House sitting 1or housesitting – the jury is still out on which term is official has taken off as the digital world allows more white-collar folks to break their 9 to 5 habits.Â Lucky for homeowners offeringÂ house sitting jobs, the internet now boasts a variety of house sitting services to connect sitters and owners.
Updated Q1 2021, pandemic commentary below
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seven years more than a decade I’ve used the Best (and Worst) House Sitting Websites and word-of-mouth to find house sitting jobs caring for fidos and felines around the world.
Is house sitting still happening in the pandemic?
Yes.Â People are still needing the mental-health break from their normal routines, mostly traveling safely elsewhere and needing care for things left behind.Â For everyone’s safety, it’s harder to house sit internationally right now, but I get alerts for domestic house sitting jobs all the time!
Hereâ€™s my summary of tips for those figuring out how to get into house sitting:
- Uncertain you’d like it?Â Listen to this free podcast.
- Friends & family first: tell your social network if you have summer/holiday availability.
- Jobs found on house sitting websites generally arenâ€™t paid. (Hereâ€™s Why.)
- You can browse for free, but you have to pay to play.
- Less flexibility about time and place usually means paying for more site memberships.
- You need a great profile â€“ itâ€™s a job! Your â€œresume and cover letterâ€ need to shine.
- Choose your â€œbossâ€ wisely.
- Itâ€™s not 100% free!
- Don’t let uncertainty keep you from changing your lifestyle!Â Nervous?Â Join a travel group on social media.
How to Become a House Sitter – Part I
Pick The Best House Sitting Website
I’ll let you in on a little secret.Â The best house sitting website is… whichever one has the house sitting job you want!
You can study up onÂ the Best (and Worst) House Sitting Websites.Â But really, finding the house sitting job that matches your criteriaÂ is more important than picking the right website to join.
The hard truth: youâ€™re probably going to have to buy memberships forÂ more than one house sitting website 2as nearly all of us with the experience to be writing house sitting website reviews can attest.Â No site is #1 for the most house sitting vacancies or long term house sitting jobs..Â The notion that you can pay for a single membership and then travel the world with free accommodation is attractive, but false.
The good news: With a few annoying exceptions, most house sitting websites will let you quickly browse with no strings attached.Â When you find the job that fits your schedule/location parameters, join the site and contact the owner.
The industry has yet to be monopolized by a single site, thankfully.Â If youâ€™re after an international house sitting job, youâ€™ll start by looking at those sites, but donâ€™t forget about local and regional sites that may have more house sitting jobs listed for your target area than international sites.
Lastly, donâ€™t forget about friends and family!Â If youâ€™re keen to housesit during vacation season, putting the word out on your social network will likely land you a paid house sitting job.
How to Become a House Sitter – Part II
Find the Best House Sitting Jobs
Another secret?Â The best house sitting jobs are… the ones that match your situation and personality the best.
Do you like cities?
Prefer small towns?
Love big dogs?
Only kind-of like cats?Â
Do you see yourself house sitting for just a week or two?Â A few months?
Would you like to commit several months out, or wait until closer to the dates youâ€™re available?
Do you like everything you read on the home ownerâ€™s profile?
When you first start searching, donâ€™t be tempted to stray from your ideal house sitting parameters.Â First try to find a house sit thatâ€™s exactly what you want.
If you arenâ€™t excited about walking a big dog for an hour each day, but you apply for the house sitting job because itâ€™s in your version of paradise, you 3and the owner! could end up pretty unsatisfied.
If you reply to an ad that says a pet needs groomed six times a day and fresh water every time she drinks, but donâ€™t have enthusiasm for these pet care standards, youâ€™ll likely regret it later.
Especially because these are generally not paid jobs.
Here’s the ethos of house sitting websites: in exchange for the time and autonomy 4in my opinion, the two most valuable things in the world it takes you to live home owners’ livesÂ for them, you get accommodation.
In my experience, home owners who agree that autonomy and time are more valuable than bills theyâ€™d be paying anyway have compensated me.Â However, it is more common for the situation to be seen as an equal give and take.
If you do several short term 5less than 3 weeks house sitting jobs in a row, youâ€™ll realize pretty quickly just how much effort it really is to live someone elseâ€™s life for them.
How to Become a House Sitter – Part III
12 House Sitting Tips
Ease the Sting of the Financial Risk
Mental gymnastics will make you less sad about paying to use a house sitting website without the guarantee that youâ€™ll ever get what you want out of it.Â Hereâ€™s what to tell yourself: even if you spend $150 to join three sites, thatâ€™s arguably three nights 6or 15 nights if weâ€™re talking a mid-level hotel in Bangkok of accommodation costs. Â (Unless your perfect house sitting job was listed onÂ my least favorite site. Â More sting with that one.)
Write a Good Profile
I thought this went without saying until I started playing homeowner on some sites and discovered most people barely fill out their profiles!Â This is a job, hey.Â Youâ€™re in competition with other sitters.Â Every home owner Iâ€™ve sat for gets several offers within the first day of posting their ad.Â Make your offer the best. Â If you feel your skills are lacking in this area, I wrote a guest post about this for Nomador.
Donâ€™tâ€™ be Tricked by Old AdsÂ
On many platforms, Iâ€™ve gotten â€œsorry I already have a sitterâ€ because I didnâ€™t know the ad was old. Â Spend some time getting familiar with postingsÂ on house sitting websites you’re thinking of joining. Â I think your best shot is with the newest ads. Â Which leads me to…
Donâ€™t let perceived scarcity of house sitting jobs cause you toÂ commit to a less-than-ideal situation.Â New jobs are posted all the time, and homeowners are on different timelines.Â Some want their sitter organized six months in advance, some three, some two, some just six weeks away.Â Some have a friend fall through and turn to platforms at the last minute.Â Some have a sitter who cancels.Â 7You should never, ever, ever cancel a house sit.Â If you know something might come up, (your parent is sick, youâ€™ve applied for a new job, etc.), donâ€™t drag someone else into your drama.
Longer is Better
Itâ€™s easy to underestimate how long it takes to get settled into an area and routine. Ten days race by when youâ€™re learning new roads, finding your way around aisles of new grocery stores, opening every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen twice just to find the can opener, and of course spending an hour (or more!) each day taking care of fido, plants, trash, gardens, and other little house chores.Â Especially during the pandemic when travel requires so much more care and logistical planning, set a mental minimum length-of-sit to avoid exhaustion. Â 8After 5 years spending 20% of my time house sitting, mine is ten days for friends, three weeks for friends-I-havenâ€™t-met yet.
Itâ€™s equally easy to overestimate how much youâ€™ll enjoy a place. Maybe an idyllic cabin in the wintertime woods romanced you, but you discover you hate shoveling show.Â Or a big city house sit sounded fun and glamorous, but now you canâ€™t wait to get away from honking horns.Â If youâ€™re committing for more than three weeks, do your research and know what youâ€™re getting into.
Choose â€œYour Bossâ€ Wisely
Not everyone needing a housesitter is a match for you. Even if the location is perfect, the homeowner might not be your cup of tea.Â If their ad strikes you as a bit abnormal, listen to your instincts.Â Be sure to interview them on Skype, which allows you to get a feel for them and the condition of the home 9and the speed of their internet if it matters to you.Â If youâ€™re a tidy person, living amongst anotherâ€™s clutter for a few weeks (or months!) might drive you mad.
Ask Lots of Questions
I use the â€œliteâ€ version of my home-owner pre-departure checklist when I interview them on Skype. Asking about the petâ€™s schedule, likes, dislikes, behavior history, medical history as well as inquiries about plants, gardens, appliance idiosyncrasies, type of heating/cooling system, neighbors, etc. help get a feel for whether or not the house sitting job is right for me.
Put Yourself in the Home Ownerâ€™s Shoes
Owners get lots of “applicants.” Which inquiry would you be more excited about:
â€œHey.Â My name is Alex and Iâ€™m an online marketer from Chicago.Â I saw your ad and am available for the time youâ€™ll be gone.Â Can we set up a time to skype?â€Â Â
â€œHi,Â Ownerâ€™s Name.Â Iâ€™m Alex.Â I saw your ad about Rover and Fido.Â I love walking big dogs, and they seem very sweet.Â Iâ€™ve also always wanted to come to your area because my grandma told me stories about it growing up.Â I have an opening on my calendar for the time youâ€™ll be gone.Â Iâ€™m an online marketer from Chicago.Â As youâ€™ll see on my profile, I have lots of house sitting experience, references, and am a non-smoker.Â It would be great to e-meet Rover and Fido and you on Skype.Â I have time this week in the afternoons.Â Let me know?â€
Before the home owner departs, ask lots of questions and get clarifications. Â e.g. A couple seemed very easy-going about me using pantry items, but in response to my question about past house-sitter problems they described the sitter using too many of their pantry items!Â 10Related: I find I tend not to use a home-ownerâ€™s food.Â Anyone whoâ€™s lived in their home longer than a year usually has plenty of expired goods.Â At another locale I confirmed the internet was unlimited.Â However, I incorrectly assumed the communications bundle also included the standard unlimited long-distance.Â I racked up hoursâ€™ worth of talk time that easily could have been free if Iâ€™d known better.
LonelinessÂ Management is Important
In the pandemic, what does it look like for you to be in a brand new place where it’s so much more difficult to make connections in the usual ways?Â Are you ready to take advantage of the digital replacements?Â Do you know what they are?
Here are my pre/non-pandemic thoughts:Â Take it from an introvert who can happily spend ten days holed up in her village apartment outside Croatiaâ€™s capital city: youâ€™ll likely want to spend some time setting up a social life. Even if youâ€™re exceptionally satisfied with your own company, at some point youâ€™ll want the company of another human being.Â To be ready for that moment, you can make friends of your neighbors, or get connected through online platforms like meetup.com.
There are also lots of social media support groups where people living this lifestyle connect.Â Join one or two and ask people there for their recommendations of other great ones.
How to Become a House Sitter – Part IV
Know the Costs of House Sitting
Yeah, lotâ€™s of sexy, click-bait webpages out there have titles like,
â€œTravel the World for Free!â€
â€œSleep for Free Around the World!â€
â€œHouse-sit and See the World for Freeâ€
â€œHow to Become a House Sitter and Never Pay for Accommodationâ€
But house sitting isnâ€™t cost-free. Instead of giving cash for rent and utilities, youâ€™re paying with at least an hour a day of your valuable time to live someone elseâ€™s life for them.Â If youâ€™re working your location-independent job, think carefully about how much time you will really have for sight-seeing between that andÂ pet walking/feeding/grooming and daily house and garden maintenance.
In addition to time, otherÂ associated costs include:
- house sitting website memberships
- transport to and from the house sit
- groceries that you donâ€™t use upÂ but are impractical to carry to your next destination
- transport costs to get around the area â€“ whether fuel for their car or tickets for trains and busses
- expensive drop-in gym memberships
- location specific supplies 11maybe they donâ€™t have a coffee maker and you canâ€™t go without for six weeks, or their freezing tile floors require the purchase of a pair of slippers you wouldnâ€™t generally need
- the time it takes to meet new friends – relationships that will, for the most part, ultimately be dissolved by the realities of life
- money for going out with new local friends 12because you donâ€™t invite relative strangers to a home thatâ€™s not yours, and social convention dictates going out for drinks or dinner with new friends
And, something I like to call…
- â€œeducation moneyâ€ – In this category: buying groceries from a pricey gourmet shop when you donâ€™t know about the basic market, paying a parking ticket because you didnâ€™t understand the townâ€™s weird and uncommon parking system, replacing a key that dropped and broke, etc.
Now you know how to become a house sitter! Â You’re armed with the knowledge you need to have great experiences filling house sitting vacancies around the world.
Hereâ€™s one lucky freelancerâ€™s New York Timeâ€™s write up of her house sitting experiences.Â If you’re new, this article will be useful to you.Â And wikipedia’s angle on house sitting is worth a look.
You may also like:
And if you’re new to the lifestyle, you’ll relate to:
Why a Hard-Working Perfectionistâ€¦ Doesnâ€™t Want a Job
Happy Traveling!Â ♣
|↑1||or housesitting – the jury is still out on which term is official|
|↑2||as nearly all of us with the experience to be writing house sitting website reviews can attest.Â No site is #1 for the most house sitting vacancies or long term house sitting jobs.|
|↑3||and the owner!|
|↑4||in my opinion, the two most valuable things in the world|
|↑5||less than 3 weeks|
|↑6||or 15 nights if weâ€™re talking a mid-level hotel in Bangkok|
|↑7||You should never, ever, ever cancel a house sit.Â If you know something might come up, (your parent is sick, youâ€™ve applied for a new job, etc.), donâ€™t drag someone else into your drama.|
|↑8||After 5 years spending 20% of my time house sitting, mine is ten days for friends, three weeks for friends-I-havenâ€™t-met yet.|
|↑9||and the speed of their internet if it matters to you|
|↑10||Related: I find I tend not to use a home-ownerâ€™s food.Â Anyone whoâ€™s lived in their home longer than a year usually has plenty of expired goods.|
|↑11||maybe they donâ€™t have a coffee maker and you canâ€™t go without for six weeks, or their freezing tile floors require the purchase of a pair of slippers you wouldnâ€™t generally need|
|↑12||because you donâ€™t invite relative strangers to a home thatâ€™s not yours, and social convention dictates going out for drinks or dinner with new friends|