Post updated on June 3rd, 2020 at 05:14 pm
Before we explain how to become a house sitter let us give you a quick overview of exactly what house sitting is and who can benefit from it.
We get excited teaching others how to start house sitting and want to give you all the necessary information so this might be a lengthy post.
To jump straight to how to become a house sitter in 10 steps see the table of contents below.
An Introduction to House Sitting
House sitting is starting to gain in popularity throughout the world.
Essentially it is a really fantastic concept that pet/home owners & couples/solo travellers can both gain a huge benefit from.
Over the past 3 years we have looked after almost 30 homes. We enjoy talking to home owners about house sitting and their thoughts and experiences.
While talking to home owners we have discovered there are three main reasons why homeowners love house sitting:
- The peace of mind their pets are going to be looked after and loved by real pet lovers.
- Their pets can keep a normal schedule.
- Even though they are going to be away the pets will be at home in a familiar environment.
That is three things that you don’t get from pet hotels or pet boarding services.
The most obvious benefits for house sitters are:
- Having a pet to love while travelling.
- A comfortable home to look after.
- The ability to save on accommodation while travelling or saving for a home.
- Being able to explore a city like a local, not a tourist.
House sitting has many benefits to different types of people including:
- Young couples trying to save for their first home.
- Individuals who can’t afford rent.
- Long term travelers who want a place to settle.
- Those who miss animals. Whether that be because they are travelling, can’t have pets at their own home or can’t afford pets.
- Retirees looking for a cheap alternative.
We have been house sitting for a little while now. Slightly over two years. In that time we have had the opportunity to look after homes all around the world.
Some of our highlights so far:
Rome, Bourdeaux, Chiang Mai, Dublin, Kuala Lumpur, London, Istanbul, Barcelona and Northern Italy.
We are both pet lovers and nomads at heart. We love exploring and don’t like staying in one place for too long. House sitting is the perfect lifestyle for us.
Since we love house sitting so much, we want to help others wanting to get started! Below we have broken down how to become a house sitter into 10 easy steps.
Do you want to get started house sitting ASAP? Skip our how to become a house sitter tips and sign up to one the best house sitting sites we have found so far!
Lets get into how to start house sitting!
How To Become A House Sitter – Step By Step Guide
Have A Genuine Love for Animals
This is the golden rule of house sitting! You will find that most house sitting assignments out there are focused around the pets. Pets are important members of most families and are often treated like royalty.
Putting pets into pet hotels can be expensive. Generally speaking, taking pets to such establishments can be stressful and in some cases even harmful.
Therefor you must genuinely love animals. You need to be able to look after their pets like they are your own. You need to give them the love, care and cuddles they would usually get.
Pet sitting lets animals stay comfortable in their own environment and stick to their normal routines. This keeps them happy, calm and not missing the owners too much.
Let’s face it the pets didn’t get to go on holiday so they need some special attention while their owners are away!
Get Your House Sitting References and Reviews Together
Like everything these days, reviews and references are everything.
Before any homeowner contacts you, they will want to read reviews or references. This can be difficult when you are first starting out and you need to get creative. We found the following were helpful if you have no references:
- Family or friends whose pets you have experience with.
- Are you a member or leader or any community groups, organisations or clubs? Think scouts, church groups, youth groups, girl guides etc.
- Current or past employer.
- References from commendable figures in your life, such as policeman, judge or doctor.
- Airbnb References.
If you’re not in the same location as the assignment thats ok. It can actually work in your favour. The best thing we found to do is have a Skype conversation with the homeowners. This is actually how we locked in our first sit!
Speaking over video allows you to showcase your real self. We have found it to be much more effective than chatting over email.
From the homeowners we have spoken to about this, they also agree video chat is the best way to get a real feel for someone.
Obtain A Police or Government Criminal Record Check
Having this documentation can help you secure a house sit without too much work. It is also a great backup to have if you hav no references.
Head to your local government or police website and order a Criminal Record Check. Each country might have a different version but should have something similar.
You will be living in someone else’s home with all their valuable possessions. Having the peace of mind that you have no convictions can be something that a lot of homeowners look for. Particularly those with precious items.
Most countries these days will send you a physical and email copy of your report.
Its good to 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 sitting assignment.
Sign Up To Online House Sitting Websites
The number one question we get on how to become a house sitter is: What are the best house sitting websites to use?
To be honest there is an immense amount of house sitting websites out there to link homeowners and house sitters together.
The main ones that we use are listed below. All of these platforms charge a yearly membership fee but are definitely worth it!
Sometimes the smaller more local sites have some real gems & much less competition!
Be Creative and Self Advertise
With advertising creativity is key! Think outside the box. In the past we have:
- Created leaflets and letter box dropped suburbs we want to house sit in.
- Made posters and put them up on supermarket notice boards, cafes, yoga studios and community centres.
- Dropped business cards at local pet shops, homeware stores and real estate agents.
- Found and got active on Facebook groups and forums for expats in locations we want to visit.
Remember the best marketing is word of mouth. House sitting is still a fairly new concept to most. Someone who has never heard of house sitting might get your leaflet and tell 10 people about this great new idea they have found!
As always make sure you are on all social media platforms to get more exposure. Constantly put yourself out there. You never know what platforms your next house sit might come from!
Complete 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 aider and complete 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. Along with your police record check, this looks more professional to any home owner.
Apply, Apply, Apply, Apply and Don’t Forget to Follow Up!
Once you are all signed up start applying for as many house sits as you can!
House sitting is competitive 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 home and pets.
Remember, depending on the home’s location some homeowners can get hundreds of applications in the space of 1 week.
You want to send an application that is well thought out, grammatically correct and relevant to the assignment.
Some homeowners will want to know why you want to house sit their house. The key here is to be honest.
You never know what will appeal to people. We have landed assignments and made life long friends from being honest about why we want to house sit.
House sitting is a way that we can stay somewhere for long period of time and get to know the real feel of somewhere. Checking out local markets, cafes, parks and walks is what we enjoy doing the most.
We can’t think of a better way to do this than by exploring with a 4 legged friend at our side!
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. When we first started out house sitting we lived in London. Our first 3 house sits where also in London simply so we could build up our references.
The more references you have, the more likely someone is to look at you for their place.
Homeowners get lots of applications. If you seem like you are too difficult they will move onto the next candidate!
Sometimes you will have gaps before or after a house sit. Don’t worry this is not a big deal. There are many options out there for you for cheap or even free 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!
If you need to fly to your house sit, make sure you check out where the cheapest airports to fly into are!
Get All The Information
This is something we cant stress enough to those who we explain how to become a house sitter to.
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 quirks of the house, when the postman comes to the names and numbers of the neighbours & 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. If they have a favourite scratching 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 who had a tendency to throw up at night time. 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.
Update and Communicate
Before the homeowner goes away come up with an update schedule/communication schedule.
Remember that every homeowner is different. Some will want daily photos and even Skype calls. Others will want an update once a week or only if 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.
That is How To Become A House Sitter
We hope that our top 10 tips on how to become a house sitter has inspired you to get out there and start your own house sitting adventure!
Sign up to one of our favourite sites and & start applying!
Need More Help Starting Your House Sitting Adventure?
We love house sitting and love helping other start their own journey.
If you have any questions about how to become a house sitter please reach out to us in our private Facebook group!
House Sitting FAQs
Do you get paid to be a house sitter?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. House sitting is a mutual agreement between the house sitter and the home owner where no money changes hands.
What does a professional house sitter do?
A professional house sitter ensures that the home and pets are safe during the period of time where the home owner is away. A professional house sitters duties include but are not limited to caring for animals, walking the animals, administering any medication, taking care of the home, keeping on top of house work and garden maintenance and anything else specified by the home owner.
What do you do as a house sitter?
As a house sitter your main focus is keeping the home and animals safe while the home owner is away. This can include walking animals, feeding animals, administering medication, vet visits, keeping a tidy home, ensuring the home owners mail is safe, paying any bills, maintaining the yard/garden and ensuring no one breaks in.
Do house sitters stay overnight?
Yes, house sitters do stay over night. House sitters stay in your home for the duration of the time that you are away. Usually the house sitters will be coming form out of town (or out of the country) to care for your home so will be at the property the entire time of the sit.
Do house sitters pay utilities?
This is something that you need to discuss with your sitters. In general we do not pay for utility bills as sitters. When sitting we spend a lot of time caring for animals, the home owner property and making sure everything is safe – which in turn is ‘working for ‘ the utility bills to be covered when we are sitting. Usually we travel a long way to get to a sit, which we never ask for any compensation from the home owner for and we would not be comfortable to pay utilities on top of that.
Why do people hire house sitters?
There are many reasons why home owners choose to get sitters in. The most common reasons are to take care of pets, administer medication to sick animals, make sure the home is safe while they are away, and to ensure maintenance of the home is kept up while they are away.
Is trusted house sitters worth it?
Trusted House Sitters is a platform that we have been using for years. It is one of our go to platforms and a site that we highly recommend! In terms of is the cost worth it, it is one of the most expensive platforms but once you lock in your first sit the membership fee has already paid for itself! For more on Trusted House Sitters read our full Trusted House Sitters review.