House sitting is an amazing way to travel and see the world. You also get a much richer experience since you’re typically staying in homes in local communities rather than tourist zones. It gives you insight into the local culture you might not get otherwise.
Here are just some of our favorite house sitting jobs:
- Living on an oasis in Morocco for 2 months
- Caring for a bunch of cats while living on a beach on an island in Thailand
- Caring for a menagerie including 35 laying hens (and one pet chicken) in the English countryside
- Enjoying a bit of luxury living in Cozumel, Mexico.
Sits can be quite varied. I was recently asked about a house sit in Costa Rica that involved caring for a pet monkey (among other animals). We’ve stayed in a farm house that was over 100 years old, a humble bungalow on the beach, and a luxury home with a community pool and private beach.
Aside from the great cultural and animal experiences, house sitting has also allowed us to stay in places longer than we could have afforded otherwise. For example, we stayed in the UK for 5 weeks while house sitting. Since our only cost was buying groceries, we lived off about $160 per week. Often, just two nights in a hotel would come to more than that!
Morocco was so inexpensive that I was able to save $2000 during that house sit.
Finding house sitting jobs
So your curiosity is piqued, and you want to give it a shot. Here are some tips to make things easier for finding and acquiring those assignments.
- There are multiple sites now. I have memberships with the following: Trusted House Sitters (the best in my opinion), Mind My House, and Housecarers. THS is probably the most active site and has the most pickings, especially in the UK. I also tend to get more responses, even if it’s a denial, from their homeowners. Mind My House isn’t as productive; however, they get some interesting assignments, and their membership is much less expensive, so it makes it worth joining. Housecarers seems to have more sits in Australia and the US. If those regions are in your sights, I’d definitely get a membership with them, too.
You can search their database to look at their offerings without being a member, so if money is tight you can wait to join a site until you find a sit you really want to apply for.
- There are far more sitters than available jobs. This means competition is high, especially in areas like Australia which are quite popular for sits. You generally have to be among the first 10 or so candidates if you want a strong chance at being selected.
- How do you get to be among the top? Twitter is your friend. Each of these companies have newsletters and/or alerts; however, those emails are sent out once a day. I have heard from homeowners who had 100 applicants before the newsletter even went out. Don’t wait for the newsletter.In Twitter, follow each of the company accounts. I use Tweetdeck to manage my Twitter accounts, so I created a column for the hashtag “#housesitting” (without the quotes). Each of these sites tweet new assignments shortly after they become available. This is a great way to be notified right away so you can be one of the first to apply. I recently started this strategy and within days I had 3 house sitting assignments finalized.
- I discuss this in my housesitting series, but you want to make sure your initial emails stands out. Don’t write a novel, but make sure you hit key points:
- If they mention their pet’s name, include it in your message. For many people their animals are like their children. If you can’t be bothered to take the time to acknowledge their pet’s name, then you may not be the type of person who will be special to their furry/scaly/feathered family member.
- Mention any experience you have caring for animals (unless the sit doesn’t involve animal care, which some don’t), particularly if there is something special about the breed of their pet. For instance, if they have a Dalmatian, they’re going to want to know that you already get that they have a lot of energy and can be a bit more needy for attention than say a golden retriever. If it’s a Newfoundland, they’ll want to know that you understand you need to brush their coat in two different directions. When you show you know how to properly care for their precious pet, you’re going to be higher on their list of candidates.
- If they mention a garden and you love to putter in them, that would be great for them to know.
- Make your message a bit personal. Remember that they are looking to invite someone into their home to stay there and take care of it. That’s really a big decision.
- If they’ve mentioned some specifics about the home, the area, or the animals, acknowledge that so they know you took the time to read the whole profile.
- Know what your deal breakers are. For example, we can’t take a sit without reliable WiFi. Some people might find that ridiculous, but I need it to earn our income, and my son uses it for his education and socialization. So for us it’s a must. If the sit is a longer one, we also need 2 bedrooms or at least 2 beds. I love my child, but I’m not sharing a bed with him unless I’m desperate.
- Really think through remote sits. Sometimes they sound good in theory, but once you’re there and isolated it can be a different story. If you haven’t had a previous positive experience with remote rural life, I wouldn’t suggest taking a 3-month sit.
- Make sure to find out about transportation issues before you say yes, including availability of public transportation and exact costs if a car won’t be available. A friend of mine took a sit only to discover afterward that a trip to the grocery store was going to cost €11 on the local bus!
- Don’t look at house sitting as simply a free place to stay. Remember you are providing a service, especially if animal care is involved. Most homeowners are really reasonable and are just thrilled to have someone reliable and caring in their home, but there are a small group that seem to misunderstand the concept and expect far too much with too little in return. If you approach sits from the perspective that you are providing a service, it will also translate into the care you exercise with their home and pets. That also instills more confidence in the homeowner.
- If the sit involves international travel, make sure to double check entry requirements and the length of stay granted. If you’re from the US, a house sit in Spain for 4 months will require an advance visa.
What else would you like to know about house sitting? Do you have any other helpful tips for finding and getting these jobs?