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What is House Sitting and How to Do It World-Wide

What is House Sitting?

House Sitting is where one or more people (the House Sitters) live in and look after a house whilst its owner (the Home Owner) is away (usually on holiday). 

To put it simply, think of it as baby sitting, but houses instead of babies. 

Why would someone want a House Sitter?
Baby sitting makes sense, but why would a house need looking after? It's not like it can get itself into any trouble, and it doesn't even need feeding or changing. 

WELL, when a Home Owner is away, especially for a long time, things can and do go wrong: 

  • The fuses blow and the owner will return to a defrosted freezer and a puddle of water. 
  • Plants need watering and grass needs cutting
  • Houses start to grow mould or mildew
  • Letterboxes overflow 
But perhaps the biggest risk or the worst thing that can go wrong is burglars. Have you ever seen Home Alone? Automatic switches that turn the lights on and off won't cut it anymore, Home Owners' houses need to be properly lived in. 

However, I'm not going to sit here and pretend every empty house is automatically going to be burgled. More often than not House Sitters have an extra (very important) job:

They are also Pet Sitters

Housesitting Australia

What are Pet Sitters?

You're probably sensing a theme here, but for continuities sake let me be thorough:

Pet Sitting is where one or more people (the Pet Sitters) live with and look after a pet whilst its owner (the Pet Owner) is away (usually on holiday). 

I.e. it's basically House Sitting, but with pets too. 

Why would anyone want a Pet Sitter?
That's what friends and relatives are for, right? Best friend Emily will come in and feed the cat twice a day whilst you're away, or Grandma will take the dog for a week. 

Well, there are a whole range of reasons why Home Owners don't pick their friends or relatives to care for their pets, here are a few: 
  • They don't want to burden friends/relatives
  • Friends/relatives are coming on holiday too 
  • Friends/relatives aren't responsible enough (we're looking at you, raving Grandma). 
  • Friends/relatives don't live close enough (namely true for expats). 
  • Pets may be too much for friends/relatives (applies particularly to naughty and/or exotic pets). 

Whatever the reason, friends/relatives often aren't an option. 

Okay, so friends/relatives aren't an option, isn't that what kennels are for? You go away and your pets go on holiday too?

Again, there is a whole range of reasons why Home Owners don't want to put their pets in kennels, here are a few examples:
  • Kennels can be expensive, let this advert back me up: 
  • Kennels can be uncomfortable for the pets
  • Kennels may not accept the pets (again true for naughty and/or exotic pets - ever tried putting a grumpy turtle in kennels?)
Petsitting Portugal
Who, me?

Whatever the reason, the main one is almost always this:

Pets are almost always more comfortable in their own homes. 

And generally, no matter how much the pets love their owners (which they do), or how happy they are when their owners are back (which they are), quite frankly they don't usually notice that their owners are gone.. As long as they are being fed and walked at the same time and can sleep in their own bed (or yours).

Dogsitting Australia

Okay, so you get why Home Owners want House Sitters, why do House Sitters want to be House Sitters?

Lots of reasons.

For us, our first reason was to be able to live rent and bill free. We planned to carry on living as we'd done before (i.e. with a 9-5 job), but with a pet and with no monthly rental fees and electricity bills. And internet bills, and water bills, and council tax - House Sitters don't generally pay for bills. 

Housesitting Italy
Fancy views like this instead of bills and rent? 

But it soon became clear to us that this wasn't where the advantages stopped. Soon we realised we'd be able to live anywhere in the world, still rent and bill free. 

Housesitting Australia
We took 'anywhere in the world' seriously, and headed out to Australia for nine months

House Sitting adds a new dimension to travelling you can travel cheaply and comfortablyI mean, your accommodation bills are A LOT cheaper than hostels, but you don't have to share with 6 other people, and you have your own kitchen, bathroom, washing machine etc.

In fact, you often have more than one bathroom to yourself. The houses are often quite luxurious - we've stayed in places with pools and saunas for example, so allow me to change 'travel cheaply and comfortably' to travel cheaply and luxuriously. 

How often do those two things go in hand? 

Now, I could go on for hours about the other advantages of House Sitting (and I have in this post here: Reasons you should House Sit) but let's stop and answer this:

The opportunity to live world-wide, rent-free? There has to be some kind of catch, right? You're not allowed to leave the house? Or you have to do elaborate things for the animals? Or you have to work 4 hours a day (like with wwoofing or workaway). 

What exactly does a House Sitter do?

To put it simply, there are three main jobs:

1. Care for the animals - feed, water, walk if applicable
2. Care for the house - lock it up at night/when you're not in it, clean the dishes that you use (or use the dishwasher). Air/heat as applicable
3. Care for the garden - water, pick and eat the oranges when applicable.

Orange Grove Portugal
We looked after an orange grove in Portugal, it watered itself (on a timer) and all we had to do was enjoy the fruit :)

[Read more: reasons to house sit in Portugal
That's pretty much it really. Though, of course it varies from sit to sit, some dogs don't need walking, some need a couple of hours. Some houses don't have gardens, some come with gardeners... 

Whatever your 'duties' you do a lot less work than you would be workaway/wwoofing and your rewards are a lot higher. 

What kind of pets do you look after?

house and pet sitting

Whatever you're comfortable with really. We started off with just cats or dogs (having grown up with both). Then moved on to both cats and dogs at the same time. Next came fish (really easy). Then chickens (easy too). After that we branched out to sheep and horses. 

If pushed I'd say they are easier to look after than dogs, but I wouldn't recommend it for your first sit.

We've also looked after guinea pigs, turtles, ducks and rabbits. Lots of fun! 

So hopefully that's answered your question 'What is House Sitting'. Maybe you have more questions,  we actually have a whole post of FAQs about House Sitting which can be found here: Should I Become a House Sitter? Your FAQs.

Now House Sitting doesn't have to be done World-Wide, we have a few friends who are using it to explore their own country further, and can still keep their day jobs.

But for most travellers, the appeal of House Sitting is that you can do it World-Wide. So how do you do House Sitting World-Wide? We actually have a whole other post dedicated to how to get started: How To Start House Sitting - and Live Rent Free WORLD WIDE.

We also have a whole ebook House Sitting in Australia - a Guide For First Time House Sitters which tells you step by step how we got our first House Sits - and how you can do the same. It also reveals all the silly things we wished we'd known beforehand, which will help you get your first sit quickly. 

Finally, what we will leave you with is this: We have got all of our top House Sits from Trustedhousesitters and if you would like to sign up to them with an exclusive 10% discount all you have to do is click this link right here

So there you have it, what do you think of House Sitting? Is it something you would like to try? 

If you have any questions contact us on FacebookInstagram or via email. Alternately leave a comment below!

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We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same!


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