I’ll say it a little louder for the people in the back: HOUSE SITTING!!!
What exactly is house (and pet) sitting?
If people own pets, they’ll need someone to look after them when they go on their sunny vacay. That’s where I (you!) come in. So far, I’ve watched a total of 6 dogs, 15 cats, and 1 snake (but like, not all at once lol). Occasionally, someone will post a sit where all you need to do is water their garden or get their mail, but I’d say 98% of the time they have pets.
I love it personally – I’d LOVE to have a cat or dog, but I don’t want to right now since I still like to travel so much. So this is the perfect way to get some animal time (aka cuddle time) in without actually having one of my own!
While the host is gone, you may also need to get their mail, water their plants, and whatever else you both agree upon before “the sit” (as I like to call it) begins.
I’ve gotten to stay in some really amazing places. Highlights include a 3-month sit in the center of Hamburg, a week in Norway next to a beautiful lake, a month-long stay in the cute town Saltburn-by-the-Sea, and a week in a GIANT gorgeous house in Chichester.
I admit that when I first heard about it, I thought it was a total scam. Especially since you have to pay for the website – I figured the likelihood of finding something was slim, and only happened to ‘lucky’ people.But then I stumbled upon two different women my age doing it, and figured, well – why not me, then? It was perfect timing as I’d already committed to becoming a digital nomad, and since I knew that accommodation would probably be one of the priciest things, I decided to try it out.
I signed up, paid the membership fee, created a profile – and started house sitting! It’s worked out quite well for me – you can read about an average day in the life of a house sitting digital nomad here. Sound awesome??? Keep reading and I’ll teach you how to do it, too!
WHY I USE TRUSTED HOUSESITTERSI’ve only tried out two websites – Mind My House and Trusted Housesitters. I signed up for Mind My House first since it was cheaper ($20/year) but wasn’t finding much. So, I bit the bullet and signed up for Trusted Housesitters, which was a little more expensive at $119 a year, although I had a coupon.
In the end, I had more luck finding more sits with Trusted Housesitters. However, Mind My House might be a great way to start for you! One of the women I mentioned in the above section was using it, and had good luck with it. However, she was primarily house sitting in the US, while I wanted to do some house sitting abroad as well.I find that Trusted Housesitters has an easy to use Dashboard, website, and I like that they email me new house sits twice a day! That way I can apply to the ones I like ASAP, as that’s often a huge factor in whether you’ll get the sit or not. Personally, I believe Trusted Housesitters to be the best house sitting website I have used.
So, this article will mostly focus on Trusted Housesitters, BUT you can also take away some tips for general house sitting, as well.
HOW TO GET YOUR FIRST HOUSE SITI will admit that at first, it may be a little more difficult to find something if you have no reviews (after every house sit, you get reviewed by the host and you can also review them!). However, if you’ve ever stayed in someone’s place, be it your family’s (for example, my mom runs an AirBnb and I’ve watched it for her on occasion when she was out of town) you can ask them to write you a review. You can have up to 3 external reviews.
However, at least with the site I use, there are TONS of opportunities in England, as that’s where the site began. There are a lot of other niche England house sitting sites as well – it’s extremely popular over there and I’ve found English hosts in general to be extremely trusting (one lady I house sat for never met me in person OR over video chat beforehand – we just talked over the site and she accepted me! I arrived after she had to leave, so she just left keys out for me).
But, you can still find house sits in plenty of other places, too – I’m house sitting in Bangkok this week! The first house sit I landed was actually in Norway.I will warn you that opportunities in expensive/highly desirable cities get snapped up like THAT. For example, I can’t even tell you how many I’ve applied to in Amsterdam and haven’t yet been accepted! I did have one in London, but it was very last minute, so there weren’t many applicants. Timeliness is key here, so if there’s a specific location you really want, I’d suggest checking often – luckily, Trusted Housesitters sends out an email with new house sits twice a day!
WHERE CAN YOU HOUSE SIT?But, if you’re like me and enjoy staying outside the city for the most part anyway, you’ll have lots of luck! It also helps to be flexible and able to go where you find house sits, and not the other way around.
Places with the most house sits on Trusted Housesitters:
- Canada (I often see opportunities for Victoria, Vancouver, and Toronto)
- Australia (I admit that I don’t usually pay attention to locations)
- USA (Mostly major cities)
But again, you can find so many other locations, too – there are some in Central & South America, Asia, and Africa as well, I just see them less often. I’ve done sits in:
- Glasgow, Scotland
- Stavanger, Norway
- Hamburg, Germany (multiple times)
- Berlin, Germany
- London, England (twice)
- Saltburn-by-the-Sea, England
- Chichester, England
- Bangkok, Thailand
I started house sitting in January 2019, and have saved over 6 months of accommodation costs so far!
HOW TO AVOID ‘BAD’ HOUSE SITSI luckily haven’t had any bad house sits – I think most people on the site are genuine as there’s a strong bond of trust that both the sitter and host must adhere to.
However, it’s pretty easy to spot any “bad apples.” Look for really specific and high sounding expectations or demands, lots of exclamation points, many things written in all caps/bold lettering – anything that just screams ‘high maintenance.’
Also, be sure you understand the expenses up front – most homeowners will pay for all the utilities (all of mine have, and most have encouraged us to use the heat as much as we want in the winter!), but I’ve seen some ads where they ask you to pay for the heating, air con, or internet. To me, this is a little ridiculous – again, they’re getting a GREAT deal – but it’s up to you what you are ok with.
Also consider the number and age of animals. Although a puppy may seem super adorable, remember – they are A LOT of work. Be sure to consider what you’re ok taking on before you accept the sit with 7 dogs and 10 cats. I’ve literally seen people post an entire farm that needs looking after – personally, I think they should be paying someone to do this, but again, up to you! Just really think about the reality of the amount of work you’re agreeing to take on.After each house sit, each party can be reviewed – you get reviewed by the host and you can also review them. Make sure you read the reviews for the host! I haven’t seen any bad reviews yet (Remember that the people you’re pet sitting for are getting a great deal – people usually get paid to house sit, and putting animals in a kennel is expensive, so most hosts really want to treat their house sitters well), but sometimes people will mention things that aren’t in the ad, like the noise level near the house or something.
I have sat for people with no reviews before, though, and it’s been fine! Trusted Housesitters has their own messaging system through the site, so it’s quite easy to chat with people through there, and usually have a video call or meet them in person beforehand to get a good feel for their expectations.
But for me, I’ve been extremely lucky, and everyone I’ve sat for has been very chill and kind. Some of them are even now my Facebook friends! They’ll often ask you to come the night before and many hosts have made dinner, or invited us out to eat with them; some hosts have let me stay an extra night, too!
WHO CAN HOUSE SIT?
Now, I house sit & travel solo, but when I first started out, I was doing it with a friend! Some people house sit as a couple, too.
THE PROCESS FOR APPLYINGOnce you find a sit you like, make sure you read the whole ad. No matter how gorgeous the house is or how great the location, you’ll be miserable if there’s something you can’t deal with like a puppy that wants to eat everything and pee everywhere.
I’ve definitely been tempted, but it’s just not worth it. Before looking for house sits, you should really think about your own limits so you’re not tempted to take on something that’s more than you can handle just because the house or location is nice!Then, you’ll send the host a message using the site’s internal email system. I like to include the pets’ names in the email so it seems more personal. I also will add other things that they mentioned in their ad, so it’s clear that I’ve read it and fully understand their expectations of me. For example, if they mention that the noise level around their house is loud, I may say “The loud noise is not a problem for me as I love to listen to music anyway!”
You should add a little bit about your experience, and what you plan to do while you’re there. Will you be working online? Sight seeing? I do think that I have landed a lot of my sits because I’m a traveling English teacher and thus am often at home, but as a tourist you can definitely still land some! Just be aware that you will probably have to stay at home a little longer than you’d normally do while traveling. If you do want to be out all day and night and plan to only go home to feed the animal quickly then leave again, this might not be the right thing for you.
Want to see the email template I use that’s landed me amazing house sits? Get it by signing up for my newsletter below! Don’t worry, I won’t spam you with lots of emails and you can unsubscribe at any time 🙂
Be aware that you WILL probably have to apply a lot – since I started house sitting about a year ago, I’ve applied to 84 sits and completed 11. Granted, some of them I did receive but turned down if I’d applied to multiple at the same time, but still – you do have to be prepared for that!However, it’s pretty easy to just use the same email template over and over and just tweak something here and there. And, it’s totally worth it to me as I end up saving soooo much money in the end! In total, I’ve house sat for a little over 6 months – that’s 6 months of accommodation that I didn’t have to pay!
TYPE AND LENGTH OF HOUSE SITSI usually try to find house sits that are at least a month, but there are many variable times and lengths listed! I’ve done sits for as short as 2 days and as long as 3 months.
Most tend to be around 1-4 weeks, as that’s often the length of time people will go away on vacation, but it’s definitely easy and possible to find shorter or longer sits, too.
You also never know if the host will ask you to stay longer – I’ve been asked to extend 2 of my sits. The first one was for an extra two weeks, and the second was for an entire month!
HOW FAR IN ADANCE TO PLANI usually try to plan about one month in advance, however, I often end up finding things last minute! This is a great way to find some awesome house sits – that’s how I found one in London that I normally might not have. However, if you’re more of a planner, not to worry – I’ve seen some listed for up to a year in advance!
On average, most house sits are listed about 2 weeks – 3 months in advance. But there are definitely plenty that are listed very last minute, too!
BUT LIKE WHAT IF THE PET GETS SICK?In all my house sits, I’ve only had to do one emergency vet run. Trusted Housesitters also has an on call vet you can phone 24/7, so I called them for advice.
When I had to take the cat to the vet, I first contacted the homeowner who suggested I try the Trusted Housesitters vet line first (especially since I was in Germany, and sometimes there was a language barrier – all the Trusted Housesitters vets speak perfect English).
I ended up having to take the cat to the vet as per the Trusted Housesitters vets’ recommendation, and luckily everything turned out fine. However, this experience taught me to be sure that I had all of the vet information and the pets’ passport (if they have one) just in case! It’s also a good idea to chat with the host and ask what they’d like you to do in the event of an emergency if you can’t get a hold of them for some reason.Also, be sure to set up how the money will be handled with the owner ahead of time! Some owners will have an account with their vet, but in one case, the owner didn’t as it was an emergency vet, so I paid and then she reimbursed me through PayPal.
I know this probably seems like an ad for Trusted Housesitters lol, but, that’s the only platform I’ve really used! So, that’s why I’m writing about it – however, I think many of these tips can be used for other platforms, as well 🙂
Have any more questions about house sitting? Feel free to DM me on Instagram!
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