How To Successfully Start House Sitting
Wouldn’t it be great to live somewhere else for a few weeks or months without racking up hotel fees or having to buy a vacation home?
Welcome to the world of house sitting!
House sitting (also known as home sitting or pet sitting) provides you with a place to stay free of charge, including most amenities, in exchange for looking after someone else’s home, property, and pet(s) while they’re away.
You can think of it as the equivalent to being an exchange student, but for adults!
When I was getting started with house sitting I read a lot of articles about how difficult is was to “get your foot in the door” and successfully land your first housesit. I’ve found this to be highly exaggerated.
Sure, you could look after your neighbour’s cat, or water your sister’s plants while they’re away to pad your online profile, but unless you’ve never taken care of your own home or pet, and refuse to housesit anywhere except English castles or New York City penthouse suites, this isn’t necessary!
Just be aware that you’re not likely to be selected for a high-demand “dream-sit” out of the gates, and you’ll be fine. You can always grab one of those later.
So just how do you successfully get started with house sitting?
Here are some of the best tips I wish I had been told when I was starting out …
Choosing A House Sitting Website
There are many house sitting websites, each serving a slightly different audience. Some are worldwide, some are focused on local sits, and others range from a cabin in the woods to a luxury home. They also vary in length of housesits offered. The one that’s best for you will come down to what type of housesit you want.
Here are 5 of the ones I’ve enjoyed using, or that have been recommended to me by other housesitters:
HouseCarers offers worldwide housesits with some basic filtering to help you find the housesit that fits your criteria. You can even join for free, but you’ll need to upgrade before you can connect with any homeowners.
One feature I really like is the option to see housesits on a map, colour-coded so you know how recent a listing is.
Nomador is one of the more popular house sitting websites, offering worldwide housesits that you can try for free with their Discovery Option. They even offer “travel stopovers” when homeowners can open their homes for a night to other members of the community just looking for somewhere to crash overnight.
Luxury House Sitting has a lot of variety in length of housesit, and in the types of pets that need to be cared for. There are housesits available around the world and the registration is one of the cheapest, but I find their searching capabilities far too basic for my taste.
Mind My House offers one of the lowest membership fees of any site, providing great value. It offers a good selection of worldwide housesits with lots of pet/no-pet options.
Mind My House has one of the nicer websites on this list and is very ease to use.
Trusted Housesitters offers a great mix of houstsit lengths, home styles, and pet offerings. They provide listings from around the world, though they’re most popular in North America, Europe and Australia. Their searching and filtering capability doesn’t allow for everything I’d like, but it’s better than most of the other sites.
This is the most popular house sitting website, and it’s the one I recommend. Give it a try with this 20% discount!
The Most important Part: Your Profile
The most important part of getting started with house sitting is setting up your profile.
Your profile is the first place every home owner is going to go after receiving your application. It’s where they’ll get their first sense of who you really are, and make a decision if they want to entrust you with their most prized possessions: their home and their pets.
Most profiles start with a few pictures and a quick introduction sentence. This is where you have to grab their attention and give them a reason to read on. Keep in mind that many housesits get dozens of applications, so how will you stand out from the pack??
Your intro should mention a few key things about you, but focus on what value you can provide them and their pets. If you can hit a few points like “non-smoking”or “energetic” to catch the eye of the reader. Read a few housesit postings for sits you like to get a sense for what those owners are looking and tailor your profile to suit those needs.
Make sure the pictures you select are fun, show your face and personality, aren’t distracting, and are in focus. If you have pictures with pets, ever better. Here are a few examples:
Most profiles provide you with 3 sections to give more detail about who you are , why you want to house sit, and what your experience is:
Who You Are
Expand on the points you mentioned in the introduction sentence you already created. Give the reader some insight into who you are as a person, traveller, and pet-lover.
Keep it relevant to the task at-hand. No need to talk about your university degrees or that time you volunteered at the Olympics … but if you worked at a pet shelter, that could fit!
Why You Want to Housesit
Provide some detail around why you want to housesit. Try to go deeper than “wanting to see the world on the cheap” 🙂
Why do you feel house sitting would provide better travel experiences? How does caring for someone else’s home or pet fit into that experience?
If you’ve already “padded your resume”, put that info here. If not, just talk about how much you love pets, keep a tidy home, are sued to doing a bit of yard work, and that time you fed your aunt’s cat when she was away. You don’t need to put dates and times on this stuff, just make sure it’s honest and relevant.
There’s also a section when you can detail which types of pets you have experience with, and manage your availability calendar.
House sitting sites tend to offer different levels of account verification. This is done for 2 main reasons: (1) to make sure your account is legit, and (2) so the homeowner knows you are who you say you are.
None of these verifications are mandatory, but not performing them could hurt you in the selection process; especially if there are multiple applicants for a housesit you want.
At Trusted Housesitters there are 3 levels of verification offered:
Level 1: Basic
To achieve Basic verification you need to provide a valid email address and phone number, and have 1 person provide you with a reference. This is a character reference, not necessarily a “house sitting reference”, but it can also be both if you have that available. Simply send notes to a few friends or family members asking them to write a few sentences about why you’d be great at house sitting and how they’d trust you with their pets.
Level 2: Standard
Standard verification requires a check of your name, address and date of birth. This includes sending you a piece of physical mail with a code that you need to enter before you can proceed.
The second verification is a document check, requiring you to submit an image of your passport, license, or other identity card. This is analyzed for validity, and to ensure the document(s) were not previously reported stolen.
Level 3: Enhanced
To achieve enhanced verification level you need to successfully pass a Criminal Record Check is provided by an accredited third party.
Create Your House Sit Plan
It’s easy to get overly-excited and carried away when you’re getting started with house sitting. There are so many great opportunities available you just want to apply for them all! I’m guilty of it too.
Unfortunately this will result in more confusion than it’s worth. You may even get accepted for housesits you don’t really want.
Its best to star with a plan.
Here are a few things to consider before you start applying:
- What countries/states/provinces do you want to go to?
- What countries/states/provinces do you NOT want to go to?
- What neighbourhoods do you want (city, rural)
- What activities would you like to be close to (mountains, hiking, beachfront, restaurants/shops/shopping within walking distance)?
- What pet types/ages/abilities are you willing to care for?
- What amenities do you need (high-speed WiFi, car included)?
- What time of year do you want to travel?
- When are you NOT able to travel?
- How long do you want to be gone for, or how long in a particular place?
Answering these questions lets you be more systematic in finding housesits that fit exactly what you’re looking for. It allows you to perform a quick scan or each day’s new listings and shortlist the ones of interest.
Approaching your first housesit with these answers in mind will help you get your first sit in no time, and ensure it’s a perfect fit for both you and the homeowner!
Submitting the Successful Application
When you find a housesit that fits your criteria, it’s as simple as clicking on the “Apply Now” button, verify the dates required, and include a personal note. Always include a personalized note!
I’ve found it’s best to start with an “application template”, then personalize it for each housesit you’re applying for. You’ll want your template to include a pleasant greeting, a brief introduction, and an overview of why you would like to housesit. Then just save your template somewhere accessible so you can copy & paste it rather than needing to type it out every time.
To personalize your template, be sure to address the person who made the listing and mention their pet(s) by name. Add some comments relating to the concerns mentioned in the listing such as relevant qualifications, looking forward to taking the dogs to the local park, or enjoying their beautiful garden. As with your profile, be truthful and genuine.
If you have any questions after reading the listing you can ask them now. You’ll get other opportunities to ask questions before you accept the housesit, so don’t worry if you forget to ask something you really needed to know.
Once you’re application is submitted, just sit back and wait to hear from the people who posted the listing. While you’re waiting, update your availability dates and keep watch of your messaging inbox. You may need to answer questions from an owner from a housesit you applied to, or you may even be contacted for an unlisted opportunity by someone who liked your profile. If you find that you keep getting asked the same question by home owners, it might be a good idea to add the answer to that question to your profile.
Note that you won’t hear from everyone, and not all owners are great about pulling their listings after filling a housesit. Don’t be afraid to apply for multiple housesits for dates that overlap. It’s unlikely that you’d be offered all of them and even if you were, you don’t need to accept them all.
Now you’re ready to get started house sitting!
Please share your experiences with me in the comments below; I hope you love house sitting as much as I do!
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Be sure to comment below and let me know your tips or to share what you love about house sitting!
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Here is a list of the resources mentioned in this post:
House Carers – A great option that you can join for free, but you’ll need to upgrade before you can connect with any homeowners.
Nomador – One of the more popular house sitting websites, offering worldwide housesits that you can try for free with their Discovery Option.
Blogger’s Jumpstart Guide – Download my FREE guide outlining how to successfully start your own blog