“What is house sitting?”
It’s the number one question David and I hear when mentioning our three plus year house-sitting career.
Question #2: “Do you get paid?”
And question #3: “How did you get started?”
So we thought it was time for a basic introduction to the world of house sitting.
We’re answering all your questions plus giving you the house sitting basics, including all the resources that we use.
What is house sitting?
House sitting is when someone lives in a homeowner’s home while the homeowner is away. The primary purpose of using a sitter is providing security and peace of mind to the homeowner.
House sitters also take care of any requested tasks. Tasks including pet care, picking up the mail, watering plants, taking care of the yard, or anything you agree to do.
Sitters also keep an eye out for any potential issues that could develop with the home. Things like leaking windows or roofs, break-ins, appliances breaking, or sewer backups.
House sitting is NOT is a hotel room. Or a place to party with your friends. Or vacation where you have no responsibilities. It’s also not free. If that’s what you’re looking for, house sitting is not for you.
Is House Sitting a Paid Gig?
Some house sitters receive payment, and some do it for trade. The choice of which one is entirely up to you.
Either option does not make you a better sitter than the type. It just means you receive different forms of payment.
We do most of our house sitting in exchange for not paying rent or utilities, plus other perks because we use it to help make travel more affordable. In exchange, we provide professional pet and home care.
But when at home, it’s not beneficial for us to sit since we pay rent. So, if we take a sit at home, we ask for payment or negotiate for high-end perks, such as the use of a car, to make the sit worthwhile to us.
The idea is to agree to an arrangement that benefits both parties equally. And to find out all the details of what is expected upfront, so that there are no misunderstandings.
We recommend a combination of both payment and exchange style sitting, especially for those that travel. Travelers using the combination can save the cost of housing on the road but still make a little extra cash when at home.
If you don’t travel, paid is the way to go. Otherwise, you’ll need to negotiate some fantastic perks that make it worthwhile for paying rent or mortgage.
And if you’re wondering why we don’t ask for payment when traveling? It’s because it’s illegal to work and accept payments in other countries without a work visa.
Another reason we mostly sit in exchange is that once you start accepting payments, you become a business. A business requires liability, insurance, government interference, and taxes. It’s not worth the headache for us.
BUT that doesn’t mean being a paid sitter is right for you! We also know plenty of people who make a living doing it.
How Do You Find Sits?
We find our house sits in a variety of ways: house sitting platforms, word of mouth referrals, and referrals through the House Sitting Academy Inner Circle.
Our first sits were landed on the TrustedHouseSitters platform (details on THS in the list below), including our first overseas sit. We generally belong to at least two sitting platforms when we are actively looking.
Determining which platform is right for you is as simple as knowing if they offer sits in the locations you’re looking for. THS covers most of the world. Nomador is great for France with a sprinkling of others. Then there are the country-specific platforms like AussieHouseSitters and HouseSittersUK.
A great way of deciding which platform is right for you is keeping an eye on the HouseSitSearch platform and then signing up for the ones which have the most sits where you need them.
And don’t forget about the paid platforms like Rover.com!
How Do You Start?
Getting started house sitting isn’t hard.
Create a profile. Include who you are, what you do (or did), and why you are qualified to house sit. You can set your profile up on your website (recommended) or on the house sitting platform.
We highly recommend setting up your own website. Otherwise, you’re chained to the house sitting platforms. You’ll still have to create a profile on the platforms. BUT as you start getting repeat or word of mouth sits, you can leave if you want to.
Tip: Make sure you transfer all your references to your website before quitting a platform or you lose them.
Once you’ve set up your profile, ask friends, family, and co-workers for character references. These references should include:
- if you have any known animal care experience
- your work ethics
- anything that makes you qualified and trustworthy for watching over someone’s property and pets.
Include the references on your profile.
Make sure your profile includes plenty of photos. Not vacation photos or relaxing ones. Instead, your pictures should consist of you with pets, working, and doing ordinary household tasks.
Next, it’s time to get some experience. That means sitting in your hometown. Offer to sit for free on these first few sits, even if you’re planning to become a paid sitter. Your payment is the reference that sets you up as a professional. We recommend doing at least three to five sits.
Tip: Applying for sits during the holidays, when there’s a shortage of sitters, is the easiest time for a new sitter to land sits.
For preparation for your house sit interviews read our article How to Prepare for Your House Sit Interview.
Do You Pay for Your Travel?
You pay for your own travel expenses.
Occasionally some homeowners will pay your travel expenses for getting to their location, but it’s a rarity. In the majority of cases, you are responsible for paying your own travel costs.
All the House Sitting Resources We Use
This list is our top house sitting basics resources. Not only do we highly recommend all of these products and services but we use them on a regular basis. We are an affiliate of these products, but we recommend them because we actually use them. If you use our links to buy, it doesn’t cost you any extra. BUT it does help us bring all our advice to you.
Nat & Jodie’s House Sitting Academy
This is the course that got us started in house sitting! And it’s worth every penny. We paid for it many times over with the sits we’ve landed.
We used it in the beginning and still use it today. Nat & Jodie update it with more information on a regular basis. Plus, it comes with A LOT of perks including our House Sitting Cookbook!
We found out about house sitting right before we started traveling fulltime. Short on time, using Nat and Jodie’s advice, we skipped all the beginner’s mistakes. We landed our first sit, two weeks after setting up our profile, following the information in the course.
House Sitting Academy is easy to follow and comes with one hell of a perk. If you complete and graduate, you become part of the House Sitting Academy Inner Circle. This group of highly experienced sitters and homeowners have seen it all. Get advice for almost any situation you may encounter plus referrals for vetted sits.
If you purchase the House Sitting Academy using our link, email us a confirmation, and we’ll send you our house sitting packet which includes all our house sitting agreements, vet release, interview questions to ask homeowners, and homeowner checklists.
TrustedHouseSitters is our #1 house sit landing platform.
It’s good for both house sitters and homeowners. But it’s also one of the most expensive and competitive on the market. Using our link will give you a 20% discount off the $119 per year price.
Landing one-weekend house sit pays for your yearly cost, even if the sits are in your hometown. Remember you need those valuable first references! But the savings really add up when you start sitting on your travels. Our regular London sit alone would cost us over $2,000 for a 10-day visit if we had to rent it.
House Sitting Magazine
House sitting friends Ian and Vanessa produce the only house sitting magazine on the market. The jam-packed issues include excellent information on sitting, travel, and making money on the road. And not only is it FREE but it’s all written by house sitters.
Hosting for Your House Sitting Website
We use and recommend Blue Host for hosting your house sitting website and profile. Blue Host is very affordable with hosting packages costing less than $100 a year. And it’s easy to set up with one-click WordPress install.
As a bonus, if you buy your hosting through Blue Host, we’ll give you our How to Build a Professional Website for Less Than $100 course. Our easy to follow class will help you set up your website in less than three hours. Just shoot us an email with your confirmation of payment, and we’ll send you a FREE access link to our course.
And that’s house sitting is. This is a brief overview, but hopefully, we’ve answered your question “what is house sitting?” And you now see the value of it, whether you want to be a sitter or are a homeowner needing a sitter.
David and I have really enjoyed how house sitting has enriched our lives. We stay in a home when we travel, make new friends and have furry ones to love and love us. The side benefit is that we save on travel costs.
So, what about you? Are you ready to get started in house sitting?
- 1 What is house sitting?
- 2 Is House Sitting a Paid Gig?
- 3 How Do You Find Sits?
- 4 How Do You Start?
- 5 Do You Pay for Your Travel?
- 6 All the House Sitting Resources We Use