How to become a housesitter
House sitting is starting to gain popularity these days. It’s a fantastic service that both pet/home owners & couples/individuals can benefit from.
For pet owners, you have the benefit of knowing your home is in safe hands while you are away. However, the most appealing part is that you have the peace of mind that your pet/s are being well looked after in their own familiar environment. This allows them to avoid the dreaded pet kennel.
For the house sitters, you get the benefit of having a temporary pet to love and care for whilst having a home to stay in. House/pet sitting can be extremely beneficial to different types of people including; young couples trying to save for their first home, individuals who simply just can’t afford rent, long term travelers who want a place to settle, or people who are simply pet crazy!
It's a truly great concept. We have just started out our house sitting career and already we have stayed in some fantastic homes, had the chance to look after some really awesome pets, and met some equally as awesome home owners in the process.
We want to help other travelers, couples looking to buy a home or the crazy pet people out. So we are going to give you some tips on how we have managed to set up our how to become housesitter. See our top tips to becoming a house sitter below.
1. Genuinely love animals:
This is the golden rule. Most house sits out there are focused around the pets. Pets are an important part of most families and most get treated like royalty.
Putting pets into pet hotels is horribly expensive and generally is extremely stressful to the animal. Pet sitting lets animals stay comfortable in their own environment and stick to their normal routine, thus keeping them happy, calm and more often than not smothered with attention for a couple of weeks!
And let's face it they didn't get to go on holiday so they need some special attention while their owners are away!
2. getting a House Sitting reference:
Like everything these days, reviews and references are everything. Before any homeowner contacts you to be their house sitter, they will want to read reviews. This is a hard one when you are first starting out and you need to get creative. If you're not living in the same town as the house sit the best thing we found to do was have a Skype interview with the homeowners. They tend to get a really good feel for you as a couple/person and generally know within the first few minutes if they want to pursue further with you.
After a Skype interview offer to send them written references from other sources. We found the following were helpful references:
Family or friends whose pets you have experience with
References from commendable figures
3. Do you need Police/Goverment criminal record check?
Head to your local government or police website and order a Criminal Record Check (or your countries similar version). You will be living in someone's house with all their valuable possessions in, it allows both parties to feel more comfortable. Most countries these days will send you a physical and email copy. Have these on hand to forward over to anyone that is interested in having you house sit for them. It might just be the peace of mind that they need to lock you into the house sit.
4. whats the best house sitting websites?
There is a tonne of websites out there to link homeowners and house sitters together. There is a tonne of different websites out there. The two main ones that we use are listed below. Both of these charges a yearly fee but are definitely worth it, there are some really amazing houses and locations on them! Check back soon for our full list of recommended sites, sometimes the smaller sites have some real gems!
Housesitsearch is another awesome website. They gather all the house sits and display them in one easy location, which can save you searching all the sites (we used to check over 6!) Most sites require you to sign up and pay a yearly subscirption but its totally worth it.
5. Self advertise:
Again with advertising creativity is key. Think outside the box;
- Create yourself some leaflets and do letterbox drops. make posters and put them up on supermarket notice boards, cafes, yoga studios and community centers.
- Make business cards and drop them off in pet stores, vets, home-ware store and anywhere else you can think of that potential homeowners who like to holiday are going to be shopping.
- Remember the best marketing is word of mouth. For someone who has never heard of house sitting, they might get your leaflet through their letterbox and tell 10 people about this great new idea they have never heard of before.
As always make sure you are on all social media platforms and you are constantly updating and networking. You never know what platforms your next house sit will come from! Create yourself a Youtube Channel, Instagram, Facebook Page, Twitter, and your own personal website. If you have a Linkedin profile even put it on there you never know who will stumble across you.
6. Do a pet first aid course:
Again we can't stress how important it is to genuinely love and truly want to care for animals. The last thing you want to happen while looking after a family's furry friend is for something bad to happen. Find your local Pet First Aiders and do a course. Generally, they are a one day course and will only cost around £100. Attending a one day course could one day save one of your pets lives. Also along with your police record check looks impressive and professional to any home owner. In Ireland, you can do a pet first aid course here.
7. Apply, Apply, Apply:
Once you are all signed up, start applying for as many house sits as you can! House sitting is getting popular so you need to be prompt and stand out with your applications. Don’t send a generic copy and paste application. Show the homeowner you have read their listing and you really want to look after their pet. Remember depending on the home's location some homeowners can get hundreds of applications. You want to send an application that is well thought out, grammatically correct and relevant.
Some homeowners will want to know why you want to house sit their house. The key here is, to be honest. If you are wanting to house sit for free accommodation to save for a house, tell them. If you are traveling and need a place to settle for a while, tell them. If you live in a share house that doesn't allow pets and you just really miss animal interaction tell them! You never know what will appeal to people. We have successfully got house sits and made life long friends from being honest and telling people we are traveling and want to get deep into the local culture and just genuinely miss having pets.
8. Don’t be picky:
You can't pick when or for how long people go away for. You need to be flexible and have no expectations for homes, times, locations or pets. Remember, the more house sits you do the more references you will get and the more likely someone is to look at you for their place. Homeowners get lots of applications and if you see like you are too difficult they will move onto the next candidate!
If you have a few spare days between house sits and are in need of cheap (or even free) short term accommodation look into Couchsurfing, Gumtree, Airbnb or even the local community notice board. If you are new to Airbnb click here to sign up for free and get a discount on your first stay!
9. Get all the info:
Get the homeowner to list out all the information about the house and the animal/s. No matter how small or un relevant they might think they detail is.
Find out everything from any little quirks of the house, when the postman comes to the names and numbers of their neighbours or close family. The last thing you want to do is contact the family while they are enjoying their holiday with a question like ‘ Where do you keep the trash bags?’.
Find out what the animals favourite snack is. If they are likely to get up in the night to go to the bathroom. Their favourite sleeping spot and anything else you can think of. Your main priority is to keep the animals happy and safe and every last detail about them will make your job a lot easier.
We recently had a cat that had a tendency to throw up at night time randomly. The home owner had owned this cat for many years and had just come accustom to this and had almost forgotten to tell us. Without crucial information like that, we could have been in a real panic.
10. Update, Update, Update:
Before the homeowner goes away come up with an update schedule. Some homeowners will want daily photos and even Skype calls. Others will want an update once a week or only something goes wrong. Be sure to come up with a clear plan of attack and stick to it.
To some families their pet is everything and it is hard for them to leave them at home with strangers. You want to show the home owner the pet is having fun, happy and most importantly very well taken care of.