Among those looking to travel longterm on a budget, travellers looking for free accommodation are learning how to become private housesitting jobs are gaining in popularity as a form of free accommodation for travellers.
If you’re looking for information to qualify the idea for yourself, this massive How to Become a House Sitter guide might just be the most life-changing thing you’ll read today. This article also doubles as a Trusted House Sitters review.
Table of Contents
Learning how to become a house sitter is a big decision for travellers trying to save money on accommodation –and one we don’t recommend taking lightly. The long and short of it is that in most cases, you’re looking after someone’s pet in addition to their home.
That’s a lot of moving parts to consider.
On the flip side of that, there’s the ability to live with all the comforts of a local in a place that you’ve never been before. House sitting jobs aren’t limited to your own home country. The world is ripe with private home sit opportunities for the taking.
If you’d like to put your best foot forward and get the entire scoop on how to become a house sitter, this is the right guide to be reading.
In it we don’t gloss over hidden complexities and we’ll condition you to be ready for anything.
An Introduction to House Sitting Jobs
Welcome to Hobo with a Laptop’s comprehensive guide about how to become a house sitter and find house sitting jobs for couples and solo travellers.
Travelling is cheaper than one might think when you’re a live-in house sitter.
Private housesitting jobs are a helpful form of free accommodation for travellers, digital nomads, and pet lovers that will help lower the cost of long-term travel dramatically.
Insanely popular travel bloggers like Sabrina from Just One Way Ticket, Gianni and Ivana from Nomad is Beautiful –and countless other friends of ours in the world of slow travel all make private housesitting jobs a part of their low-cost travel itineraries in exotic locations to help grow their travel blog and save money.
Not Everyone Has a Trust Fund
Being a travel blogger doesn’t mean you have to have a trust fund, folks. Figuring out how to become a house sitter people trust is one of the secrets of the trade. Private house sits enable the lifestyle.
In this guide we’ll show you step-by-step how you can become a house sitter, too.
Like I said, it’s just a lot of moving parts –it’s not rocket science. Anyone can do it, and once you find your flow, it’s not hard living.
Imagine never having to stress out over where you’re going to stay when you land at your next destination –no more searching for a temporary apartment or getting gouged by overpriced hotels or Airbnbs.
With a house sitting job you get to live like a local, feel more at home in an otherwise “strange” place –and even have some protective, furry company (and possibly a fridge full of free groceries –but more on that later).
Yes, folks. If you’re considering some long-term travel, learning how to become a house sitter along your way would be as smart as it is safe and convenient.
In this guide you will learn:
- What is expected of you as a live in house sitter
- What to expect from homeowners
- How to identify which house sitting vacancies are best for you
- How to get hired today for your first home sitter job
- How to setup your online house sitter profile
- How to write a powerful housesitting job application
- How to make a great impression in your Skype interview
- Clear information for a foolproof housesitting checklist
- How to get paid for house sitting jobs abroad
- How to ask for access to a homeowner’s vehicle
- Additional travel considerations like visas and getting around
Downloadable How to Become a Housesitter Guide Coming Soon
We’ve got a lot of cover in this beginner’s guide to house sitting jobs –be sure to read until the end of the article to grab a download of this entire guide that consists of this article as well as other related articles, and your complimentary housesitting checklist from our Guides section.
It’s a downloadable PDF to help ensure that you don’t miss a beat and can read this offline, at your leisure. And of course, please bookmark and/or share this article with your friends, we’d really appreciate it!
What is House Sitting?
House sitting is the act of watching over someone’s home while the owner is away. No surprise, there.
In most cases, a “house sitter needed” job posting also means taking care of a much-loved pet. Homeowners choose to trust you as a housesitter over a local vet or animal shelter while they are away.
House sitting jobs are quickly becoming a popular form of free accommodation for travellers who are internet-savvy pet lovers, as there is often no money exchange involved and the easiest way to find a house sitting job is online.
The homeowner gets peace of mind knowing their home and pet are both secure while the housesitter gets free accommodation in a location of their choosing.
That’s right. Anywhere you choose.
In this How to Become a House Sitter guide, everything is on the table –luxury house sitting, too.
From beachfront villas in Tulum, Mexico to colourfully stacked homes in Positano, Italy –luxury house sitting “jobs” are absolutely possible with the right website, and we’ll review our top pick later in the article. For those who don’t want to wait, it’s TrustedHousesitters.
What Does a House Sitter Do?
The most common responsibilities of a private house sitter job include much of the things a homeowner would do if they weren’t away:
- Watch the home
- Care for pets (feeding, walking, bathing, etc.)
- Mowing the lawn
- Disposing the garbage
- Maintaining the swimming pool
- Receiving mail
- Forwarding important documents
Tasks That Suit Your Skills, Experience and Personality
Simply put, you need to keep things running smoothly while a homeowner is away. Tasks can vary; it can be something as simple as walking the dog once or twice a day and forwarding messages.
Other times, you’re required to do more like tend to the garden, clean the pool, or care for farm animals. It’s a mixed bag, but it’s one that you choose.
For every potential house sitting gig that you have, it’s important to have reliable, on-time communication.
You also need to be honest with yourself. Know what you are prepared to do as a housesitter, and then see if these preferences match the homeowner’s requirements.
All of which is easy to do online before you engage with a prospective house sit.
Am I Housesitter Material?
You don’t need overly specialised skills to learn how to become a house sitter.
Anyone can do a house sit; it doesn’t matter whether you’re old, young, single, married, have kids, rich, or poor. If you are responsible enough that you’re able to to care for someone’s personal and valuable assets, then you can be a housesitter.
In our case, we find a lot of house sitting jobs for couples because two heads are better than one, and it makes the work of running a home easier and more enjoyable.
Mike likes to flex his green thumb or work with his hands, and I like running a home. Often we’ll take on housesitting jobs on larger properties with a little extra expected of us.
As long as it’s all clearly outlined, of course. Homeowners who have a lot of house sit vacancies over the years usually have a binder with outlined tasks and checklists. We’ve even helped create a few along the way.
Is a House Sitting Job Right For You?
It is very common among retirees to become a house sitter, but due to the popularity of remote careers there is a growing number of digital nomads and freelancers who are opting to do house sitting abroad as a form of free accommodation for travellers. It’s a great excuse to travel while saving money and likely having a decent WiFi connection.
If you enjoy the same flavour of location independence as digital nomads do, then there’s a great chance you’re fit for house sitting.
Here are more reasons why house sitting jobs could be right for you:
- You want to save money on accommodation
- You like animals
- You are comfortable around other people’s homes
- You don’t mind occasionally living in non-touristy areas
- You like slow travel
On the contrary, here are some reasons why becoming a house sitter might not be right for you.
- You don’t like your travel itinerary to be dependent on someone else
- You’re uncomfortable around animals
- You’re uncomfortable living in someone else’s home
- You have young children (family house sitters are less likely to get accepted)
- You don’t want the obligations associated to housesitting job requirements
The decision to learn how to become a house sitter is not for everyone. If you’re just in it for the free accommodation, you won’t fully enjoy the experience.
Remember that house sitting abroad is still a job and your accommodations aren’t entirely for free as you’re still paying with your time and attention. The question you might ask yourself is whether or not the money you are saving is worth the work you are doing.
On the contrary, if you like to travel on a budget, are a pet lover, and prefer immersive experiences in foreign locales, house sitting abroad is perfect for you.
Pet Sitting Is Awesome, Not Mandatory
In addition to watching over someone’s house, you will often be asked to care for the homeowner’s pet while they’re away.
However, let it be known that after you sign up for a house sitting website like TrustedHousesitters, you can sort through opportunities that don’t require pet sitting.
One of the greatest rewards for being an animal lover is that you increase your chances of getting accepted for pet sitting jobs which vastly increases your options.
In our case, we both grew up with numerous fuzzy family members and we usually opt for pet sitting opportunities.
Most homeowners have pets in their home that they can’t take with them on a trip, and a way to remedy this is by hiring a pet sitter. Your goal as a pet sitter job applicant is to make the owner know and feel that their pet is in good hands.
If you love spending time with animals and don’t mind caring for a pet, you will have more opportunities and find pet sitting jobs enjoyable.
The Benefits of House Sitting Jobs
For the Housesitter:
House sitting is the ideal job for the animal lover who likes to travel and explore new places on a budget. If you’d like to experience the local scene of a specific place, house sitting provides the best way to do so.
Staying at someone’s home for free means you get to spend more of your money on experiences that make the trip more memorable. In many cases, it also prevents you from falling into the traveller’s booze hole of too many parties and destroying your health. A side benefit of house sitting is that it provides balance to your life and it grounds you.
House sitting jobs also give you the opportunity to be around animals, go for walks, and take in your surroundings.
If you’re not able to keep a pet a pet of your own because you’re constantly on the move, house/pet sitting jobs serve as the next best thing.
For the Homeowner:
For some homeowners, house sitting can be a foreign concept. It’s big in the UK and Australia, yet only picking up steam in North America as we write this.
However, today’s sharing economy has made it so two strangers from opposite sides of the world can connect, get to know each other, and potentially do an exchange for a small, sometimes non-existent fee!
Uber made this easy –in the 80’s it would be insane to get into a strangers car. Today, it’s a preferred norm.
Couchsurfing and Airbnb have already pioneered putting strangers in stranger’s homes. Sites like TrustedHousesitters are simply a part of that evolution and they’ve made it even safer.
In addition, homeowners want security for their home. Empty homes are easy targets for burglars. Having someone who’s had a background check in the house makes that very less likely.
That latter point being why homeowners choose TrustedHousesitters time and time again –and why it’s the ideal platform for housesitters, too.
How Secure is House Sitting?
Housesitting is not as simple as inviting someone to live in your home temporarily. There’s a few hoops to jump through to match you with the right housesitting job, the right homeowner, and the right set of expectations.
With the help of sites like TrustedHousesitters, homeowners can choose from a selection of trusted house sitters who have been verified by the platform.
How Does Trusted Housesitters Work?
Before a house sitter can become a member of the TrustedHousesitters, they have to present a government ID, undergo a criminal background check, and pay a fee. They are also asked for references who can vouch for their trustworthiness.
This is to prevent bad actors from committing crimes or getting bad reviews and simply deleting their account, and then starting a new one as is often the case with poor quality free accommodation sites like Couchsurfing.com –or any house sitting website that doesn’t have these requirements.
For House Sitters:
Most of today’s best house sitting sites vet for house sitters more than they do its homeowners, so keep that in mind when applying. You don’t want to end up in some shady stranger’s home so do your best to know the owner before accepting the job.
Apply for a House Sitting Job
Most beginners might find it intimidating to get started filling house sitting vacancies because, well, they’ve never tried it before. If you are unsure of your skills or capabilities as a house sitter, you can get started looking for housesitting jobs near me –wherever “me” might be.
Ask to house sit for a relative or friend who’s going away for vacation. See if it’s something that you actually enjoy doing. If you do, you can earn some experience and valuable references (social proof) that will make you more qualified.
How to Find House Sitting Jobs
Competition for a house sitting abroad gig is very real. Let’s talk about how to find housesitting jobs and get shortlisted with TrustedHousesitters.
Creating Your Profile
Your profile needs a great photo, sound relatable, and come across professional if you want to become a house sitter that gets noticed from the get-go.
Before we jump in, remember that house sitting job sites are still search engines, just like Google, YouTube, Amazon, and of more comparatively, Linked In.
Be sure to consider keywords for specific accolades, interests, occupation information, places you’ve been, or personality traits you discuss on your profile.
It’s free to become a “homeowner” when you sign up on TrustedHousesitters as a house sitter, so consider switching account types and explore popular, competing profiles to see what kind of people are getting a lot of gigs and positive reviews.
Some homeowners will proactively search for candidates before putting up a housesitting job listing so there’s a chance they’ll go directly to your profile instead of awaiting application requests.
Here are important elements to include in your profile:
Most platforms will let you create a headline which describes succinctly what you have to offer. Think long and hard about this. Look at what other house sitters are doing. Now come up with a better one than that!
Outline your experience housesitting. Where, for who, how long, what you did are some great details to add. It’s also good to include some information about your previous employment history. If you’ve worked at a bank or was a diving instructor in your previous career, included that in the profile. It helps the homeowners get some insight into who you are and what you’re like.
Let it be known why you want to house sit. Homeowners want to know your motivation besides just getting a free bed to sleep in. Maybe you enjoy being around animals or that you like doing slow travel because it lets you make more fulfilling connections for longer periods of time.
State useful housesitting skills. Maybe you are really resourceful and flexible person or that you have a pet certification. Focus on your strengths but be realistic about your limitations. This may narrow down your opportunities but finding the perfect match gets easier.
Okay, this is going a step further but trust us, it will impress homeowners.
Let’s say you’re a family of housesitters with kids. Some homeowners don’t feel comfortable with the idea of having kids around their home; how do you deal with this objection? Answer that in your FAQ. You’ll be surprised how pleased homeowners will be by this. It shows that you’re aware of common pain points or objections and that you already know how to mitigate it.
Include as many details in your profile as you possibly can. The more info, the less back and forth you and the homeowner need to do; it’ll also help them quickly decide whether you’re a good fit or not.
Review everything in your profile, and then review it again. If possible, have a trusted friend or family member look at it. We’re not always the best judge of our strengths and another person’s perspective might just help shed light into that.
Lastly, don’t forget to spell check. A profile that’s easy to read or is conversational is a plus.
Whether you like it or not, you will be judged based on your profile photo and you won’t know if someone looked at it and swiped left, so to speak.
Homeowners will read into your photo; how you smile, what you’re doing, where you are, if you’ve got an arrogant shit-eating grin on your face, or if you’re a party girl holding a 40 in a paper bag (read: trouble), whatever.
They might even seek you out on other social platforms via Google Image Search and look at other publicly-facing photos, too.
After all, it’s their livelihood, their beloved pet, and their house you’ll be looking after, so they’ll look into everything they can to see if you’re possibly a good fit.
Living in their home is incredibly intimate for them, especially if it’s their first rodeo. Quell the skeptics.
You don’t have to be fabulous but you do need to look responsible and approachable. You might even want to pose with a pet in your photo. It may feel phony but hey, it works.
Also make sure that the photo is bright. No group shots. Your potential client has no time to guess which one of you is the profile owner.
Gather Your References
References help strengthen your credibility when applying for a house sitter job. These are people that homeowners can contact to verify whether you are trustworthy or not.
You can ask previous clients to be your reference but if you have zero experience, don’t fret. You can still find that much needed reference that will land you the job with some loosely-related experience put into context.
Maybe you used to be a babysitter. A boy scout. Or you volunteered somewhere that could highlight how accountable you are.
As mentioned earlier, you can gain some experience in your local area by watching over someone’s pet/home even if it’s just for a short while.
If you have been around your friend’s pets, ask if they could be your reference. The most important thing is that they mention you are good at house sitting abroad or pet sitting. You can even add testimonials to your profile.
Most people will stop at 5 references. If you can get more than that, go for it.
They don’t necessarily have to be from your past house sits. It can be from your previous coworker, your landlord, your mama, or even a close friend. What’s important is that they focus on your reliability to care for someone’s home or belongings.
Once you start getting those house sitting gigs, make sure to collect references from the homeowners. It will help strengthen your profile and make you more attractive in the eyes of new prospects.
Selecting House Sitting Jobs to Apply for
Now it’s time to pick housesitting jobs in your desired location. If you’re looking to go somewhere specific you can filter listings by city on TrustedHousesitters.
It’s probably expected, but it’s worth noting; some places will have thousands of gigs while others won’t.
Location, Location, Location
Before you become a house sitter and commit to a gig, be sure to find out where the true location of the house as it may be listed in your desired city –yet the house could be hours away from the city centre. Are you willing to go for it anyway? If not, keep searching and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Take your time to critically explore house sitter jobs abroad in the cities you desire and bookmark potential gigs you want to apply for.
After you have your list of potential house sits, double down and read their descriptions more closely.
After you’ve isolated a few key house sitter jobs you’ve got a good feeling about, decide on your angle and tone of voice in your application. Remember, you will be writing a personalized application letter for each one (which takes time!) so don’t go for something which you know you cannot or don’t want to do.
Ideal House Sitter Jobs for Couples and Families
Some properties and pet sitting jobs are more demanding. There will be times where the homeowner might be specifically posting a house sitting job for couples or families, rather than just a single traveler because they’re looking for more hands on deck, so to speak.
Factors might include more property maintenance such as yard work or gardening, or maybe more than one pet which would demand more people present during walks.
Consider the logistics of the house sit; if it’s abroad, factor in the cost of flights, the cost of living in that city, visa requirements, the seasonal weather, etc.
You might find it’s not worth it going on a 40 hour flight that costs $1,000 when the house sit will only be just for two days. Alternatively, you may want to pick house sit gigs with dates that overlap with your existing travel plans.
Planning this way can help you save a lot of time and money. So take off those rose coloured glasses when you find a housesitting job that stops your heart, it may not be in the cards for you logistically –there will be others, don’t sweat it.
The worst thing a travel blogger can do for all concerned is try to force it, no matter how Instagram-worthy a particular location might be. A bad review on any house sitting job site could be lethal.
Sending Your House Sitting Job Application
Applying for a house sit job means sending an application letter to the homeowner. This is just like applying for a “real” job where you have to convince the owner that you are the right fit.
Do not use a template. I repeat. Do not use a template.
You can start with a uniform introduction but beyond that, the letter should be specific to the owner, written entirely from scratch.
Add in some details from their listing to your application letter and make sure to mention the pet if it’s a pet sitting job. Homeowners care deeply about their furry family members and will question whether you are invested in them more or less than their infinity pool.
They’ll also appreciate the fact that you took the time to understand their requirements.
When they see that you could be a good candidate, they’ll check out your profile to know more about you.
Reply to their messages right away. A day-late response could make all the difference in you losing that opportunity.
The Skype Interview
If the homeowner thinks you’re a good candidate, they’ll want to have a Skype call with you. If you made it this far, congrats!
This is often the final step of the application process and if you do it right, you could land the house sit job.
Try not to oversell yourself here and remain humble –it’s not a sure thing just yet.
The point is for the homeowner to get to know you. Treat it like a normal conversation with a friend that you respect. Ask them personal questions too, especially about their pet.
Your line of questioning is important, it’s not just for impressing the owner but for you too. It will demonstrate an understanding of the job, while filling in potential breaks in understanding.
Remember, you will be living in someone else’ home watching over their pet. It only makes sense to know them and their pet and any unique characteristics of their home so you can do your job competently.
That, and answering questions will get the homeowner talking. The more time they invest in you, the more likely you will get the house sitting gig. Do not underestimate this point, it’s a key tenet of sales in general and will more often than not help close the deal if the questions are thoughtful and sincere, and aren’t just for the sake of asking questions to fill time.
What If the Gig gets Cancelled?
Two things can happen here: Either you can’t do the gig or the homeowner decides to cancel.
If it’s the former, let the homeowner know right away. Apologize for the trouble especially if the job has already been agreed upon.
It could also happen that you got accepted for two jobs that happen to be at the same time. Make sure to let the shortlisted owner know. That way, they can find a replacement right away.
If the owner decides to cancel, reject, or ignore your application, don’t fret.
Homeowners are often flooded with applications so don’t worry too much if they didn’t respond to yours, just send them a quick follow up message asking if they received your application.
If they’re silent for too long, homeowners typically understand you won’t be focused on just one house sit; you’re likely applying for many.
There are more gigs awaiting you. Send back a positive note no matter what –whether you’re rejected or they took too long to respond and you’ve moved on, as you never know if they will have a house sitter vacancy in the future.
If you’ve already booked your flight tickets and a gig is cancelled on you, it’s not insane to ask the owner to help cover the expenses. Last minute cancellations happen very rarely and most homeowners are more than willing to cover part of the financial burden.
Tips For Getting More House Sitting Gigs
1. Apply ASAP
Homeowners get dozens of house sit applications and while you may be the best among all the candidates, it’s no guarantee that you’ll get accepted simply because someone beat you to it. To really get ahead of the competition, you want to apply as soon as the listing comes out.
Once a homeowner starts communicating with another candidate, your chances of getting accepted are drastically reduced.
You want to be the first or second person who sends that application to them, so set up notifications for every new listing in your desired location.
Going back to references, it’s good to have them at the ready in case you need to apply on the go from the house sitting app. Keep a link to your Google Drive references attachment handy to apply quickly via house sitting apps –you never know when and where you’ll be when the house sitting job of your dreams gets listed.
Peak Time for New House Sit Jobs
Sunday night is the peak time for new house sit listings. While everyone else is out enjoying the last few hours of the weekend relaxing, be on the lookout for new “house sitter needed” listings to apply for.
2. Apply to As Many As You Can
The more live in house sitter jobs you apply for, the better your chances are of getting one.
But remember, this isn’t Tinder –you have actual obligations here. Don’t go willy nilly on applying for gigs you likely won’t actually want to fill.
Although, like Tinder, the less selective you are, the more broad your choices will be and chances are you’ll actually get lucky. Oh, the parallels.
Don’t let unrealistic standards get in the way of you getting a house sit job that will serve as free accommodation in a location you’re dying to visit.
For example, you can’t control how long the homeowner is away or the kind of pets they have. There’s a fine line between having preferences and being a wee too selective for your own good.
Keep away from emotional decisions in regard to the house sit listings you apply for and learn to be flexible.
3. Be an Animal Lover
Not everyone is good with animals, yet most house sitter jobs abroad require more than just watching over someone’s home.
You gotta’ watch their pets too! That means you have a greater chance of getting accepted if you know how to deal with domestic furries of the non-cosplay variety.
If you’re an animal lover yourself, good for you. However, if getting licked by a dog or chasing ADD cats is the last thing you want to do, your options for house sitting jobs may not be as wide.
If you’re really eager to get that pet sitting vacancy, you have to be comfortable around animals. Not every house pet is a cute and cuddly puppy.
Hang around your friends with their pets and ask questions about how they deal with certain situations or what human foods are toxic to pets.
If you’re reading this out of boredom and you’re not actually going anywhere for a long time, maybe even get a pet yourself and learn how to truly care for another creature.
4. Get Housesitting Job Experience
House sitting experience is something that will definitely help you stand out from other applicants. Doh! Really?
For example, who do you think the homeowner looking to fill a pet sitter job will choose? The person with one year of home sit experience with no pets, or the one with experience pet sitting 5 dogs? Of course they’ll choose the latter!
Your first few gigs may not be as exciting as you’d expect but it’s great for earning those useful references and learning a thing or two about a thing or two.
You can’t fake knowing how to care for pets, so don’t try. A pet owner can smell out inexperience like Lassie sniffs out lost boys who fall down watering wells.
5. Upload a Video of Yourself
Housesitting job sites like Trusted Housesitters let you to post a promotional video, and that provides you with a fabulous opportunity to stand head and shoulders above other house sit job applicants.
This is your chance to showcase your personality and skills so make the most out of it. Plan out what you will say in the video, introduce yourself, showcase what you can do, but don’t make it too long.
No one wants to watch a 10 minute video when they can just read your info in scan of your profile, I suggest keeping it to 3 minutes.
If the house sit app or website you’re using doesn’t support video uploads, include a link to one one YouTube.
6. Market Your Services
Don’t just stop at house sitting platforms. You can widen your chances of finding private house sitting opportunities with internet marketing (a huge advantage for savvy digital nomads).
This could mean creating a Facebook page or WordPress website for your services, joining FB groups, handing out leaflets, reaching out to local pet owners or animal clinics (they usually have a cork board in the waiting room for this), getting in touch with previous clients, posting on Craigslist, and asking for referrals from friends –there’s no holds barred for a creative pet sitting genius.
Some people are not aware that such services exist and might even consider hiring you. You will find that your hard work will be repaid with more house sitting options that you can choose from.
Even in your home town, a live in house sitting job is great fodder for the ultimate staycation and they build experience, referrals, and social proof.
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How to Avoid a Bad House Sit
If you’re lucky, you will come across really good homeowners who help make the experience of figuring out how to become a house sitter a smooth one.
From idyllic location to crystal clear instructions, everything is just perfect. However, this will not always be the case and it’s imperative you know how to sniff out bad apples.
It takes a certain skill to distinguish a good house sit from a bad one.
Yes, you might be tempted to take every gig that comes your way because it’s an opportunity to travel to a new place. But remember that not every home or homeowner is a right fit for you.
Here are some ways you can avoid a bad sit:
1. Inspect the Home
It’s typical for homeowners to have photos of their home in the listing so housesitters can get a good idea of what it’s like to live there.
If a listing doesn’t have a photo, the owner could be hiding something or they simply forgot (which is highly unlikely). Always check the photos before committing to a job.
2. Do a Skype Interview
A Skype interview will help you to get a feel for what the homeowner is like. There will be something about a person’s vibe that will tell you whether they’re a good fit or not. Maybe they’re too high maintenance, got that serial killer rapey vibe, or it seems like they don’t trust you at all.
Trust is everything. No house sitting job is successful if there’s no trust between both parties.
Without trust, neither of you will be completely comfortable with the setup. The homeowner might become an annoying paranoid basket case during their whole trip bothering you every 30 minutes on Messenger or you might end up with fleas all over your belongings, or worse. Who knows.
Trust and communication is very important. If you feel like it’s not the right one for you, decline the house sit respectfully. Tell them ASAP so that they have time to vet (pun!) other candidates.
3. Avoid an Unfair Exchange
Some homeowners might leave more work than one would consider fair for the house sitter to do while they are away. You want me to build a car park while you’re away? Whhaaaaa?
A few tasks such as checking the mail or watching over pets is fine. But if it becomes a full-time job that takes up a large part of your day, is it really worth it?
If an additional service is required and you’re willing and able to do it, let them know in advance it will come at an additional cost.
Here’s a good way to tell whether a gig is worth your time –ask yourself how much would you pay for accommodation. Then compare that against the hours you are doing house work in someone’s home.
If the hours you’re working on the house cost more than the actual amount you would pay for accommodation, then it may not be worth it.
Again, this entirely depends on what you are comfortable with. If you think it’s too much work, you might feel resentful and end up not doing your job really well, neglecting (or punishing) an otherwise innocent fuzzball, and crying yourself to sleep every night.
Some housesitters don’t mind doing a little extra work for free while others require a certain fee. It’s all a matter of preference.
A Note on Getting Paid to House Sit
It is possible to get paid housesitting jobs abroad, and it’s not unheard of. But you need to be smart about it.
TrustedHousesitters is full of people vying for free housesitting jobs –so if you’d like to be paid, keep it to gigs that require a lot of extra maintenance or time.
Maybe it’s an entire season no one wants to stick around for (winter), or they have a lawn that’s a few acres and they expect they’ll have to pay to get it done. In a lot of cases, a homeowner will wait until the 11th hour before they offer payment. It won’t hurt to ask if you know they’re asking for more than your typical homeowner.
Short Answer: Listings will indicate if they’re paid or not.
Consider how little time they have left before their departure, how much work is needed, or whether auxiliary services are required far outside the scope of housesitting.
4. Interview the Homeowner
Remember you’re not the only one being interviewed.
Collect as much information you can about the house, your responsibilities, cleanliness standards, and the pets before deciding to agree to the house sit.
Is their 4 foot tall doberman susceptible to painting the rug with bile and feces so often you’re looking for an exorcist? What food sensitivity question could have avoided it?
Even bad dog behaviour could be on you if you fail to ask the right questions before you step foot into a private pet sit.
On the flip side, if you did everything you could and asked every question under the sun, don’t be extremely upset if your house sit job doesn’t turn out as expected.
Maybe the homeowners are ungrateful or you broke something and you feel like an arse. There’s plenty of horror stories that still end with a great review.
Whatever comes up, know that you cannot please everyone. Do your best and if you did something wrong, find honest and sincere ways to amend it.
Often travel bloggers will rave over just how awesome housesitting jobs are and yes, while most house sitters do have a good time –some have a less than exemplary experience.
This isn’t like staying in a hotel where you get to read reviews before deciding to book, and in a lot of cases, you’re kind of the hotel, in that they rate you.
Poorly set expectations can be abated with the right questions but critical homeowners are par for the course, so do your best to weed them out best you can prior to any enslavement, err, nightmare pet sit job.
5. Location, Logistics, and Getting Around
Sometimes, it’s not the home itself that gives you a bad experience, it’s the location.
Doing a little research about the destination will save you a lot of hassle and disappointment. Treat this as a regular trip and gather as much information as you can about the place.
Consider logistics, bus routes, whether you’re able to borrow their car, etc.
Borrowing the Car
Borrowing a homeowner’s car isn’t an insane question to ask before a housesitting job. If you’ve got a valid driver’s license, let the homeowner know and ask them for permission and any other info you need to know should you need to use their car.
Like, standard or automatic? Does the engine light do poltergeist-like things? Is it only for emergencies, or are you allowed to use it for day to day coworking space trips?
If you bring Benny the dog should you cover the seat with a blanket –and if so, which one? (That last question will usually soothe the homeowner somewhat, knowing you’re bringing their baby along for the ride because of course, Benny loves rides).
In most cases emergency car usage is granted, and day trips are fine.
6. Get Social
If you’re the type that likes to get out and socialize, why not join community groups or sign up for a fitness class in the area?
This will combat the loneliness you might feel, especially during long-term housesits. Go out often, or talk to your neighbours.
One of the main draws for people who become a housesitter is the chance to know the local scene so take advantage of it when you can.
And then of course, maybe asking your homeowner if there’s any weird neighbour dynamic could be a good idea. Who would you call in an emergency? Which neighbor knows their fuzzy well enough to swing by should it act up?
7. Follow Your Gut Instinct
If something doesn’t feel right and your gut is telling you to say no to a particular house sit job, follow it. There will always be other house sitting jobs out there.
Tips for a Successful House Sit
Here are some tips to ensure that you have a successful live-in house sit.
1. Meet the Homeowner in Advance
If possible, meet the owner a day or a few days in advance before you become their live-in housesitter. This could mean booking a stay at a nearby hotel, but it’ll be well worth the cost knowing you’re able to do the housesitting job competently.
This is especially important if you’re watching pets that need a little time to get familiar with you.
Run through their most important instructions and bring up concerns that you’ve not discussed before. The homeowner might provide you hands-on training to ensure that you are doing the job right.
2. Understand the Homeowner’s Requirements
Dive deep into your owner’s requirements for a housesitting job. Even though they’ve outlined most requirements in their listing they may have overlooked something.
Run everything through with them just to be absolutely sure. If you have questions yourself, don’t hesitate to ask.
Some things to discuss with a homeowner before a private house sitting job include:
Aside from communicating needs and expectations, you need to know how often the host wants to be contacted. You may be asked to do weekly phone calls or give daily updates.
How will you travel from the house to the town? Are you able to use their car? This is important especially if the house is located somewhere remote.
Emergency numbers. You want to collect emergency numbers in the area as well as the neighbours in case you need help. If you’re watching over a pet, get the vet’s number. Test the numbers out making sure they work.
How often are they collected or need to be taken out? Where should they be disposed?
What maintenance does the home need? And how frequent?
Are there certain house rules that need to be followed? Maybe aircon is allowed only during day time or that the dog is not allowed to sit on the couch. Clarify these with the owner.
Mail. Where do you pick up and mail and where should you store it?
What is the code to the house? Where are the spare keys kept? Where is the gas switch located? Any house appliance quirks you need to watch out for?
Maybe the homeowner has their home landscaped every two weeks and you can expect a landscaper to come every now and then. Clarify that with the owner so you don’t get any surprises.
3. Familiarise Yourself with the Home
Once you arrive at your house sit, unpack your things and get yourself acquainted with the home. Know where everything is located such as the kitchen appliances, cleaning products, pet food, kitty litter, etc.
If you have any physical aliments like chronic back pain, ask the homeowner ahead of time what kind of mattresses they have in the house. This will help make your stay more comfortable, and it’s not unheard of.
If you find that it lacks anything that you absolutely need –maybe a French press or a tea pot, consider bringing one. It’ll make your house sit more enjoyable if you’ll be there for awhile.
Also get to know the people around you, your new neighbours! You’ll be seeing them a lot so might as well befriend them. They’ll come in handy if you need any immediate help.
4. Be Flexible and Self-Sufficient
No matter how prepared you might be and how detailed the instructions are, things will often wrong. That’s just part of life.
You need to be flexible and adapt to changes quickly to become a house sitter. There’s no use bothering the homeowner with every single thing that comes up on a house sitting job. Learn how to find and figure things out. That’s what you’re there for –to deal with things while the owner is away!
If you’re not happy with the living conditions, change it. Maybe the house is too untidy and you’d like it to be more organized. That is fine as long as you put things back to where they originally were. Some homeowners can be particular with where specific items are placed.
5. Be Transparent
Don’t be afraid to speak up if something’s wrong. It’s not worth hiding a problem.
It’s easy to notice when something isn’t right, and there’s a good chance a homeowner might find out about it later so speak up.
6. Respect the Owner’s Home
House sitter jobs are a big responsibility. If there’s something that needs doing, no one is going to do it for you.
Treat their home with respect and leave it the way you found it, if not better. The whole purpose of having a housesitter is to make sure homeowners are at ease when they leave and come back from the trip.
7. Replace Things You Consumed
If you consumed any of their food items or toiletries (and this wasn’t discussed in advance), make sure to replace it.
There’s nothing worse than going home to a house with empty bottles of wine, no food, or insufficient toilet paper.
In most housesitting jobs we’ve had, the homeowner filled the fridge to get us through the first week or so. Anything beyond that, we were on our own.
Don’t be shy –ask homeowners if they’d like food and other consumables replaced or what is fair game.
8. Say Thanks Before Leaving
Ask if the homeowner wants to see you once they come back or if they prefer that you leave before they arrive. Either way, you want to leave them with something nice –doesn’t have to be fancy. Leave them a bottle of wine, cook a nice meal, or pick them up from airport.
A few kind gestures will show how appreciative you are of being able to stay in their home, and they might even invite you to fill another house sitting vacancy again in the future.
9. Keep in Touch
After a house sit job, write the homeowner a nice review. Leaving a positive review for them first could remind them to write one for you.
If they didn’t review your house sit, do a quick follow up and let them know their feedback will greatly help you out.
Finally, maintain the relationship. You have new friends from the other side of the world now. Cherish that.
Final House Sitting Considerations
Almost done, folks. In order to be as thorough as possible, we’ve got a little more information for you to consume before you sign up for TrustedHousesitters and become a house sitter.
Expenses are a very common concern for house sitters because there aren’t any standard rules for them.
It’s up to you to determine what you are comfortable paying for. You’ll need to be flexible as each situation is different.
Housesitters may be asked to cover gas, electricity, water, phone calls, and internet –especially if it’s a long-term house sit.
However, some homeowners opt to cover all of your incurred expenses and are more than happy to pay for everything you need as long as you’re able to do your job correctly. This is often the case with house sits where you are left more duties than usual.
Always ask upfront what you need to pay for. If something bothers you, don’t hesitate to bring it up; most things are negotiable.
For example, if the house is somewhere remote and you need to make an hour-trip to town for groceries, the homeowner might cover your transport costs.
House sitting may be an alluring career but it’s not all one big giant freebie. Let’s pick off a list of costs associated to house sitter jobs, one by one.
The most obvious cost of entry for most housesitting jobs would be airfare. House sitters are usually responsible for covering this cost especially if committing to a private house sit job abroad.
Before you commit to booking a flight you’ll want to ensure the homeowner is committed to you specifically to fill their home sitting vacancy –otherwise, you could be throwing hundreds of dollars down the drain if the owner decides to cancel.
2. Visa Fees and Extensions
Then there’s visa fees and extensions. If you decide you want to get paid to house sit, visa requirements may get more complicated –a paid house sitting job could be in violation of a Tourist Visa.
Also, prepare funds in case you have to stay longer in the country of your house sit. Maybe the homeowner extended their vacation or you’ll decide you want to explore the city more. It’s always good to come prepared.
3. Hotels and AirBnb
If you’re travelling days in advance of the house sit date to meet up with a homeowner before your engagement, factor in any hotel or AirBnb expenses.
You might even want an emergency fund for these kind of expenses, should your house sit be cancelled or the homeowner comes home early. You never know what might go wrong.
4. Ground Transportation
Next is ground transportation. Will you have access to a bicycle or vehicle? Who will cover gas expenses? Is there efficient public transport?
If the owner provides you with a vehicle, they will need to include you in their insurance for the time being and you’ll also need to have a valid driver’s license.
5. Cost of Living
What will be the cost of living be like? House sitters often pay for their own food so be sure to include this in your budget.
Certain regions cost a lot to live in, and the money saved by housesitting may not be enough to offset other costs –research additional costs associated to the region.
Some costs are surprising and unexpected –off the top of my head, a pack of smokes in Australia will run you $25! (FYI: Travel within Australia is a great smoking cessation tactic).
6. Internet Costs and Data Speeds
If you work online, check to see if the home or local internet connection is on par with your needs.
Ask for the Wi-Fi password to provide updates to homeowners, and perhaps ask them to pick up a prepaid SIM card for your unlocked smartphone. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a foreign place with no communication.
7. Energy Bills
There’s also energy bills which tend to rack up during cold winters and hot summers.
To be on the safe side, confirm that your energy usage is included during your house sit. It’s not common, but on long term house sits energy usage could a hidden cost for the house sitter.
Location and Dates
Traveling to a foreign country is one of the main draws of your house sitters jobs. However, you also have to think about the location of where you will be house sitting and the season you wish to do so.
If it’s abroad, is it worth paying for those tickets just to stay there for a few days? Are you able to accommodate a house sitting gig in between destinations to save costs on hotel expenses?
Most “slow travellers” plan their itineraries in this way. They search for long-term house sits that last for weeks or months and daisy-chain them together.
Let’s Stick a Fork in It
Take note that there are house sit vacancies on TrustedHousesitters which may not be in touristy areas.
In some cases, the house is so remote that you have to drive hours before getting to the city centre. Are you comfortable with that? What about safety? Check the local news and see if there’s anything you should be aware about.
Also think about your visa. Countries have varied visa requirements for different nationalities.
Some provide visa on arrival while others require that you apply first in your home country. Your number of days will also be different.
Look up the unique requirements for your situation. If you need a letter of invitation to get a visa (as in the case of Europe), be sure to ask for one during the interview process.
Related: International Health Insurance Review: A Guide to Nomad Insurance
Ready to Become a House Sitter?
Sign up for TrustedHousesitters here and get started.
Did we miss anything? What would you add to our beginner’s How to Become a House Sitter guide? Please let everyone know in the comments and thanks for stopping by. If you’re a blogger, be our guest and summarize points from our article on your own blog, all we ask for in return is a link to our source material.
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