Should I Become a House Sitter? Your FAQs

house sitter

When it comes to travelling as house sitters, we are lucky enough to say that we've got some experience. For the first two years of our travels, we house sat full-time in Australia, the UK, Finland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Greece and Germany. We stayed in mansions, vineyards and beach houses each with their own perks - pools, saunas, jacuzzis etc. Ultimately, housesitting allowed us to start travelling long-term and luxuriously. Nowadays we only house-sit occasionally but are fully committed to helping newbie house sitters become successful with this house sitting blog. 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 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?

Short answer: No.

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 an absolute rarity and the homeowners should always be upfront about these kinds of special requests. The majority of homeowners will not ask you for this. The majority of house sitters will be asked to stay in the house overnight - but that may well be one of the main reasons you're interested in House Sitting in the first place: to get free accommodation.

house sitter cant leave the house

Most homeowners 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 empty house." But usually, the biggest priority for you as a house sitter is to look after the pets. Homeowners 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 common house sitter question: 

2. Do Pet Sitters Have to Take the Pets with Them When They Go Out?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: It depends on the pets you're looking after and where you're going. Are you pet sitting cats, horses, guinea-pigs, turtles, fish, sheep, rabbits or 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. 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.

can pet sitters leave the house

be a house sitter

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 just 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.)

house sitter

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 or two 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 and we can't because of the dog - 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. Home owners often let us stay a day or two extra, to do any sightseeing we couldn't do because of the dogs.

3. Are House Sitters Stuck in One Place for a Long Time?

Short answer: No.

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 sitter australia

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 homeowners can't take longer holidays because of work. [Further reading: House Sitting in Europe: How, Where and Why?]

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 short term, there'll be plenty of sits to suits you. 

4. Is There a Rating System to Make Sure the House Sit Is Safe?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: For most House Sitting Websites, the house sitters have to have references to be considered by home owners. The popular house sitting website, and the one that we use (Trusted Housesitters) has just put in a new feature whereby sitters can also comment on home owners. Not all house sitting websites have this though.

house sit italy

We always Skype with home owners before we  agree to do a sit, and a couple of times we've felt that the sit wasn't right for us. So we've simply told the home owners after the call that we don't think we'll be a good match. 

5. I'm Allergic to Pets, Can I Be a House Sitter?

Short answer: Maybe.

Long answer: This depends on your allergies.

house sitter

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 hopefully not be as much work as workaway/wwoofingFurthermore, there are lots of pets that can be looked after which won't set your allergies off.
housesitting germany
Like maybe horses?

There are even certain types of dogs that you might not be allergic to - check out this listBasically 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?

Short answer: No

Long answer: It depends. Firstly consider what you are not paying for as a house sitter:

  • Rent/mortgage;
  • Hotel/hostel;
  • Electricity bills;
  • Internet, TV licence, etc.;
  • Water bills;
  • Gas bills;
  • Council tax.

You do pay for transport to the country/area that you are house sitting in - but our home owners have always kindly 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.

become a house sitter

We have been given money a few times by home owners. We don't expect it but we accept it very gratefully. We've also been given incredibly generous gifts - like GoPros, iPads and laptops. More often than not, home owners leave us food too. It all depends on the home owners. Some are  more generous than others. 

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 was kind enough to provide us and our readers with a 10% discount (click on the link to use it), but once the fee is broken down it's a lot cheaper than hotels. (aka it's $9.92 per month)

8. Isn't House Sitting Boring?

Short answer: No

Long answer: It depends what you make of it and what you're into. 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. 

house sitter

It's certainly not for ravers but none of the ravers we know don't want to house sit. [Read more: why people are house sitters?]

9. Aren't You a Bit Young to Be House Sitters?

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?

Short answer: It really is not like couchsurfing at all.

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. 


House sitting you'll be on your own (or with your house sitting partner/kids etc). Unlike couchsurfing where you are with the host. House sitting tends to be in fancy-pants houses. Unlike couchsurfing where it can be absolutely anything - including a tent outside that's leaking (like the one we did in Perth). 

11. Can You Be a House Sitter with Kids?

Short answer: Yes.

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.

Wrap Up: Should I Become a House Sitter?

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.

Housesitting England

When it comes to becoming a house sitter 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 and become a house sitter todayIf 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 :) We have also made this video for newcomers to house sitting, enjoy :)

P.S. was kind enough to provide us and our readers with a 10% discount -- click on the link to use it!

Share this:


We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


    Disqus Comment
    Facebook Comment
comments powered by Disqus