7 tips to help you start housesitting
Housesitting is one of the single best ways to travel for free. You get to stay in different places across the globe, in often beautiful locations, and save a ton of money on accommodation. Our own adventures around the UK and Ireland for our travel journal were only made possible through the money we saved home and pet sitting.
If you want to start housesitting, here are a few tips to get you going.
1. Think hard about what you want
Housesitting is a responsibility, and it takes a lot of work. Pets are your top priority; if you’re looking after dogs, many owners might not want you to leave them for longer than a few hours. Plans have to be cancelled if you have to do an emergency run to the vet. This is not your usual holiday.
Before you start housesitting, think long and hard about how much you’re willing to take on. If you’d rather not be tied down there are ways around that, of course (cat sits are far easier to handle, for example!) but you should be clear on your preferences before you start searching.
2. Choose a website
There are a handful of different housesitting websites that will connect you with assignments. We wholeheartedly recommend Trusted Housesitters, a website that we’ve been using throughout our time housesitting. On this easy-to-use platform, there are hundreds of listings from across the globe looking for someone to care for their home and pets. A quick search online will give you some other ideas for websites to use, but we’ve found Trusted Housesitters the best so far.
3. Spend time on your profile
A home owner, naturally, wants to get to know you before they take you on. When you start housesitting through a website, it’s imperative that your profile is full of information about you and your interests, and kept up-to-date. It’s risky business for a home owner to invite a stranger into their home, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll be taken on with a lacklustre profile.
Be charming and write plenty about your interests and love of animals. Give the home owners an insight into your life and why you are the best, most trustworthy candidate out there. A full profile with help potential home owners put faith in you right away.
4. Collect references
It’s key to have references of previous experience when you start housesitting. Even if you haven’t done full-on assignments before, a few references here and there to demonstrate your capabilities will go a long way when you start applying for house sits.
If you’ve ever taken someone’s dog for a walk or looked after a friend’s cat over one weekend, ask that person if they don’t mind taking five minutes to write you a glowing review. If you’ve never really looked after someone else’s animals, ask an old boss or good friend to write you a quick character reference – these are better than nothing and can at least confirm your love of animals and dependability.
5. Do some research
Before you go ahead and apply for anything, take a good look through the house sits on offer to familiarise yourself with how things work. Once you start housesitting more, you’ll realise there are little things that are good to look out for (Does the owner have car you can use? Are they new to housesitting too or have they had sitters before?) So get ahead of the game and read through a dozen or so adverts, no matter the location, to get used to what people look for and their requirements in a sitter.
6. Apply quickly
Once you find a suitable house sit, act fast. As housesitting is so competitive, home owners will receive a huge amount of messages within the first 24 hours of posting their advert. Seasoned housesitters will check the listings once or twice a day and apply for them right away – this is the kind of competition to expect. If you don’t reply to an advert within the first day or two of it going up, there’s a huge possibility you won’t get a look in.
7. Take genuine interest
In your initial message to a home owner, make sure you use their name, mention the names of the pets, and any specific requirements you can pick out in their listing. Home owners want to know that you’re interested specifically in them and their pets, as opposed to feeling like you’ve just copied and pasted the same message to everyone.
Talk more about the home owner and their needs, as opposed to you and what you want out of the house sit. It’s okay to mention things about yourself, but it’s more important that you lean into the home owner and butter them up a bit. Then at the end of the message invite them to take a look at your profile to find out more about yourself.
Are you about to start housesitting?
What tips might you add to this list?