House sitting tips, resources and what we learned being short and long term house sitters.
Nick and I have been House Sitters for several years now. Read about our house sitting adventures or scroll down for our Top 5 House Sitting Tips.
My Dad first put the idea of becoming a house sitter into my head about 15 years ago. He said he knew a gal, the daughter of a friend, that was house sitting for the rich and famous in California. She supposedly makes a ton of money. Keep in mind, my parents live in Germany and this friend of my Dad’s might have been exaggerating his daughters position and income a bit.
House sitting these days is usually a non-paying job. You get to stay somewhere new for free. In exchange you keep the home owners property in good working order and sometimes take care of the pets. If you want to earn money you will need to look for a care taking position. Check out our article on the difference between house sitting and care taking.
Our own house sitting story began after we moved into a comfortable three bedroom town home.
The kids are grown up now and living on their own. So we started to think “Now What?”. We were both working from home and as long as we had a decent internet connection we could go anywhere.
We started searching online…
- Our first step was to read up on several blogs.
They where mostly couples younger than us, that have already found their way into the somewhat elusive world of house sitters. We loved reading the stories about the places these blogger visited and beautiful homes they have stayed it. We even envied them a little bit. One couple actually lived in a castle in France for a year. Wow! (We will share our favorite house sitting blogs further down the page.)
- Our next step was to sign up on a house sitting website.
There are several house sitting or care taking websites out there. The costs and benefits of each website vary and on most of them you can look at the listings without paying a membership fee. You do have to be a paid member in order to apply for any of the assignments or jobs.
1) The first site we tried was House Careers. I’m not even going to give you a live link since we do not recommend this website at all. After reading the FAQ page and checking out fellow house sitter profiles we decided to sign up with their service. I spent two hours writing the content for our profile page and right after our Paypal payment went through Nick noticed that nobody had updated the website for over a year now. We checked out their Facebook page and sure enough, people were asking if the people that run the page and the site have passed away since nobody was answering any questions.
We sent an email to the website owners asking for a refund and within 20 minutes our profile disappeared and our log in was no longer valid. I was livid!
It took two months and numerous emails to finally get our money back. To this day house sitters will post on the website. Who knows? Maybe the website owners where on vacation. I wouldn’t know, since we never did get an email back from them.
2) The second site we used is Luxury House Sitting. This is supposedly the largest community of Responsible House Sitters in the world! This website was created to unite prospective house sitters with homeowners. We have been members of this site for about three months now and have received 2 house sitting assignments. It was very easy to set up our profile with a photo. Once you’re ready to start applying for your dream house sitting job, you simply click on the ‘Apply for this Home’ button and wait. Most home owners will sent back a reply within 1 – 2 days.
- Luxury House Sitting – Membership is $10.00 now $25.00 per year
(Be aware, if you pay via Paypal you will automatically be set up for a yearly membership renewal. You can opt out of this renewal, if you want, by logging into your Paypal account. There will be a link to opt out of the automatic membership on the top of the page.)
Other house sitting sites available, but we have not tried them personally:
We have a couple of local, short term house sitting jobs under our belt now and are ready to house sit in a foreign country.
After our trip to Germany to visit family for the Holidays, Nick and I will rent out our town house and move to the small country of Belize for several months to house sit. Most of our earthly belongings will go into storage, along with our car and my desk top computer. This is a very big and exciting step for us!
2016 Update: We have just re-instated our membership as of June 2015, hoping to land a 2 month house sitting assignment in Germany for Jan/Feb of 2016. Unfortunately that didn’t work out. We did find a long-term caretaking position in Hawaii via Caretakers.com and started in April 2016.
Here are House Sitting Tips we learned along the way…
- Spend some time making a quality profile for yourself on whichever house sitting website(s) you choose. Take a look at other listings on Luxury House Sitting for an example. (Our listing on Luxury House Sitting was on the top, but we opted not to renew our membership at this time.) With a friendly, well written and informative profile you will attract many more home owners. Be sure to use a spell checker and check for any grammatical errors. A nice, clear picture of yourself is also very important.
- Sign up for email alerts, if they’re available. If you end up getting bombarded you can always opt out again later on. More and more people are interested in house sitting gigs, so the sooner you hear about a new opportunity the better. Being one of the first house sitters to get your application in can be a huge plus! Some home owners get overwhelmed with the many replies they receive and stop replying to inquiries after a while.
- Have your paperwork up to date. You will need to keep your personal references, police report, ID and passport current and ready to go when you are. Is this your first time house sitting? Ask your current employer or past employers, friends, neighbors, and anyone that can attest to you being an upstanding citizen and animal lover.
- Not all house sitting gigs are a great deal. Some home owners might want you to cover the cost of utilities, pet food, etc. while they are gone, especially if it is a long term assignment or in a highly desired area. Some home sitting jobs also require a fair amount of work in return. You will need to take care of pets, gardening, household maintenance, etc. In our upcoming assignment in Belize, the small resort we are house sitting is for sale, so we need to have it ready for showings when requested. This is really not a big inconvenience for us, and with the awesome location it is a very good deal overall.
- Don’t forget to look out for your own best interests. Be sure that every aspect of the deal works for you prior to accepting any house sitting job. Make sure you and the home owner understand each other and that both sides are very clear about their expectations. Leave no questions unanswered!
Are you a good candidate for house sitting?
A homeowner will trust you with their home, so you will have to pass certain requirements. You will also have to consider the following: Are you looking for a short term house sitting gig or an assignment that will last several months or even years? Do you have the money to spend on travel expenses? Will you need to purchase transportation, insurance, supplies, etc. once you get to your assignment?
Now, think about what YOU would want in a house sitter:
- Writers, people who work online or have an independent income, long-term travelers, and retired people are excellent candidates for house sitting.
- Being older can have its advantages. Homeowners want someone with experience and maturity. A couple in their forties will get a lot more offers than a single 23-year-old woman.
- A person with experience as a homeowner. You need to have the ability to troubleshoot small emergencies and feel comfortable with a range of household pets.
- Being friendly and communicative with the homeowner is a must. You will be interacting with their neighbors, delivery people, local merchants, and perhaps friends and business associates who call or stop by while the homeowner is gone. Knowing that you are pleasant and follow up appropriately is a huge bonus.
- You have to have good references to become a house sitter. It certainly does not hurt having a blog or active social media presence for people and future home owners to find out more about you and your lifestyle.
And now, as promised, here are a few of our favorite house sitting blogs:
- Hecktic Travels – Dalene & Peter Heck are a Canadian couple who sold everything in 2009 to travel the world.
- Normadic Matt – He tries to inspire others to travel more by showing them that any dream trip can become a reality.
- Housesitting Couple – This is a couple in their late twenties who want to see a bit more of the world.
The above picture of Silke was taken during a short house sitting assignment in Florida. Do you have any questions on how to get started or where to can go to find your first house sitting job?
We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below.