I came across this travel hack back when I was attempting to do 10 holidays for half the price the average Brit spends in a year because when trying to book longer getaways, the issue would always be the accumulating cost of nightly accommodation.
I remember typing ‘free accommodation‘ into google and not expecting much and after a lot of scrolling and reading about how I could pick berries in exchange for a space on a barn floor, I finally came across an article about house sitting.
And straight away, it seemed too good to be true.
What is house sitting?
House sitting is exactly what it sounds like. Somebody with a home needs someone to come and look after the place whilst they’re away. Often they have pets that you have to look after but sometimes they’re after someone to water the garden, bring in the mail, or just simply be there to keep an eye on things for them.
Is it really free?
It depends on the terms you agree to but in essence, yes! A good way to think of it is like a mutual swap. The owners get to have someone to look after their home and you, in return, get free accommodation!
Can I get paid to do this?
Actually, there is such a thing as a professional house sitter but the vast majority of people do this on a free exchange basis and that’s what I’m focusing on here.
Have you done it before?
Yes, I’ve done it twice and I could not recommend it enough!
The first time was a two week stay looking after a cat called Biscotte in a beautiful house in Paris. If you’re nosey (like me) you can check out the house we stayed in above and YES I did do it like I was on MTV cribs – WHAT OF IT?!
The second time was in an absolute out-of-this-world house in Germany where all we had to do was take in the mail!! We honestly could not believe our luck and spent a week there over New Year.
So how do I find my own house sit?
There’s a number of different websites that help facilitate house sits. They all have different functions and potential membership costs so it’s all about finding the one that works best for you.
- Trusted Housesitters is the biggest and most well known site when it comes to house sitting, with a real emphasis on pet setting
- There are thousands of opportunities online from all over the world – but there’s also lots of members to compete against too!
- Their free account allows you to explore first but you won’t be able to apply for anything without membership
- Annual membership is £99 a year for unlimited home sits as either an owner or a sitter, or you can pay £149 a year to do both!
- Nomador was originally a French house sitting site so you’ll find a lot of places for French speaking destinations, but there’s plenty of other places listed too
- You can browse for free making this a great site to get started on
- Their premium membership is €29 for 3 months or €79 a year – so it’s a bit cheaper to test out than the above
- HouseCarers have been about since 2000 and has built up a loyal community over the years
- You can join for free and set alerts but you’ll have to sign up to contact anyone
- Membership is the cheapest of them all at just $50 a year
Which do I recommend?
They all operate in slightly different ways and have communities that rave about them, but I think Nomador is a great place to start for testing the water for free.
It’s where I scored my first two house sits!
However, there is also a reason why Trusted Housesitters is the most popular and they have an excellent customer service team if you’re nervous or have lots of questions about how it all works. The best thing to do is sign up for a free account, have a peruse and see if there are any stays that would work for you.
Do you need experience?
If you’re looking after animals it will certainly help your case if you’ve had pets yourself. Living in London, having a pet isn’t something we can’t do so I used that to tell people that’s why I was so excited by the thought of it! I think what’s more important is to show that you’re a trustworthy and likeable person who’s going to show their home with the respect it deserves.
Do I need a work visa?
That’s a good question! If you’re house sitting in your country of residence, you’re not going to have an issue here but if you’re travelling abroad to do this, it’s definitely worth checking whether that country counts house sitting as ‘work’. This is because some countries will count you staying at someone’s home and looking after their place as a potential loss of income for a local. So always check before you accept any house sit.
Any tips on applying?
It’s all about proving to the owners that they want to pick you over anyone else!
Why do you want to visit their country? What do you like about their home? Do you have any fond memories about growing up with the animal you’re going to look after?
You’ve often got one shot to reach out to them so give it some thought.
I go through how I wrote my messages to owners in the following video:
Another top tip is if you are totally new to it, provide links to your social presence online – it could be your LinkedIn, your Twitter, your Airbnb reviews – something that shows you’re a real person where others have interacted with you in a positive way.
Have my tips worked for you?
Amazing! Come and let me know over on Instagram or Twitter.
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