Before I came across a few blogs of some Canadian couples travelling around the world via House Sitting, I had no idea what it was.
The basics are this:
- You join a house sitting website
- You search for home owners that want to offer you their home while they are on vacation
- You apply
- You get accepted (hopefully)
- You go
That is the short version of the process.
The more in-depth process is this:
Before there can be a house sitter (or sitters, like us), there has to be a home owner somewhere in the world who wants to leave their home (and usually their pets) in the hands of a complete stranger (or strangers, like us!) The majority of home owners want people to come and take care of their pets, and the priority is ensuring they are well cared for and loved, and that they won’t have to be placed in a kennel while their owners are on vacation. There are all kinds of pets that we have come across, from your typical dogs & cats, to birds, fish, rabbits, and even farm animals (horses, chicken, and cows).
A home owner will join a website looking for house sitters. There are a lot of websites out there, but I have taken the time to weed through most of them and there are really 2 main ones I would recommend if you want to travel around the world. The first one is Trusted House Sitters and the other is Housecarers. We have received all of our house sits from Trusted House Sitters. We haven’t had any luck with Housecarers, but we still would recommend them.
Some websites offer their services FREE for a home owner to list their home on these sites, but the house sitter ALWAYS have to pay a membership fee in order to apply to house sits. The memberships range, but you get what you pay for. The ones that are most popular do not offer free services.
On Trusted House Sitters, for example, the 2 most popular memberships are the yearly ones, which cost $119 and $99 (CAD). The $119 includes a home owner membership, and the $99 does not. There is also a 3 month membership, which costs $89.70, but I would recommend paying the extra cost and having the full year.
This website is the largest online, with the most variety of house sits around the world. They allow you to post references as well, which is helpful when you are starting out and want a home owner to take a chance on you (we are very lucky ours did!) You might think you need house sitting references, but not really. We got by with neighbours, friends, employers, and if you have the odd friend you can pet-sit for then add their reference too. Most home owners just want to know more about you, and see if you have some positive references. You will have a chance to create a profile where you will want to show some photos, and talk about your interest in travelling, and your love of pets! If you are a home owner or landlord, this is a good thing to mention as well because it shows you know how to care for a home, and that you are responsible.
Housecarers charges much less at $50 US for the year, but, they don’t have the volume of posts that Trusted House Sitters has, and their website is a little dated, which can be frustrating when you are trying to communicate with home owners, and searching for posts. There are still enough postings to make it worth joining, but for us, we just didn’t have any luck on this site.
House Sitting is most popular in the U.S, UK, France and Australia. It is making strides in other countries, but these are the countries that you will see the most postings for. Whenever there are postings for other countries, especially the popular ones like Italy, Spain, and even (our home) Canada, they are snatched up so fast that you won’t even have a chance to apply! I am not sure why, but these countries aren’t on board yet with the house sitting idea, and so the very few owners who post get inundated with hundreds of messages, and unless you have an AMAZING application, you will likely be ignored.
It has been hard enough for us in Australia to find house sits even with lots being added daily. I make an effort to apply immediately (sometimes within the first few moments) of seeing one being posted, but within a few days, I get the standard mass email from the owner telling me that “a sitter has been found”.
No matter what website you join, the house owner is looking for the same thing:
- For you to take care of their home, pets, and maybe even their garden, just as they would
Some of the tasks that might be expected of you when house sitting:
- Lawn mowing
- Garbage disposal
- Pool maintenance
- Mail collection
- Pet care
- Regular walking
- Vet visits and necessary medications
There are various lengths of house sits as well. The shortest we have seen is for 2 days, and the longest we have seen is for 2 years! This is a great opportunity if you are interested in living in another country. For any house sit over 6 months, the owners usually expect the sitter to pay the utilities. If this is the case, you will see it in the posting, so you can make your decision ahead of time, knowing what the costs might be. Generally, most house sits under 6 months don’t require an investment, but every owner is unique, so you need to read the fine print and make sure you know the expectations before you accept the house sit. In 99% of the cases, you will be offered all utilities, internet and TV at no cost to you.
The types of homes that are offered also vary. We have seen homes that we wouldn’t step foot in, and we have seen Chateau’s in France that are breathtaking. There is something for everyone’s taste.
Once you have been accepted, you will try to meet the owner online, usually by Skype (or any video conference software). This is really the only way to make it work when you are applying from another country!
I am going to post another blog after this one that discusses our personal experience getting into house sitting, and I will tell you how we secured the various house sits that we did.
If this is something you would consider doing, then sign up today! You won’t be disappointed! You don’t have to fly around the world like we did, but you could house sit for someone 2 hours away from your house, or at least in the same country. You can start building references, and then when you are ready to take that dream trip for 2 weeks, maybe 1 month, you will have a good chance of landing a house sit in your dream location!