I have to admit, house sitting is relatively a new concept to me. I have done a lot of CouchSurfing before (both as a guest and as a host) but until recently I did not have any house sitting experience.
In April 2018, having just finished my 3-month stay in Chiang Mai, I was trying to figure out my next destination. That’s when I heard a friend of mine saying that she’s just booked a house sitting gig somewhere in Europe. This triggered my attention and I began a research, being quite skeptical that these things are for real.
I mean who would let a perfect stranger live in their home for days or weeks at a time, right?
To my surprise, I discovered a huge movement to which I was oblivious up to that point. It turns out that the site that my friend pointed me to (trustedhousesitters.com) had loads of listings of house sitting gigs.
I was especially interested in long-term house sits (at least 3 months) so that I could better focus on my work. Changing places too often makes me highly unproductive.
How to become a house sitter, even with no prior experience
Like in any field, being the new kid on the block is not always good. People with older accounts on the platforms, which have reviews from their previous house sits, are obviously more likely to get selected than somebody brand new.
This is why I adopted some key strategic approaches:
- Updated my profile in a very detailed manner
- Made sure that my pictures were high-quality and showed me as the cool person I actually am
- Added links to other profiles of mine (Facebook, Couchsurfing, Linkedin) so that potential hosts could see that I’m a real human, that has friends and good peer reviews.
- Wrote about all my previous experience with pets and other animals, as this is one key aspect involved in house sits
That’s on the profile end. Now, when I started applying to ads, I looked for smaller cities, which generally get less attention from sitters. I also looked at the number of previous applicants and selected the ads that had the fewest applicants. It does not really make sense to compete with 50 others, especially if they have previous experience.
After a week or so, I got my first interview with a couple that was leaving home for 3 months and needed someone to stay over and look after their two cats. We seemed like a good match and agreed to do it. This is how I spent 3 months in Kalmar, the best summer holiday place in Sweden.
Another approach you can try is to first apply to short-term house sits (2-3 days each). In this way, you could get your reviews up and then be able to confidently apply to the longer ones.
Long-term house sitting pros and cons
Let’s start with the positive side 🙂
For me, the key aspect of having a 3+ month house sit is the savings on accommodation costs. During my travels, I noticed that accommodation was one of the biggest expenses in my monthly budget (alongside food and transportation). So cutting it from my budget would actually increase my travel time. By my calculations, doing this 3-month house sit, saves me about $1500 which I would have otherwise spent on accommodation.
Another obvious reason in getting to explore a new place for a while. Having a base and organizing trips in the surrounding area is a really great way to get to know a new part of the world. Staying longer term also means getting to feel the vibe of the city and get a sense of how people live their lives.
Also, a longer house sit, gives you the opportunity to befriend locals. This is the best ways to really get to know the culture and to discover hidden places that most tourists overlook.
Now the less than positive side 🙁
To my knowledge, most house sits involve taking care of pets. This is not a big issue in its self but it’s quite limiting in the sense that you can’t be away for more than 1-2 days. Unless, of course, you have pets that you can take with you, such as a dog for example.
Another disadvantage is that you need to be extra careful not to damage anything. Since this is not your house, the consequences of breaking something, are not always easy to deal with. In the best case scenario, you just pay for it. But it would be a huge hassle if, for example, authorities got involved.
House sitting websites
As I mentioned above, I found my 3-month house sitting gig in Kalmar, Sweden by using TrustedHouseSitters.com. I am now aware that there are multiple other websites in this industry, but back then I didn’t know.
In order to signup, I had to pay around $100, which is un the upper side of fees from what I’ve read. Still worth it though, considering that I saved at least $1500 so far!
Furthermore, all house sitting sites have membership fees. Some monthly, others yearly and others just a single time, such as in the case of Trusted House Sitters. I believe that, besides being an obvious way for these websites to make money, these fees help increase the trust of homeowners that sign up. Knowing that someone paid money in order to apply for their ads, decreases that chances of the future sitter to be shady.
After a short research, I found out other websites that offer house sitting opportunities throughout the world such as MindMyHouse, Nomador, HouseSittingWorld or LuxuryHouseSitting. I don’t have any experience with these sites, so I can’t vouch for them, but they should be good alternatives.
Let me know in the comments what you think about house sitting and if you had any experience with it!