How to Score Housesitter Jobs and Travel for FREE

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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

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 house sitting jobs).

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!

taking care of this cute dog was one of our petsitting jobs

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.

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 WebsiteAnnual CostCountryNotes
Trusted House Sitters$129 $97 USDWorldwideMost popular (25% off with discount code: ProjectUn)
House Carers$50 USDWorldwideOutdated platform, potentially less competition
Mind My House$20 USDWorldwideLots of competition because it's the cheapest
Nomador$89 USD*WorldwideCan apply to 3 housesits for free
Aussie House Sitters$84 AUDAustraliaMore opportunities and less competition for Australia housesitting
Kiwi House Sitters$84 NZDNew ZealandMore 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.

screenshot of a person who posted a craigslist listing offering to do housesitter jobs
Example of someone looking for housesitting jobs on Craigslist

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 and digital nomads.

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:

infographic showing how to house sit and land your first housesitting job for beginners

#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 why (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.

This means…

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.

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. 

couple learning how to house sit with a beautiful white dog

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best countries to house sit in?

Housesitting is awesome in ANY country. That said, there are way more opportunities available in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and throughout Europe (which also happen to be the most expensive for accommodation). While housesitting exists in lesser developed countries, it’s nowhere near as common.

Are housesitter jobs safe?

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.

Is house sitting free?

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.

How does house sitting work?

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).

Which house sitting site is best?

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.

Is Trusted House Sitters worth it?

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.

Is house sitting a good job?

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. 

Are there house sitting jobs without pets?

Yes, while not as common—some housesitting jobs just require you to look after someone’s house while they’re gone.

Can you house sit with a dog?

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.

Can you house sit during COVID?

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.

house image with dog with text overlay how i got a housesitter job with no experience and how you can too

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