Are you considering becoming a house sitter or hiring a house sitter while you are away…. but you are not sure if it’s for you?
In this post I’ll break down what house sitting is, how it works and the benefits for both sitters and homeowners.
What is House Sitting?
Let’s start with the basics.
By definition, house sitting is when someone lives in and looks after a property while the owners are away. Many times, pets or other animals will also need looking after in addition to the property.
All house sits vary from one another due to things location, property size, number of animals and homeowner lifestyle.
House sitting is also an exchange of trust and because of that there should be an honest discussion of expectations and responsibilities at the beginning of the relationship.
Who Can House Sit?
You will find sitters who are doing it solo, as a couple, or even as a family. Ages can range from early 20’s to retired and occupations of sitters vary. Some sitters choose to do it full-time, others part-time, some internationally, others only locally.
But one commonality you will find between all sitters is our desire to serve.
Ultimately, as sitters, we want each of our homeowners to feel comfortable and confident in our ability to take care of their homes and pets so they can fully enjoy their holiday with little worry.
House Sitting Responsibilities
This is where the initial house listing becomes really important. Both for the homeowner to clarify what they are looking for and for the sitter to decide if the responsibilities of the sit are a good fit.
Information to look for as a sitter:
First, start by making a list of things you know you are good at or already know how to do, are willing to do/learn and responsibilities you are not interested in. This will greatly help you narrow down your search.
For example, what kinds of animals have you looked after before? Has it mainly been domestic cats & dogs, farm animals, reptiles or birds? What types of animals or pets are you willing to spend time with and take care of? Maybe you are okay with chickens, but not with larger animals like cows or horses. Maybe you are deathly afraid of snakes! It’s okay to make a “Not For Me” list.
House sitting should be an enjoyable experience for both you and the homeowner.
I recommend making lists not only for animal care, but also for house care and think about your skills in gardening, pool maintenance, size of the house or property, etc.
Information to provide as a homeowner:
I recommend including the main responsibilities and expectations at the beginning with your listing. The more detail you can provide about the home and your animals up front (including pictures) will ensure that your sitter applications are only from people who are very interested.
Things you’ll want to include are the amount & types of pets/animals you have, if they require medication, how much attention or how many walks they need per day, what kind of property maintenance is required, your location and transport options, etc.
Your listing doesn’t have to be perfect or include every single thing you can think of, but providing some of the main details up front will help keep the on boarding process smooth.
Also consider the length of time you will be away and if there are chores that can be put on hold for that time period.
Examples of Responsibilities I have Performed on House Sits:
- Feeding the animals 1-2x/day (animals have included: dogs, cats, fish, chickens, sheep, horses, cows, doves)
- Take the dog for a walk 1-2x a day
- Cleaning poo from the yard or cleaning the litter boxes
- Vacuuming Dog Hair every few days
- Watering plants (indoor & outdoor)
- Taking out Trash/Recycling for Pickup
- Collect the mail
- Continued dog training
- Collecting chickens’ eggs
- Pool/Spa maintenance
Most of my house sits have been shorter than 3 weeks, so things like mowing the lawn or doing intense gardening have been put on hold during my time there.
Also, as a solo sitter I’ve made sure that the houses I commit to don’t have too many responsibilities and required work for a single individual.
Depending on your qualifications or skill sets you may find unique house sits that apply to your interests. These could include more resort style houses with B&B guests, completely off-grid homes or houses with greenhouses. I even know a house sitter who agreed to look after a baby Kangaroo that needed to be bottle fed every 2 hours!
Whatever kind of home you have or house sitter you are, there are options out there for you!
Why Do People House Sit?
There isn’t one specific answer to this as it really depends on the individual or couple, but commonly, many sitters will include one (if not all) of the following in their why:
- They want to travel and house sitting allows them to see & experience new places
- They enjoy helping others and taking care of animals
- They like living more like locals than tourists while traveling
- It’s the most affordable way for them to travel
For some this is a lifestyle that they’ve chosen, others are only doing it short-term to save money to purchase a home of their own. Whatever the why, they come ready and willing.
Why Do Homeowners Get House Sitters?
Most homeowners do it because they need their animals looked after while they are away. Homes with dogs and cats typically have the option of sending them in animal daycares, but they can get really expensive and stressful for the animals. Many pet owners prefer to keep them in their normal environment, when possible.
If other animals are on the property like horses, sheep, chickens, etc that can’t be taken some place else it can be challenging to find someone in their family or community to look after them for an extended period of time.
Basically, they need help in order to fully enjoy their holiday and without feeling like they are burdening their family or friends.
Sitters provide a peace of mind to homeowners that not only is their property being taken care of, but that their animals will be well looked after, cared for and kept to their routine. Knowing someone is in their home and giving their full attention to the property and animals is a relief to many owners.
The House Sitting Community
Now, let’s talk about the house sitting community for a second, because I think if people knew how wonderful it was, they would jump right in!
I first stumbled upon the world of house sitting from some Digital Nomads that I follow who introduced me to Nat & Jodie of the House Sitting Academy (all virtually of course).
I knew immediately that house sitting was for me and signed up for the House Sitting Academy course to learn everything I could.
Not only have I been able to find consistent house sits while in NZ, but I’m now a part of a close-knit group of house sitters located all over the world. When possible, we try to meet up in person, which happens more often than you might
The other house sitters I’ve met and interacted with online are all some of the kindest, warmest and most authentic people I’ve met in the online travel space. And the homeowners that have welcomed me into their homes and families have been the same!
Nat, Jodie & I meeting up for the first time in Australia!
House Sitting Pros & Cons
While House Sitting is a mostly a win-win situation for both sitters & owners, there are some things to be aware of about this lifestyle before jumping in.
My main whys for house sitting are to travel slowly, have cute and sweet animals around while I work, be able to make my own meals, and continue to be my introverted homebody self on the reg, house sitting is a great option for me while I travel.
Benefits of House Sitting
- Travel Slower
- Make home cooked meals
- Live more like locals
- Sleep in comfortable beds
- Make lasting connection with homeowners & their pets
- House sitting community is one of a kind
- Travel to places never previously considered
- Learn new skills (because each house is different!)
- Affordable way to travel
Downsides of House Sitting
- Coordinating Schedules (especially true if you are a full-time house sitter)
- Have to go where the people are (meaning you may not be able to sit in your dream location)
- Some animal routines can be demanding
- Last minute additional responsibilities asked of you that weren’t previously communicated
- Fairly tied down during sit with varying opportunities to explore the wider area
Overall, I believe the benefits VERY MUCH outweigh the downsides. I absolutely enjoy house sitting and can’t imagine traveling any other way.
There are also other items you could put on the list such as learning new routines every housesit, being completely flexible, always respecting the homeowners wishes even if it’s not what you would do, etc. These would all be personal feelings that you would need to decide how well you would do with them.
In the end, for me, it’s a completely rewarding experience and unique way to see the world.
Still interested? Check out my post on How To Get Started as a House Sitter.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links included are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I am only an affiliate for products or services that I use regularly and wholeheartedly believe in.