What do you mean you can have free accommodation on a holiday?
Not just a holiday, but all year round!
We were driving through the Emerald Isle falling deeper in love with the country with each passing day. We knew we didn’t want to leave. I had occasionally been following a website TrustedHousesitters and decided I needed to check it again.
Sure enough there was an available house sitting assignment in Kildare, Ireland for 10 days. We applied, she accepted, we met, we moved in. And that was the beginning of our love affair with free accommodation known as house sitting.
What Is It?
Every day countless homeowners all over the world go on vacation. But what happens if they have a pet? Even without a pet, as an owner of a home I would invite friends to stay in my house just to make it looked lived in and keep it secure. But bring a pet into it and you need someone to feed them and look after them as well.
We were using house sitters long before we became one.
In recent years streams of websites have popped up offering owners a place to advertise their available homes in need in need of a sitter.
To become a house sitter you simply lodge an application on these sites. Your public profile allows owners to contact you if they think you’ll be a good fit. Or, more likely, you’ll need to apply for house sitting assignments that suit you.
We have a dog in Australia that is being pet-sat and we still miss him. House sitting provides my kids with an opportunity to help look after a pet and redeem those missed cuddles.
Where Do I Find One?
Our favourite has been TrustedHousesitters, mainly because they provide an option to easily search for houses that accept families with children.
Our biggest hindrance when we started was being tossed aside in favour of singles and couples. With the new option on TrustedHousesitters we simply now only look for house sits that accept kids. Not only has this caused less frustration in finding out they never wanted kids in the first place, but it has opened so many more opportunities since the houses we apply for usually have playrooms, toys or trampolines in the backyards, and pets that love children.
How Do You Get One?
All of the platforms send you a daily or weekly emails with fresh new house sitting assignments on offer. Although to beat everyone to the punch you really should be checking the sites first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
When you find somewhere that is where you want to go and a suitable period to stay you simply send the owner an email.
The good owners will respond with a yes or a no. We prefer to hear a “no” rather than never hearing back.
Recently we uploaded a short introduction video to our profile, we found our success rate has really increased. Here it is:
Our House Sits
Want to see what you might be commiting to? Here are three of the house sits we have done around the world.
Our first house sit was on a huge acreage in Ireland with horses, sheep and dogs. We spent the whole week just enjoying the peace and quiet, after having road-tripped around the country for 12 days.
The house included a car that we used occasionally. We loved playing with those dogs and they loved coming out on short drives with us.
London, United Kingdom
In London we housesat for 2.5 weeks, just 3 stops from Victoria station. It was a large 3-story home with a huge backyard, including a trampoline and a gorgeous English garden.
This house came with 2 cats that were very self-sufficient. We kept their water and food stocked up and they came and went as they pleased, rarely visiting with us except to sleep on the bed at night and the occasional cuddle.
My favourite part about this house was the kitchen; it had 3 ovens and plenty of space to cook.
Again, the owner let us use their car which was really helpful for the day trips to Legoland and Paulton’s Park.
Another big house for us. This one came with a menagerie of clucking chickens, fluffy bunnies, cats and dogs. A lot of responsibility, but also a lot of fun. And the backyard was just perfect for the kids to run around and play in all day.
We scored this one for a month and enjoyed just living life between our fast-paced trips to Netherlands and Luxembourg.
When Is House Sitting No Good?
Read the fine print. Some house sits require a lot of work that you may not have the time or inclination to do. Some can require heavy gardening, manual labour, or painting. So make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Our Irish house sit required the dogs not be left alone for more than an hour or two. This worked fine with us because after touring Ireland we were looking for a spot to sit back, work and write in peace.
Some homeowners are apprehensive because they’ve been burned in the past. But at the same time house sitters too. If something doesn’t feel right and you aren’t given photos or an address then reconsider your opportunity carefully. The last thing you want to do is book a flight and have nowhere to stay.
If you are not flexible. House owners are going on vacations and have booked those dates in so you are the one that needs to be flexible for them. If you only have a certain time of year that you can be away for then this may become tricky.
When Is House Sitting Awesome?
The trust shown between a house sitter and a homeowner is a really wonderful display of humanity.
We really enjoy long-term house sits (over 2 weeks). They provide a home for our travelling kids, space to play and pets that need cuddles.
They give you insight into a culture that you may not have seen while staying in a hotel.
We have friends who have been house-sitting for years! No utilities, no mortgage. Imagine how much you will save or spend on attractions and food instead. :)
And, of course it’s free. Free is always awesome!
House sitting is like cruising, it’s addictive. Once you have your first one you want another, suddenly paying for accommodation seems ridiculous. And the open space becomes a precious and desired commodity.
So now you know what it is and why you want to do it. What next? Once you have your house sitting assignment there is a list of things you can do to make sure it goes smoothly. Read all about that in our next house sitting post.
Otherwise if you just want to get started, sign up today. TrustedHousesitters is our recommended site for families looking for homes all over the world. It is slightly more expensive than the others to join, but after just 1 house sit you’ll make your money back.