Traveling the world on a shoestring budget is something many have always dreamed about. Unless you have an established source of income, eventually you’ll get to the end of the line and need to head back home to replenish your funds.
In order to keep the dream alive, you’ll need to be extra savvy at cutting costs and squeezing as much juice out of your savings as you can. You’ll have plenty of expenses along the way including daily meals, transportation, and activity costs.
You’ll come to find that one of your biggest expenses on the road will be your accommodation. One way to save some money while traveling the world is by house sitting for other homeowners.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about house sitting. We’ll go over what it is, why you should do it, and how you can start house sitting all around the world.
- What Is House Sitting?
- Benefits of House Sitting
- House Sitting Platforms
- How to Land a House Sitting Job
- How to Be a Great House Sitter
- A Different Way to Travel
What Is House Sitting?
House sitting is a mutually beneficial accommodation option that helps travelers stay for free in exchange for looking after someone’s home and pets if necessary. As a traveler, you can travel to places all over the world by maintaining other travelers’ homes and providing pet care.
As a house sitter and pet sitter, your responsibilities will depend on each individual house sit you sign up for. Many homeowners need their property maintained, which includes cutting the grass, making sure the house stays tidy, and performing routine maintenance.
In more cases than not, you’ll be asked to look after their pets. Pet care is the most popular reason behind a homeowner seeking out a house sitter. Pets need to be fed, let out, bathed, and walked. Most importantly, they need the attention and love that their owners would give while they’re out of town.
Typically house sitting is free for travelers, however, in some cases, you may be required to pay a fee. Regardless, you’ll be able to stay somewhere for a fraction of the cost of traditional accommodations like hotels, hostels, and an Airbnb.
Besides providing a cheap way to travel, house sitting also brings several other benefits to travelers like you.
Benefits of House Sitting
House sitting platforms help other travelers roam the world while trusting that their pets and homes are taken care of. For you, this means the opportunity to save money with free accommodation, travel slow, and really immerse yourself in the local culture.
House sitting lets you stay in places you never would have thought about or could have previously afforded. You get to meet amazing like-minded travelers who warmly welcome you into their home. In some cases, they’ll even trust you enough to let you use their vehicle while they’re away.
Your length of stay at any particular house sit will depend on how long the homeowners intend to travel. This could be anywhere from a quick weekend getaway to a six-month stay. These longer stays allow you to immerse yourself in the regional culture and live as the locals do.
You’ll also be able to forge a bond with the furry little friends you’ll be looking after. And we won’t limit this to only cats and dogs. Many house sits will require you to tend to chickens, horses, goats, and many more animals. What could be more fun than that?
If you’re interested in house sitting, there are several popular platforms you can look into.
House Sitting Platforms
There are many house sitting platforms out there, however, some tend to have more activity and listings than others. You should maintain an open mind as to which platform to use. After all, the best house sitting website is the one that successfully lands you your first house sitting gig.
TrustedHousesitters.com — $119 annual fee: This is the most popular house sitting platform out there today. It’s a great place to start for first-time sitters looking to find their first gig in the United States, Canada, Europe, or the United Kingdom.
Nomador.com — Free, $35 per quarter, or $89 per year: This option is popular all across Europe, but is also expanding its reach across the world. It also has an expanded profile that highlights house sitters’ achievements and trustworthiness.
MindMyHouse.com — $20 annual fee: If you’re price conscious, this platform is right up your alley. This is an economical option for those looking for accommodation in North America and Europe.
HouseCarers.com — $50 annual fee: If you’re looking for something in Australia, New Zealand, or North America, this one is worth a look. In comparison to the other platforms above, this one seems to be lacking in functionality which can be pretty frustrating.
Now that you know a little bit about four of the most popular house sitting platforms, let’s talk about how you can land your first house sitting gig.
How to Land a House Sitting Job
Before you start watching someone’s home, you’ll need to set yourself up for success to increase your chances of landing your first job. If you follow these five steps, you’ll find a job in no time.
1. Pick a Service and Sign Up
First, you’ll need to figure out which house sitting service to use. This will depend on how much you want to spend on membership fees, which regions you want to travel to, and your preference as to which platform you like best.
You can sign up for all of these platforms, but you should expect to pay multiple annual fees. The best platform is the one that has the perfect house sit for you and at the same time you’re looking to travel.
2. Build an Incredible Profile
Once you sign up, you’ll have to build a strong house sitter profile. This will include a thorough description of yourself, why you want to pursue house sitting, and pictures of you with animals.
You should also take as many measures as possible to build trust. Most platforms will offer the option of submitting security information like your banking details, ID check, proof of residency, and sometimes even a background check.
The more you can provide, the more homeowners will trust you. This should also include reliable references from previous pet sitting experiences for homeowners to check in on if they want to.
3. Apply to Jobs With Introductory Messages
When you apply for a house sitting opportunity, you’ll need to write an introductory message. This is your time to shine. You should be personable and go out of your way to customize your message to the homeowner and their pets.
You’re going to be filling out a lot of these messages, but it’s important that you customize each one to every homeowner. Believe us, it will take some extra effort but will pay off in the long run.
4. Be Ready to Pull the Trigger
After you send introductory messages, you should be ready to respond as fast as possible to homeowner responses. House sitting is incredibly competitive, especially for sought after locations around the world. There is a line of other travelers wanting the same house sit that you do.
The faster you can respond, the more likely you’ll be at the top of the list. It also shows the homeowner that you’re quick to respond, a trait they’ll appreciate once they’re on their own trip.
5. Interview With Your Host
If you’re lucky enough to make it to the very end, you’ll need to schedule an interview with the homeowner. This interview can be done by phone or web chat and will cover the responsibilities of the job to see if it’s a good fit.
Even if a homeowner doesn’t want to have an interview, you should insist on doing so. After all, you’ll be staying in their home watching their animals. The interview is meant to go both ways to see if it’s a mutual fit for both parties.
If everything goes well, you’re ready to complete your first house sitter job. So what does it take to be a great house sitter?
How to Be a Great House Sitter
There’s much that goes into pulling off a successful house sit. We organized these best practices into a five-part list.
Make sure you show up on time for your house sit. This means getting there on the right day and time so your homeowner can depart for their own vacation. In some cases, homeowners may want a day overlap so they can get to know you and explain all of the intricacies of their home and their pets.
Follow the Rules
Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you have free rein to do whatever you please. You should always follow the rules of the home and make sure you abide by the feeding schedules, walking routines, and daily rituals of their pets. Many homeowners don’t want you inviting random people into their home or leaving for long periods of time. Whatever the rules are, make sure you respect them.
Make Sure the Pets Are Comfortable
It’s important to treat the pets as if they were your own. You’ll likely have fantastic pets who like to cuddle up to you in the morning or crave belly rubs throughout the day. Remember, it’s your job to be the best dog sitter and cat sitter possible and to make sure their pets are comfortable and cared for.
Prepare for Difficulties
There will be times when things don’t go as planned and you encounter difficulties. This can be terribly frustrating, especially if you expected a nice relaxing vacation.
Unruly pets, maintenance issues, or difficult homeowners are part of the job. You hope you never land in one of these situations, but be prepared to handle adverse situations. This is exactly why we recommend doing your due diligence in the interview beforehand.
Maintain Open Communication
Keeping an open line of communication with your homeowner will go a long way. It will help them be at ease and enjoy their vacation.
Before the homeowner departs, you can discuss how much they’d like to be updated. You’ll be able to get a general feel as to how often you should reach out to them or when you can expect them to contact you. Some homeowners will want daily updates while others may go days or weeks without contact.
A Different Way to Travel
If you’re an animal lover and want to travel the world a unique and affordable way, then finding a house sitting gig should be at the top of your list.
It allows you to cheaply travel to areas you may have never thought possible before where you can really explore and get to know the local area. Just think, you could be sitting on a beach in the Caribbean or relaxing in a flat in downtown London.
Sign up for one of the platforms mentioned above and start looking for your first house sitting opportunity. If house sitting doesn’t seem to click, then you can also look into long-term stays with Airbnb, HomeAway, or other similar home rental sites.