Accommodation is one of the most costly aspects of travelling. You can stay in cheap hostels with 20 other people for under $20 a night – but that will still add up, it’s not comfortable, and certainly not conducive to those working on the go. Hotels & BnBs are an option but can be costly over time.
There is, however, a way to get accommodation all over the world from a weekend, to six months or more, for free. This option could save you thousands in hotels, or even rent when looking long-term.
House sitting – what is it?
The concept of house sitting is a simple one. Someone needs their house looked after while they’re away. Checking the mail, keeping it tidy, and more often than not, looking after pets.
House sitters and homeowners act in a trade. You get free accommodation in this new area, and the homeowner has someone to watch their house and pets.
This is something that you can do all over the world from one weekend to many months.
Yes, you can live for multiple months, rent free, with no utility bills – all around the world. Sometimes you can even get a vehicle at your disposal.
How do I start house sitting?
It’s best practice to start within your own network, friends and family; so you can get a feel for what it may be like. Are you comfortable in a ‘strange’ home and looking after pets? If not, house sitting may not be your best option. Otherwise, go ahead and set up a profile.
Having an amazing profile is absolutely paramount. You need to show these homeowners that you’re the best person for the job. If you have house-sat previously, get a reference. If you haven’t, get a reference anyways. Someone that can vouch for your character, shows that your good with pets, and overall trustworthy.
It’s a big leap of faith for strangers half-way across the world to let you into their home, but the house sitting sites do a good job of easing the stress for everyone. There are a few options when looking for house sitting gigs, and almost all of them have membership fees. These are to ensure all parties are serious about house sitting, running the site, provide customer support, and some even provide a vet services line or do background checks!
Where to find House Sitting jobs:
Trusted Housesitters ($119 annually): This is the main site I use. They have the most listings and an easy-to-use platforms that allows you filter by country, type of pets, and duration of house sit. The house sits available are primarily in the U.K. and France, but there are still quite a few in North America, Australia, and the occasional one in Asia and Africa.
Mind My House ($20 annually): Popular throughout the U.S., the U.K., and parts of Canada and Western Europe, Mind My House has a great network of house sitting opportunities. While significantly cheaper than the Trusted Housesitters, they have less house-sits overall. However, if you’re very flexible with your dates and location, this may be a great option for you.
Nomador (Free up to 3 applications, $65 annually): I love that this site offers a free option so you can test the waters without any loss. Also, Nomador has what they call “stopovers” which allow travellers to stay with home owners for a night or two in between house sits or simply while visiting another country! They create a great community of travellers and homeowners well beyond just house sitting.
There are tons of others out there, however, these are easily my top three. You can also look on places like Craigslist, Gumtree, or on Facebook groups, but I would be more wary of those options. These sites do not have and checks in place, and while free, could be problematic, so if you choose that route, do be careful.
Tips for getting the gig!
- Be specific. Don’t just have a general opening email when applying for the house sit. Include specific information that was posted in their listing and show enthusiasm. Why do you want to house sit for them, do you have experience with this type of pet? Show them that you’re the best candidate!
- Be quick! Regularly visit the sites and respond as soon as possible. Being one of the first applicants can work well in your favour – particularly in the house sit is in a popular location.
- Have everything ready – last minute house sits are easier to get. Make sure all your documentation (passport, visa, etc) are up to date so you can go at any time.