What is House Sitting? House Sitting Basics + How to Get Started

FlyAwayU | What is House Sitting?
House sitting is sometimes working with pets on your shoulders.

“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.

FlyAwayU | What is House Sitting?
House sitting sometimes involves caring for a yard like we did in Ireland.

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.

FlyAwayU | What is House Sitting?
House sitting with pets means always providing lots of love.

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.

Our recommendation

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.

FlyAwayU | What is House Sitting?
Taking photographs for mom and dad updated is also important when we’re sitting.

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!

FlyAwayU | What is House Sitting?
Playing ball is often a requirement!

How Do You Start?

Getting started house sitting isn’t hard.

Step 1:

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.

Step 2:

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.

Step 3:

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.

Step 4:

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.


FlyAwayU | What is House Sitting?
We even need to do a little weeding at times.

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.

FlyAwayU | What is House Sitting?

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?

26 thoughts on “What is House Sitting? House Sitting Basics + How to Get Started

  • 06/02/2018 at 17:45

    Oh this is perfect. Thank you it is very helpful to me as I am thinking about doing this as well. I am traveling full time, but need to work more and more online nowadays and therefore want to stay put in one place more often. I think house sitting is such a great way to have free housing and getting to know a place better at the same time. Thanks for the helpful tips!

    • 06/02/2018 at 18:03

      Tom, it’s a nice way to travel and work. One of our requirements for taking a sit is that the internet must be good enough since we work from our computers. And traveling slower gives you more time to work and enjoy the area without having so many travel days, which always upset he work cycle 🙂

  • 06/02/2018 at 18:38

    I love house sitting across the world. Especially, if you are there for extended periods of time. It provides you with a nice home base while you go out and explore like a local.

  • 08/02/2018 at 08:54

    I’ve heard a lot of buzz around housesitting, so this was a good read. I didn’t realise you could accept either payment or trade, it’s great you have that option. Great tips to on starting out; getting reviews in your hometown is a good idea!

  • 08/02/2018 at 18:12

    I always thought it might be fun to try house sitting at some point. I don’t think it’s very big here in the US right now, so maybe in the future it will be. Sounds like a great way to get out and see the world…while caring for some adorable pets!

    • 08/02/2018 at 19:25

      House sitting is thriving in the US. Actually, there’s more paid sitters in this country than anywhere else I’ve been, but even the exchange option is growing like no tomorrow. If you want to get in, now’s the time to do it!

  • 09/02/2018 at 05:27

    Ah, I wish there was a concept like this back in India, so many people could make use of it and would have been a win win for both the parties. Somehow in India, people are too reluctant for all this, but its actually a great thing

    • 09/02/2018 at 14:41

      Aditi, I do believe it’s coming to India as well. I’ve seen posts from India on some of the websites. You’ll need to target expats now if you want to get into it 🙂

  • 09/02/2018 at 16:51

    I actually never heard about house sitting but it does sounds like a great idea! I travel quite a lot so it would be a perfect solution! I am moving to Poland soon and I don’t think this exist there yet but I am sure it will come one day! Thanks for the info!

    • 09/02/2018 at 18:52

      House sitting does exist in Poland 🙂 We see sits on THS pretty often there!

  • 09/02/2018 at 18:03

    We have thought a lot about doing some house sitting as well. Most importantly the ones that have pets as they deserve some love and care while their owners are gone. This would make us so happy to help people with their pets and make the little ones to have some company too! This is so informative, will keep it in the bookmarks for when we want to do it!

  • 10/02/2018 at 05:42

    This is extremely useful for someone who is just starting off. I never took the whole bit so seriously so after reading this, I realized how much of a responsibility you have. Also, the payback is quite unlike what I expected. I thought everyone gets paid. Glad you put that bit out abt not partying when housesitting. Well done

    • 10/02/2018 at 19:15

      It really is a big responsibility. So many people believe it’s a “free” ride but we do quite a bit of work in our exchange sits. It’s worth it and we love it!

  • 10/02/2018 at 07:29

    I think it is pretty cool to be able to earn money for your travels and get other perks while housesitting. I don’t think its a concept that exists where I live (in Dubai) but it might be a great idea to explore if it does! We do have a lot of expats here who travel all the time so if there’s any place that needs housesitters, it should be Dubai! I’m quite interested and intrigued, you’ve sparked my curiosity!

    • 10/02/2018 at 19:14

      Medha, there’s house sitting in Dubai. We see listings for it pretty often. If you’re interested, I believe it’s mostly with the expats but it would be a great way to start 🙂

  • 10/02/2018 at 15:32

    House sitting is indeed a great way to support travel. You have described the dos and don’ts so clearly. It is beneficial to both parties. I like the fact that pets are taken care of well.

    • 10/02/2018 at 19:08

      It is the least stressful on the pets because they get to stay home and not go into a kennel.

  • 10/02/2018 at 20:09

    This is absolutely a new concept for me. I was not aware about housesitting. Thank you so much for opening my eyes. It’s a great way to travel to any destination for longer period. I have to try this in coming days. Great post.

  • 10/02/2018 at 21:15

    Great article. Never thought of this as a way to travel, but it seems quite feasible plus I love dogs too. I think I’d only do this for a trade of living accomodations, I don’t see the point of sleeping in a hotel and then going to sit in another house for a few hours while you could be exploring!

  • 16/02/2018 at 18:16

    I first heard about house sitting last year but I don’t know anyone who does it. It’s interesting, really. I’m glad you’ve covered all of the questions I had in mind! We haven’t considered it as option yet but we’re open to the idea. It’s a good option for budget travelers! You get the best of both worlds! 😊

    • 18/02/2018 at 15:04

      Hi Jen,
      House sitting is a great option for anyone, not just budget travelers. The depth and level of your stay deepen so much because you are staying like a local. We highly recommend it to anyone!


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