House sitting – Free housing for expert travelers

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Sunset view from our house in Portugal
Sunset view from our housewe sit in Portugal

House sitting sounds like a perfect opportunity to save resources and enjoy a comfy home, while visiting a new destination. Thanks to the mighty internet, house sitting communities are widespread. How to find a house to take care of and what else you need to know is subject of this blog post.

How to find a house to sit

What you can find on international platforms is mostly promising. In case you can’t find a suitable option in the region you are about to visit, a search in local networks is sometimes more successful. If possible ask local friends for advice. Depending on the country that you are travelling, this might reach from an announcement board at the local grocery store to a nationwide online platform that you just never heard of cause you don’t speak the native language.

Another great way to find a house is to offer a house in exchange. It builds trust between the owners and a house swap or house share can be the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

In any case, there are some details that you will have to figure out in order to better your chances.

Timing

Timing is essential for this travel hack. House owners usually need a house sitter for a fixed number of days. Being flexible about your schedule will give you the best chance to score the gig. Ideally find a room, bed or couch that may host you for a couple of days prior and after the house sitting period. Be prepared that the house owner will not be open to negotiations about the date of arrival. Other circumstances, like the owner missing his return flight, might also affect your own plans. Make sure to have a plan B.

Skills checklist

House sitting is not for everybody. In most cases house owner has a reason to invite a house sitter. A cat, a garden, a mailbox or simply to scare away burglars. Give them the feeling that you are up to the task. Make sure to have some sort of agreement in case you break something.

  • Confidence
    Best achieved by bringing in the necessary experience. Lack of confidence can be compensated by professional skills.
  • Skill set
    You are a craftsman, know your tasks around garden and house? Mention it!
  • Reliability 
    Maybe the most important thing for every successful house sitter. Follow the guidelines of your host accordingly and be there for them. Some owners will call you twice a day, some never. Be ready whenever they need your help. That is your job!
  • Discretion 
    It might be a nice place you are living in, but it is the private space of other people. Don’t go through their private stuff in order to find dirty secrets. Don’t post pictures of their home to your social media accounts. Don’t invite people over which you wouldn’t invite to a family brunch or better, don’t invite people at all. Enjoy the comfort on your own or even better. Bring your significant other! Many owners are looking for couples to share the stay.

Introduction letter

Especially around prime locations, house sitting opportunities are a competitive event. Your introduction e-mail has to be on point and stand out from the other applicants.

  • Keep it simple:
    – 2 sentences introduction about you
    – 1 sentence about your travels
    – 2 sentences about house sitting and references/professional experiences
    – 1 nice, personal line to the owners
    – Invitation to get back to you
    End
  • Be specific about your plans. Prove your dedication to this part of your journey and name a reason to visit the region. Sports, recreation, culture, work, family, whatever comes to your mind.
  • Make sure to include a quality picture of yourself.

House sitting websites

  • www.mindmyhouse.com (Owners join for free, sitters pay $20/year, which they claim, is the cheapest subscription compared to their competitors)
    Today’s standard regarding house sitting communities. Many offers are from the UK and Europe, but also plenty of offers can be found around Asia, Australia or America
  • www.caretaker.org (online subscription – two years for $49.95, or three years for $69.95)
    A newsletter service with a magazine attitude, focused on the American continent. Regular mail outs will keep you informed about the latest house sitting gigs and news from the world of house sitting. Great read for the experienced house sitter. Check out their Twitter for the latest entries.
  • www.housesittingworld.com (Free limited account, Premium for $99/year for sitters. Offers subscription discounts to many more house sitting services)
  • Collects available offers from different house sitting websites and enables access to house sitter specific apps, courses and other useful resources in their blog and info pages.
  • www.trustedhousesitters.com (membership – $119/year for both owners and sitters)
    Maybe it’s just the great name, but this platform is without a doubt one of the most popular sites for sitters and owners to meet each other. It’s not exactly cheap, but if you plan to make a world trip on sitting houses, then this might be the most versatile and reliable option. They have their own customer service and offer insurance backed guarantee which is offers property damage, theft, and public liability protection up to $1 million USD.
  • www.luxuryhousesitting.com (Owners free, Sitters – $25/year)
    As the name suggest, this websites lists homes and sitters of more the classy kind. If you have the right skills, this could lead to a 5-star ☆☆☆☆☆ accommodation for free.
  • www.housecarers.com (membership – $50/year)
    It gained popularity fast, due to lots of good offers, quality assurance and loyal circle of owners and travelers.  On their blog they share house and pet sitting stories and educational material for rookie house sitters.
  • www.nomador.com (membership – $89 per year – free discovery option)
    Is a quite recent service, and the platform is without a doubt the fastest growing community among French speakers. So expect to find more offers especially from Canada, France (and Europe) and other French speaking regions.
  • www.housesitmatch.com (Standard account – $85/year, premium $110/year)
    A modern designed platform with a main target on pet owners and pet sitters. They offer members a range of guidelines and legally approved template contracts and documents, as well.
  • www.worldwidehousesitters.com (Owners free, Sitters – $2.92/ month or $35 annually)
    It is a relatively new website. Maybe there aren’t that many offers but the competition for house sitters is also a lot less.
  • www.housesitsearch.com  It is a house sitting comparison website. It enables you to search across multiple house sitting websites and find the best offers without having to visit every house sitting platform separately and applying your search filters each time. 
  • If you know specifically which region or country would you like to travel to, you can also consider look for specific services available in that area, eg www.housesitmexico.com or www.mindahome.com.au.
  • If you are on a very tight budget, where paying for subscribtions is not an option, try to join related Facebook groups where you will find a lot of useful information, news, coupon codes for cheaper subscriptions and, who knows, maybe your next house sitting adventure.

Final thoughts

Satisfying the owners need for communication, often requires a well organized lifestyle for the house sitter. Hosts will generally look out for the most reliable candidate, rather than for the most sympathetic one. If you are tidy, reliable and calm, then house sitting is definitely for you.

If you know more house sitting contact networks and websites please comment with a link under this article.

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Follow Dora:

Dora is a translator, virtual assistant and social media manager from Hungary. She has traveled, worked and studied in Italy, Germany, Spain, Morocco and Portugal. She is the expert for platforms like Workaway or Upwork. Quote: "I am just a kook, but surfing is the best meditation. I also love riding shitty bikes, getting lost in big cities and sipping cold drinks on the beach while watching the sunset. I am also the official Sweet Disaster, making trouble or doing art for my own pleasure."

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