When we were still living in the states, we heard about house sitting in a travel podcast. The podcast explained that house sitting websites help connect people with homes and animals with other people who are willing to come watch said homes and animals while the owners are away.
It sounded like a pretty sweet gig. Taking care of a couple animals and living in cool foreign cities for free? Yes, please!
Then we had to make a profile giving information about who we are and the kinds of animals we have experience with, along with whatever other cool tidbits we could think of that would make us stand out (you can bet the fact that we were both teachers—and therefore very responsible human beings—was mentioned a couple of times). You can even upload a video to give your profile a bit more personality, though we never actually got around to making one.
How it works
Once your profile is up, you can start applying for house sits. You can go to the website and do searches to find sits during your dates or in the areas you wanted, but we never really bother with that.
We found both of our house sits through the daily emails TrustedHousesitters sends with all the new house sits that have been posted. Every day, we are emailed a bunch of new sits, and I just skim through the list, looking for locations and dates that might work for us.
This way, some place I might not consider searching for could pop up and become our next great adventure.
Once you find a sit you like, you can apply and email the homeowner a little about yourself, why you want to sit for them, and what makes you a good candidate. If they like you, they can look at your profile to learn more and email back.
There’s a lot of competition on the site (the couple we sat for in Athens said they received at least 100 applications), so it’s important to think carefully through your email and try to avoid sounding like a form-letter, even if you use basically the same email to apply to multiple housesits.
(Photos from our Australia House Sit. Click any of the thumbnails to enlarge the images or read their captions.)
Value vs. Cost
For us, it has totally been worth the cost, even though we’ve only done two housesits so far (having a baby with us has made it more difficult to get sits, so single people or childless couples will probably have more success). We’ve spent two months near Melbourne, Australia and two weeks in Athens totally free, and both were places we wanted to see anyway.
House sitting is especially valuable if you’re interested in seeing the United Kingdom, Australia, or the United States (those are the countries that come up more than anywhere else on the website we use), or if you’re quite flexible on your dates and the types of animals you’re willing to watch.
Really, we’ve been impressed with many of the homes and opportunities that have shown up on our emails—Chateaus in France, Manhattan apartments, cottages in Stratford-upon-Avon—and every email is a chance to daydream about all the places we could see and stay, even if they sometimes get a bit overwhelming because of the sheer number of options.
Will we house sit again? Absolutely. The proof is in the pudding: when the annual renewal came up, we eagerly paid it.
Both of our house sits were adventures in and of themselves, and we can’t wait to see the next one takes us!