Learning how to become a house sitter allows you to conquer two things at once, saving money and traveling the world.
Think about it, what is your biggest living expense?
Sock puppet animals?
Your propensity to buy at least 10 items on a 3 minute walk through the gas station convenience store? (sorry, maybe that’s is just me).
For most, the single #1 expense item in your every day life is housing. It’s definitely mine.
Whether you rent or own, that monthly bill can feel like stepping on a broken beer bottle buried in the beach sand.
I’m going to reveal the two main ways you can use house sitting to fill your life with more travel while completely eliminating your #1 expense.
Sound good? Let’s get rolling.
How To Become a House Sitter
The first option might sound a little risky but I know for some people it will be a great solution. Others will want to read on and go for option two.
Option #1 Going Homeless (In a Good Way)
Personally, I was homeless for about 10 years. OK, I wasn’t in rags and cut off gloves warming my hands over a trash can fire. In fact, I always had some type of roof (car, house, hotel or tent) over my head.
What I mean by homeless is that I didn’t pay rent or a mortgage for nearly a decade.
Living on the road and working as a tour manager in the event marketing, music touring and adventure travel industries meant that my accommodation was almost always covered by my employers.
In between jobs there was traveling, camping, hosteling and crashing with family/friends.
Talk about a money saving strategy!
Living mostly rent free is one of the best ways to accumulate savings for travel and life in general. Becoming a house sitter an another way to ditch rent and see the world.
If you can somehow find a way to live mortgage/rent free for a period of time, whether it’s a few weeks, 6 months, a year, or even 10 years, you can save money quickly without sacrificing your lifestyle.
Making a conscious choice to walk away from your home, however, may not be easy to do, or even feasible. Yet it is possible, and must be considered as an option if you want to go from zero to travel quickly.
Option #2 Get House Sitting Jobs While You Travel
House sitting is an amazing way to travel the world and stay anywhere for free!
It may sound insane but once you start landing house sitting jobs you can travel the world without ever paying for accommodation.
Not a single cent for accommodation.
Imagine house much traveling you can do when you eliminate that cost! Let me show you how.
What is house sitting?
A homeowner welcomes a house sitter into their home and allows them to live there rent free for a pre-determined period of time in exchange for help care taking for the homeowner.
People don’t want to leave their homes empty for a variety of reasons. For example, they have pets that need cared for, a garden to maintain, or maybe they prefer to have a human presence in the house to act as a crime deterrent and keep the place secure.
Whatever the motivation, there are people worldwide seeking trusted, responsible house sitters to stay in their home for a period of time. That’s where you come in!
House sitting has many benefits including:
- Rent free living (who hoo!)
- A chance to live in a new area of the world
- Time to work on long put off projects
- Freedom to roam
Listen to this podcast interview I did with expert house sitters Nat and Jodie to help you get started:
Like anything else on the planet, there are many websites that act as matchmaker for house sitters and homeowners. Unfortunately, the established sites charge a fee for membership. Fortunately, the fee is pretty reasonable (usually about $30-$60 for the year). This investment will more than pay for itself when you land your first gig.
But how can you get that first gig with no experience?
Well, that’s what Zero To Travel is all about. No matter who you are or what you do, everybody has to get the first gig. It’s all about putting yourself out there.
Breaking Into House Sitting – Traditional Route
There a several well known websites you’ll want to consider joining to be taken seriously and land your first gig. Before you join any house sitting websites it’s good to know some solid strategies that will increase your chances of success.
Your Profile is Everything
Be sure to take your time creating a killer profile. Just reverse the situation and think about it form the home owners perspective, would they look at your profile and want to let you into their home. You are a perfect stranger, so you need to sell yourself without being overly serious. Inject some of your fun personality, make sure your pictures are good and putting together a short video is always a great idea. You goal is to give home owners a comforting feeling that you would come in and take good care of their place.
Here is a great article on setting up an excellent house sitting profile.
References are important, very important. I wouldn’t let anybody into my home without checking up on them first.
If you are trying to get your first house to sit, you’ll need to gather up some references that relate to house sitting. Essentially, you need testimonials from home owners saying how great you are. But how can you get references if you haven’t done any house sitting yet? Good question!
Here are some ideas:
- Have you ever watched somebody else’s pets or taken care of any aspect of a friend or family’s home? Use them as a reference (assuming you didn’t kill the dog).
- Can you have your company or work vouch for you? That may be a good way to show a home owner you are responsible.
- Are you trusted with anything of value? For example, do you hold the keys for your friends apartment in case he or she she gets locked out. It may seem like a small responsibility but they are actually giving you access to their home at all times.
- Have you ever used airbnb.com or homeaway.com? See if you can get a reference from the home owner or show your experience with these private homeowners.
- Have you ever rented a house or apartment from somebody? Hit your landlord up.
Go Local First
Volunteer your house sitting services for friends and build your resume while you wait for that first gig to come through. Another strategy is to take on a really crappy assignment just to get one under your belt. This strategy works for anything you want to break into.
Regardless of which website you sign up for, you’ll want to check it religiously. On some sites it seems that the number of house sitters offering their services far outweighs the number of homes to sit. Smaller still are the amount of ultra desirable homes to sit for.
If you really want to make this happen you’ll need to obsess over checking listings. When something comes up that you want jump on it immediately and do whatever you can to get in touch with the home owner.
A skype call is a great way to get a feeling for somebody and it’s much harder for somebody to turn you away after they have actually met you ‘in person’ over a video call. I once rented my apartment to perfect strangers based on one video skype call. They turned out to be amazing guests.
Probe the Home Owner
Well, not in the alien abduction way of course. What I mean is try to discover the home owner’s biggest fear, then put them as ease. Find the pain and offer to relieve it.
If a homeowner needs you to take care of their pets and that’s their primary reason for wanting a house sitter you can assume that the safety of their pets is their greatest concern. You better be damn well sure that you talk up your love for all things animal related.
If they want you to tend to your garden, it’s probably fair to assume you should stress your green thumb tendencies during a chat.
If you get into a conversation with the home owner either via email or on a call (preferable), be sure to ask some good open ended questions. You need to find out what they care about, but you also need to figure out what on earth you are getting yourself into. This is a two way street after all, and the gig needs to be a good fit for you.
A few example questions include:
- What do you expect from your dream house sitter?
- What’s most important to you?
- What can I do to make your life easier?
Also, get specific to show that you care. If they have pets ask about the pets personality, what their special needs may be, what times they enjoy going out and ask what you can do to make them the happiest they can be.
Here’s a good question to ask for this or any interview. At the end just say:
“What, if anything, is preventing you from giving me this house sitting job right now?”
Usually one of two things will happen. You will be offered the gig, or they will be honest and tell you their concerns. At this point you have one more chance to make them feel comfortable and make your case.
Don’t Forget to Look Out For Yourself
As previously mentioned, don’t forget that a house sitting gig also needs to be a good fit for you. What if their dog is a raving lunatic, the house is in the middle of nowhere, the responsibilities and expectations are way over the top, or numerous other issues.
Try to find out everything you can about the job and what’s expected, if enough things are a fit then go for it!
A couple of other things to be aware of, you may be asked to pay utilities. Also, you may be asked to put down a security deposit if to give the homeowner peace of mind. Remember, both requests re reasonable and negotiable.
Zero To House Sitting : Non-Traditional and Free Techniques
With almost anything you are trying to break into, it’s always a great idea to put the word out to family and friends first.
Your Network is Gold Even If You Think It’s Bronze
If you think your friends, family and acquaintances can’t help you it just may be that you are wrong. Why not put it out there?
You never know which person in your circle knows somebody who knows somebody else who knows this lady who can introduce you to this guy who needs somebody to do this thing that you would be perfect for.
Are you picking up what I’m throwing down?
Put the word out. Have your parents, siblings and friends offer your services to their work colleagues. Have them post on facebook and tag you. Get your message out on the street that you are a trusted and responsible individual who cares for homes.
Put Yourself on Craigslist
Here is something a couple of close friends of mine did. They beautifully put themselves out there on craigslist. In a nice write up, they explained who they are, what they can do and how they can help. Here is the posting:
“We are an outgoing, fun, energetic couple in our early 30’s with a passion for traveling, new cultures and exciting experiences. We met over 6 years ago, became best friends immediately and ended up in a relationship a couple years later. We have worked in the hospitality industry for over 10 years a piece and always have dreamed of opening our own restaurant and/or bed and breakfast. We have extensive bar tending, serving, cooking and management experience, as well as have been both working in the marketing world for the past couple years. We are familiar with web design, online marketing and print / design work and writing – and can help your business grow and succeed! We are extremely handy around the house, having done lots of work sprucing up both of our homes – from painting, to installing floors, to fixing minor electric/plumbing issues, to gardening/landscaping (our favorite) – we certainly know how to stretch a budget to make a place look like new!”
The end result?
A man who owns a restaurant in Honduras needed some help getting it going again. They spoke on a couple of calls, after which my friends decided to rent out their house and head down to Central America. They lived in Honduras for a few months working to get the restaurant going and living rent free after which they traveled.
It all started with one thing: a craigslist ad.
What skills do you have to offer?
What can you do?
Why not post something right now? What do you have to lose?
Back Door It
Don’t look for house sitting jobs, look for pet sitting jobs instead. Search all of craigslist or other directories with the key word ‘pet sitter’ (or house sitter for that matter) and search for gigs.
*Here’s an awesome trick, you can search multiple directories at once on adhuntr.com
Go Country Direct
Most countries have their own version of craigslist, for example in Norway it’s finn.no, New Zealand has trademe.co.nz, for Australia it’s gumtree.com.au. If you know where you want to go, it can’t hurt to post your services in these areas.
This is another category altogether but if you live in a desirable location you can always offer up a trade with somebody else. Check out homeexchange.com
The Final Word
Would you enjoy being away from your home and experiencing life in other places?
Are your flexible and up for an adventure?
Are you responsible and excited to help care for somebody else’s home?
If you answered yes to all of the above then house sitting may be just the thing to take you from Zero To Travel.
Pricing is listed for each site although they may change.
Global house sitting opportunities. Reasonable priced at $20/year to join.
Even less expensive to join at $10/year.
3 tiers of pricing, currently a 12 month membership is $79
Want to head down under? Check out AussieHouseSitters.au http://www.aussiehousesitters.com.au/home. Currently $65/year.
Off to New Zealand? Check out Kiwi House Sitters for $65/year.
If you are keen on house sitting in America here is a site that specializes in that country only. Unfortunately it’s only open to Americans.
Caretaker.org has been around for a long time and even has an actual printed newsletter which is novelly cool. $29.95/year and don’t be put off by their old school website…it’s just how they roll.
Sabbatical Homes is targeted towards academics but you can join if you aren’t one.
Search all of craigslist at http://www.searchcraigslist.org/
Search multiple online directories at adhuntr