Have you ever considered including house sitting in your travel plans? It’s a great way to really stretch your travel budget.
Accommodation is often one of the biggest expenses when travelling. It can limit the amount of time travelling and the places we travel. House sitting is an excellent way to overcome these restrictions and stretch your travel budget.
What is house sitting?
Homeowners, who are away for a period of time, let you stay in their home for free in exchange for looking after their property and pets. Homeowners get peace of mind knowing their homes aren’t sitting empty, and they save money on boarding kennels for their pets. And you get free accommodation!
Every house sit is a unique experience,– with a huge variety of house types and pets to care for. You do need to love pets – the large majority of house sits involve looking after them. I’ve had some unforgettable house sit experiences: an insomniac cat in Geneva, a grieving rabbit in Ashford (Kent), alpacas on a Nelson lifestyle block, and a large, unruly dog in Bucklands Beach that went insane if it caught a glimpse of a cat. I’ve cared for chickens, rabbits and cats on Waiheke Island, and a cat in Singapore that kept bringing gifts of rats that he was in the process of killing!
What are the money-saving benefits of house sitting?
- Saving money on accommodation. No hotel, motel, or hostel bills. Usually, Wi-Fi is paid for, and occasionally, there will be access to a car. Most homeowners cover the utilities. If it’s a long-term house sit e.g. a month or more, you may be asked to contribute to power and Wi-Fi charges.
- Saving money on food. You have kitchen facilities in your house so you can explore the local markets and supermarkets, and cook meals at home. But you still have the option of eating out when you choose.
- You can extend the length of your stay in a location with the money saved from not paying for accommodation e.g. instead of a three day stay at your holiday destination, you could stay for a couple of weeks!
- By spending more time in one location, you can live like a local and experience new places and cultures instead of merely being a fly-by tourist.
- You can choose your time to visit tourist attractions, avoiding peak times, and not rushing in the short time you’re at a location.
By far the majority of house sitting positions are unpaid. There are paid positions available but they are generally through agents, and the agents tend to want experienced ‘professional’ house sitters.
What do you need to do to become a house sitter?
- Check out the websites
Firstly, go online and check out the various house-sitting websites to find one best suited to your requirements. Where do you want to go, and for what period of time? The more flexible you are with your dates and locations, the better chance you’ll have of getting a house sit.
If you are considering house sitting in New Zealand, the main websites are: kiwihousesitters.co.nz and housesitters.co.nz. If Australia is your destination of choice, check out https://www.aussiehousesitters.com.au/
The large international websites, which also include NZ and Australia plus Europe, the USA, UK, and many other countries, are: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com, housecarers.com, mindmyhouse.com, and nomador.com
All of the websites will have a membership fee, which can vary from $20 to $300 per year. You can browse through some of the websites without having to pay the fee, but if you see an interesting house sit, you need to be a member with a profile to apply promptly. The faster you are to respond, the more chance you will have of getting the position.
- Prepare your profile.
This is most important as this is the homeowners’ first impression of you.
Some of the websites will have standard forms to assist you. Make sure you include any previous house sitting jobs, and show evidence that you are trustworthy, honest, reliable, and responsible. Provide referees’ contact details and quotes from references you have received. If you have no prior house sitting experience, include personal references from people regarded as trustworthy e.g. a school principal, bosses, etc. Introductory videos and photos are valuable, too, in establishing trust. Make sure your profile photo makes you look friendly,well-presented, and tidy.
When you apply for a house sit, your profile is automatically sent to the homeowner. Make some templates for covering letters that you can quickly adapt and include with your application. Going to this trouble helps personalise your application so you are seen as the perfect sitter for the house, pet or rose garden!
A video face-to-face interview or an interview in person will follow a homeowner’s interest in your application. Be prepared! Have a list of relevant questions pertaining to their home or pets. Make sure you get as much detail as possible about their expectations of you.
- Check the websites daily!
Don’t sit back and wait for homeowners to approach you. Respond immediately to any house sits that appeal – popular locations get snapped up very quickly.
It takes a bit of effort to find the best websites, prepare your profile and check for responses. It is, however, worthwhile, if you want to free up your budget to either stay longer or experience more of the offerings in the location you’re already staying in.