Right now, I'm sitting on a white sofa in front of a fireplace in Cape Cod, MA, which is my home for the next three weeks. Not only am I am living here for free with no utility expenses, but I'm also able to spend the holidays with my family who lives locally, without having to rush back to my home in California to avoid hotel expenses.
I am house sitting.
House sitting is, in a word, awesome - simply because it's a win-win for everyone. Home owners can travel without leaving their pets in a kennel, or paying for an animal or house sitter. And house sitters can travel without paying hotel expenses, and gain a chance to truly absorb what it's like to be a native in a foreign location.
There are all types of house sitting jobs - short term, long term, in the US, Europe, Australia, you name it. So if free travel sounds appealing, here's how you can find what works for you.
How to Become a House Sitter
The website I use (and that I've found is most popular) is trustedhousesitters.com. There's an $89 annual fee to sign up, but with the amount I've saved in hotel expenses, it's undeniably worth it.
Once you sign up, you'll need to create a profile that highlights your positive attributes (responsible, reliable, non-smoker, loves animals, etc.) Most home owners have pets, so it you have any photos of you with your favorite family pet, those are great pictures to post! Think of what qualities you would seek in someone you were trusting in your home, and feel free to browse other user's profiles to get ideas. And make sure to highlight any experience you already have!
The most important part of your profile is your references. Luckily, even if you're a new user and don't have any references from site members yet, you can still request external references from friends, family and former co-workers. My friend completed a reference for me because I had watched her home previously when she'd gone away for three weeks. My relative also completed a reference because I had watched her dog, and my former co-worker completed a reference to reiterate that I was responsible and efficient.
Once I had a few references in place, I began to apply to house sitting jobs I was interested in.
Tips for Applying to House Sitting Jobs
- Highlight your previous experience (if you have any.)
- Make sure you comment on how cute their pet is! (Pet owners love this!)
- If you're familiar with the area, or planning on being in the area, let them know. (This is how I got the Cape Cod job. My family lives in Cape Cod and I was planning on visiting for the holidays. Turns out, my mom lived the next town over, and the home owner picked me!)
- Be enthusiastic. Have you always dreamed about visiting their city? Why? Let them know!
Home owners get inundated with emails, so it's important to make yourself stand out from the others.
After sign-up, you'll begin to receive daily emails with all the new house sitting jobs that have been posted that day. And there are a lot! I receive at least 20 per day.
For any assignments you're interested in, it's best to apply right away. Most home owners find a sitter within 24 hours, so you have to act fast.
Tips on House Sitting
My house sitting jobs thus far have been relatively easy. Most home owners will leave you a list of instructions. Be sure to follow all guidelines - when to feed the pets, water plants, get the mail, etc. I typically email the home owner with any questions I have while I'm there, and I even send pet photos if they ask!
House sitting is an awesome experience, not only from a money saving perspective, but because you can truly just relax, enjoy the city as you would you own, and live like it's your home. Even if it's only temporary.
(And if you want to check out my video with step by step instructions on creating a profile - and a tour of my adorable Cape Cod house - you can watch it HERE.)