Retired and dreaming of senior travel but have to watch your wallet? Why not consider house sitting? I’ve been a house sitter for years now and have had amazing sits in Europe and the USA. Along the way, I’ve made lots of new friends and I can only say that house sitting has been a very positive experience.
What is House Sitting?
House-sitting can be a dream comes true for both a traveler and a homeowner. House sitters can stay in somebody else’s house for free while looking after their pets. Homeowners can then travel without financial burden or stress of having to pay for pet care, and this can be beneficial for both parties.
Presently, I am house sitting in a gorgeous family home in California looking after three very independent cats. This house is easy to care for and very comfortable with a kitchen to die for. I do a bit of housework and water the plants. I basically treat it as if it was my home. A home away from home in a new country, a new city. I have all day to explore the local area, enjoy shopping in foreign supermarkets, visit museums, art galleries, and tourist attractions, and then relax as much as I want. Best of all, it’s free! Free accommodation! What’s not to like about house sitting?
Below, you’ll find some of the most common FAQs regarding house sitting.
Can Anybody Become A House Sitter?
If you’ve just been released from jail, you probably won’t be able to become a house sitter right away. You need to be a responsible, trustworthy person, as well as an animal lover as most arrangements involve taking care of people’s pets.
House sitting is popular for travelers, but also for those who may want to save money for a house deposit in their local area. Providing you have the right characteristics, house sitting can be a suitable gig for a person from any walk of life.
How Long Does A House Sitting Arrangement Last?
A house sitting arrangement can last anywhere from a couple of days to a whole year. They are usually to cover people’s holidays, so a couple of weeks is a common arrangement. However, you will likely find month-long breaks, too. Weekends and short business trips are also possible. It entirely depends!
How Can You Make Sure the House Sitting Gig Is Safe?
As a house sitter, both you and the homeowner will want to be sure you’re safe. You will want to make sure their profile checks out, and if you are both interested in working together, communication will be the next step. This can move on to Skype before a deal is made and you are hired for the job. You’ll need to make sure you’re 100% comfortable with the arrangement. When both parties agree, it’s a verbal agreement. The homeowner will usually want to see updates of your flight details and things to be sure everything is in order.
How Do You Go About Getting Your First House Sitter Assignment?
The best and easiest way to get your first assignment is by joining one of the sites dedicated to pet and house sitting. I first joined Trusted House Sitters and was lucky to get my first gig through them. It was a two-week sit-in Oakland, California with two cats. It was a very enjoyable two weeks and I was hooked.
Later, I joined Mind My House and I am still an active member of their site. I chose it because its joining fee is considerably cheaper than Trusted House Sitters. It may not have as many listings but I’ve still managed to acquire quite a few wonderful house sits.
Expect a joining fee of around $20-$100 per year for these sites. This is nothing in comparison to the money you will save on accommodation while traveling!
I did a one-week assignment in Andalusia, Spain in an off the grid property, which was slightly challenging but I really enjoyed the solitude. Another one, looking after two parakeets in a gorgeous property outside of Barcelona, which even provided a car. I’ve had assignments in the UK, France, and the Netherlands, where I will be returning this July for a repeat assignment. This family has become wonderful friends and that’s an added benefit of house sitting; you’ll have new friends all over the world.
How Do You Make An Attractive First Profile?
Your goals should be to make your profile as attractive and convincing as possible. You want reviews and testimonials so that other people know you are a good sitter. You can include interesting facts about yourself. Specifically, you should talk about how much you love animals and why you are interested in house sitting. Be transparent, and if you want to add something a little extra you could also add a character reference from a friend. Make it as long as you can and add lots of pictures of yourself – don’t forget to include pictures of yourself with animals. Videos will also be a big help!
Getting your first gig depends a lot on your profile. You don’t have any references or testimonials yet, so you need to make your profile as convincing as possible.
- Tell your prospective homeowner some interesting facts about yourself.
- Communicate why you want to house sit.
- Tell them about your love for animals and any experiences that you might have had.
- Explain what you can do for them and assure them that their pets will be loved and cared for.
- Reassure them that their home will be respected and returned to them as they left it.
As you have no testimonials at this stage, why not ask a friend to write you a character reference and add this to your profile.
Why Doesn’t The Homeowner Just Rent Or Hire A Management Company?
A house sitter is invaluable to a homeowner. Not everybody wants to worry about collecting rent each month or search for a tenant that they can trust. Many homeowners also want to be confident that they will get their home back as soon as they return from wherever they are going. A renter requires a lot of paperwork, and the homeowner will also need to claim the rental income on their taxes. Renters also want to find unfurnished homes to make their own, while the homeowner wants to keep their home the way it is. With a sitter, the homeowner can do this and avoid putting belongings into storage.
Management companies are a huge expense, and there’s always the possibility that tenants will leave mid-contract, further leaving the homeowner out of pocket. However, the biggest reason most want a sitter and not a management company is that they have pets they would like somebody who is good with animals to watch.
What Are Your Responsibilities As A House Sitter?
You’ve probably gathered by now that pet sitting is a big part of your responsibilities. However, you may be expected to do other things during your stay, but this all depends on your agreement. You might be expected to take care of a pool, mow the lawn, clean, and more. However, if taking care of the house is starting to look like a full-time gig, you would be within your rights to request payment.