House sitting and care taking share some of the same principles but they do have some major differences.

In the last few years house sitting has experienced exponential growth in the US. It actually has become a very popular solution for travelers around the world. We have house sat, and have also been care takers ourselves, on numerous occasions and enjoyed it very much. Providing home cleaning services is not something unusual or even new. The fact that someone is living and taking care of another person’s home isn’t new either, the show Downton Abbey comes to mind.

You can read about our own house sitting experiences and find out what we’ve learned along the way. Scroll down to find out if you are best suited to being a care taker or a house sitter, and a list to find gigs around the world.

Difference between house sitting and care taking

Both house sitting and care taking gigs offer free accommodations for a previously agreed upon length of time.

Here are some of the differences:

Difference #1 – Length of Stay

House Sitting: Most house sitting gigs are on average about 2 – 3 weeks long, some are only for a few days or could be as long as six months or more. Usually the home owner is going on a trip or job assignment and needs someone to look after his or her pets and home.

Care Taking: A care taking position can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months or even many years. It can be a seasonal job like a lodge or resort keeper during the slow winter months, or a temporary maintenance person at a RV park during the off season. Small business owners or home owners running an AirBNB are often in need for a temporary break due to health issues or travel plans. They can benefit greatly by hiring a competent care taker.

The job of a care taker could also be a long-term permanent live in position for a second home taking care of the buildings, surroundings and animals. Off the grid eco-resorts, nature retreats, farm and ranch owners and organic farmers are often looking for caretakers to help with the day to day responsibilities as well.

Difference #2 – Money

House Sitting:  House sitters don’t usually get paid. In exchange for maintaining the home and taking care of any pets, the house sitter will get to stay rent free to enjoy the comforts of the home and all of the perks of the surrounding area. Some house sitters agree to pay for electricity, cable or other utilities if the stay is longer than three months, but in most cases there is no money exchanged between the home owner and the house sitter.

Care Taking: Care takers on the other hand are paid positions. Since care taking is in general a more involved role, like being a property managers, grounds keepers, land steward, animal care taker or pet sitter, a monthly salary, stipend or food allowance is added to the perk of free living. Care taking positions carry more responsibility and require a much higher commitment and level of competance.

Difference #3 – Location

House Sitting:  Many of the most popular house sitting gigs are in large cities or tourist towns. This is what makes house sitting so appealing to many of us. The host doesn’t have any outgoing expenses as the house sitter will cover all of their own travel expenses. Instead of staying at a hotel or AirBNB for several weeks, accumulating a huge bill, the house sitter can stay in a private home. He or she can spend the money on exploring the area making day trips instead. It’s a win/win situation for the home owner and the house sitter.

Care Taking: A lot of the long term care taking positions are located in remote areas. It might be a cabin or second home in the mountains, a large historic home in the country, a farm or ranch, or the job might be located in one of the national or state forests and parks. To succeed as a long term caretaker you need to be self-contained and able to take your own interests and hobbies along to the assignment.

Short term care taking, lasting several week to a couple of months, are sometimes found in the care takers home state. If travel expenses are involved the care takers in general pick up the cost, although they should be refunded if the job was done to the owners satisfaction.

If you still don’t know which one is right for you, I would suggest finding a short house sitting gig first. This will show you if you are actually comfortable living and sleeping in a strangers home and if you like taking care of somebody else’s property. The same goes for home owners, find a house sitter for a weekend getaway, and find out if you feel comfortable with a stranger on your property and in your home. It sounds like a no-brainer but not everyone is a good fit to be a house sitter or caretaker.

An alternative house sitting and care taking is Property Preservation. Individuals or companies provide miscellaneous cleaning and maintenance services on behalf of lenders and financial institutions for foreclosed properties. It removes the element of travel, but you could have a fairly lucrative business right in your home town.

Here is a list of websites to find house sitting gigs across the world:

Like I mentioned before, Nick and I have been house sitting for several years now, but after living in our town home for over two years, we are ready to try something different.

We have decided to apply for care taking positions!

Neither of us enjoys the lifestyle we are living here in Summerville, SC. Nick doesn’t like his job and if we were to stay here I would have to look for a full-time job (I work part-time from home now) as well. Little Lily would end up in a kennel for 8 – 10 hours/day. No way would I ever do that to her! Thankfully Nick’s parents are very excited to have Lily back with them on the farm in Minnesota.

Lily Jager

At this point we don’t know which part of the country we will go to next or what type of position we will get. It’s still all up in the air, so wish us luck and hopefully the right job will reveal itself to us soon. We will keep you updated! * In early 2016 we accepted a 14 month care taking position on the Big Island, Hawai’i.

2017 Update: 

Take a look at the services we now offer to the Jackson, TN, area and beyond.

Click the link below to learn more, see examples of our services, request a quote or check out our property preservation service policy.

We are CTS Services and we can make your life easier! Property Preservation & Care Taking 

Do you think we will make good care takers for someone you know? Please leave us a comment below. 

12 thoughts on “The Difference Between House Sitting And Care Taking”
  1. Great article! Thank you, I often wondered what the difference was between a care taker and someone that’s called a house sitter. Good to know! I’ll let you guys know if I ever need someone to take care of my house and two dogs.

  2. […] will be hanging up the free house sitting and give property care taking a try. This is the natural next step for us and we are very excited as a paid care taker position […]

  3. We are excited to share our latest development. Nick and I have accepted a long-term care taking position in Hawaii. Look for upcoming photos and stories from Hawaii starting early April.

    1. Hi dewy, we are shooting for August 1st, possibly sooner if we’re needed. Do you have a position we might be interested in?

  4. Hi Nick and Silke – you two would be great caretakers! From your brief stay as our neighbors here in Belize I know that you both like to be active and you like to have a goal – not for you the life of just lazing around day after day! And you also have adventurous spirits. Keep us posted when you make a decision. Good luck!

    1. Dear Wilma, thank you so much for your kind words!

      You are absolutely correct when you mentioned how we like to be active. I suppose that’s one of the reasons we enjoy our little day trips so much :) I will let you know how this will all play out, I’m planning on writing more content again for this site. Please give my best to Dennis.

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