What Are The Most Common Problems with House Sitting?

For every hundred good stories about Ebay, Airbnb, Uber there’s always someone who has a bad one. Usually the fault isn’t with the company but with one of the users for example a bad experience with eBay might be something not arriving on time or with Airbnb, a home not having some features that it said it would.

House sitting is the same. Like Ebay and Airbnb house sitting sites connect two different groups of people (homeowners and house sitters) and as with any system that connects groups of people, problems can occur.

This isn’t to say that they regularly do or that these problems aren’t avoidable. Looking through most of the most common problems people have when it comes to house sitting most problems can actually be solved by having a house sitting agreement. This is a simple document which simply states things like the dates of the house sit, dates of the handover, responsibilities of the sitter etc. Both parties sign and agree on the contents of the document.

What this document is most useful for is getting both parties, but particularly homeowners, to work out everything that is required of the house sitter and to get that down on paper. It’s not unheard of for house sitters to agree to a house sit based on the responsibilities they list in their advert (for example walk the dog, feed the cat etc) only for the homeowner to add more items afterwards like mow the lawn, clean the pool etc.

Having a system in which everything needs to be written down and signed before anything is agreed means:

1) Homeowners have to really think about exactly what they’re asking of the sitter.

2) Sitters can see exactly what’s being asked of them.

Basically, less surprises (and disappointment) for both parties.

Below are some of the most common problems homeowners and house sitters come across.

For Sitters:

Homeowners Changing Dates

Some sitters have reported this happening. If you have arranged to arrive on a specific date – and especially if you’ve booked flights for those dates – having those change can be extremely frustrating.

This problem tends to occur when you have homeowners who are flexible and haven’t booked transport (e.g. flights) in advance. Many tend to think that house sitters are flexible.

Homeowners Changing (or specifically adding) New Responsibilities

How Can I Be A Better House Sitter?

Keep in touch

Try to send the homeowner a message every few days just to let them know that you and the pet(s) are all okay. It only takes a few minutes and it’ll give the homeowner more peace of mind to enjoy their vacation.

Tip: Include a photo of the pet(s) every now and then.

Respect people’s privacy

One of the biggest fears homeowners have about house sitters is the fear that while they’re away, homeowners will snoop through their stuff.

Very simply, don’t. It’s a violation of trust and no doubt you wouldn’t like it if someone did the same to you.

Don’t re-arrange the house

This really only applies to long term house sits.

While you should always avoid moving furniture unless you have to, sometimes you will need to. If you do end up doing this, always put things back where you found them (even if you think your new layout is an improvement).

Tip: Take a photo of how the room is setup before moving anything around.

Be punctual

This not only applies to arriving to your house sit on time but also in responding to emails you get while you’re on assignment.

Many homeowners, particularly if it’s their first time use a house sitter, are nervous in the first few days of the assignment (as you would be if you had a stranger in your house and looking after your pet).

Although you may not be able to get rid of all of this nervousness, if you reply to emails punctually, you’ll at least be able to significantly reduce it.

Ask for a point of contact

It’s good to have a local point of contact for all house sits. If something goes wrong, you can get in touch with them and they can also be a useful person to be able to get in touch with if you have small questions – for example about the area – that you might not want to bother the homeowners with.

For longer term house sits, it’s worth being asked to be introduced to the neighbors, particularly for house sits in the countryside where a new person is more likely to be noticed.

Where Can I Find Paid House Sitting Jobs?

People approach house sitting in two different ways. For some people it’s a job. Looking after someone else’s home is work and for that work people expect to be paid.

For others – and this is the group most house sitting websites tend to cater to – house sitting is a trade-off. These sitters are willing to look after someone else’s home and pets if the trade-off is worthwhile. Two weeks of looking after someone else’s dog and maybe mowing their lawn (or whatever else is asked of you) is seen as a reasonable trade-off if that home is somewhere desirable (given the amount it would cost you to rent a home/holiday home there).

If you’re not part of the second group, finding house sitting jobs can be quite difficult, as the results on Google tend to be dominated by the various house sitting websites.

There are still a few different ways to find paid house sitting jobs, which are listed below.

Caretaker Gazette

Most of the opportunities in the Caretaker Gazette are unpaid but occasionally you do see an advert where pay is mentioned.

Working Couples

A mixture of paid, work-for-board and inbetween opportunities. Most opportunities are in the US.

Membership options start from $5 (USD) per month. A free, limited subscription option is also available. 

The Lady

Lady.co.uk lists caretaker and house keeping type jobs, and sometimes paid house sitting vacancies. The site caters to a British audience so a lot of the opportunities are in the UK.

Housem8

Run by former paid house sitters Housem8 usually has a handful of assignments, some of which are paid opportunities. Assignments tend to be in the UK. Currently the site is free for house sitters to join but it’s likely to start charging membership fees once there are enough house sits on the site.

Trusted Housesitters

In the Trusted Housesitters profile section there is an option to say that you charge to house sit. Given that Trusted Housesitters caters more towards unpaid gigs, it’s likely that in most cases homeowners will choose the free sitters over you, but if you have enough experience, or insurance, to make a case for being paid for your work then it’s worth a try.

Gumtree & Craigslist

Classifieds sites like Craigslist (Mainly US & Canada but in many major worldwide cities) and Gumtree (UK & Australia) occasionally have paid house sitting opportunities in the jobs sections for each city. Another option, particularly for Canada, is Kijiji.

Dog & Cat Boarding Websites

If you’re US-based, you could try using Rover.com. This site allows you to pet sit for others, with an option to only offer overnight pet sitting in their home and charge for your services. Pawshake.com is more international and allows you to offer and charge for house sitting.

With both you can only list yourself locally i.e. you can only offer your house sitting services in your own town or city.

If you have your own home and are willing to ‘host’ pets overnight, and would like to get paid for it, there are a number of sites out there such as:

Join a House Sitting Agency

If you can’t find anything online, consider joining a house sitting agency. A quick Google should bring up a few options.

Working through an agency is unlikely to be as profitable as working for yourself (the agency takes a healthy cut of the client fee) however if you only want a bit of extra spending money or aren’t ready to set yourself up as a professional house sitter just yet, this may be an option to consider.

Why Would People Get House Sitters Rather Than Rent Out Their Property?

Pets. At least 95% of people who get a house sitter do so because they’re deeply concerned about leaving their pets while they go away.

Most towns and cities, especially in English-speaking countries but generally in most of the Western World, have dog boarding businesses, or traditional pet sitting businesses where someone will come into the house once or twice a day to feed the pet and check that everything’s okay. Most people who use a house sitter are already aware of these services but don’t feel that they offer enough one-on-one attention for their pets.

There are some house sits that don’t involve pet care (roughly 50 in every 1,000). It’s rare to find someone looking for a sitter solely because they’re concerned about home security. The reasons for getting a sitter as opposed to renting or leaving the place vacant vary a lot.

Often there’s work to be carried out such as the lawn needs watering (in hot summers), the pipes need to be run to stop them from freezing (during cold winters) etc. In Europe, you sometimes see house sits in properties that are being renovated where the owner has gotten fed up and is hoping to find someone who will do the work for free for them.

95% of the time though, it’s about the pets.

 

 

What Are Some Alternatives to House Sitting?

If you’re in between house sits or just want a break from house sitting for a while, the following are some alternative ways to travel cheaply.

Note: If you’re just looking for more house sitting opportunities, you can view the full list of house sitting sites here.

Rent A Home or Apartment

Sites like Airbnb make it easy to rent an entire home or apartment direct from the owner. If you avoid renting in major cities, it’s usually possible to find some very affordable properties as well, both for short and long-term rents.

Some sites to look at include:

WWOOF

Sites like WWOOF connect you with farms or small businesses that will trade you your board and usually at least one meal a day in return for a few hours work. Aside from just being a way of getting free accommodation, this type of work can be a very interesting way to spend a few weeks.

Some sites to look at include:

  • WWOOF – the main site for finding work on organic farms.
  • Workaway – Like WWOOFing but doesn’t just include organic farms. Other projects
  • Helpx – Similar to workaway
  • Volunteersbase – Similar to Workaway and Helpx

Couchsurf

Couchsurfing is a global ‘hospitality network’ where people allow other people to sleep on their couch (or if you’re lucky, spare bed) for free. If you like a lot of time to yourself, or to just you and your partner, this may not be the best option. Couchsurfing is geared towards people who want to spend time with other people whilst travelling and can be a great way to make new friends on the road.

Some sites to look at include:

If you want to upgrade from the couch but don’t want to pay for a whole apartment or house, sites like Airbnb allow you to rent spare rooms.

Stay in A Monastery

This isn’t an option in every country but is ideal for Italy. Check out Monastery Stays for more info.

Should I Use A House Sitting Agreement?

Yes.

A lot of house sitters don’t draw up a house sitting agreement and this is often a mistake. Ignoring the possibility that it could help you if you ended up in a legal situation (note we said could not will: we’re not legal experts so please speak to a legal expert for any legal questions you have), a house sitting agreement allows both parties to put down in paper the expectations they have of the other party.

A lot of problems that crop up with house sitting are down to a lack of communication i.e. the homeowner forgot to include pool cleaning as one of the responsibilities or the house sitter didn’t want to ask if the homeowner would be leaving an emergency float while they were away. Having a house sitting agreement means all of these things are thought about, sorted and signed by both parties.

The following are some sites that have house sitting agreements that you can either download or use as a basis for writing your own:

How do I find Long Term House Sitting Opportunities?

Long term house sits. Once you’ve done one you’ll be hooked. They’re great not only because you save a lot of money on not having to travel between house sits but also because they give you a real opportunity to really get to settle into an area and live like a local.

Below are some tips for finding the long term assignments on each of the different sites.

Trusted Housesitters

Trusted Housesitters is probably the easiest site for finding long term house sits. This page on the site lists every house sit that’s more than 60 days in length. The only limitation is you have to scroll through all of the listings (you can’t filter the long-term listings by country).

Tip: When using Trusted Housesitters make sure you click ‘current assignments only’ from the advanced search button to block it from showing house sits that have already been filled.

Trusted-Housesitters---Current-Assignments-OnlyTrusted Housesitters costs $89.88 (USD) per year.  A full writeup of Trusted Housesitters can be found here

Housecarers

Housecarers don’t have a special page for long term house sits but it’s possible to filter house sits by the number of days (e.g. 6-8 weeks, 2-3 months, more than 3 months etc).

housecarers-long-term-house-sits
Housecarers costs $50 (USD) per year. A full writeup of Housecarers can be found here.

MindMyHouse

Finding the long term sits on MindMyHouse isn’t easy. You usually have to read through each assignment individually to find that information as many homeowners put select ‘variable dates’ rather than giving precise dates.

MindMyHouse costs $20 (USD) per year. A full writeup of MindMyHouse can be found here.

Nomador

Nomador allows you to filter the house sits by a minimum duration (3 weeks, 1 month, 2 months etc) from the sidebar on the left hand side.

nomador-long-term-house-sits

Nomador costs $89 (USD) per year. A full writeup of Nomador can be found here.

House Sit Match

House Sit Match doesn’t have any functionality for filtering results so you only see long term house sits but it does show the house sit duration so if you scan the pages you can pick out the long term ones.

housesitmatch-long-term-house-sits

House Sit Match has three different price options starting from £35 (around $55) per year and going up to £95 (around $150) per year. A full writeup of House Sit Match can be found here. 

Caretaker-Jobs.com

This site is run by the same company that runs Housecarers and it seems to be run as a completely separate site. There are a few assignments posted each month, mostly in the US. Most seem to be 3 months or more in length.

An annual membership to Caretaker-Jobs.com costs $29 (USD).

Caretaker Gazette

The Caretaker Gazette publishes its listings in a classifieds style and the people writing the adverts aren’t always specific about the dates or the duration of the house sit. As well as having to read each advert individually, you may have to get in contact with many of the homeowners individually in order to get a proper idea of the dates. Listings tend to be more for caretaker roles, although there are often some house sitting listings as well.

The Caretaker Gazette costs $29.95 (USD) to get access to their online classifieds. A full writeup of The Caretaker Gazette can be found here.

 LuxuryHouseSitting.com

Luxury House Sitting doesn’t have a means of filtering assignments so that you just see the long term ones. The ‘homes’ page does list the dates of the assignment so as with some of the other sites, you’ll just have to skim through the listings.

luxury-house-sitting-long-term

Luxuryhousesiting.com costs $25 (USD) per year. 

 House Sit World

House Sit World doesn’t have any means of just showing long term assignments. The site is very dated and you will need to go through assignments individually to see whether they’re short or long term. There is a second House Sit World site which just hosts their house sits in Australia.

To view house sits go to this page and type ‘wanted’ in the search box on the right-hand side.

House Sit World costs $40 (USD) per year to be listed as a sitter. You don’t need to pay this to apply for house sits however as each listing contains the homeowners email address.


 

Country-Specific Sites

Some sites are country-specific (i.e. they only list house sits in that country). If you’re flexible on where you’re willing to house sit in the world and don’t have any specific plans to house sit in these countries it’s probably makes more financial sense to join a global house sitting site (e.g. Trusted Housesitters, Housecarers, Nomador etc) rather than multiple country-specific ones.

Australian Sites

(Sites that list house sits in Australia only.)

Aussie House Sitters

Aussie house sitters has an option to select the ‘sit length’ in the left-hand sidebar of the house sit search.

aussie-house-sitters-long-term
Aussie House Sitters costs $65 (USD) per year. This allows you to apply for any house sit on aussiehousesitters.com.au but you will need to register separately for each of their other sites (housesittersuk.co.uk (for UK sits), kiwihousesitters.co.nz (for NZ sits) and housesittersamerica.com (for US house sits).

Mindahome.com.au

Mindahome.com.au doesn’t have a specific page for long term sits but you can order the house sits starting with the longest in duration first.

mindahome-job-time-length

Mindahome.com.au costs $49 (USD) per year. This allows you to apply for any house sit on mindahome.com.au but you will need to register separately for each of their other sites – mindahome.co.uk (for UK sits) and mindahome.com (for US Sits). 

Housesitworld.com.au

The Australia-specific version of HouseSitWorld.com. This site only contains house sits in Australia. As with the main site, housesitworld.com.au is very out-of-date and difficult to use. There is also no easy way of finding long term house sits specifically.

Each state in Australia (e.g. VIC, NSW etc) has its own page. You will need to go to each individual state page and then scroll down the page to where it says ‘wanted ads’ to see house sits for that state.

The date of when the assignment was posted is included in the listing. It’s recommended that you don’t apply for house sits that are more than two months, but ideally two weeks, old as the homeowner is likely to have found someone already.

House Sit World costs $50 (AUD) or $40 (USD) to register to list yourself as a sitter, however you don’t need to register as a sitter to apply for house sits. 

Happy House Sitters

Within the ‘my account’ section of Happy House Sitters, you can search house sits and sort by ‘Longest to Shortest’. Each listing on the results page then also shows the number of days.

happy-house-sitters-long-term

Happy House Sitters costs $99 (AUD) per year. 

Easy House Sitting

Easy house sitting is quite a small website but one with the functionality that allows you to only show house sits that are a specific duration (or longer). You can filter the results from the search tab in the left hand sidebar of the page.

easy-house-sitting-long-term

Currently Easy House Sitting does not charge a membership fee to sitters. 

Australian House Sitter

Australian House Sitter doesn’t have any functionality for filtering long and short term house sits so you’ll need to go through the listings individually.

Australian House Sitter costs $30 (AUD) per year. 

House Sitters Australia

Another small Australia-specific site, this site doesn’t have any functionality for filtering long and short term sits.

House Sitters Australia costs $15 (AUD) per year.

UK Sites

(Sites that list house sits in the UK only.)

Mind A Home (UK Version)

Mindahome.co.uk is owned by the same company that own Mindahome.com.au so instructions are the same. Simply select ‘job time length – longest first’ from the drop down menu .

mindahome-job-time-length

Mindahome.co.uk costs £12 a year. 

HouseSittersuk.co.uk

HouseSittersuk.co.uk is owned by the same company that own Aussie House Sitters (aussiehousesitters.com.au) so instructions are the same, they just have a specific site for the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

aussie-house-sitters-long-term

Housesittersuk costs £15 per year. This allows you to apply for any house sit on housesittersuk.co.uk but you will need to register separately for each of their other sites.

New Zealand Sites

(Sites that list house sits in New Zealand only.)

KiwiHousesitters

Kiwihousesitters.co.nz is owned by the same company that own Aussie House Sitters (aussiehousesitters.com.au) so instructions are the same, they just have a specific site for the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. As with their other sites you can filter house sits by the ‘sit length’ option from the sidebar in the left-hand side.

aussie-house-sitters-long-term

KiwiHousesitters costs $65 (NZD) per year. This allows you to apply for any house sit on Kiwihousesitters.co.nz but you will need to register separately for each of their other sites.

USA Sites

(sites that list house sits in America only)

Mindahome.com

Mindahome.com lists house sits in the US. It’s run by the same company that run mindahome.com.au (lists Australia house sits) and mindahome.co.uk (lists UK house sits).

As with their other sites, you can order the listings by the sits that have the longest duration first. Just select  ‘job time length – longest first’ from the drop down menu .

mindahome-job-time-length

Mindahome.com costs $10 (USD) a year. 

House Sitters America

Run by the same company that run aussiehousesitters.com (Australia house sits), housesittersuk.co.uk (UK house sits) and kiwihousesitters.co.nz (NZ house sits), this site hosts the company’s US House sitting opportunities.

As with their other sites, you can filter by sit length in the sidebar on the left.

aussie-house-sitters-long-term

House Sitters America costs $30 (USD) per year. 

 

 

 

How Do I Find House Sitting Gigs With No Pets?

Is it possible to find house sits that don’t involve pet care? Yes, listed below are a few sites that allow you to highlight these house sits.

It has to be said though, that if you only apply for house sits with no pet care responsibilities, you’ll significantly limit the number of house sits available to you. In every 1,000 house sits, only 50 or so will involve no pet care.

Which Sites Allow You To Search For House Sits With No Pet Care?

Trusted Housesitters

Most house sitting sites don’t have an easy way of filtering through the house sits that don’t involve pet care but Trusted Housesitters does.

Step 1: Go to the latest assignments page.

Step 2: Click the ‘Advanced Search’ button.

TH-Advanced-Search

Step 3: Select ‘no animals’ under pets (on the right-hand side of the advanced search)

th-no-pets

This will then only show you assignments that don’t involve pet care. Remember also to click ‘current assignments only’ (also within advanced search) so that you only see house sits that haven’t been filled yet.

Aussie House Sitters, UK House Sitters, Kiwi House Sitters & House Sitters USA

These four sites (all owned by the same company) allow you to select no pets when browsing through the house sits.

Step 1. Go to the house sit search page

Links:

Step 2. From the ‘Refine Search’ area on the left hand side, click ‘pet care’ and then ‘none’.

aussie-house-sitters-no-pets

 

 

House Sitting – Academy, Ebooks & Online Courses

All of the information on housesittingguide.com is available completely free of charge. Everything from the guides on getting started, to the comparison of house sitting sites, to the interviews and tips from fellow house sitters. Housesittingguide.com also has an ebook available.

If you’re hungry for even more information about house sitting, there are a couple of other ebooks, academies (a membership site) and online courses out there.

House Sitting Academy

House Sitting Academy is run by Nat & Jodie, two full-time house sitters who’ve house sat all over the world. The site is salesy in a very cheesy kind of way but if you can look past that there are some useful nuggests of information that come from Nat & Jodie’s experience, and the collective experience of the community of house sitters that make up House Sitting Academy.

Considering most people balk at the idea of spending $50 – $100 on a membership to a house sitting site, $97 is quite a sizable investment for just a guide to house sitting and so membership to this site is really best suited to those who are full-time house sitters, or considering house sitting full-time and want some pro tips that will set them apart from the other house sitters they’ll be competing against.

House Sitting Academy promises to give you the tips you need to get the house sitting gigs you want – so that three month house sit in the Carribean or New York. If it works, it’s money well spent. If not, there’s a 60 day money-back guarantee to fall back on.

How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World

How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World is an ebook written by Pete and Dalene Heck and was probably one of the first ebooks written on the subject of house sitting.

Pete and Dalene have house sat all over the world and in the process saved around $50,000 on accommodation costs. Their ebook shares a lot of their own personal experience house sitting and gives tips on how others can get started as well.

Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting

  • Price: $11.14 – Available on Kindle
  • Website: Amazon.com

Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting is a house sitting ebook written by full-time travel bloggers Jess and Dani, the writers behind the blog Globetrotter Girls. The ebook is well reviewed on Amazon

House Sitting – how to get free world travel accommodation

A fairly short online course that teaches you the basics of house sitting in a couple of hours. Most videos are about a minute or two long so you won’t be covering the topics in any great amount of depth and most of the topics are fairly straight-forward as well e.g. why house sitting is better than a hotel, why house sitting is better than a rental apartment, how to use Skype to contact homeowners etc.

Although we haven’t taken the course, the topics covered are similar to what most house sitting books and websites cover, however if you’d prefer to learn through video over reading, then it’s worth taking a look at this course.

 

Aside from house sitting sites, where else can I find house sits?

Occasionally you will stumble across someone needing a house sitter on expat forums like Angloinfo.com but this happens less and less as most people now use the main house sitting sites.

People do occasionally use Craigslist or other classifieds sites to find house sitters but only occasionally and, in the case of Craigslist, only really in the USA/Canada.

Sites like Trusted Housesitters, MindMyHouse and Housecarers are good at what they do and it’s a lot less work to just apply for the house sits you find through there than scour the internet for other opportunities as by the time you find them, they’re usually taken.