So you’ve heard about how awesome house sitting can be when it comes to traveling.
You get to cozy up in a place that’s “homey”.
Enjoy a place to do your laundry.
Reap the benefits of a full kitchen.
Save a lot of mula!
And of course, you get to hang out with lovable pets without the full responsibility of actually owning them.
Colton and I have been international house sitters for over seven months now, trading our service of taking care of homes and animals that live there in exchange for a free place to stay.
We’ve housesat in Turkey, Thailand, India, China, Australia, and soon we are heading to Grenada for two months.
If you want to hop aboard the house-sitting-while-you-travel train, this post will teach you how to house sit, and how to first get your foot in the door (pun intended).
1. Make an Awesome Profile on House Sitting Websites
First, you need to know where to find house sits.
No, not Craigslist my friends.
I found my first job on MindMyHouse, but TrustedHousesitters has way more jobs to apply for. If you are really serious about finding one, do what I did, and sign up on both.
Think about it this way: That $120 you spend on both websites to sign up is equivalent to one night at a hotel.
Two nights if you stay at budget-friendly places like I do.
Anyway, that $120 has paid for 11 weeks of free nights of accommodations so far while I’ve been traveling. At $60 a night for a hotel room, that has saved us $4,620.
Include in your profile why you would be even better than Mrs. Doubtfire.
Open up about your personality. Write about your experience. Get references.
If you have absolutely no experience, ask a relative if you can take care of their house and/or pets for a couple days to A) test out how you like it, and B) for the reference. A little experience is better than no experience.
Even if you haven’t house sat before, if you’ve ever babysat, I think mentioning that in your profile helps too. If people will trust you with their kids, their trust you with their house.
Here is what our profile looks like:
Nice profile photos help.
Choose pictures to upload that have pets in them or show how friendly you are. Save your sexy party photos for Instagram (or maybe Snapchat would be more appropriate?).
****Keep in mind, you don’t need someone to house sit with you!
Some house owners only want one person in their home — maybe they only have one pet, or their home is small. Other house owners will prefer a couple because there might be more work involved.
2. Apply for 10 House Sits a Week
For every five to 10 house sits I would apply to, I usually got one response. If you don’t get any responses, check the websites the following week for new house sits to apply to. You have the best chance of getting a response from the most recent job postings.
Don’t be picky about where you want to house sit.
For your first couple of house sits, choose locations that aren’t top ten international tourist cities.
Hawaii, Barcelona, Paris, etc. are all going to be tough to land right away, as house sits are usually easier to obtain in more remote areas.
We went to Kalkan, Turkey to take care of a disabled cat and five other animals while ISIS was entering the country. But you don’t need to go this far! Which brings me to my next point …
Don’t get in over your head.
For your first house sit, I’d recommend applying for a job with only one or two pets. Because “house sit” can mean many things.
Sometimes it can mean to water the plants and take care of two poodles. Other times it can mean to take care of 10 stray dogs. Or it can mean farming and ranching and taking care of horses, cows, pigs, and sheep on Old McDonald’s farm.
Being ambitious is good, but if you’ve never saddled up before, your first time probably shouldn’t be spend hearding up some sheep. Don’t apply for jobs that are going to put you in an uncomfortable situation.
You found a house sit that you want to apply for, now what?
Reach out to the house owners!
And make the first interaction impressive.
This is your cold call. Spend a lot of time on it. Here’s what you will want to include:
- An “About Yourself” section. Where you are from, what you like to do, why you are traveling, what makes you the rockstar that you are. Basically, why should someone open up their home to you?
- Why the house sit you’re applying for interests you. Is it the mountains? The kind of pets they have? The surrounding culture you’ve been studying the last three years?
- Use their pets names in the message as well as the house owners. Hope you already knew about that last one.
- Talk about your previous experience. When I had no experience, I talked about how I was a nanny in high school and college, and how those experiences helped prepare me.
- Discuss what personality traits you have that would make you a good house sitter. Are you super organized? Have a green thumb? Is your spirit animal a kitten?
- Last but not least, offer to set up a Skype call. This shows that you’re not afraid to initiate the first step and that you are excited to meet them and see their pets.
BONUS: Email Script Used
Hi [name of house owner]!
[Your name] here.
I am interested in house sitting your home in beautiful [location of house sit] and taking excellent care of [pet name/s] while you head to [wherever house owners are going].
A little about me; I’m from [city/state]. I love to travel, have new experiences with different cultures, meet new people and furry four legged friends, too. For a living, I [job]. I was attracted to your listing because of [something you liked about listing].
I started house sitting and nannying [number of years and months] ago, and have experience taking care of [type of pets you’ve cared for before]. Thus far, I’ve house sat in [places where you’ve house sat]. Since I can’t travel with any pets of my own, being able to adopt pets for a while is one of my favorite parts about house sitting!
I take pride in caring for a clean, well-kept home, and would care for your home as I would care for mine.
Please let me know if you have any more questions for me, or would like to set up a Skype call. Also, feel free to review my references.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you!
– [your name]
They’ve agreed to Skype. Now what do you do?
Before your Skype session, always have a few questions written down. Treat it like an interview.
Take notes down if they’re giving you a lot of new information, and don’t be afraid to open up about who you are.
House owners genuinely just want to know who is going be living in their most valuable possession while they’re away on vacation.
Important Questions to Ask House Owners:
- What are the personality types of each of your pets?
- What does a typical day look like for the pets?
- Where are you guys going? What are you guys doing on your trip?
- Could you please tell me a little bit about the area?
- Ask them if they know about their country’s tourist visas.
After you crushed the Skype call, send them a quick follow-up message that basically says thank you for taking the time to talk.
When the ball does start rolling and you and the house owners are emailing back and forth, one important tip I can tell you is to respond quickly to your messages.
This shows that you appreciate their time, and you’re excited about the gig.
3. Sit On The House
Just kidding. But once you’ve landed the gig — you new house sitter, you — here are some things you might be wondering about, and some tips so things run smooth.
How many days and nights do you typically stay with the house owners before they leave?
I leave this decision up to the house owners.
In the past for me, they’ve chosen 4-5 days to 45 minutes.
Yes, 4-5 days was a bit overkill … Especially since there were four people in a tiny apartment with a house cleaner, a cook popping in and out, two big dogs, and a cat.
Anyway, I think the perfect amount of time is one day.
If you can, fly in the day before they leave.
But, just so you know, most house owners are already super nervous about leaving their furry family members alone with strangers they met over the internet, so they might ask you to come a few days beforehand, which you might have to roll with.
During the house sit, be the best version of yourself.
When you do get to the house, not only should you cheerfully greet the owners, but also the pets! I always kneel down to meet them at eye-level.
Bring a notepad, and take notes. They may or may not have notes for you already written down, but there are always things that come up in that first meeting you’ll want to remember.
10 More tips (because you can never be overly prepared):
- Use coasters on all surfaces. If they don’t have any, just find a rag or something.
- Don’t decide to jam out in your underwear until at least two hours after they leave. Fifty percent of the time, house owners will forget something and have to come back.
- Don’t snoop. That’s rude.
- Send a few reassuring emails and photos of happy pets throughout the house sit to the house owners.
- Go out and explore the area. Don’t feel obligated to be cooped up in the house 24/7.
- Always keep doors and windows locked.
- Don’t invite anyone over, whether you have friends or family in the area or you just met some locals.
- Eat their food only if it’s been offered, which 4 times out of 5, it will be. In India, we had a cook come once a day. We could not communicate at all with her whatsoever, but it worked out.
- Right before the house sit ends, clean the house! It should be in the same condition that it was left. Also know that you’re not getting paid as a house cleaner. Sweep the floor, but no need to hands and knees scrub it down (unless you really made that much of a mess).
- I always leave fresh flowers on the coffee table for homeowners to enjoy upon their return. It’s not something you have to do, but it’s a nice gesture.
After the house sit?
If you broke anything, come clean about it.
Be sure to thank them for allowing you the privilege to stay in their space and hang with their “babies”, and touch on what you guys did.
Don’t forget to ask for a review!
A couple more things worth noting:
- Not all house sits are the same. Some will be harder, others easier.
- Just like people are different, pets are too. You’ll mesh differently with the pets from one home to another.
- Don’t judge all house sits on the first one if it didn’t go well.
Have more questions? What else can I answer? I love giving advice on this topic because it’s a relatively new idea to link up travelers with house sits, and I’ve had a lot of success with it. So please, ask away in the comments section!