We are now more than 7 months into our adventure, and our primary means of accommodation this year has been house sitting – in fact I’ve even been called a Professional House Sitter! In total, we have only paid for around 30 nights of accommodation since we left Australia in January and we are pretty much fully booked until January 2017!!!
As we have travelled, we’ve naturally been speaking to lots of people about house sitting. To many, it is a completely new concept, filled with endless possibilities. Many have never heard of the concept, whilst others have joined a site or two, with little or no success.
House sitting has been an amazing way to travel as a family, one that I highly recommend! But how do you do it? How do you begin house sitting? How could you become a professional house sitter?
Today I share with you some hints and tips I’ve used to become a professional house sitter.
- 1 What is House Sitting?
- 2 What are the benefits of House Sitting?
- 3 Where can you find house sitting opportunities?
- 4 House Sitting Rates
- 5 How to become a House Sitter!
- 6 Just get started!
What is House Sitting?
If you haven’t read it already, a few months ago I wrote a blog post (here) explaining exactly how house sitting works. Simply, house sitting is an amazing opportunity that arises when a homeowner decides to travel and have someone stay in their home to look after both the home and pets.
It is the perfect way to travel – short or long term! You certainly don’t have to do it full time as we do – a weekend here, a couple of weeks there – who wouldn’t like free accommodation anywhere in the world!
Short Term House Sitting
Overwhelmingly, the largest chunk of the house sitting market is on short term sitting – from a weekend away to a week or two. These sits are an ideal way to get away for a few days, without the need to take a substantial amount of time off work.
Long Term House Sitting
Looking for a sea change, or even a tree change? Long term house sitting may be the answer. Many house sitting websites have numerous listings for long term house sitting jobs – from a full month to a year (or more!)
The long term house sitting assignments are a wonderful way to immerse yourself in a new country, to travel slowly and try life in a new land, without any permanent commitment!
What are the benefits of House Sitting?
As an alternative to regular accommodation, house sitting offers a host of benefits, perfect for a travelling family. In fact, house sitting can make a holiday much more enjoyable!
For a family, space is important – space to move, to relax and even get away from each other when it’s needed. Paying for such accommodation can be a huge expense. As house sitters, we often enjoy a 3 or 4 bedroom home, with full kitchen facilities and all the comforts we could hope for, at no cost!
Visit like a local
If you are anything like us, you enjoy getting to know the local way of life. We love nothing more than getting out amongst it, shopping where the locals shop and eating at the little street stalls. Sure, tourist attractions have their place, but how do you truly explore a city, staying in a hotel in the middle of a tourist area?
Living like a local gets even easier when our homeowners leave us their recommendations! Favourite restaurants, cultural activities and local shopping areas. You truly get to see a city, for what it really is!
As if free accommodation isn’t enough, it’s not unusual for homeowners to leave a car for us to use. With the correct insurance and a copy of drivers’ licences, it’s relatively simple, and another great way to save money whilst travelling.
We are pet lovers. We’ve always had animals, and I simply couldn’t imagine life without them. Travelling though, could have resulted in no pets at all, but as house sitters, we now have lots of newly adopted friends.
Be it dogs or cats, farm animals or reptiles, the possibility of what we will find is endless. In 7 months, we’ve befriended 6 dogs, 6 cats, chickens and ducks, turkeys and turtles. We’ve even hatched chickens from an incubator! House sitting with animals adds to a holiday like nothing else can.
Where can you find house sitting opportunities?
Friends and Family
One of the easiest ways to get started in house sitting is to let your friends and family know that you have started! Most people holiday at least every couple of years, which gives you the opportunity to pick up a house sit!
Put together a quick email and send it off – or simply download a sample I’ve written for you here!
The other great thing about housesitting for friends is that it helps you to quickly build up some fantastic references, which will help you in the future.
If you love to travel, there are countless travel groups online. We are a part of many Facebook Groups, specifically dedicated to families that love to travel. These groups can be an amazing source of leads for house sitting – they are full of people wanting to travel – your ideal client!
House Sitting Websites
There are numerous house sitting websites out there – and all have loads of “house sitters wanted” type listings. From long term house sitting jobs to a quick weekend away, there are many, many house sitting opportunities out there! Here are a couple of our favourites.
Trusted House Sitters is, by far, the site that we use the most. It has so many housesits available, is super easy to use and you can set up email alerts so that you receive updates twice a day.
Joining as a Member, as opposed to viewing as a Guest, is critical in obtaining a sit – Members get notification of new house sitters wanted ads a full 24 hours ahead of non-members. This 24-hour window makes all the difference in getting selected (see comments below)
The joining fee is $USD119.00, the cost of which you’ll save in your first night’s accommodation. However to save 20% on this cost, click here.
The only issues I have found with Trusted House Sitters are that all too often you get no response from owners, which is quite frustrating when you go to the effort to apply. Also, house sits are often left open by owners when they have actually already been filled. I’m told by the Trusted House Sitters team that both of these issues are being addressed in upcoming updates to the site.
Annual fee: US$119.00 for both housesitters and homeowners (save 20% on this cost, click here)
If you love exceptional customer service and a truly personalised service, House Sit Match are the team for you. We have used House Sit Match to secure house sits and have been truly blown away by their service. So often in today’s day and age, as companies grow, you become a number more than a person. But this is certainly not the case with House Sit Match. The team are there to help you, and they do a wonderful job of it.
House Sit Match has a large range of house sits listed, primarily focused in Europe, but they are growing consistently with new sits opening recently throughout Australia.
Annual fee: US$45/$97 (two plans) for housesitters and homeowners
Another popular site for House Sitting is Housecarers. The site doesn’t appear as polished as some of the other sites I’m recommending, but their Member Area does have a huge range of options available and overall is a great site to use. I have found the actual process of finding house sits super simple and have recently started using it more and more.
Unfortunately (for us right now) they don’t have many sits in Asia, however this is a growing market across all sites, so I’m sure it won’t be long!
Annual fee: US$50.00 for housesitters, free for homeowners
Mind My House is a fantastic source for housesitting gigs in Europe – especially the UK, but there are also assignments for the U.S. and Canada, and some assignments for the rest of the world. The Mind My House interface is fantastic and we’ve found lots of interesting sits through them!
What I truly love about Mind My House is that they are by far the cheapest house sittting website out there (or at least that I’ve come across!)
Annual fee: US$20.00 for housesitters, free for homeowners
Let’s face it, Australia is an expensive place to visit. It costs a fortune to get there, and then a fortune to be there! But, with housesitting, whether you are travelling from overseas to visit, or simply exploring more of your home country, you can virtually eliminate accommodation costs altogether.
We’ve used Aussie House Sitters and highly recommend them for Australia specific house sits. They have a huge range of sits available and a fantastic search engine for finding sits that are right for you.
Annual fee: US$50 for housesitters, free for homeowners
This is a new site to us, but certainly still one worth mentioning. Luxury House Sitting obviously targets a slightly different clientele to many, and have some stunning luxury house sitting gigs on offer.
We’ve managed to pick up a couple of beautiful luxury house sitting jobs through other sites, however I look forward to investigating this site further. Housesitting is incredible enough as is, but imagine travelling the world whilst house sitting in luxury! If you prefer the finer things in life, without the price tag, this site may just be for you!
Annual fee: US$25 for housesitters, free for homeowners
House Sitting Rates
How much to pay a house sitter? What should you charge as a house sitter? This is entirely a personal decision, however from experience, house sitting rates are very low, if not completely FREE!
House Sitting truly is a WIN-WIN for all involved. Home Owners get their home and pets cared for free of charge, whilst House Sitters get free accommodation!
How to become a House Sitter!
Getting started is about securing your very first sit. Now to be fair, you will be submitting applications against house sitters with lots of experience and lots of reviews to match. But don’t be disheartened. We’ve put together some steps below on how to become a house sitter.
Join at least one House Sitting Website
The choice is very personal – have a look at the sites I’ve listed above and see which one you like. My favourites are definitely Trusted House Sitters, House Carers and House Sit Match.
Ask friends and families to provide character or employment references. Are you currently renting your property? Ask the landlord or agent for a reference. Have you ever looked after a friend’s home whilst they were away? Definitely ask them for a reference. I would aim for at least 5 references to get started.
Write an awesome profile
You need to sell yourself. If you were a home-owner looking at you as a sitter, why would they want to choose you. What can you offer? Your profile is an opportunity to shine. You’d be surprised how many sitters don’t put effort into their profile… so spend the time and show off!
Include photos – show them who you are. Help them feel like they know you!
Write a detailed application letter
So many house sitters apply with short one paragraph application letters. You have about 10 seconds to impress your home owners – how can you possibly do that in just one paragraph.
Introduce yourself, tell them how THEY will benefit from choosing you, use their animals names and tell them what makes you the right choice. Give them options to contact you outside of the site – for example, a Skype call is a great way to “meet” face to face.
When a home owner advertises a sit, they are often flooded with applications. You need your application to be in the first few, to ensure it gets read. Now that’s not to say that it won’t get read later, but a home-owner will usually find someone they like early on… and then you’re competing against them, making the process that much more difficult.
Getting a housesit is a numbers game. You apply often, and every now and then you get accepted. The more you apply for, the more you will get!
Be flexible with dates and locations
Some of our favourite sits have been in locations and times that we would never have expected. We’d never considered going to the UAE, but it has been one of our favourite destinations. If you are flexible with dates, and open to new locations, you will have more opportunities to apply for. You never know – you too might end up falling in love with a destination you’d never considered visiting!
Register with your favourite house sitting site and visit regularly. Your dream job may appear and if you aren’t online, it will be quickly snapped up by somebody else. Register for daily updates from your house sit site – that will ensure you can easily keep your eye on what’s currently on offer!
Get just one reference
When you are first applying, your goal is to get one reference from a home-owner. This is very different to the references mentioned above – these are actual house sitting references.
Find a local house sit, maybe have a local weekend away. Go above and beyond and get a 5 star review. Then, your future applications will have something to admire when considering your application! The more reviews you get, the stronger your application will be!
As the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! You may not get the first job, or the second, but at some stage your application will stand out to a home owner and you’ll get a foot in the door.
Just get started!
There is no time like the present to get started as a house sitter. Whether you want to house sit full time, or just now and then – house sitting is the way of the future, so don’t miss out.