logistics and expectations HUGE consideration because once you say yes, it is not very ethical to back out unless of course there are extenuating circumstances.
How To Become A Housesitter: Are You Flexible And Adaptable?
When you step into someone else’s life, their house and routines, it is an incredible insight into the human race. We are all different. So you won’t find things necessarily set up as you would. Can you roll with it? This is really important for your happiness and the homeowner’s satisfaction.
As The Professional House Sitter Are You Able To Ask For What You Need?
So let’s say there is an amazing housesitting opportunity in a treehouse in Provence, or Hawaii or rural Portugal. Very tempting. I start dreaming A LOT! But remember to think of your own needs. I, for example, need high-speed wifi, a non-smoking environment and don’t want to be too remote.
Are You Looking For Long-Term Housesits?
Looking for a longterm housesit? It is a wonderful way to get to know a city or area of a country. Be sure you have researched visa requirements. For example, Canadians can only spend 90 days in the Schengen countries in Europe. So when there are 6-month housesits in rural France available no matter how attractive they are, I know I can’t apply.
6. How To Become A Housesitter As A Solo Traveller?
So what is the difference in becoming a professional house sitter if you are a solo traveller?
The Solo House Sitter: The Expectations
Housesitting solo means that you are fulfilling all the expectations on your own. Read carefully. Ask questions. Do you want to walk the dog for 3 one hour walks a day? Are you good at flipping breaker switches and unfreezing the gas stove in the morning with a blow torch? I mean, who would have thought? You end up dealing with some issues that you could never have imagined. Here’s where your adaptability comes in.
Also, consider your reason for housesitting. Do you plan to relax and live like a local? Are you planning to work digitally? Read carefully the homeowner’s expectations before applying. Sometimes there is a lot of gardening or snow shovelling. Once I was asked to look after an 18-year-old human (!) for part of the time. I graciously declined.
There is only one set of ears to listen to the multitude of instructions that will be tossed your way. Also only one brain to think of questions to ask. Make sure there are written instructions, even with family and friends. I was once promised an email that would have all the details I needed. It never arrived.
Luckily with the internet, you can be in touch with the homeowners fairly easily but written instructions are a must. I refer to them often.
Pay really close attention to the routines. Dog walking routines are critical. Ask to complete a walk or two together so you can see the route and watch how the dog behaves and what cues he/she responds to.
Pick a location where you will feel comfortable and safe. Perhaps for you, that is in the city in an old leafy neighbourhood. Perhaps it is a country manor down a winding road. You don’t want to feel scared and alone. There are some really remote places that are listed which I think sound great but are too isolated for me.
This can be a factor for solo travellers whether housesitting or not. The fact is you are alone in the house. Are you seeking solitude? Will you be good with it? In my experience, there are housesits where I have met neighbours and locals and been invited over. There are also housesits where I didn’t meet anyone. Do a self-check. What are you good with? Will you be disappointed if you don’t meet anyone? If that is a goal then how will you go about meeting locals?
There are always calamities. Expect the unexpected as a housesitter! Can you go with the flow when the dog runs away, the chickens are hiding on you, your clothes are locked in the washing machine for days and the power goes off at midnight? How will you react when you remember that the breaker switch is in a creepy building beside the house. In the whole scheme of life, these are quite insignificant events but stresses like these happen and have to be dealt with when you become a housesitter. Solo.
7. How To Become A Housesitter: Apply
When you are figuring out how to become a housesitter put the word out to family and friends. This is a wonderful way to get started!
There are also housesitting sites that connect you with people looking for your services.
Trusted Housesitters is the only organization that I have used so far. But there are other sites out there such as:
These blog posts compare the pros and cons of different housesitting sites – Here and this one too
Trusted Housesitters is very well known with available housesits worldwide. I have used their website to find housesits in France, the U.K and Canada. Trusted Housesitters also has well thought out resources to support your quest to be a housesitter.
Trusted Housesitters 2021 Yearly Fee:
Housesitter: There is a yearly fee ranging from the Basic Plan at $139 (Cdn), to the Standard Plan at $179 (Cdn) and the Premium Sitter Plan at $299. Use this link to get your housesitting plan at 25% off (new memberships).
Home/Pet Owner: There is a yearly fee ranging from the Basic Plan at $99 (Cdn), to the Standard Plan at $129 (Cdn) and the Premium Owner Plan at $199.
Combined Plans if you plan to use it as both a housesitter and a homeowner: There is a yearly fee ranging from the Basic Plan at $189 (Cdn), to the Standard Plan at $229 (Cdn) and the Premium Combined Plan at $349.
How To Become A Housesitter Getting Started:
- Set up your profile: it is really important to set up a fabulous profile that really showcases the authentic you! Homeowners want to know who they are handing over their home and pets to. Be honest.
- Provide 3 references: employment, character and a house or pet sitting one.
- Trust Verifications: there are 3 levels of verifications to complete.
- Police Check: although this is not mandatory, I have been asked to provide one.
- Driver’s Abstract: I have also been asked, once, to provide my driving record when I am using the homeowner’s vehicle.
Once you are a member, daily emails are sent with the latest available housesits. Only members can see the newest housesitting opportunities for the first 24 hours. The emails will get you dreaming of far away places and possibilities closer to home.
The Trusted Housesitters App:
In 2018, Trusted Housesitters created an app for easy and convenient use of the site and ease of communication with the homeowner.
My favourite feature of the app is the notifications. If, for example, you have your heart set on a housesit in Fiji or in a particular city, you can set the app up to notify you of new housesits as they arise.
Under SEARCH enter your preferred location and dates, SAVE it and wait for your mobile to chime!
This means you can apply as soon as the posting is available. Homeowners can receive 50+ applications. If you are one of the first 5 applicants, I believe you have a much better chance of getting the gig.
Applying To Home Sitting Jobs:
When you find a particular person/ family/ location/ animals that fit with what you are looking for and your dates, apply through the website. Apply. Apply. Apply. Apply. There is a lot of competition out there. Be patient. An incredible opportunity you have your heart set on may or may not materialize.
It is really critical to write a well-crafted application email. Treat it as though you are applying for a job. I write an upbeat application explaining who I am (highlight my previous, relevant experiences), why I am interested in their housesit specifically and why I would be a great candidate to look after their pet(s) and home.
It is key to personalize the email by mentioning the pets’ names. I often refer to the pets, by name, in the opening line of my email.
Then…wait to see what comes back to you.
Sometimes you hear nothing. Sometimes you receive an email saying, “Not this time.” And sometimes it’s a match!
How To Become A Housesitter – The Interview:
This is a critical part of how to become a housesitter. Usually, the homeowner will want to meet you on Skype, Zoom or in person. Often, they are interviewing several people and then making a decision. You are applying to look after somebody’s home and loved ones. Us humans? We simply adore our pets and want that special someone to care for them.
What Do You, the Housesitter, Need?
During the Skype meeting, it is important to clarify details for yourself. Be prepared with questions that matter to you. Examples of questions I typically ask are:
- Is a car necessary to get to the grocery store or local attractions?
- How long can I can leave the pets to go sightseeing?
- Is the wifi high speed and reliable?
- Is it a non-smoking house?
- Can I use public transportation to visit nearby attractions?
- Is there an expectation to pay for anything? Some long term sits will ask that you pay for water or electricity. This should be listed in the details of the housesit.
- Can I have guests?
It is important to clarify the expectations that were written in the posting. I asked one homeowner to send more pictures of the house so that I could visualize clearly where I would be living for six weeks.
The interview is a really critical conversation and sets the foundation for a successful experience for both parties.
Several of my housesits have not had a Skype interview. We did, however, email extensively back and forth. My very first housesit when I asked Beverly, the homeowner if she was quite sure she didn’t want to Skype, she replied, ” If you can look after kindergarten children, you can look after my chickens!” We were both satisfied with that and it was a fine housesit.
Once successful, I continue to converse with the homeowner through email about upcoming details such as arrival arrangements. When possible, I have made arrangements to meet in person prior to the start of the housesit.
8. No Worries – You’re Insured
If your membership is up to date with Trusted Housesitters and the housesit is confirmed through the website, the good news is that you are insured. Sits confirmed through Trusted Housesitters are covered for property damage, theft and public liability. You are protected for up to one million US dollars.
It is important to remember that you are insured through the confirmation on the website. I agreed to return to do a second housesit for a homeowner and we did not set it up through the website. In hindsight, I should have insisted that she set the assignment up properly as I was not insured for the duration of the sit.
9. The Housesit Job
Prior to beginning the housesit, the homeowners are to complete a guide that has the necessary details with regards to running the household and looking after the pets. This online guide is invaluable with details such as garbage and recycling schedules and also veterinary information.
With Trusted Housesitters, their Vet Advice Line with expert vet advice is available 24/7. If there is medication to be given to the pets, I keep a written record. Mostly it’s for me to keep track but also just in case there is a problem, records come in handy.
Make sure you have read the guide thoroughly before your arrival and ask any pertinent questions.
It is extremely important to be clear about the homeowners’ expectations with regards to how often they want to receive updates and photos about their pets.
Some people want updates more than once a day and others are chill with a photo and short note every other day. As the professional house sitter, be clear on the expectations and overdeliver.
Housesitting is a bit of an adventure. You just never know what’s going to happen. Twice I have arrived and my heart sank as the house was clearly in need of a solid cleaning. It is not the best way to start a housesit but I think that is just real life. Other times, the fridge has been filled for me and I have shared a meal with the family and neighbours who ended up being friends.
Follow the expectations of the homeowner. If you agreed to walk the dog three times a day, then do it. And of course, enjoy this amazing house sitting opportunity you have landed.
10. The Handover
I always like to leave the house spotless and a gesture to welcome the homeowners home. Sometimes I leave fresh flowers, wine and a note of appreciation. Other times a homemade soup and salad. It is always appreciated.
Know when the family is returning and be sure to allow enough time to debrief with them. They are always excited to hear stories about what has transpired while they were away. If for some reason you don’t overlap at the end of the arranged housesit, be sure to leave thorough debrief notes and/or emails.
11. The Review
After the housesit, the homeowner writes a review of the housesitter. This entails a short, written paragraph and a score on a 5-star rating scale for each of the following: organised, reliable, self-sufficient, tidy and pet-care.
These reviews are public, within the Trusted Housesitters site, and critical to the housesitter as they build one’s credibility and reputation.
With ongoing communication and doing the housesit as outlined, the result is usually a 5-star review from the homeowner. Sometimes things can go sideways. I experienced this when I unexpectedly received a 2-star review. It was devastating. With persistence and the grace of a few homeowners, I bounced back to a 5-star standing.
Trusted Housesitters will not remove a bad review. In a case such as this, you have to prove to Trusted Housesitters that the accusations are not true. Keep your email conversations with the homeowners. Trusted Housesitters did, however, delete parts of the review that were personal attacks and had nothing to do with the original posting.
Sigh, this kind of situation can happen although I do believe it is quite rare. The benefits of connecting with people and pets around the world far outweigh any negatives.
The housesitter can respond to the review which is also public.
When looking for housesits, I read all the previous reviews by the homeowner and the housesitters.
The beauty of housesitting is the experiences and stories of people, places and pets.
Are you ready for some great adventures?
Click here for a 25% discount on your new membership.
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Robin Browne says
Oh my gosh. I love all the animals, very informative- thank you! Those donkeys are too adorable- also that orange tabby at the end is a little cutie 😉
Alison Browne says
That orange tabby that is just chilling out is one of my FAV to housesit!! xx
Nic Hilditch-Short says
This is a great post for us, we’ve been travelling and backpacking for a while but we’re looking to slow down soon and travel slower and stay in one place for longer to work on the blog and get to know a place more. We also love looking after animals too so it would be perfect. But we’ve always been unsure how to get started.
Alison Browne says
It sounds like housesitting would be perfect for you! It really is a unique way to see the world. Glad my guide will help you get started!
Lola La Paz says
Nice extended guide on housesitting. We (my partner and I) tried it one time in Hamburg, Germany and we just loved it! I am now wondering why we don’t do it more often!! 🙂 It is a very good way to keep your cost low, get some awesome inside information about the region from the owner, have a nice place to stay and so much more! Thanks for reminding me how great this is! We just have to do it again! 😉
Alison Browne says
It really is a great way to see the world and every experience is quite different!
What a great way to see the world. Not only do you get to go all over, but it becomes much more personal. I would have loved taking care of the chickens!
Alison Browne says
It was my first time looking after chickens and I loved it! Pretty low maintenance. The donkeys rank up there as some of my favourites!
Housesitting sounds like a great way to experience travel in an entirely new way. It also comes with responsibility and I like how you really explained that side of housesitting. You aren’t just sitting but will actually have to commit to certain things like taking care of animals 🙂
Alison Browne says
Yes. It actually can be a fair amount of work but in return, you get the love of the furry animals. As a nomadic traveller, that’s a huge bonus for me!
Lara Dunning says
Very thorough post with lots of information. I totally want to do this one day, as I think it is a great option to experience local life and see the world. Saving!
Alison Browne says
Oh, that’s great that housesitting appeals to you! Every experience is different so it never gets boring! Live like a local! Wahoo!
This quite possibly is the best review and explanation of house sitting I have ever seen! So many things I wouldn’t have thought to think of or prepare for. I love animals and homes away from homes. But I think where my issue is is when things go wrong. I’m not particularly great at fixing things in my own house let alone someone else’s in a foreign country. I also worry about what if something happened to the pets while the owners were gone that wasn’t in my control. I don’t know if I could handle that and are there protections in place for lawsuits (in our sue happy world)? I do love your photos of all the cute animals and think it’s fabulous you leave fresh flowers and or homemade meals for the owners!
Alison Browne says
Great questions! Things definitely do go wrong but usually, since you are in touch with the owners regularly, you can call someone local to help. In fact, the homeowners often leave extensive lists of phone numbers for the plumber, electrician etc. And the animals? I have been fortunate to not have any drama in that department. But it does happen. Usually, the homeowners are understanding especially if you have done everything in your control (ie called the vet). Housesitting is definitely not for everyone but I find it a unique way to see the world! Give it a try – you might love it!
Dang Travelers says
I have always been curious how house sitting works! It sounds like a lot of work but a great option for saving money and slowing down when on the road. As of right now, we are not living a full-time nomadic lifestyle (we travel about 3 months at a time) but if or when we do, I think I’d be willing to give it a try.
Alison Browne says
There is definitely work and responsibility involved but especially during the longer housesits, you can make plenty of time to relax, do your digital work, sightsee and partake in local activities. Just a balancing act as usual, except this time in a foreign place! Keep me posted if you give it a go!
Sally Pederson says
I love house and pet sitting. I enjoyed pets from 15 different places in two years.
Alison Browne says
Oh good for you! It is the hardest part is leaving the pets behind!
melody pittman says
Thanks for sharing the ins and outs of housesitting. I have a good friend who started doing this a year ago and absolutely loves it. Plus she has become great friends with many of her clients. 😉 What a fun career choice and way to see the world!
Alison Browne says
It is a great way to see the world and live like a local. Most people that have tried it really enjoy it. So glad your friend loves it.
As a family, we love traveling in a variety of ways, and living like a local is the best way to experience a destination. Now that our teenager is getting closer to graduation, I can really see her doing something like this! Our kids miss our pets so much while we are away, so this would be wonderful, and it keeps them responsible for their surroundings and day to day!
Alison Browne says
I think that is part of the reason that I love housesitting so much! I am living a nomadic lifestyle and really miss having pets. Housesitting gives me just the fix I need. However, it is always a little heartbreaking to leave them behind. It definitely keeps all parties responsible.
I don’t think I’d be comfortable in a housesitting role (it sounds like a lovely European movie to me), but nevertheless, this was such an interesting read. I wholeheartedly believe in slow travel and living like a local, and I love the idea of meeting the neighbors, and I especially love your first housesitting experience of taking care of two chicken. The photo of the woman you chatted with every day in French moved me beyond words, as her benevolent eyes reminded me so much of my grandma. Thank you!
Alison Browne says
Thank you Anja, for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate your honesty because quite frankly, housesitting is not for everyone. I am going to keep the analogy to a lovely European movie in my mind for my future housesitting gigs! Aww… Mme. Tesnier was so gentle and delightful, I waited for her to walk by the house each Sunday.
This is incredible! It’s something I’ve heard about in passing several times and have been meaning to look into further… so happy I stumbled upon this post! I’m absolutely signing up for Trusted Housesitters and hoping to give this a shot over summer holidays when I’m on a break from my teaching in Spain gig! Thanks for all the info, looking forward to read about your other house sitting experiences.
Anita Sane (@thesanetravel) says
Great post! I have been thinking about housesitting for some time already but could not get enough courage for doing that. Also it seems not so easy to start! Thanks for sharing!
Alison Browne says
It does take a little bit of effort to set up but the rewards are worth it! You just never know where you could end up!
Brianna Shade says
We’re hoping to travel mostly using Couchsurfing, Housesitting, and Servas 🙂 Free lodging is always a win!
Alison Browne says
Free lodging is a huge win. I signed up for Couchsurfing but haven’t used it yet! Also, heard great things about Servas. How have you found it?