1. Do house sitters have to stay in the house the whole time?
The long answer: There are lots of house sits out there and the requirements range just as much as the people who want house sitters and indeed the house sitters themselves.
We have indeed seen a couple of house sits that required you to stay in the house 24/7 (one in Thailand and one in Hawaii). But these kind of sits are in the minority and will should always specify it in their advert.
The majority of house sits do ask that you stay there overnight - but that may well be one of the main reasons you're interested in House Sitting: to get free accommodation.
Most home owners want you to be a presence in the house: seen going in and out so burglars don't walk past and think "oh hey, here's an obviously empty house."
But usually the biggest priority for you as a house sitter is to look after the pets. Home owners don't mind if you're not in the house all day because chances are they aren't in the house all day either and their pets are used to it. But they do expect you to consider their pets when you make your day plans which brings me to the next question:
2. Do pet sitters have to take the pets with them when they go out?
The long answer: This depends, on the pets you're looking after and where you're going. Pet sitting cats/horses/guinea-pigs/turtles/fish/rabbits/lizards? As long as you've made sure they've got food and water you can leave them alone for hours and hours at a time.
This is because we love dogs and for most of the things we love doing you can take the dogs along too, like going to the beach or walking up hills.
Essentially, you don't have to take them with you, but if you don't love dogs and don't want to be around them all the time, consider house sitting cats instead. There are about as many assignments for cats as there are for dogs.
If we're going into a city though we do leave the dogs at home. How long you can leave a dog depends: do they have a dog flap? Are they on their own? (Two dogs can sometimes be left longer than one because they have company.)
If there's something we're dying to do for a whole day we just do it before the house sit has started, or afterwards when it's finished - that way we're not worrying all day about the dogs.
3. Are house sitters stuck in one place for a long time?
The long answer: Lots of other travellers are very interested in house sitting (because, again, it's free accommodation) but they hate the thought of being tied down for too long to one place - that's not travelling right?!
The truth is, the length of house sits vary completely, just as the length of time people go on holiday varies completely.
House sits range from one night to over two years, so there really is something for everyone.
In Europe in particular, most of the house sits are only a week or two long - most home owners can't take longer holidays because of work.
Our longest sit was six weeks (in Spain) and our shortest was one weekend (in the UK). We think anywhere between two weeks and four weeks is the perfect amount of time for a house sit - long enough to settle in and really discover a new part of the world, not so long that you get bored and have itchy feet.
But it's up to you, whether you want to house sit long term or for short stints, there'll be one that suits you.
4. Is there a rating system to make sure the house sit is safe?
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! We also want to make it clear that we sometimes use “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.