House sitting has become increasingly popular in recent years, combining temporary accommodation, travel, and animal companionship all in one. In exchange for taking care of somebody’s house and, more often than not, pets while they are on vacation, you get to stay in their home.
House sits can range anywhere from a few days to several months. Available worldwide, they are a fantastic way to travel to many different places; many use it as a way to slow travel, meaning you spend a lengthier time in each area and focus on more of a local experience rather than a jam-packed weekend of sightseeing. There is more to house sitting than simply free accommodation, however, and this guide can help you get started.
House Sitting Sites
The best and easiest way to secure house sits is through a subscription site. There are many to choose from, depending on the location you are aiming for, your budget, and how often you want to use them. These are just a few of the most popular sites.
Trusted Housesitters is often at the top of the list of sites to use, although for $129 a year, it runs at one of the highest membership fees to sign up as a sitter. If you know an existing member, it’s easy enough to obtain a referral fee for a 25 percent discount, opening up a variety of available international house sits. The interface is easy to use with plenty of filters to help refine your search, the ability to build your profile, and quality support 24/7. Although international, it’s mostly useful for the U.K., Europe, and North America.
Started back in 2005, MindMyHouse was one of the very first house sitting sites. The "mom and pop" business has fewer options than others, but as membership is $20 for sitters and free for owners, it's a great option to have. The sits are mostly within Europe and the U.S., although there are more than 80 countries listed on the dropdown search. The interface is basic but easy to use, and the site remains popular within the house sitting community.
If you’re staying within the U.S., House Sitters America is arguably your best bet. The annual membership fee is $49, for which you can search nationwide with an extensive list of filter options including region and locale, house type, amenities, sit length, and type of pet. House Sitters America has been up and running for more than 12 years, and has established itself as one of the top house sitting sites for the U.S., with a huge variety of available sits.
Running on the higher end of membership fees at $89 per year, Nomador comes with the added benefit of a free trial that’s good for up to three applications. Originating in France for European house sits, it now operates globally with a focus on Europe and the Americas.
If you’re heading to New Zealand or Australia, these house sitting sites are recognized as some of the top in their respective countries. Members of House Sitters America will find the exact same layout and search functions on these two associated sites, which provide multiple filter options and a large choice of sits in all areas of each country.
Applying for Your First Sit
Once you’ve signed up, it’s important to spend time on your profile. Add plenty of photos that represent who you are, and because you will likely be taking care of pets, include as many as you can of you with animals. Then, fill out the rest of your profile fully, verifying your ID through the site, and adding a description about who you are and why you want to house sit. If you have prior experience taking care of pets or houses, get a reference and add it to your profile.
Before applying for a sit, read through the details completely, making sure that you fit the requirements, which may include gardening, taking care of multiple pets, and sometimes having a car. Craft your message to the homeowner and show that you’ve read their post; ask questions, point out a common interest, outline any relevant experience you have, and mention where you are currently located.
If the homeowner is interested, the next step is to organize a video chat, or at the very least a phone call. Housesitting is a two-way system, so it’s important that you both get a good vibe when you talk to each other. Think of this as an interview, for them and for you, and ask all the questions you have about the home, pets, your responsibilities, and the area. Trust your instincts: If there are red flags or you get an uneasy feeling during the call, don't be afraid to pass on an offer.
Things to Consider
It’s not free accommodation: If you’re looking for a way to get free digs while you travel, this isn’t it. House sitting is an exchange and you are selected as a responsible person to take care of someone’s house and pets. This means keeping the house secure and clean, taking in mail, and treating it as you would your own place.
You must love animals: While you can find house sits that come without pets, for the most part, people are looking for someone to take care of their beloved animals. This can mean taking dogs out for daily walks, administering medicine for an elderly cat, or cleaning up bird poop—being an animal lover is paramount.
Communication is key: Stay in contact with the homeowner, even after you’ve secured the sit. Keep an open line of communication where you and the homeowners can stay up to date, share photos of the animals, and ask any questions—especially for longer sits. Be honest about anything within the house that has broken or gone wrong so that there are no surprises when they return.
Not all house sits are alike: There are many variables within house sitting—not only with the type of house and pet you may be taking care of, but what the owners are flexible on. Some welcome couples, families, and people traveling with their own pets. Others even offer payments, which is more likely to happen when you're looking after multiple pets or a garden that requires meticulous care.
Be adaptable: Be prepared for anything, whether it’s a cancellation, a change in dates, or a pandemic! Always have a backup plan and maintain communication with the homeowners so that if things change, you can talk things through.