In August 2011, I put my few belongings into storage, quit my job and set off overseas. House sitting has been, in large part, my way of seeing the world. Everywhere from Tasmania to Seattle, in cabins to mansions, from a few days to a couple of months.
The information on this page offers you my thoughts about house sitting; how it works, its benefits as a way of life, and what you need to know to get started.
Please contact me if you’d like more information.
10 + 1 Great Reasons to Become a House Sitter
- It’s a Win-Win. You save money and homeowners enjoy their time away knowing their home, pets, and garden are being taken care of.
- It provides you a home base while seeing another part of the world. For experienced travelers this is a huge PLUS. Living out of a suitcase and traveling every day can be exhausting. As one gets older and wiser housesitting holds increasing appeal, AND you get to cook at home saving on the high cost of eating out.
- You have time to get involved in community events. Spending a few weeks or months in one place allows you to visit weekly markets, attend classes and workshops, and find your favourite shops and eateries, all the while connecting with locals.
- Homeowners frequently inform their friends about your pending arrival and provide you with many contact names and numbers. This is an exclusive advantage of house sitting. You can establish and nurture friendships or enjoy the solitude of your own company. Either way the choice is yours.
- It moves you out of your comfort zone – ALWAYS a good thing.
- Many homeowners allow you to use their vehicle, especially if you’re in a remote location. This saves you the cost of car rentals and leaves you with money in your pocket for another visit to your favourite bakery!
- It can be a wonderful way to share your love of animals without the permanent responsibility of pet ownership. (You’re often required to care for homeowner’s pets and gardens.) For solo travelers it has the added benefit of companionship and security. In taking care of a veggie garden you reap the benefits of super fresh produce and yes, more savings!
- It provides a living situation that you would never have known had you stayed at home. You get a peek into how others live and may even get some ideas about how you might change things upon your return.
- You have a place to invite family or friends to visit, providing you have approval from the homeowners.
- Through Skype and email you’re able to ‘meet’ before the housesit begins. This is a huge comfort for everyone. Tip #1 The more you know about each other before the house sit begins, the better.
So there’s my top 10. If this piques your interest, subscribe to my blog (on the right side of the screen).
And here’s the new BONUS benefit:
- It’s good for your mental health! Engrossed in the book, The Brain That Changes Itself, the need to keep neurons firing and creating new connections is paramount to brain health. House sitting is a great stimulator. Navigating the layout of another’s house, their neighbourhood and especially their kitchen, requires focussed attention: another key factor essential to long-term plastic growth.
Ever Considered Being A House Sitter But Didn’t Know Where To Start?
“Look out for eggs in strange places,” the homeowners cry joyfully, Quantas bound. It’s been three weeks now and the chooks aren’t putting out. Well not as far as I can tell. If they’re laying, they’re not letting on. Thing is, I have been looking: under boulders, piles of grass, roosting spots, but no eggs. Nada. Nothing. What’s worse is one’s losing all her feathers.
House sitting can be full of surprises, some great, others…well, interesting. It’s been my way of life for the past year and suits me just fine, but it’s not for everyone!
Since friends often ask me how it all works, offering my tips for house sitting seemed like a great idea. So, here it is…
12 pages of practical tips for finding work, house sitting web sites, and those all-important tips of the trade.
If you’ve ever considered house sitting as a way to see the world, or simply as an option for a short getaway, you need to read this! Simply click on the cover.
House Sitting 201: How to Get More Housesitting Jobs
This is a guest post written by full time house sitter and writer, James Cave.
In 2013, housesitting website TrustedHousesitters.com ran a survey of all their members, both house sitters and homeowners. As a house sitter myself, this was the first time I was able to see some real data on house sitting; what homeowners were looking for, why some people were getting more housesits than others and what I could do to improve my chances of getting more housesits.
I’ve taken all of that data and along with the help of full-time housesitter Angela Laws, and Rachel Martin, a director at TrustedHousesitters.com, I’ve put together some of the most interesting bits. Enjoy!
Tip #1: Pursue Local Housesits First
It’s interesting to look at the difference between those who’ve managed to land no housesits and those who’ve managed to land a reasonable number; say 6-10. 60% of those people all have one thing in common: their first housesit was national not international.
The takeaway from this is that while housesits in Thailand, Costa Rica and Australia might seem like paradise – especially if you’re from the UK – you’re better off taking on a few housesits in your own country first in order to gain experience and references.
Three countries that have a lot of housesits are Australia, the UK and the United States. If you’re currently living in any of those countries, you have plenty of opportunities to get some housesits under your belt.
Tip #2: Get References, Police Checks & Add More Photos
Trusting someone else to look after your home and pets is a big step and as a house sitter it’s important to make yourself look as trustworthy as possible.
Interestingly, looking through the feedback from the members at Trusted Housesitters, the more ‘trustworthy’ features a sitter has, for example photos, references and police background checks, the more likely they were to take that person on.
That might seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many house sitters don’t provide this information up front.
Tip #3: Read Between the Lines
Angela Laws has been house sitting for five years and in that time has looked after everything from vineyards in France to townhouses in London and beach houses in California. Essentially she’s the person who manages to nab all of the top housesits (you can read an article about her in the Canadian Metro News)
Although Angela is very experienced, the reason homeowners tend to go for her is that she makes a connection with them. She highlights that she’s a homeowner, that she’s had pets before and that she knows how difficult it is to leave anybody in charge of those two things.
She even sends an email to the pets. Oh, and another one to the homeowners afterwards to let them know that she’s not a crazy!
Tip #4: Make Yourself Easily Contactable
Email is a great form of communication but it’s often impersonal. Most homeowners will want to Skype or have a phone call to get to know you and often to show you around their home via video. If you live nearby to the homeowner or are planning to be in the area, why not arrange to meetup?
Tip #5: Be Proactive and Suggest a Handover
I haven’t had a housesit where there hasn’t been some kind of a handover. Usually this means arriving a day or two early to get to know the pets and all the features of the property. As this is most likely an inevitability, set yourself apart by suggesting it early on.
Tip #6: Apply Early
Housesits go fast. Rachel Martin says, “Apply as soon as a house sit appears, don’t wait as it won’t!” Sometimes it’s really a “fingers on the buzzers” game, so make sure you have an active profile, with photos and credibility factors ready to go for when that dream housesit comes up.
James is a full-time house sitter and is currently in the middle of a nine month house sitting stint in the South of France. To date he’s looked after more than 50 animals, although that does include a farm of 18 alpacas.