How To Get Started As A House Sitter
Are you looking for an efficient, economical way to see the world? While there are many ways to make travel cheaper, finding accommodation that suits and doesn’t break the budget is a huge element. If you like pets and want to see more of the world in a unique way, welcome to the world of a house sitter.
What exactly is house sitting? Basically, someone wants to go away themselves but has responsibilities at their home. Perhaps a dog they can’t leave on their own or a cat that would descend into a state of depression without human interaction. They need someone to come take care of things while they’re away on a hard earned holiday themselves. And you guessed it, you could be that someone.
Since you’re looking after their property – and, very often, their pets as well – you’ll stay for free. This means that you’ll have a great place to stay while exploring a new part of the country, or better yet, a completely new country. The “catch” is that you’ll also have the responsibility of looking after the property and making sure it stays safe and sound while the owner is engaged elsewhere.
Some people may view looking after another person’s pets as the “work” part of the job. However, many people genuinely enjoy this aspect of the experience. Meanwhile, since you are staying in a full sized home, you’ll have much more space to stretch out and store your things than you would if you were couch surfing.
How do you find Places To House Sit?
Initially, you use one of the many house sitting websites available (more on that below) and begin the process of finding something for the time you’re looking at travelling and in the area you want to go. It often pays to be a little flexible when you house sit. Often times there aren’t places in the exact place you want to go during the precise times you’d prefer. Once you’ve found a place on a site you contact the owner and let them know you’re interested, they’ll take you through a vetting process and you’ll hopefully get picked for the job. Easy, right?
Which Websites are Best?
There are a number of special websites, such as Housecarers.com and MindMyHouse.com, TrustedHousesitters.com among many others, where you can go to find opportunities to house sit. These are sites where owners post ads for house sitters to respond to. These sites usually require a monthly or yearly fee for membership but when you consider the savings you’ll end up having from just one-time house sitting, it’s well worth it. My favourite resource for all things House Sitting is actually House Sitting World. I interviewed two people heavily involved in that sites creation and it really is a phenomenal resource. They also have an incredible Facebook group that forms a tight community to help you through everything.
How Competitive is it?
It can be really competitive. Like anything free, it’s all going to come down to the first impression you make with the owners. Before you ever reach out for a job, make sure you fill out your profile completely and give it a bit of life and personality. You want people to know you’re trustworthy and can take care of their pride and joy. Don’t take rejection personally but it’s worth taking a look at your profile each time to make sure it represents you the best possible way.
Add videos where you can and plenty of photos to your profile so anyone looking get a better sense of what you’re really like. Make sure that all of your skills and qualifications as a house sitter are listed and fully explained. If you don’t have any references from previous home owners, you’ll probably get passed over the first few times in favour of more experienced candidates. But don’t give up hope: The more persistent you are, the more likely you are to eventually be chosen. It can be tough but, in the end, the right opportunity will come up and you’ll be on your way.
Once you have your first experience as a house sitter, you’ll also get your first reference from a (hopefully) satisfied home owner. From there, you’ll find it much easier to get chosen, since you now have a reputation.
Which Site Should I Use?
When it comes to finding a house sitter website to get started on, you have a wide range of choices. While some websites are purely specific to one country, the international ones may be a better place to start. It’s probably best to choose one you like and stick with it for a while. It can be really hard to try and maintain profiles across multiple sites, as well as costing you on each one. Try the one that suits you the most and stick with it for a few months. If you don’t like it by then it may be time to look elsewhere. Some of the best of these are listed below for you to compare and contrast. Have a brief skim through the info below and also head over to House Sitting World where they have a great summary there too. This page should give you enough information to really decide if it’s wroth it for you but then you need to find the best sites and in-depth information.
Trusted Housesitters is one of the largest sites around. You can find thousands of listings from locations all over the world (predominantly the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia) along with some more remote locations as well. If you’re going to pick one site, this would not be a bad place to start.
Like most of the sites out there, there is a cost to be a member. Currently, the annual cost to be a member of Trusted Housesitters is $119.
There are many advantages that come from joining this particular site. To begin with, since it’s a big one, you’ll have more opportunities to get started right away.That also means there’s a lot more competition though so it cuts both ways. Ultimately, if your profile is excellent and you put yourself out there the right way you should have no trouble getting started. This particular site has a nice touch with your references fairly prominent allowing people to see them right from the start. The site is more expensive than most, but is constantly maintained, improved, and updated and considered a fantastic service.
Housecarers costs $50 per year to join. It’s been around for quite a long time now but deals largely with home properties in the United States, some parts of Europe and Australia. It is technically international but there’s certainly a strong emphasis on the U.S. and Australia first and foremost.
The site hasn’t always been a breeze to use but in recent times has become one of our favourites. It has some nice features that make finding a house really easy and if we’re talking bang for your buck this may be number 1. It really is hard to find too many people that have anything bad to say about this site so it’s well worth a try.
Nomador is one of the newest housesitter sites, dating from late 2014 making it a new kid on the block. Man I miss those guys. It costs $89 for a full year’s membership. It is particularly popular in France, where the majority of opportunities seemed to be located early but they’re certainly expanding broader now. If you are planning on visiting Paris or other areas in the country, this is the best website to join. However, like the other sites on this list, there are opportunities to house sit in other countries as well.
If I were on a budget this probably wouldn’t be my first option for a newbie House Sitter. I’d put this site in my arsenal if I were making the decision to spend a good chunk of time travelling and committed to House Sitting and wanted plenty of options, particularly in Europe. It’s a good string to the bow but not our first option.
Nomador does offer new members a free trial wherein you can apply for up to five house-sit opportunities, completely free of charge. This means that you can try the site with no risk entailed. However, the competition for house sitter opportunities is naturally going to be very great, especially when those opportunities are free. As always be prepared to bring your “A” game when applying for a position.
Mind My House
Mind My House is the least expensive site to join (only $20 per year). With such a low cost, it’s an economical bargain. Many members combine their membership here with another one at a different site so as to get the widest possible selection of opportunities but unfortunately I’d have to describe this site as sloppy. They’re big and have a great selection with lots of options but we’re constantly finding houses already booked but not updated on the site, generally pretty poor customer service and more than any other site there is a real ‘first in best dressed’ mentality. While that’s prevalent in all of these sites, it’s huge here. If you’re not in early it can be tough.
The design is excellent and convenient to navigate. There’s a wide selection of options to choose from. The messaging system makes it easy to contact owners with queries for more information like the other sites and at $20 a year, it’s hard to say you shouldn’t just sign up. I think they’ve priced it really smartly because it’s hard to justify not signing on when you travel like this.
House Sit Match
House Sit Match is a United Kingdom-based website that costs roughly $55 USD to join for a year’s membership. However, this is a basic membership and there are more in a tiered system that we’re not completely happy with in this instance. This site can end up being one of the more expensive ones and we can’t see the value in this if you’re new to the game. If you’re a veteran and adding more options then it’s probably a no-brainer because even one sit during a year is worth it.
There are loads of others out there that offer excellent house sitter opportunities, however, the majority of these are much smaller in size or require a paid membership before you are allowed to see the actual number of positions that are available. Potential house sitters are therefore urged to approach these smaller sites with caution until more information is known about them. The above is a fantastic place to start looking and don’t forget this handy little guide from House Sitting World sums it up nicely.
A word of advice. Pick one or two to start with and really focus on your profile and getting a couple of House-Sits under your belt before you invest heavily in other sites. It’s another wonderful way to help people travel the world and see new places but it can be easy sometimes to invest lots of time and money at the beginning without knowing if it’s right for you and discovering the ins and outs of each option. Take your time and get it right with one site first! Which brings us nicely to the topic of profiles.
Before you learn how to make the killer profile it’s at this point in your journey you need to take a step back and take a deep hard think about this particular option. House Sitting is an incredible opportunity to allow travellers to see places they never would have been able to before but ultimately your first priority is to the welfare of an animal, or 5 in some cases! Don’t take that lightly because if you’ve ever lost a pet you’ll understand the pain that comes with losing a member of your family. If you’re not up to the responsibility or expect this to be a cheap way to find some accommodation as you travel the globe it’s way more than that.
If we haven’t scared you off yet and you’re sitting back excited at the prospect of your first sit with a Chow Chow falling in love with you then fantastic! You’re definitely the right person for the job.
Where Can I Find Long Term Home Sitting Arrangements?
Trusted Housesitters is probably the best place to find long term house sitter arrangements. A special page on the site will list every available arrangement that lasts for more than 60 days. The downside is that you will need to scroll through all of these listings. The site will not let you filter results by specific country. It’s a good idea to also click on “Current Assignments Only” in order to avoid seeing results for places that have already been filled.
Housecarers doesn’t have a special category for long term arrangements. However, you can filter your long term results by specific number of days (1 week, 1 month, 90 days, and s on).
Finding long term stays on Mind My House may prove to be rather difficult. Your best bet will be to scour through all of the assignments that interest you in order to find the length of time that is being offered. This is further complicated by the fact that the site often allows home owners to put “variable” as their time frame rather than a specific answer. You may have to personally follow up on an offer that interests you in order to find out exactly how long they will need a sitter for.
Nomador has a special sidebar that will let you filter potential offers by a minimum amount of time (3 weeks, 1 month, 2 months etc) to a maximum amount of time.
House Sit Match is not so advanced when it comes to filtering for specific criteria. The notices do state the exact length of time that is desired. If you scan each advertisement that interests you, you’ll soon be able to pick out the ones that request longer periods of time.
Can You Get Paid For This?
There are a number of house sitter agencies that you can find via a quick search on Google which may end up netting you some money for a really experienced sitter but they’re not common yet. Realistically you’re more likely to find something like this once you’ve joined a group or community like House Sitting World.
Some house sitter sites, such as Trusted Housesitters, do have an option for you to note that you desire to be paid for your time in the house. However, most house sitter sites are set up to encourage the idea of home sitting as a pure trade rather than a for-profit enterprise.
There are a few other sites that claim to do this and can offer such services. You can see them below:
What If I Hate Pets? Aren’t There Places Out There For Me?
Stop your whining animal hater. Just kidding of course! There are a few of the sites above where you can find house sitting jobs that don’t include the responsibility of looking after the owner’s pet. For example, you can go to Trusted Housesitters and log on to the “Latest Assignments” page. When you get there, click “Advanced Search” and select “No animals” from the menu. Remember to click on “Current Assignments Only” so you won’t see any of the positions that have already been filled.
Most sites now have this as an option but the results are far less than places with pets. Usually people are fairly comfortable leaving an empty house for two weeks with no one home!
How To Create The Ultimate Profile
If you have just joined a house sitter site, the first thing you’ll need to do is create your profile. A lot of people like to consider this profile as a little like your resume but I don’t like that analogy. Resumes have a tendency to be beefed up a little and the truth stretched to suit the situation and job you’re going for. It’s the place where you will introduce yourself. You’ll list all of the qualifications you possess for the position. What resumes don’t tend to do that well is talk about who you are as a person, beyond your skill set. Being able to care for their pets and home is way more than just ticking off someone’s skillset. Just because you can do this doesn’t mean you should be. They’ll want to know what type of person you are, how you react in a difficult situation and why you’re doing this in the first place. Don’t think of this as your resume. This is much more.
What Kind Of Qualities Should You Advertise?
Any and all information that you can give in order to make yourself a memorable candidate for the job is welcome here. Try to put yourself in the position of a home owner. Try to imagine the qualities that they are looking for in a house sitter that is probably looking after their pride and joy. Remember if given the choice of what to save if there was a fire in the area you could all but guarantee these home and pet owners would grab their animals and leave the house to burn to the ground. It’s a big deal to leave them with someone they really don’t know that well so invest the time in your profile so they get to know you in as little time as possible.
Before you go any further though, are you good with pets? This will be one of the primary considerations for someone to hire a house sitter in the majority of cases. It may seem obvious but if you’ve never looked after animals before it’s time to go see if friends or family will let you do it for a few months. It can be quite a challenge if you’re not used to it. If you have experience as a pet sitter, or have worked with animals in a pet store or shelter, this is an excellent qualification to list – especially if you have references. Anything that proves you’re great with animals goes in the profile.
Make Sure To Add A Photograph
A picture is always worth a thousand words. Make sure you add a current photograph of yourself. Add as many as the site will allow, and it should go without saying but make sure they’re appropriate. Everyone has photos while they’ve been out drinking or partying with their friends but this is not the place for those. If you have photos with pets, add plenty of them so that home owners will get the idea that you are great with animals. If you don’t, this is the time to google your local dog park and get your ass down there and get as many selfies as you can.
Reference, Reference, Reference
It’s not so much location, location, location but reference, reference, reference. If you have positive references from people who have employed you in the past as a baby sitter, pet sitter, or home sitter, make sure to add them to your profile. References are one of the most important elements to create the right impression. Most home owners looking for a sitter have to sift through dozens of potentials to find just one so stand out by having great references. Want to go a step further to set yourself apart? Why not film a reference and ask post it to YouTube to link in your profile?
Even if you’ve never been a house sitter before, references from people you’ve pet sat or baby sat for can influence a potential home owner. You can use character references from previous employers, landlords, or anyone in a position of authority that you think might sway a home owner’s decision.
Are You A Criminal?
It may seem a little silly to ask this but there are lots of sites that require full criminal background checks. The reasoning behind this is obvious enough. No website wants to be held liable for allowing a criminal to come into someone’s home and rob them blind under the pretence of home sitting. A criminal background check just proves that you have no outstanding charges, especially larceny or burglary, that would make you unsuitable as a house sitter.
It’s easy enough to apply online for a criminal background check. If you live in the United States, you can apply for one here. Not every site will require one, but it’s an excellent reference to have to prove that you are completely safe and trustworthy to hire in such a sensitive position.
For the UK click here, Canada here, Aussies head here, New Zealanders can do it here, and last but not least Irish folk go here. If you’re outside these countries just google it and you’ll find it quick smart.
So now you’ve got yourself a profile and you’re ready to apply for your first one! Head over to our ‘Guide For Applying For A House Sitting Position’ to get all the info you’ll ever need.