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Should I Become a House Sitter? Your FAQs

house sitting faqs

Should I become a House Sitter? We've had a lot of House Sitting opportunities: For the last two years we've been House Sitting in Australia, the UK, Finland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Greece and Germany. We've stayed in mansions, vineyards and beach houses each with their own perks - pools, saunas, jacuzzis etc. Ultimately House Sitting has allowed us to travel long term and luxuriously.   


But whilst a lot of people think House Sitting is an extraordinary idea, they don't think that they can become a House Sitter because of XYZ. So this post is designed (hopefully) to answer your questions, eradicate your doubts and leave you thinking, 'yes, I should become a House Sitter.'



1. Do House Sitters have to stay in the house the whole time? 


house sitting spain

The short answer: No

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. 

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 almost always specify it in their advert (or tell you if you ask). 

The majority of the 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 normally 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?


housesitting australia


The short answer: No

The long answer: This depends, of course, on the pets you're looking after and where you're going. Pet Sitting cats/horses/guinea-pigs/turtles? Leave them at home. 

On most of our House Sits though we look after dogs. Whether or not you should take them with you when you go out is a hard question to answer. No you don't have to, but most of the time we do.

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. 


housesitting england

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.)


chow chow

The general rule of thumb is you can leave a dog in the house for about four hours by themselves (with lots of water and preferably a toy to play with). If they have a dog flap/place to go for a pee they can be left longer, but always check with the owner first.  

If there's something we're dying to do for a whole day we ask the owners if we can do it before they leave or when they get back - that way we're not worrying all day about the dogs. 


3. Are House Sitters stuck in one place for a long time?


housesitting australia

The short answer: No

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. 

As for us, we always opt for the longer House Sits (six weeks in Spain, five in Italy, three in Western Australia etc). This is because it's cheaper travel wise to stay in one place for longer and you really get to know a place the longer you stay. 

We do plan on making our way around the world, but we intend to do it a lot slower - we make long term travel affordable ;)

We have done short sits too: two weeks in Berlin, one week in Byron Bay, one and a half weeks in Helsinki. Sometimes there just aren't any long term sits available, sometimes you have a short period free between two longer sits, and sometimes you just don't want to be somewhere for that long. 






4. Is there a rating system to make sure the House Sit is safe?


housesit italy

The short answer: No

The long answer: For most House Sitting Websites, the House Sitters have to have references to be considered by Home Owners. 

But the Home Owners themselves don't have references (unlike couch surfing). I guess people think "they are entrusting you with their house and pets, they need to trust you a lot more than you need to trust them." The Home Owners are not even there for most of the time, and sometimes you don't meet them at all. 

We've never had a dangerous or scary  House Sit (unlike Couchsurfing where we had a scary experience with a host with over 50 references... more on that further down.)

We always Skype with Home Owners before we  agree to do a sit, and a couple of times we've felt 'something isn't right' and have quickly let the Home Owner know that we don't think the sit would be suitable for us. Really though I think most people are nice - despite what the media says - and it isn't a big risk. 



5. I'm allergic to pets: can I be a House Sitter?


housesit Berlin

The short answer: maybe?

The long answer: This depends on your allergies a little bit...

There are House Sits out there which just want you to look after their houses as they have no pets.  Sometimes they expect you to do a bit more garden work/ house work than you would as a pet sitter. BUT even if they do, it will never be as much work as workaway/wwoofing are (no offence).

Furthermore, there are lots of pets that can be looked after which won't set your allergies off. 


housesitting germany
You don't have to ride the horses, but if you do you must wear a helmet!


Basically you know your allergies better than I do, have a look through this House Sitting Website. You can see the House Sits for free and decide how many of them you'd actually be able to do. If it's over five or so then go for it! 

6. Do House Sitters get paid?


housesitting australia
Stay at the Gold Coast for free in a house with a pool - do you need to be paid?

The short answer: No

The long answer: It depends. Firstly consider what you are not paying for: 
  • Rent/mortgage
  • Hotel/hostel 
  • Electricity bills, 
  • Wifi, tv licence etc
  • Water bills,
  • Gas bill,
  • Council tax 
You do pay for transport to the country/area that you are House Sitting in - but our Home Owners have always picked us up from the airport or train station. 

But if it was your dream to go to Italy or Australia or Finland you'd have paid to get there anyway - and on top of that you'd have probably paid to stay there too. 

We have been given money a few times by Home Owners. We don't expect it but we accept it very gratefully. Although there was one time when we didn't accept it, because they gave us a GoPro! 

More often than not, Home Owners leave us food too. 

It all depends on the Home Owners. Some are  more generous than others. But having rented for two years, we're happy having 'just' free accommodation and bills paid for. And looking after pets? We enjoy doing that, it's a bonus.





7. Do you have to pay to be a House Sitter?


Short answer: No

Long answer: Should you pay the Home Owners so you can look after their houses for them? There is a lot of debate among House Sitters as to whether or not you should be paying the bills - with some thinking you shouldn't have to for short term sits, but you should for long term sits or sits in expensive parts of the world.

Personally, we don't think you should. If you're House Sitting for a long time, the pet you're looking after would be in a kennel for a long time which would cost a lot more than a few bills. 

It's a bit different if you're not looking after pets we think, but each to their own. 

You do usually pay to sign up for the House Sitting Websites, but once the fee is broken down it's a lot cheaper than hotels.


8. Is House Sitting boring?


Australian adventures


The short answer: No


The long answer: Is your life boring? House Sitting really is a lot like everyday living. Except nicer and you don't have to pay for it ;) 

Seriously though, it depends what you like. We're not that exciting, we love walking dogs, lying on beaches, binging on Game of Thrones... I think House Sitting is what you make of it, and we make it a place to work on our businesses, spend time with each other and some lovely animals, and occasionally we'll do some sightseeing or fly in a  helicopter. 

9. Aren't you a bit young to be House Sitters?


berlin

The short answer: No

The long answer: When we first started House Sitting (before we had lots of good references) we found it pretty hard to get a sit. A few Home Owners did even email us and say that they would only trust older sitters. 

Some people think that younger House Sitters are just looking for a place to crash, a place to have wild parties and a place, apparently, to neglect animals. 

We've even had older House Sitters tell us that only older people should be doing it because only they can be 'retired from work, not from life'. But we're proud to be living an alternative kind of life and glad we started at a young age. We're so grateful for the internet!


Just as there are holidays of varying lengths, there are different reasons for choosing the age of your House Sitters. Here are some of the advantages to having younger sitters: many are fit enough to give dogs really long walks. Young people can be especially keen to please and want to earn great references. They can also be very flexible and open to new ideas and some Home Owners' 'quirky way of doing things'. Part of the reason we were chosen for our Italian House Sit was because we are fit enough to walk up their incredibly steep drive!

Most Home Owners seem to agree that the perfect age for a House Sitter is roughly 30 to 60. Young enough for steep walks but old enough to be experienced and responsible. But of course most 30 to 60 year olds have full time jobs and/or families that they can't just leave to be full time House Sitters. This leaves plenty of room for responsible young people with good references and old people who can walk up hills!



10. It's like Couchsurfing - why House Sit when you can Couchsurf?


couchsurfing

The short answer: It really is not like Couchsurfing at all.

The long answer: Sure, there are a few similarities between Couchsurfing and House Sitting: free accommodation, total integration into a local community etc. But that's about it. 


We Couchsurfed three times in Australia. The first two times were absolutely amazing. We met loads of fantastic travellers and left feeling really inspired and enthusiastic. 

The third one was absolutely awful... Despite the guy having over 50 references he turned out to be a massive creep and we had to leave. But that's a story for another day. I don't want to put you off Couchsurfing at all, it's a great way to travel and most people have nothing but good experiences. I just want to highlight to you that it can be a bit hit and miss, and we have found House Sitting to be positive hit after hit.

I think this is partly because House Sitting it's a win-win for both parties: Home Owners are grateful because without House Sitters their pets would be in horrible kennels and their houses left empty. House Sitters in turn are delighted to discover new countries, have home comforts and the love of dogs and cats.


Furthermore, you can't really stay in someone's house as a Couchsurfer for very long without it being awkward. Maybe that suits you better and you want to move around a lot and see more. But we like our home comforts and being a bit grounded (we're not real travellers at all are we ;) ). 






11. Can you be a House Sitter with kids?


Housesitting England


The short answer: Yes



The long answer: Being childless we can't be experts about House Sitting with kids. HOWEVER, on sites like Trusted House Sitters it does say right at the top of each House Sit if it is suitable for kids or not. 

So sometimes it will say it's not suitable for families, but as Trusted House Sitters is the biggest House Sitting website out there you can be  sure that there are still more than enough House Sits for families too!

It may sometimes depend on how old your children are too: some Home Owners might not be comfortable with a baby in their house (the added mess OR the responsibility of the baby being hurt in their un-baby-proofed house). But they might be comfortable with older children.

We really think House Sitting would be a great way to travel with children - cheaper than hotels with all of your usual home comforts! Plus the kids get to look after pets you might not necessarily have had at home.


But we'll get back to you on this one when we have children of our own ;) 


Conclusion

Some Home Owners want a single person, some want couples, some want families, some want older people, some prefer younger people and some don't mind at all. There are so many different House Sits out there and there really is something for almost everyone.  

When it comes to House Sitting you just need to ask yourself  these three questions:



  • Do you love animals?
  • Do you respect other people's houses?
  • Do you want to travel the world rent free?

Then sign-up to House Sitting today!


 
If you'd like more information on how to get started with House Sitting, have a look at this post and for even more tips and to find out what it's like to House Sit in Australia, try this ebook


Do you have any questions about House Sitting that we've missed? Comment below and we'll answer them too :) 

P.S. If you would like a 10% discount for trustedhousesitters.com subscribe to our free mailing list now!

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ABOUTME

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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