What is House Sitting?
House sitting is an arrangement that allows a family to leave their house to a “house sitter”, someone who will look after the house while the owner is away. Both the homeowner and the house sitter agree upon mutual terms, duration, communication methods, and responsibilities to ensure the process runs smoothly.
House sitters temporarily stay on someone’s property for free in exchange for completing small errands around the house. These tasks can include taking care of pets, performing maintenance tasks like mowing the lawn, collecting mail, etc.
Pros and Cons of House Sitting
Pets are the reason for the majority of house-sitting arrangements. Owners who prefer leaving their pets in the home environment while away rather than placing them in boarding kennels search for house sitters. Another reason is property maintenance and crime deterrence while the owner is away.
A huge benefit for house sitters is the fact that their accommodation is free. This allows them to cut down on costs while travelling and get a sense of living as a local. The duration of the stay greatly depends on the owners and can be anything from a few days to a few months. Although house-sitting alone can bring a sense of isolation because of the limited time you can spend outside the house, local meetups, Tinder, and Facebook groups can make all the difference.
House sitting is a great opportunity to stay at luxurious properties with great views. It is also a chance to get a “free-trial” of what it’s like to own a pet in case you are considering getting one for yourself. On the other hand, house sitters should be ready to move houses frequently and possibly live in rural areas.
How Do You Become A House Sitter?
There are multiple platforms that allow homeowners to list their properties for house sitting. Anyone can search for listings in a certain location at a certain time either with a free registration or a paid yearly subscription to a house-sitting website. Depending on the platform, memberships will allow you to benefit from receiving help and support and access to veterinary advice.
How to Choose a House Sitting Website?
There are plenty of house sitting websites out there that provide free and paid services both for home owners and house sitters. To make sure you’re getting the best deal, consider the following points:
- Company’s credibility and reviews
- Where does the company operate?
- What’s the sitter to owner ratio – how competitive is it to get a house sitting job?
- What are the safety precautions taken by the company?
- What are the services provided with the paid memberships?
Here are a few international house sitting platforms:
This platform offers paid memberships both for owners and sitters. The most popular sitters’ annual plan costs $129/year and allows participants to enjoy unlimited house sits any time within a year. A combined annual membership costs $189 and gives you the best of both worlds – both the unlimited sits all year round and the opportunity to list your property as an owner.
The website allows house sitters to find opportunities to look after homes and pets when owners are away. With a Discovery option you can sign up for free, complete your profile, and look for up to three sits or sitters and get in touch with other users. The Confidence option costs $89/year and allows you to apply for an unlimited number of sitting positions, appear on the first results pages, and check several ID documents.
The HouseCarers.com service is free for homeowners as the website doesn’t charge any placement fee. However, a house sitter full membership costs US$50.00 /year and allows you to be notified of house sit opportunities, display your profile and receive possible messages from homeowners. You may upgrade your free membership to full membership at any time following registration to receive maximum exposure and quicker results.
Frequently Asked Questions
As house sitting rules depend on individual homeowners, it’s worth giving free rein to your imagination and coming up with a few ideas to make this experience even more fun! And for that, here are answers to a few questions that may pop up in your head.
Q: May we house and pet sit as a family?
A: Yes, you may do that as a family. You may share one membership and add plenty of information to your profile to clearly indicate your intention to house or pet sit together.
Q: May I bring my pet on a sit?
A: It depends on the owner. Some do require pet sitters to bring their own pets with them to keep company.
Q: Who pays for travel to a sit?
A: Although house sitting platforms allow you to stay in homes worldwide for free, it is your responsibility to make travel arrangements.
Q: May I house sit abroad?
A: Yes! Through international platforms you can apply for house and pet sitting opportunities all over the world. However, make sure to arrange the right type of visa for your travel.
Q: What experience do I need to be a sitter?
A: There are not any specific requirements and qualifications needed to become a sitter, however, certain skills and traits may be advantageous when it comes to pet sitting. Pet owners are more likely to look for someone with experience in looking after pets. If you own or rent a home and know how to maintain a garden or a backyard, this will also reassure the home owner that things will run smoothly while on your watch.
Additional Hidden Costs Associated with House Sitting
Although a significant share of your budget – accommodation – will be taken care of, remember to budget for everyday expenses as well as not-so-expected expenses. Here are a few of them to consider:
- Flights, visas, and travel insurance
- Car hire, car fuel, or public transportation costs in case the house is located in a remote area
- Hotel stays or other accommodation in between house sists or in case the arrangement falls through
- Activities, food, eating out, and local phone tariffs
House sitting is a great way to explore countries and cities without making a long-term commitment. These arrangements greatly depend on mutual trust and the decency of both the homeowner and the house sitter. This puts great emphasis on the importance of clear communication and discussing the expectations upfront. But without a doubt, house sitting can provide you with the experience of a lifetime without causing any of the financial constraints associated with accommodation.
Photos: Shutterstock / Edited by: Martina Advaney
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