No, I’m not kidding. This is a real thing. People all over the world will actually let you stay in their home for free and all you have to do is take care of their home, pets, and plants!
If you’ve ever done Airbnb, then you’ve kind of done house sitting – except you had to pay. House sitting provides you with free accommodation while you travel the world. It’s a great way to travel longer and further while spending much, much less.
Nicola from See Nic Wander has been house sitting and traveling the world for free over the past two years.
Talk about living the dream!
In this post, she’ll share her expert knowledge and give us the inside scoop on what House Sitting is really like.
We’ll go over everything from how to get started as a House Sitter to what happens if your house sitting job gets canceled. You’ll have the information you need to figure out if house sitting is right for you and how you can actually travel for free.
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What is house sitting?
House sitting is done through a third party platform, like the one I use TrustedHouseSitters. It connects people looking for someone to take care of their home and pets while they’re on vacation with people who are looking for accommodation while they’re traveling.
I thought it sounded amazing because I’m competitively thrifty and I’ve always loved animals. Free accommodation + pet cuddles? Yes, please.
I signed up for Trusted House Sitters, one of the largest house sitting platforms, and applied to any sit that looked interesting. I ended up booking a house sit in the UK after just a few days of applying and a few weeks later I was on a flight to Europe.
Can anyone become a house sitter? What are the requirements?
Anyone who loves pets and can take care of a home can be a house sitter. Most of the time you’ll find house sits through an established website like Trusted House Sitters or Nomador where you’ll have to pay an annual membership fee.
Since you have to pay a fee to sign up, it deters people who aren’t really serious about it from signing up and ensures that only trustworthy, reliable people become a part of the community.
In your profile, you’ll upload proof of identity (a driver’s license or ID card). You will also have the ability to request references from friends, family, and colleagues. These will be shown on your profile.
Once you start booking house sitting jobs, you will get reviewed by the homeowners, these reviews will stay in your profile and help you build up credibility so you can book jobs faster and easier.
Anyone can become a house sitter by signing up to one of those sites and applying. As long as you can commit to the duration of the job and provide excellent care for the home and pets, you’re good to go.
Trust is a big deal on these sites. You’ll want to build your profile, be friendly and show that you’re a great fit for the job. The
How long does it take to get your first booking as a house sitter?
It depends on how flexible you are. If you don’t have a strict timeline and are open to going anywhere then you can land a house sitting gig very quickly – in a matter of weeks.
If you’re trying to fit a house sit into a specific timeframe and only one to go to one specific place then you will have a harder time finding something that fits your needs perfectly since the homeowners would have to be leaving during the same exact days that you are available and that’s pretty rare.
If you want to get a sit quick, cast a very wide net and be open-minded. Some of my favorite experiences have been in places I never thought to visit.
For example, my first sits were in the British countryside in tiny villages outside of Bristol. I was far from big towns but surrounded by beautiful landscapes and I really enjoyed the small-town life.
Later, I spent about two months in Brussels Belgium and loved it! It’s one of my favorite European cities and I definitely think it doesn’t get enough love. You always hear about people planning trips to Amsterdam, Paris, and London, but I’d never heard anyone rave about Brussels. Now I recommend it to everyone!
How can someone make their profile irresistible so they can start getting bookings as a newbie house sitter?
Include pictures of yourself with pets and talk about any pet and home care experience you have in your profile.
Make sure to send in a long and detailed application message when you apply as this is the first impression you give to your potential hosts.
In your application, ask lots of questions about the home, community, and pet care expectations. Also, explain what your needs are (do you need a car, fast internet, special accessibility, etc) and plan a time to talk over Skype before committing to a sit.
This helps ensure everyone is on the same page and gives you a chance to “meet” your host before flying around the world.
How do you apply for a house sitting job?
Applying for house sitting jobs is easy! First, you’ll pick a house sitting platform that suits your needs and budget.
I prefer Trusted House Sitters because they have lots of options around the world. I log into the platform and go to the search bar at the top of the page.
I plug in the dates when I’m interested in house sitting and filter by location. Then I browse through the available listings and apply for any that look like a good fit.
You’ll be able to see a written description of the house sit and responsibilities, photos, and previous house sitter reviews.
When you’re ready to apply, click the big apply button and you’ll be taken to an in-platform messaging system. There, you should send a detailed application message where you explain who you are and why you’re a great fit for the house sit. You should also ask lots of questions about the sit and offer to meet the host over skype before
If you want to read more about what goes into a house sitting application message, check out this post.
I do this every day or so when I’m actively looking for a sit so I don’t miss anything since good listings tend to get picked up very fast.
Is house sitting safe for a solo female traveler?
I am a solo female traveler and house sitting has felt very safe. Websites like trusted house sitters require both homeowners and house sitters to pay an annual membership fee which helps ensure both parties are serious about their obligations.
You can read reviews of hosts and house sitters in the platform so I try to look for listings with hosts who have good previous reviews.
As mentioned above, when I apply for jobs, I always have a Skype call with the family before accepting a sit. This way I can meet the family and make sure the vibe is right. I can also see the home, pets, and ensure that everything is portrayed accurately in the listing.
Once I arrive, I love that I’m often introduced to neighbors and members of the community. House sit hosts have picked me up from the airport, met me at the train station, and cared for me as if I was a member of the family.
In this way, house sitting also feels safer than regular solo travel.
What are some of the pros and cons of house sitting?
My favorite part is that I get to live for free in a private home with amazing pets. This allows me to travel longer which is always a plus!
I also love how the house sits are usually not in the typical downtown touristy areas. You get to experience a residential part of a city and live more as a local would.
One part that isn’t ideal is that you are dependent on other peoples schedules. You don’t get to choose your exact dates and location which can be challenging if you have your heart set on a very specific experience.
How long have you been traveling and house sitting?
I’ve been traveling and house sitting for almost two years. I prefer to take longer house sitting gigs so I don’t have to move around so much and I can really learn about the community I’m living in.
I don’t always have house sitting jobs though. It’s impossible to line everything up perfectly all the time so there are often days or weeks where I find my own accommodation.
where have you done house sits so far?
I’ve done house sits in Thailand, Germany, Belgium, Scotland, and England. I typically look for sits that are at least one month long to save money on travel costs, but several of the sits were closer to two months.
Appx. How much money have you saved by house sitting?
I’ve probably saved about $6,000 on accommodation in the past two years by house sitting.
Accommodation is usually the most expensive part of travel, so getting to stay for free while I travel around the world has truly been amazing and allows me to keep traveling longer for less!
Have you ever stayed in a really luxurious home? What are the homes like?
I’ve stayed in places that are very high end and places that are cozier. It really depends on the listing, but everything has been perfectly comfortable and great for my travel needs.
I’ve had three larger stand-alone homes, a two-bedroom apartment in a nice eco-community, and a condo in a luxury high-rise. It definitely varies but I haven’t had any homes that were uncomfortable.
is it easier or harder to get booked as a couple? DO people prefer solo house sitters vs couples?
It depends on the listing! I’ve seen some homeowners with smaller apartments request solo travelers for space reasons and I’ve seen people with bigger properties request couples because there are more responsibilities.
If you’re house sitting as a couple, one perk is that if something happens which requires you to leave, the other can stay and continue the house sit.
Still, regardless of if you’re traveling solo or in a couple, the most important thing is making a good impression in your initial application message.
What’s your favorite part about house sitting?
I love having space, privacy, and pets when I travel. It helps me travel longer without getting burned out and missing the comforts of home. I still get to explore a lot, but I also have the stability of a home routine.
Living out of a suitcase in a hotel or hostel gets old quickly when you’re on the road for so long. Living in a home really makes a difference! The fact that I get to travel and stay for free is just the icing on top.
Has anyone ever canceled at the last minute? What happens then?
It’s rare to have someone cancel last minute but it does happen.
In my two years, it has only happened to me once and it was for a reason totally outside of the hosts’ control. They were very gracious and accommodating, they offered to pay for a few nights in a hostel for me while I made other plans and drove me to where I needed to go.
If a host cancels, you’ll have to look for another house sit and find your own accommodation in the meantime.
For this reason, I strongly advise traveling only if you have a bit of money in savings. Still, this is a very rare occurrence and shouldn’t deter you from house sitting.
Most people book their travel plans first then look for a house sitter, and they definitely don’t want to miss out on their vacation! They are depending on you showing up just as much as you depend on them not canceling last minute.
There is a level of trust involved in these arrangements and the fact that both house sitter and homeowner have to pay to use the site helps prevent frivolous listings.
Your final thoughts/advice regarding House sitting:
If you are unsure if house sitting is right for you, look for listings nearby and give it a try.
You don’t have to fly around the world to be a house sitter – there are tons of opportunities to house sit around the states and probably in your own town.
It’s easier to get house sitting gigs when you’re local since you don’t have to coordinate international travel plans. You can also meet your host in person before the house sit, which adds a layer of trust.
All in all, house sitting is an awesome way to see different destinations, travel on a budget, and keep some comforts of home while you’re off having an adventure.
For me, it’s the ultimate win-win scenario! If you want to read more about house sitting, you can check out my house sitting guide for travelers here!
What do you think? Would you try House Sitting? I hope this post has helped answer any questions you may have about house sitting and that you try it out!
As stated above, Trusted House Sitters is one of the largest house sitting networks, has great customer service and like the name says – it’s trusted!
Give it a try for your next holiday or long term trip!
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Nicola Rae is an online English teacher, house sitter, and travel blogger. She’s known for getting lost in new cities, befriending big lizards, and eating impressive quantities of guacamole. Read more about practical long-term travel on her blog – SeeNicWander
FTC Disclosure: I may receive a commission for purchases made through links in this post. I only recommend products/services that I personally use and/or believe will add value to readers :) Love ya! Read my full disclosure.