In just a few weeks I’m off to France for a bit. I’ll be staying in a fully equipped house with a car at my disposal in a charming village outside Bordeaux. Other than sharing the space with a few furry friends, I’ll have the whole house to myself.
The best part? I won’t be paying for a single night of it.
That’s house sitting—and it’s one of my favorite ways to travel around the world on a budget.
What is house sitting?
House sitting is essentially watching over people’s houses and pets while they are traveling themselves. In exchange for extending a bit of TLC and keeping things in order, you get free accommodation. House sitting gigs vary from just a few days to up to a year, and can be found around the world!
Why do it?
House sitting is great in that it allows you to keep your travel costs to a minimum. But there’s more to gain than just a free bed to sleep in. For starters, you get to spend your days with adorable animals. If you’re not a pet person then maybe this doesn’t sound so appealing (and then perhaps house sitting isn’t for you). But for someone like me—a full-time nomad that can’t really travel around the world with the Siberian husky I want so badly—I love having the opportunity to take care of other people’s pets. Additionally, house sitting allows you to slow down and really immerse yourself in the culture; you’ll get to know off-the-beaten-track neighborhoods and see how the locals really live.
What are the responsibilities?
It’s important to remember that house sitting is a job. Someone is leaving his or her possessions—and perhaps furry companions—in the care of a total stranger. As such, it is expected that you follow house rules and routines. Communicate with the homeowner to know exactly what is required of you during your stay. If you agree to the stipulations, then make sure you follow them.
Where can you find a house sitting job?
There are a variety of websites out there that match potential house sitters with homeowners. Typically these websites have a small annual fee attached, but the initial price tag is worth it for the long-term savings. I use the following two sites:
TrustedHousesitters: Annual Fee: $79. This is the largest and fastest growing site. As a result, you’re competing with a lot of other eligible sitters for the same job.
MindMyHouse: Annual Fee: $20. This site is smaller with most jobs in North America, Mexico, Costa Rica and Europe. Personally I’ve had more success on this site as there are less house sitters submitting applications.
How do you apply?
Signing up for one of these sites is just the first step. To actually secure a job, you’re going to need to put a little bit of time into creating a great profile. Ask for a few character or house sitting references, even if just from family and friends to begin with. If you have a personal blog, link to it. Remember that you are a complete stranger to the homeowner. Just like any job, you need to show them why you are the best potential candidate for the position.
The top house sitting jobs go quickly. Like within minutes quickly. I always recommend creating an alert to get notified about new house sitting jobs via email. If you receive news of a job that looks attractive, your best chances of snagging it are if you email within a few hours (or sometimes minutes) of it going live. This initial email is your first impression, so put a bit of time into it. Remember to explain why the gig is of interest to you, and why you are qualified to fulfill it.
Finally, the biggest tip for securing a house sitting job is to be flexible. If you are set on traveling to Stockholm during the second week of June, then perhaps house sitting isn’t for you. But if you can change your search to Europe over the summer, then you’ll have a much greater chance of finding that perfect house sitting match.
Does house sitting sound like something you would enjoy? Have you ever tried it before?