If you’re new to house sitting and you’d like to learn more about it and find an awesome house sitting job, then this is the guide you’re looking for! You’ll find all the info you need to know about house sitting, how it works, what to look out for, and a list of the best house sitting websites.
The first time I heard about house sitting was about 8 years ago.
I was volunteering on a llama farm in exchange for food and accommodation when an elderly Australian woman joined me for a couple of weeks to help me take care of the property.
The woman was in her early 60’s, living from her pension and already traveling the world for years solely by house sitting. She’d been in Canada, the USA, several European countries, and was now doing a few house sitting jobs in New Zealand.
I loved how she slowly traveled the world and saved tons of money by going from one house sitting job to another. It made me think about doing the same but it wasn’t until 4 years ago before I did my first real house sitting job.
The property in New Zealand where I met the house sitter
Niko and I were hitchhiking across Europe and we were in need of a small break from the road. We wanted to find an affordable place to stay where we could catch up on our blog and vlog and find ways of making money online.
The idea of house sitting popped back into my mind and I started searching the internet for house sitting jobs in Turkey.
We found a beautiful house in Islamlar, a mountain village near the Aegean Sea. The homeowner was searching for a couple to look after her house and her pets for 4 weeks while she went on vacation.
We contacted her, told her more about ourselves and after giving her some references, she saw us as a suitable pair to put her home and her animals into our caring hands. It was such a fun experience that we continued doing more house sits.
Our first house sitting job in Turkey – Grapevine Cottage
I really like house sitting as it is such a budget-friendly and sustainable way of traveling. You save a lot of money on rent and accommodation and it gives you the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with your surroundings, the local community, and the local way of living.
That’s why I decided to share my house sitting experiences with you and write a complete guide about house sitting, what you need to know and do to become a good house sitter and how to find the best house sitting jobs.
What do you do as a House Sitter
The word “house sitting” probably makes you think of “babysitting”.
In some way you can compare it with babysitting but instead of looking after a kid when its parents are away, you have to look after a house or property while its owner(s) are away.
Very often, this house or property comes with pets like cats, dogs, ducks, rabbits – or even a crazy turkey like we had in Turkey – that need caring as well.
Some of the feathery pets we had to take care of while housesitting
Just like with babysitting, you carry responsibilities. The owner(s) trust you with their home, plants, and pets in their absence and expect that you treat their property as your own.
House sitting isn’t like renting a room, a flat, or a house on Airbnb. You can’t see the house as a (free) holiday home to do whatever you please.
While I’ve always respectfully treated any room or flat I rented on Airbnb as it were my own, I’ve heard stories of guests who never clean up behind themselves and leave the place in a mess. You seriously can NOT behave like this while minding someone’s home!
You have responsibilities as a house sitter. The homeowners expect you to mind their pets and keep their house safe and clean while they’re gone and usually have specific instructions and small duties for you.
These responsibilities and duties include:
- basic housecleaning liking vacuuming, sweeping, dusting and mopping on a regular basis
- maintenance tasks like gardening or keeping the pool clean (yes, some houses come with a pool!!)
- watering the plants
- reparations or contacting the appropriate service providers if something breaks
- caring for the pets, including feeding them, cleaning up after them, walking them (mainly dogs but we had cats that liked going for walks as well), taking them to the veterinarian if they get ill
- staying in touch with the owners on a regular basis to keep them updated on how things are going
In short, you have to treat this home and look after it as it was your own – unless you’re very messy in your own home (no offense), then you should definitely work on those cleaning skills…
You also can’t just abandon the house to go on a road trip for a few days or a week, especially when there are pets involved. If there aren’t any animals to take care of, you could always ask the homeowners permission. Clear communication with the owners of the property is key!
This doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to go on day trips to explore the area.
We often went on trips to nearby towns and villages, go on hikes or spend a whole day at the beach. We just always made sure we returned the same evening to feed the pets.
We also made sure we returned every day to feed these hungry boys!
Reasons why you should House Sit
One of the biggest advantages of house sitting is that you save a lot of money. Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses while traveling and house sitting takes that cost away as you get to stay for free in a private home.
If you’re lucky, the house also comes with a stunning garden, a fantastic view and… a pool!
We once had a house sit in Turkey where the house was located right next to the Aegean sea. The house was part of a small resort and we even had a sauna, a gym, and three pools to our disposal! We felt like we were staying in a 5-star hotel and all of that for free!!
House sitting with a pool. Not bad eh?
House sitting jobs usually last between one week and several months. As you’re staying in one place for a while, you get more time to meet the local people and build new friendships than if you’re just passing by.
It really gives you the opportunity to travel slowly and connect more deeply with the environment, the people, the culture, and the local way of living.
Making friends on the local market in Turkey
You can do a short-term house sit if you don’t have many vacation days or a big budget to spend on traveling but you’re craving to explore new horizons. You only have to cover your food and transport expenses.
House sitting is also an ideal way if you want to travel the world long-term and/or if you’re a digital nomad.
You can go from one house sitting job to another (if you plan them well in advance), work in the peace and comfort of having your private space (just make sure the owners have internet or wifi) and explore different regions of the world during your free time.
House sitting is an ideal way of traveling the world as a digital nomad
I also love house sitting as I get to spend time with animals. One of the things I miss the most about my nomadic lifestyle is having a pet. I’m a huge animal lover but it’s hard to travel long-term with a cat or a dog, let alone other types of pets…
Most house sitting jobs require pet sitting so I’m always happy to spend time with and take care of the furry and feathery animals that come with the house.
I love taking care of pets!! And they usually love me too!
Although, always… I only had once a fall-out with one of the pets. During one house sitting job in Turkey, my boyfriend and I had to look after Lurkey. Lurkey was a huge turkey (yes, that’s right, Lurkey the turkey in Turkey) and he was pretty vicious…
Meet Lurkey the Turkey …
He liked my boyfriend but I couldn’t go near him as he would attack me with some kind of ninja move… I’m seriously not making this up! You can meet my nemesis in the vlog we made about this house sit.
Watch it here:
How do I become a House Sitter?
Homeowners place an ad on a house sitting website (see the list of best house sitting websites below) with details about where they live, how long they need a house sitter for, and what they expect from him or her. Some homeowners prefer 2 house sitters in case something would go wrong.
As an aspiring house sitter, you can review all the available house sitting jobs and choose one according to your desired location and timing.
Once you’ve found a house sitting opportunity that appeals to you, you’ll first have to sign up to the website and create a profile. All house-sitting websites have a membership fee, varying from $20 to $120 per year, that you have to pay before you can sign up.
Remember that homeowners base their first impressions on your profile so here are some things you should definitely include:
- Previous experience as a house-sitter (or something related to house-sitting)
- Experience with pets
- Special skills: are you a handy person, do you have gardening skills,…
- Why you enjoy being (or becoming) a house sitter
Once you’ve created an appealing house-sitter profile, you can contact the homeowners directly and tell them why you’d like to look after their home and pets.
Write your message according to the specific details of the house sitting job. If the homeowner f.eg. has a dog, let them know how good you are with dogs. If they have a garden, tell them that you have good gardening skills. Don’t lie or exaggerate but don’t undersell yourself either.
If the homeowners like your message, they will contact you and very likely invite you to a video interview. During this interview you’ll see each other face-to-face, which is a great opportunity to see if you’re a good match and have mutual positive vibes.
The homeowners will also ask for references. After all, they’re inviting a stranger into their home and they need to know if they can trust you.
If you don’t have previous house sitting experience, ask a reference from former landlords, neighbors, bosses, or anyone who can vouch for you. The more quality references you have, the higher your chances you get a house sitting job.
This would obviously be a good photo for your house sitting profile…
How to prepare for a House Sitting Job
You really have to take your house sitting job seriously. People are trusting you with their homes, possessions, and pets.
Here are some important tips on how to prepare and be a good house sitter:
- Ask for guidelines in advance and stick to them
Ask the homeowners to create some sort of a manual with all the important info that you need to know about their house, garden, and pets. Ask them to send it to you in advance so you can prepare yourself well and ask for clarification if needed.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It shows the owners that you’re very serious about the job.
- Determine the rules concerning going on multi-day trips and receiving guests.
If you want to go on a few multi-day trips to explore the region, ask the homeowners if it would be okay for you to leave the property for a couple of days. This is definitely important when you have to take care of pets.
Ask permission if you want to invite friends or family (you might consider this if you have a long-term house sit). It’s normal that the homeowners want to know who’s staying on their property.
If they refuse, try to see it from their point of view. Never ever go behind their back as this would really break their trust in you!!
Day trip to Patara Beach during a house sitting job
- Arrive at least one day early
It’s better that you arrive a day early so you get to meet the homeowners in person and they can show you around the property and neighborhood.
It also gives them the opportunity to show you the little things like how the gas stove works, where that oddly placed light switch is, where to find the pet’s food, etc.
- Keep in touch
Make it a habit to update the homeowners at least once a week on how things are going. They’ll appreciate this a lot!
- Treat the house with the utmost respect
Keep the house tidy while you’re there. I make it a habit to give the house a thorough cleaning before the owners return. It’s nice for them to come home to a sparkling clean house.
If you break something, fix or replace it. If you can’t, offer to pay for it.
Restock the fridge and cupboards with the items that were there when you arrived and foresee at least one meal for the owners for when they return.
- Prepare for the unexpected
Nothing goes as planned and you got to be prepared to deal with adverse situations. Things can go wrong so make sure you have all the emergency contact info in one place.
It can be stressful when something in the house breaks or when one of the pets get ill, especially when it isn’t your fault!
The most stressful moment I ever experienced as a house sitter was when I was looking after 4 dogs in a Turkish mountain village. During one of my daily walks, one of the dogs got loose and started chasing a motorbike. My worst nightmare came true when the dog got hit by a car…
Most Turkish people aren’t very fond of dogs. While the dog was yelping, nobody came to my aid. I also didn’t have a mobile connection so I carefully picked up the dog (he was a big boy so very heavy to carry) and walked the 2 kilometers back home with this dog in my arms and the 3 other ones following me.
When I arrived home – exhausted from carrying him and covered in his blood (!!), I called out to my boyfriend for help. He came rushing out, helped me carrying the dog inside and we immediately called the vet.
Luckily the dog didn’t have serious injuries and he recovered very quickly. Still, I felt so bad about this incident and when I called the homeowner to tell her what happened, I was afraid she was going to be mad at me.
I felt so relieved when she told me not to worry. She knew this dog was a young (and a bit stupid) and she was happy with the way I responded to the whole incident.
Pablo after the accident. I felt so relieved that he recovered well!
So yeah, these things can happen when you’re house sitting, and having good communication with the homeowners is very important!
Is House Sitting Safe?
When it comes to physical safety, then yes, house sitting is safe. After all, you’re alone (or with your friend or partner) in the house and there shouldn’t be any immediate threats that could harm your physical well-being.
However, there are a few things you have to be aware of.
House sitting is an exchange of trust.
The homeowners have to have trust that you won’t rob or burn down their house, and kill their pets so to speak…
Think about it. They have never met you, you’ve contacted them online and they’re letting you into their home with all their possessions and precious pets while they’re away on vacation.
They have to have faith that you’re a reliable and honest person and that they’ll find their home and pets back in the same state they’ve left them. That requires a high level of trust!
One of the homeowners we house sat for. She trusted us fully with her home and pets.
But… you also have to have trust in the reliability and integrity of the homeowners.
You made an agreement with them to look after their home and they should provide you with all the amenities they promised unless otherwise stated.
Let me give you a few examples.
If the homeowners stated that they have running water, uninterrupted power supply, heating, decent sanitation, proper cooking and bathroom facilities, and decent wi-fi, then they have to provide you with this.
You don’t want to be “stuck” in a month-long house sit, only to find out after the first day that there isn’t any hot water, that you’re not able to cook or that there’s no internet – which can be a huge issue if you work online!!
It never happened to me but I’ve read stories about house sitters finding themselves in the middle of renovation and building works. The homeowners “failed” to tell them that they planned some renovations during their absence.
Not only did the house sitters have to supervise the workers, but they also had to deal with the building noises and the inconveniences of the renovations, like an unusable kitchen or a non-functioning bathroom. And I’m not even mentioning the dust and mess that often comes with these types of renovations…
Something else that I’ve also heard is homeowners claiming reparation money from their house sitters for something that was already broken before the house sitting job started or expecting you to pay for the services of the house cleaner or gardener during their absence.
These situations are luckily very uncommon but of course you don’t want to be the person to whom it happens.
I bet you’d prefer a carefree house sit!
How can you prevent your house sit from becoming a nightmare?
Again, clear communication is very important!
Ask the homeowners in advance about their facilities, if there are any bills that need to be paid during their absence and if there’s something you need to be aware of (does the internet and heating work properly, are they planning any renovations,…).
Arriving a day early at the house sitting job and asking for a tour around the property will also give you a lot of clarity.
When the homeowners show you how everything in the house works, you both might notice something that isn’t working properly (leaking shower, a lightbulb, etc.).
I never did this but you could also ask for a signed statement in which the homeowners mention everything that doesn’t function properly or is broken upon the start of your house sitting job.
I never had any trust issues with the homeowners as they were always very honest and upfront to me if something didn’t work well.
Even when I had to take unexpectedly a pet (like the dog from the accident I mentioned in the section above) to the vet, the owners always refunded the medical bill.
Don’t let these examples hold you back from becoming a house sitter though! I just mentioned these situations so you’re aware of what can go wrong (and how to prevent them as much as possible).
So yes, I dare to say that house sitting is safe. It’s a wonderful concept that offers many great opportunities for both homeowners and sitters and it’s a highly valued service all over the world.
The only danger while house sitting and pet sitting is that you might get attached to the pets…
Is House Sitting Free?
House sitting is an exchange of services. Homeowners let you stay in their home for free in exchange for looking after their property (and pets).
The only costs you have during your stay are food, personal expenses, and – depending on the agreement – utilities.
Most homeowners cover the utilities but it can happen that they’ll ask you to contribute or cover the utility costs like heating, electricity, and internet if it’s a long-term house sit (f.eg. more than 4 weeks).
Each house sit is unique so you should ask and negotiate with the homeowners if and what utilities you have to cover. It’s again very important to be clear and open about this to avoid any confusion or unexpected expenses.
You might wonder if you can get paid for house sitting. As house sitting is an exchange service where you get free accommodation as a sitter, you won’t get paid.
However, there might be occasions when a homeowner offers some money, usually if there are a lot of pets to care for or a lot of jobs to do– other than the usual maintenance jobs like cleaning the house or gardening.
This isn’t very common though and the vast majority of house sitters are happy to receive free accommodation and believe this is a fair and positive exchange for their services.
Going on a picnic with homeowners for whom we house sat. We’re still good friends!
The 5 Best International House Sitting Websites
1. House Carers
House Carers is my favorite house sitting website to find house sitting jobs worldwide.
I find their website easy and straightforward to use. Click on “Browse houses to sit” in the menu and enter the location you’d like to go to. You can also filter by region and the period you’re available to house sit.
Their annual membership price is $50, which I think is very fair.
2. Mind My House
Mind My House is another global house sitting service that I like and often check.
This website doesn’t have as many listings as the other sites I mention but the majority of the house sit offers look very appealing.
Their annual membership is only $20.
Nomador is a fast-growing housesitting community.
They have a nice international listing and you don’t need to pay for a full year membership if you’re only looking for a couple of house sits. They even have a “stopover” community that helps you finding hosts if you’re in between house sits.
The Nomador website is very easy to use and they have a wide variety of filters to help you with finding your perfect house sitting job.
Nomador allows you to apply for 3 house sittings offers free of charge. You can also get a quarterly membership for $35 or an annual membership for $89.
4. Trusted Housesitters
Trusted Housesitters is known to be the “market leader” of the house sitting websites.
The majority of their house sitting listings are mostly in North America, Europe and Canada.
I’ve heard really good reviews about this website but I think that the annual membership is a bit pricey… They charge $129 per year.
5. HouseSit Match
Housesit Match focuses mainly on the UK and Australia but is getting more and more listings in other European countries.
I don’t find it so straightforward to browse for house sitting jobs on this website but they have good reviews.
The annual membership to join HouseSit Match is £69 (about $85).
I hope this guide was useful and that my tips and suggestions will help you with finding fantastic house sitting jobs!
Have you ever done a house sitting job before? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!
You might also like to read following articles about long-term traveling:
- The ultimate guide to finding free accommodation around the world
- How to make money while traveling the world
- The ultimate guide to teaching English online
- The best countries to live and work as digital nomads