We are asked time and time again about all of our house sitting opportunities. We get questions like, “How do we find housesits who accept families?”, “How do you house sit all over the world?”, “Do you get to choose the type of animal you will be pet sitting?” and the lists goes on. For us, house sitting is an excellent way for us to get time with pets as well as save a little money on accommodation when traveling. Below we will share with you everything you need to know about house sitting. Oh and a little something special, just for Wagoners Abroad readers!
What is House Sitting?
First of all there are many ways you will find the term, (house-sitter, house sitter, housesitter), they all mean the same thing. There is no rhyme or reason, but when searching do look up all options.
House Sitting is the practice whereby a homeowner, leaving their house for a period of time, entrusts it to one or more “house sitters”. There is a mutual agreement between these 2 parties, stating the house sitters are entitled to live in the homeowners home, rent-free in exchange for assuming responsibilities. Most often these responsibilities involve taking care of the homeowner’s pets, performing general maintenance (including pools, lawns, air-conditioning systems etc.), keeping trespassers off the property, collecting the mail, and making sure that everything runs smoothly.
This is not a home exchange. If you are interested in swapping homes with someone, then check out Home Exchange and see what great home swap opportunities are available. If you are interested in Home Exchanges or home swaps, then click here.
Does a house sit always include taking care of pets too?
It usually does, but not always. There are several listings available, where someone just wants someone to look after their home. This may be for larger more remote homes, where they would like them to remain occupied and lived in.
How long are house sits?
The dates range from a day to a year or more. It all depends on the needs of the homeowners. I recall seeing a listing for a year in Spain, with the caveat that the home was up for sale. The house sitters needed to keep the home tidy for showings of the home and be ready to move out if the home actually sold. This is not a common scenario, but it does happen so read all of the details.
We typically look for something to meet our needs at the time. Usually we are traveling on school breaks, so would like something for 1 – 2 weeks. When we were nomadic for a year in Southeast Asia, we were looking for house sits of 3 weeks or more. It all depends on your availability and where you are wanting to travel.
When I see great listings on the sites, I do try to share them on Facebook too. We have seen several wonderful opportunities for Spain in the past few months, so do browse the listings now and again or if you are a member you can set up alerts.
Who can be a house sitter or pet sitter?
Absolutely anyone! It used to be it was for retired singles or couples, but that is not the case anymore. Really, as long as you are responsible and can take care of pets and / or a home, you are qualified. That said, there are likely fewer opportunities for a single 20 something or a family of 8. It all depends on your background and what you have to offer to help those who need care for their pets or home.
If you have wonderful references, work as a vet, perhaps run your own B&B, who knows, there are skills which are desired and will help you. We know several couple who house sit full-time and will only take the long-term assignments. There is likely a match for you out there, but you just need to look for it.
If you aren’t fond of pets or are allergic, not to worry. There are limited listings with no pets at all. You won’t have as large of a selection, but they are available.
Can families become house sitters?
Of course! We have done 5 house sits and could have done many more, but it is all about our schedule. We are very particular with the house sits we choose, just as the home owners should be particular about who sits for them. We want to be sure we aren’t going to be living in conditions which aren’t desirable for us. We can usually travel on school holidays and often filter our searches for the window of time we are looking for. All of our house sitting assignments have been for other families, so it has worked out very well for us.
We have found as we pet sit for other families, it is all geared up for kids. They typically have activities around the house or out in the yard that our kids will enjoy, as well as spending time with the pets. There aren’t as many which are family friendly, but they are out there with more and more are added all of the time.
What kind of pets do people have?
Most often you will find it is care for dogs and cats, but it can be for any animals. We have seen llamas, chickens, horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, snakes, lizards and more. We have had homes with dogs, cats, turtles and fish. Of course Anya keeps requesting the full farm, so maybe one day we will expand our pet sitting resume.
Who can I trust to be my dog sitter?
If you are a homeowner this is really up to you. You need to be very honest in your listing and be sure you put exactly the type of people you are looking for. You also need to be sure to list every detail about the care of your pets and home. There shouldn’t be any surprises for a sitter. If your pets need shots or extra care, then it should all be spelled out. If you require references or a background check then you should list that right up front. It is okay to be particular, but it is best to list it all at the beginning to save yourself time with the responses. You want someone who will love your pets while you are away, so try to get to know them a little before your final decision.
Should I consider having a house sitter rather than doing pet boarding?
This is a great way for your pets to have a little extra care and attention, without changing their environment. Most people who sign up to be pet sitters, love pets! So they are wanting to spend time with yours. Be sure to post those photos in your listing, so they can fall in love right away. I know that happens to us and we can’t wait to apply, just because we love the photo of the pet.
If you have pets other than dogs or cats, it is great to have care for them right in your home. It provides you the freedom to go away without having to ask family or friends to take care of them. You will find people who are seeking exactly what you have and will take good care of them while you are away.
How can I become a house sitter or have someone in my home as a pet sitter?
There are several websites and social media groups for this very thing! We are members of several house sitting Facebook groups and have also been members of several house sitting sites. We are currently only members of one house sitter site, as we didn’t find as many opportunities in the others our first year or two. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great, but as a family of 4, it was clear what worked best for us.
Where to find a House Sit
Here are some house sitting sites for you to check out:
- Trusted House Sitters approximately $99 a year click the name for pricing and info, but they often offer 20 – 25% discounts.
- House Careers – approximately $50 a year click here for pricing and info
- Mind My House
- Sabbatical Homes
- Housesitters America
- Luxury Housesitting
- Homesitters Worldwide
When selecting the house sitting site or sites to register with, do your homework. Most of them allow you to browse profiles of sitters and house sit listings prior to signing up for membership. Take a bit of time to see what they have available to meet your needs. Determine which one is right for you. Of course you may sign up for more than one, it just depends on what you are looking for.
This is actually very straight forward once you know where to look. There are a few core websites that help pair up house sitters with people wanting a house sitter. This usually involves some sort of pet care and at times can involve a little work (watering plants etc). These should all occur with No Money exchanging hands, Free!
We have found the most robust site to be Trusted House Sitters, they offer many good tips on how to write your profile and apply. They offer the biggest network of house sit assignments in the areas we desire. There is never a shortage of assignments in the UK, Australia or Europe. Of course there are plenty in North America as well, but that isn’t the location we are looking for at this time. This probably has the highest priced annual membership fee, but you are getting thousands of listings to choose from. Don’t fret over the membership fee, as it is less than what most people would pay for one nights hotel. After just one house sit, you have more than reaped the rewards.
We have written about housesitting in our post on Freebie Accommodation Around The World. They are reasonably priced for the annual membership and you can filter by “family friendly”.
So if you have kids, this is an easy way to find those who accept a family as the house sitter. We have a special working relationship with Trusted Housesitters, so any of our readers who would like to join should use our link to sign up, in addition to a bonus only for our readers.
Trusted Housesitters provided us with a special code, just for our readers!
Remember to use the discount code WAGONERSABROAD when you sign up as a house sitter or homeowner. This will give you an additional 10% off of the current membership prices.
Some other sites:
Our second favorite is HouseCarers, they have a very afforadable annual plan Click Here for deals! Mind My House, is another which is fairly good for European locations. This doesn’t seem to have as many listings available, but does have a much lower annual membership fee, close to $30. as well as My Sabbatical. The last isn’t as robust, but you will find some good opportunities now and again.
Our family friendly house sitting experiences:
- London, England – Read more about Our first house sit
- Estepona, Spain
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Dublin, Ireland
- French Alps (coming summer 2016)
Tips for House Sitters
- Ensure your profile covers previous home care and pet care. Be sure when you make an application, to speak about the pet and make the home owner feel comfortable with you.
- Be flexible with your dates and locations to expand the pool of house sit opportunities.
- Have references readily available or attached to your house sitter profile.
- Try to video chat with owners in advance to “see” the home in natural state and get to know the owners’ personality.
- Find the exact details of their trip and how to reach them while they are away. Determine their expectations on day of departure and arrival. Many homeowners expect you to arrive a day in advance or will be home late on the final day. What are your options for accommodation? See if they expect you to stay with them or find another place to stay. We had one house sit where we never met the owners! Their neighbors provided us the keys and the home walk through. We were given the okay to depart a couple of hours prior to the owners returning home as well.
- Feel free to ask questions and be sure it is a good fit for you as well.
- Provide the owners with a little email or social media share with a photos of you enjoying the time with their pets. Remember they will miss them, so it makes them feel good seeing their pets being loved.
- Make sure you keep the home clean and tidy. It is nice if you go above and beyond prior to departure. Empty the garbage, change the linens, clean the kitchen.
- If you are up for it, leave a small thank you card or gift for the owners. Let them know how much you enjoyed their pets and home.
- Some house sitters leave a meal made for the owners return home. I typically don’t do this, as we aren’t always aware of dietary restrictions. It is up to you.
Tips for Homeowners
- Be very clear with your needs in your listing. It isn’t just about “selling” the opportunity. Believe me, you will have plenty of interest. It is more about being detailed enough to weed some of those people out, to ensure you have a perfect fit for your pets and home. What responsibilities will the housesitter have, caring for the pets, security for the home, maintenance of pool, bringing in the mail, watering plants, gardening, attending puppy training classes, upkeep of home, etc.
- Provide instructions for the pets and home in writing. How to work appliances, pet car, where to find linens, any yard care, where pet food is stored. If there is an odd thing with the home, like a funny way to jiggle the key to open the door or something, be sure to document that.
- Provide a list of local shops as well as locals to call if something arises. Vet, Neighbors, Police, grocery store etc..
- If you are close with your neighbors, it is nice to introduce the pet sitters in person. This way they have someone to go to when in need.
- Consider arrival and departure scenarios. Will the house sitters stay with you the night before or after?
- Discuss what should be done with any perishable food you leave behind in the fridge. Should the sitters leave it alone or should they eat it before it expires.
Sign up today! For House Sitting or as a homeowner.
Remember to use our special discount code WAGONERSABROAD. This will provide you with an additional 10% off of the current membership prices.
We’ve done 1-3 week house sits in London England, Dublin Ireland, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Estepona Spain, and Morzine France.
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