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Guys…what the HECK??
How come nobody told me how awesome housesitting is??
I mean, I’ve heard stories of other travelers using housesitter jobs to explore the globe for free…
But I guess I never took it seriously.
I was always in a hurry to check off my bucket list, and it just sounded like too much of a hassle.
Boy was I wrong.
If you’re a travel-lover and have never tried housesitting, GET WITH THE PROGRAM.
Once you get through this guide, you’ll have no excuse.
I’m gonna show you exactly…
- Where to find the best housesitting jobs
- Tricks for landing your FIRST house
- Insider tips on how to house sit for beginners (including embarrassing things I learned the hard way)
- Which countries are goldmines for pet sitting jobs
- Why housesitting is the perfect opportunity for digital nomads who work while traveling
Table of Contents
- What is a House Sitter?
- Where to Find Housesitter Jobs
- How to House Sit (With No Experience or Reviews)
- Housesitting Tips to Guarantee a 5-Star Review
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a House Sitter?
Housesitting (AKA pet sitting) is when you take care of a person’s home while they’re off traveling. This usually involves taking care of pets, but not always.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
The pet owner can travel without paying for expensive pet daycare.
And you get a free crib to stay at (you may even land some luxury housesitting jobs).
You can do this solo. But since you get an entire house, housesitting is one of the best travel jobs for couples abroad with accommodation.
The responsibilities of a house sitter vary from assignment to assignment.
But in most cases, you should have plenty of time to sightsee, get work done, or both.
Here’s what our schedule looked like during our last sit for two dogs:
7am: Potty and breakfast
8am: Morning walk, water a couple plants
9am-5pm: Free time (work, sightsee, play with dogs)
5pm: Evening walk, bring mail inside
6pm-10pm: Free time
10pm: Potty and sleep
Depending on the pet you’re sitting for, you’re not going to want to be out sightseeing ALL the time. But as you can see, there’s plenty of time to explore the city bit-by-bit each day. (And with long-term house sitting jobs, there’s really no rush).
We were even lucky enough to be housesitting right downtown, so we could sightsee and walk the dogs all at once!
Lastly, while it’s awesome to housesit when traveling in different countries, you can also take advantage of housesitting in your own backyard.
Recently, we’ve been using it while “van life-ing” around the U.S. It’s hard to stay productive with our van life jobs when we’re always on the move. When you become a digital nomad, there will be times when you need to slow down.
So, whenever we want to get some extra work done (and need a break from living in a cramped van), housesitting comes in to save the day. If you’re lucky, you may even get a fancy desk where you can spread out and set up your digital nomad office.
Keep in mind that not all assignments are guaranteed to have fast internet. So if you need to work online, consider traveling with one of these cool mobile hotspots for digital nomads.
Where to Find Housesitter Jobs
There are TONS of places to find housesitter jobs.
One of the most popular housesitting sites (and the one we used to find our first house sit), is Trusted House Sitters.
…but it’s also the most expensive (see graph below for prices).
That said, even if you land just ONE sit, the money saved in accommodation will likely outweigh the cost of the subscription.
And if you plan to use it on a regular basis, it’s a steal.
Best House Sitting Sites
Trusted House Sitters isn’t the only place to find house sitter jobs though. If you’re serious about using housesitting to travel the world for free, I’d also check out these other sites (especially if you’re interested in Australia and New Zealand).
|House Sitting Website
|Trusted House Sitters
|Most popular (25% off with discount code: ProjectUn)
|Outdated platform, potentially less competition
|Mind My House
|Lots of competition because it's the cheapest
|Can apply to 3 housesits for free
|Aussie House Sitters
|More opportunities and less competition for Australia housesitting
|Kiwi House Sitters
|More opportunities and less competition for New Zealand housesitting
If you’re staying in one city for a while (especially in the US), it also wouldn’t hurt to search for Craigslist house sitting jobs. You could even throw up your own listing promoting your housesitting services.
How to House Sit (With No Experience or Reviews)
You’re probably starting to see why housesitting is such an awesome opportunity for long-term travelers (especially those with digital nomad jobs).
The only problem is, it can be tough finding your FIRST housesitting job.
Listings often get many applicants. And if you don’t have any experience or reviews, chances are you won’t get chosen.
Which makes sense, right?
It’s just like shopping on Amazon. You might find a listing for an awesome-looking product, but if it has zero reviews, chances are you’ll choose something else with more reviews—even if it doesn’t look as cool—just to be safe.
So that begs the question…
How the heck are you supposed to break in?
When deciding to join Trusted House Sitters, it’s something we worried about too. But turns out, landing your first housesitter jobs doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here’s exactly how to do it:
#1 – Sign up in your hometown
By signing up before you start traveling, you’ll be able to easily pick up last-minute offers in your city. If a homeowner is scrambling to find someone at the last second and has no other options, they won’t care if you have reviews.
#2 – Sign up for email alerts
You want to be one of the first sitters to apply to new listings. That way, they might accept you as their sitter before more experienced applications start flooding in.
#3 – Use a less competitive site
Trusted House Sitters has the most housesitting opportunities, but it also has more competition. If you’re in Australia, you might have better luck with a less competitive site like Aussie House Sitters.
#4 – Create an awesome profile
After landing our first house sit, the homeowner kept telling us that after reading our profile, she felt completely comfortable with us (score!). Add some photos of you playing with pets. Give thoughtful answers to all the questions. Focus on how you can help them. (And don’t be afraid to add a bit of personality).
#5 – Gather non-housesitting references
On some platforms (like Trusted House Sitters), you can request character references from friends and family. Having a few of these looks a lot better than a completely empty profile.
#6 – Be flexible
Don’t just apply for long stays in mansions and other luxury house sitting jobs. Go for sits others might pass over. Who cares if it’s just for a weekend in a small apartment. As a noobie, your only goal should be building up a few solid reviews.
#7 – Make an outreach template
The more jobs you apply for, the faster you’ll land your first sits. To save time applying, create a re-usable application template. Just make sure to add in a couple sentences to make it sound personalized (e.g. adding in the pet’s name).
Housesitting Tips to Guarantee a 5-Star Review
Once you finally get your first housesitting assignment, don’t let it go to waste!
You want to do EVERYTHING in your power to earn the best review possible.
Go above and beyond. Bake the owner cookies. Write them a note. Leave them flowers. Make it impossible for them NOT to give you a glowing recommendation.
Stay in touch. Ask the owner if they’d like you to send photo updates of their pets (and how often). If they say it’s not necessary, send them once in a while anyway. You want them to have complete peace of mind. It’s not easy trusting a stranger with your house and pets (especially after reading some of these housesitter confessions!)
Know the rules. The owner should give you instructions for the house and pets. But it’s still a good idea to ask if anything is off-limits (rooms, food, supplies, gadgets, etc.)
When in doubt, ask. You’re probably going to run into things you don’t know how to use. Before you go breaking the vacuum or burning down the house, just ask the owner.
Put the pets first. Yes, the whole idea is to travel and explore new places. But remember to put the pets first. Always give them the love and attention they deserve.
Don’t treat it like an Airbnb. This isn’t Airbnb or a hotel. Clean up after yourself. Always turn in the house in the same condition you received it (or better).
(Bonus) Ask how pets normally behave. Ask the owner how you can expect the pets to act. The goal here is to avoid surprises. If a dog randomly starts howling and acting anxious, you’ll want to know if that’s normal (maybe they just need the bathroom), or if you should be concerned.
Frequently Asked Questions
Housesitting is awesome in ANY country. That said, there are way more opportunities available in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and throughout Europe (which also happens to be the most expensive for accommodation). While housesitting exists in lesser developed countries, it’s nowhere near as common.
Yes, housesitting platforms are based on trust and reviews (hence the reason it’s hard to get started). Both house sitters and homeowners can see the profile and read reviews before accepting a sit. If you want, you can also call (or even meet in person) to make sure it’s a good fit. Not only that, but the housesitting sites also have all your information on file—ID, credit card info, and sometimes even background checks—to ensure nobody tries anything shady. That said, if you find housesitting jobs outside of the main platforms (like on Craigslist, for example), there is more risk involved.
Most housesitting sites charge housesitters an annual fee to use the platform. This varies by platform from anywhere between $20 – $130 per year. Once inside the platform, you can land as many sits as you want for free.
A homeowner lets the housesitter stay in their house for free while they are away. In exchange, the housesitter may have to take care of pets or other chores (depending on the assignment).
Trusted House Sitters is the most popular site, has the most listings, and provides the most support—but it’s also the most expensive. If you are looking for housesitting jobs in Australia or New Zealand, you may be better off with one a smaller, less expensive platform like Aussie House Sitters or Kiwi House Sitters.
If you land at least one house sit per year, the amount you save in accommodation costs will likely outweigh your membership fee. If you housesit for more than a few days per year, it’s definitely worth it.
House sitting is a good job for anyone who wants to save money on accommodation. You don’t usually earn money in the traditional sense, it just allows you to spend less. It’s perfect for digital nomads who work remotely.
Yes, while not as common—some housesitting jobs just require you to look after someone’s house while they’re gone.
It is possible to find housesitting arrangements if you have a dog (or other pet), but you will have fewer options. It all depends on the specific assignment. Just make sure to mention your pet when you apply.
You can house sit during the pandemic, but since most people aren’t traveling, there are fewer opportunities. If you do house sit during COVID, make sure to take all the appropriate precautions. It’s recommended to wear a mask when meeting the owner and to sanitize the house when you arrive/leave.
Housesitting duties vary by assignment. These duties can range from nothing (some people just don’t want to leave their homes empty) to taking care of pets to doing chores and working around the house. Each housesitter job listing will clearly explain the responsibilities for the sit. If the sit involves many time-consuming responsibilities beyond taking care of a few animals, the owner may offer some sort of payment. This, however, is not typical—especially in popular destinations with many hungry housesitters vying for jobs.
Most housesitting assignments found on platforms like Trusted Housesitters do not involve pay. You are “paid” in the form of a free house to live in. That said, it is possible to find paid assignments both on and off these online platforms. If you build a relationship with someone who doesn’t trust anyone else in their house—especially if they need help with yard work and household chores—you could potentially make a living as a house sitter. The other, indirect way of making a living as a house sitter is to work online as you housesit. This is a great way to save money quickly as you are basically living rent-free.
Mitch is your typical nomadic backpacker. Or at least, he was. But after stopping in Colombia to take “one week” of salsa lessons, his life took a sharp left turn. He met a cute Colombian girl in dance class, fell in love, and got married. Over half a decade has passed since he left his career to travel the world as a digital nomad, and he’s never looked back.
Nowadays, he’s the blogger behind Project Untethered — where he runs an awesome email newsletter and Youtube channel teaching adventure-craved wanderlusters how to escape the rat race, earn money from anywhere, and build an “untethered life”.
His advice has been featured in Forbes, USA Today, Yahoo, MSN, Reader’s Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, and more.
Mitch's Travel Recommendations:
Travel Planning Resources - Everything you need to plan your trip on one convenient page.
Going Cheap Flights Newsletter - Get flight deals from your airport up to 90% off sent straight to your inbox.
Safetywing Insurance - This cheap travel insurance has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Booking.com - Book accommodation without adding your credit card (in case you need to cancel).
Trusted House Sitters - Take care of pets in exchange for free (sometimes luxury) accommodation.
Flexjobs - Find remote jobs without having to sift through crappy ones.
Skillshare - Free trial to take unlimited classes that teach digital nomad skills.
Wise - Send and receive money abroad cheaply (great for freelancers).