Featured post

Break Free is now available on Amazon.com and in color!

Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting is now available for Kindle on Amazon.com (Note: The Kindle edition can also be read if you do not own a Kindle, using the free Kindle reading app by Amazon.com) and in color as pdf download!

This ebook is packed with everything you need to know in order to afford to take your trip of a lifetime!


What is housesitting? 

On a basic level, when a homeowner plans a trip and needs someone to care for their house and pets, they have a housesitter come in whose primary responsibility is to maintain the house and keep the pets healthy and happy until the homeowner returns.

House and pet sittingIn reality, however, housesitting is so much more than that, as we often talk about right here on UltimateHousesittingGuide.com. This simple arrangement allows people from around the world to break free from so many of the barriers that keep them from traveling longer and ultimately living a more fulfilling life.

Who is Break Free for?

For travelers looking for an alternative to sterile hotels and visits to the same old ‘must see’ sights, Break Free will help you target destinations you have always wanted to visit and live authentically as a local.

For people who own a home and pets who wish they had the flexibility to get out and travel, Break Free offers you a step-by-step guide to handpicking the right housesitter for you.

For people who own a second or vacation home, Break Free discusses the issues of keeping your homeowner’s insurance valid as well as creating the kind of detailed checklists to make sure your housesitters can handle all emergencies in your absence.

housesitting around the worldThe book is jam-packed with everything you will ever need to know to have success with housesitting, such as:

  • How to find housesitting opportunities
  • How write a stellar profile
  • How to get a housesit, even with no experience
  • How to find the right housesitter
  • How to get your housesitter up to speed and in charge before leaving for your trip
  • How to deal with issues of homeowner’s insurance, contracts and emergencies

The book also contains an entire section of samples for you to model your own profiles, applications and housesit ads after, plus full checklists that both housesitters and homeowners can use (and print!) to make sure everything is covered before, during and after the housesit.

We also keep the book entertaining! The stories of our own experience during the over a dozen housesits we have done in just over two years give you an inside look at how housesitting can help you Break Free!

The book is available in Kindle format on Amazon, you can pick it up for $9.99 here.

If you prefer a colorful pdf download, you can get instant access to the book here for only $11.99.

Break Free: The Ultimate Guide To HousesittingWhat readers say:

Thank you to everyone who has left a review on Amazon.com so far! We are truly overwhelmed by the throughout positive feedback.

Break Free was exactly what I wanted in the housesitting guide–and then it went beyond and offered information and samples beyond what I expected. When I read Break Free, I loved how the book took me patiently through every step of the process (steps that were more painless than I had been imagining), and detailed the how and why of each part of the process. Then, they added in personal anecdotes, stories and photos throughout the book in just the right dose to keep the material engaging and interesting alongside all of the information they manage to pack into the guide.Shannon

Break Free really deserves its subtitle as the ultimate guide to housesitting. It answers every question or concern you could possibly have about housesitting–both from a sitters and a homeowner’s perspective. - Erin

The book is full of practical information like what questions homeowners and housesitters should ask each other before committing and during the “handover.”Kate

Break Free is a comprehensive guide that will tell you everything you could want to know about house-sitting. – Tina

Featured post

How to set up the perfect housesitting profile

Your housesitting profile is the first thing a homeowner sees about you, so you if you want to win a housesit, make sure it attracts homeowners’ attention in a way that reveals you as trustworthy and reliable.

Here are our tips on how to set up a great housesitting profile.

Photo

Most housesitting websites allow homeowners to scroll through the profiles of housesitters that include their area as a possible housesitting location. Most listings immediately display profile pictures, before the homeowners even click on a profile.

No matter what housesitting website you sign up with, there are always going to be more housesitters than homeowners, making competition pretty fierce. In order to get the homeowners to click on your profile, first impressions count for everything! If you are a couple, have at least one picture of the two of you and show your faces – don’t hide it behind sunglasses or underneath a hat. Whether you are single or a couple, have a picture that shows you with a pet, too, as most housesitting involvements involve pet-sitting responsibilities, so that immediately associates you as good with pets.

Most websites also let you upload several photos, so take advantage of that and show yourself in a variety of situations – at home, with your pet, and maybe a nice photo that was taken on a vacation. If you have a nice garden, feel free to show this is a picture as well. Just make sure to upload photos that already give an idea of your personality.

Good examples:

housesitting profile photos good

Bad examples:

housesitting profile photos bad examples

Headline

The headline is the second most important thing. How can you describe yourself in one sentence without being too centered on you but pointing out what you can bring to the assignment.

Some good examples are:

  • Reliable, animal loving adult to care for your home or pet/s
  • Experienced Housesitter couple with references
  • Retired professional firefighter and wife available for house and pet sit. Trustworthy, clean, non smokers. Currently with homes in England and France
  • Charismatic, multilingual entrepreneur animal-loving couple
  • Reliable and trustworthy house/ pet sitter looks forward to care for your house
  • Honest, reliable, and experienced housesitter available

Some not so good examples:

  • Semi retired Canadian couple – not interesting enough to make homeowners click.
  • Warm greetings from Holland – also nothing that catches a homeowner’s attention
  • Looking to housesit/petsit for 1 week April 2013 – too inflexible. It is unlikely that they will be contacted by a homeowner with such a narrow time frame.

Some bad examples we have seen:

  • “eat, pray, love” sabbatical & retrieve – It should be beneficial for the homeowners, not self-centered.
  • Two friends looking for work and adventure! – Again, nothing stated that the homeowner could benefit from, plus friends have less committment to each other than couples, feels less reliable.
  • Let me handle it for you, whatever “it” may be.. – Too vague
  • Brother and Sister – looking to see the world - self-centered
  • Young professional looking to travel - self-centered
  • WeRHere4U

This is the one sentence a homeowner sees before deciding whether or not to click on your profile. Keep it simple, sell yourself on how you can help them.

housesitting profile headlines

Be personal

It is important to be personal in your profile. Give any homeowner who visits your profile the chance to get an idea of who you are in a few short sentences, but remember that this isn’t about you. The homeowner is looking for someone they can trust with their house, their pets, their life while they are away. This process is entirely about them, no matter how you benefit from it.

Introduce yourself shortly – your occupation (or what your career was if you’re retired), what your interests are and why you housesit. If you are a couple, tell the homeowners something about you and your partner. Point out what you can bring to a housesitting assignment – are you a dog person? Do you enjoy gardening? Have you owned a home for twenty years? If you have dealt with any major home improvement projects or solved emergencies successfully, it is a good idea to include examples for that, too. Focus on the things that matter to a homeowner and refrain from stating the things that you want from a housesitting assignment – these things can still be discussed once a homeowner gets in touch.

Experience

You cannot list enough relevant experience in your profile. Line out previous housesits that you have done, the pets you’ve looked after and all the other responsibilities that came with the assignment(s). If you are new to housesitting and have not had a housesitting gig yet, you can still give examples of your experience with pets – what kind of pets you’ve owned, how long, how many, etc. Also, for new housesitters, because you have no references yet, include reasons why you think you’d be a good housesitter and why you would enjoy it.

References

We don’t recommend including references directly in your profile, for the privacy of the other homeowners you have housesat for,  but definitely mention that you have them. If you have had housesits that went very well and you know that the owners will give you a glowing reference, point out that you have ‘excellent references available immediately’, if you have housesat in several countries, mention that you have ‘references from country X and country X’ (especially if you are looking to housesit abroad).

TrustedHousesitters.com gives housesitters the option to request references from homeowners through their very own system. This gives them the choice whether or not they want their info displayed. This is good not only for your previous housesit references, but also can be sent to landlords, employers, family members or other people who would vouch for you (important for those with limited experience). On TrustedHousesitters.com, these references will be shown right on your profile.

break free the ultimate guide to housesitting bookGet started housesitting now – our housesitting book Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting is now on sale for $11.99 in pdf format or for $9.99 on Amazon for your Kindle! Both versions of the book include a 25 % membership discount to TrustedHousesitters.com, free bonus print-outs and over 120 pages packed with everything you need to know about housesitting!

Featured post

Housesitting 101: How to be chosen for a housesit

You’re serious about getting a housesit. You’ve registered with a housesitting website, and you have started to apply for housesitting positions. You have optimized your profile, and now you finally have a message in your inbox: a homeowner liked your application and would like to chat with you.

How exciting! But this is just a start, and there are probably at least a few other candidates on a short list. In fact, the whole process is similar to a job application – you apply for the ‘role’, you are selected as one of the most fitting candidates, and now it is all about convincing the homeowners that you are the best applicant to fill the position.

Here are our tips to get an advantage over other housesit candidates.

Housesitting References

If they were not included in the original application, send through your references from your previous housesits, or, if you lack experience, have references from friends, family and others who can vouch for you. Include email addresses and phone numbers of your references along with a quick explanation of who they are/how they know you.

Get personal

Reply to their email thanking them and then suggest a Skype chat to ‘meet each other’. In the rest of the email, emphasize that you are still keen to care for the house, and how you are good for the role. If you are a huge cat lover and this housesit has three cats, make sure to emphasize that in your reply. If the housesitting assignment comes with a big garden and you have a ‘green thumb’ use that to your advantage. Always make sure to include examples for the statements you make. Be modest though don’t exaggerate, and be honest – don’t claim to be anything that you are not.

Win them over in the first Skype call / phone call

Trust is the most important element of a successful housesit. That first phone/Skype call is when you make that first impression and hopefully gain the homeowner’s trust. Thanks to Skype this can be done on camera, which is a way of really ‘meeting’ someone for the first time. (Download Skype here for free and you will be up and running in five minutes.)

Prepare well for the phone call. Note down all relevant facts from the advert and prepare questions to clarify what you would like to know as well. Don’t forget to read thoroughly through their homeowner profile to ensure you don’t ask anything you should know already, and you might also find something in the profile that makes it easier to connect in the first minutes. A casual comment like ‘I saw on your profile that you are a writer, too’ or ‘I saw that you and your husband also enjoy hiking’ indicates that you have something in common and can get the conversation going.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Practical information about the house, responsibilities and financial aspects such as who will cover utilities and Internet costs. You have to keep your deal breakers in mind, too, and the Skype call is a great time to learn more about the assignment. After all, you are going to be living in this house for a few weeks or even a few months, so even if they choose you, it is important to understand if this is the right housesit for you as well.

Follow up

If the call goes well and both parties still seem interested, send a follow up email thanking them for the call, that you are still interested/excited about the opportunity and you will await their reply.

Don’t be too pushy

After a quick follow up email, lay low and let the homeowners talk to your references. Also, you are likely not the only candidate, so they will be talking to and checking references for others on the short list.

Depending on how far in advance the housesit is, follow up after a week or two if you still haven’t heard from them. If this was more short notice, then you can follow up sooner as you will have to plan your trip to the house.

It didn’t work?

If you get the dreaded email that the homeowners still chose somebody else, don’t be too upset. Homeowners gets dozens, sometimes hundreds of applications, and no matter how good your references are, and even you feel like the phone call went well, another applicant might have been a better fit this time.

Email back politely. Tell them they can still get in touch for further housesitting opportunities or should the other candidate drop out for some reason. Homeowners are very likely to return to a candidate they were in touch with in the past if they go on vacation again. If the location is really interesting to you, don’t hesitate to have them pass on your details to other homeowners who might need a housesitter in the future. All the housesitting websites in the world are no match for personal recommendations between neighbors!

break free the ultimate guide to housesitting bookGet started housesitting now – our housesitting book Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting is now on sale for $11.99 in pdf format or for $9.99 on Amazon for your Kindle! Both versions of the book include a 25 % membership discount to TrustedHousesitters.com, free bonus print-outs and over 120 pages packed with everything you need to know about housesitting!

Featured post

The housesitting directory: An overview of all major housesitting websites

There are well over twenty websites that match homeowners with housesitters. Below you can find a listing of all major housesitting websites including their annual fees, which countries they are good for, and some general information.

Global housesits

We have found found most of our housesitting gigs through Housecarers.com, including housesits in Costa Rica, Canada, Thailand,the U.S. and Mexico.

There are plenty of new housesits on the site every single day – primarily for the U.S.A. and Australia, followed by Canada and New Zealand, and a smaller number of housesits from all over the world. Make sure to sign up for daily email alerts for the countries you’re interested in so that you get notifications of new assignments every day.

Annual fee: US$50.00

We have found housesitting gigs in Germany, Malaysia and Italy on Mindmyhouse.com. The site is the best source for housesitting gigs in Europe – especially the UK, but there are also assignments for the U.S. and Canada, and some assignments for the rest of the world (we have come across some great gigs for Costa Rica and Ecuador here).

Annual fee: US$20.00

We have found mainly housesitting assignments in the UK on Trustedhousesitters. To a smaller account there are housesits in the rest of Europe, like Italy, Spain and France, and occasionally there are assignments in the U.S., Canada and in New Zealand.

Annual fee: US$60.00

Australia

HousesitWorld Australia is the part of HousesitWorld that was started in Australia in 1999. You can find housesits all over Australia. Housesitters can put up an ad for the location they are looking to housesit in, and homeowners can scroll through the listings and contact potential housesitters directly or put an ad up and wait for applications.

Annual fee: AUD50.00

Happy House Sitters Australia focuses on housesitting in Australia. The family-run service has been online since 1999, and users can choose to sign up for all of Australia or only the state they are looking to housesit in. Homeowners can either place a free ad or look through the housesitter listings for a suitable candidate. Housesitters can choose to either reply to ads or wait to be contacted directly by a homeowner.

Annual fee: Starting at AUD85.00 per year for one location or all of Australia for AUD595.00.

AussieHousesitters  has primarily housesitting assignments in Australia, but also some in New Zealand. Homeowners can put up an ad with the details of the housesit, or search for housesitters by state. Housesitters can search for a housesit by location, length or latest assignments or wait to be contacted by a homeowner.

Annual fee: AUD65.00

HousesittersAustralia is dedicated to housesitting in Australia. Homeowners can sign up for free and place an ad or simply look in the housesitter database for a suitable candidate. Housesitters are able to search for housesits by state and apply for a sit or wait to be contacted by a homeowner directly.

Annual fee: AUD59.00

MindAHome connects homeowners and housesitters in Australia. Housesitters can search for housesits by state once they have registered, and homeowners can either put up an ad or look for suitable housesitters by location on the website.

Annual fee: AUD49.00

Australian Housesitter is another website dedicated to housesitting in Australia. Homeowners can register for free and put up an ad for the housesitting assignment, and housesitters can set up a profile with their availability, experience and location. Housesitters can either scroll through the listings or be contacted by homeowners directly.

Annual fee: AUD25.00

Easy Housesitting

Easyhousesitting is a completely free housesitting service that allows homeowner as well as housesitters to put up ads (for free). Housesitters state their available dates, the states they’d be willing to housesit in and some other information, such as an ‘About Me’, their experience, and their occupation. Homeowners say when and where they need a sitter, for how long, what kind of pets are involved and what other responsibilities are part of the assignment. Sitters and owners can set up a free account, search for available sitters/sits (filtered by dates, location, duration) and get in touch with each other directly through the site.

Annual fee: It’s FREE!

New Zealand

Kiwi Housesitters is a website dedicated to housesitting in New Zealand. Housesitters can look for housesits advertised on the website or homeowners can housesitters who are registered directly and inquire if they are available for the time they are away.

Annual fee: NZ$65.00

Happy Housesitters manages a list of housesitting candidates from which they select suitable housesitters for homeowners who are looking for a housesitters. The service is free for homeowners, and they can contact potential candidates directly after receiving a selection of candidates.

Annual fee: Starting at NZ$50 for housesitters, depending on the location they are looking to housesit in.

Homesit NZ is a New Zealand-based housesitting service. Homeowners can request a housesitter for the time they are away, and Homesit NZ will select a couple of suitable candidates for them, from which they get to choose the one they like best.

Annual fee: Fees are paid by the homeowners and depend on the length of the assignment.

Town and country homesit is a personalized housesitting service by Lisa McFarlane Clark, who puts housesitters in touch with homeowners. Homeowners can request a housesitter for the time they are away, which Lisa selects from a pool of housesitters who are all experienced and thoroughly checked beforehand.

Annual fee: -

United States

HousesittersAmerica is dedicated to housesitting across the United States and sitters can easily state their availability in a calendar in their profile. There are over 3,900 homeowners registered with the site and you housesitters can search for housesits by location or date.

Annual fee: US$30

HousesitWorld USA is part of HousesitWorld, a website that has been around since 1999. You can find housesits in Australia, Europe, the U.S. and Canada on Housesitworld.com and potential housesitters can contact the homeowners directly via email.

Annual fee: CURRENTLY FREE for USA, Canada and Europe.
For the UK, Europe, Australia: AUD50.00 per year

Canada

CanadianHousesitters focuses solely on Canada and connects Canadian homeowners with housesitters. If you are looking to housesit, or need a housesit, you put up an ad on the site with the dates that you need them for.

Annual fee: There is no annual fee – instead, homeowners and housesitters pay to place an ad. The prices are $15 for 12 weeks (84 days), $24 for 25 weeks (175 days) and $37 – 32 weeks (224 days).

United Kingdom

Housesitters UK is a new housesitting website which focuses on the housesitting market in the UK. Housesitters can search for the latest ads and contact owners directly, or homeowners can search for suitable housesitters directly.

Annual fee: CURRENTLY FREE!! (Normally £15)

Other sites

As the name indicates, LuxuryHousesitting focuses on the luxury house market, although we have come across many moderate houses on the website and have found housesitting assignments for houses of the same range on other housesitting websites as well.

Annual fee: US$10.00

This website aims exclusively at senior citizens and senior citizens (over 50) with a senior citizen card. SeniorSits offer housesitting assignments in 64 countries.

Annual fee: FREE for senior citizens

SabbaticalHomes is geared towards academics who are looking for housesitters while they are going home for the summer or go abroad for a semester, which is why most of the housesits are near universities / in university towns. The site also offers home exchanges, rentals and home shares for academics.

Annual fee: FREE

WorkingCouples.com is not a housesitting website per se, but offers a big selection of innkeeper positions, hotel and B&B management jobs and other jobs for couples who want to work together – free lodging is usually included, which is why we decided to include it. Be aware though that the jobs advertised on the site include more responsibilities than a normal housesit.

Annual fee: US$59.95

The Caretaker Gazette is primarily a source for caretaker jobs, but more and more adverts for housesits can be found here, as well. The sits are mainly in the U.S., and you can find a lot of B&B, motel or campsite sits here.

Annual fee: US$29.95

Have we missed any other websites? Please let us know in the comments below!

You can find a more in-depth overview of these twenty websites, including their pros and cons, in our book Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting, now available as a pdf download for only $11.99! Over 120 pages packed with everything you need about housesitting, how to find a housesitter or how to get chosen for that dream housesit.

Break Free 2.0

Housesitting gone wrong: When an assignment turns out not to be what you expected

When Rachel and Robert were chosen for a housesitting assignment in southern Turkey, they were ecstatic. They would be looking after a house for three months in a coastal village located between popular tourist destinations of Marmaris and Fethiye. There would be no pets to take care of, either, which meant plenty of time to explore this beautiful region. A dream come true, they thought.

Sleepy cat CornigliaWhen they arrived in their new ‘home’ last month, they quickly realized that this assignment was not what they had envisioned. They confided in us all the trouble that ensued and have allowed us to share the story of their housesitting assignment gone wrong. Like all digital nomads, their only requirement for the housesit was a good Internet connection, preferably Wi-Fi, in order for Rachel to work on her freelance assignments.

The owner had assured them that a dongle (USB Wi-Fi stick) was inexpensive and would be more than enough for their needs. However, once they arrived in Turkey, they found out that it was in fact cheap to purchase a dongle but the internet usage was super expensive and became a major issue throughout the housesit – this is a nightmare of a problem for someone who relies exclusively on the internet for their income.

This would prove to be just the first trickle in a steady stream of small to medium-sized issues with the housesit, from a very basic kitchen with limited cooking supplies to missing garden tools, power outages, even water outages. The weather was extremely hot, and this subpar, rarely used home didn’t even have fans to help them cool off, except for one old fan that was falling apart. So they were stuck in the sweltering heat, at times with no water or power. Theoretically, these are all issues related to remote living and could have been handled with cooperation by the homeowner.

But the woman never replied to their emails, and when she did, it was after weeks and weeks of delay. This is often the issue when homeowners are on holiday, possibly on a cruise, in flight, or somewhere off the grid. But this woman simply lives overseas and could easily have replied to their needs at any time. Plus, she was not even there to greet them and give them a tour of the house and get them settled in, leaving Rachel and Robert guessing from the start to the finish.

MediterraneanThe question for the couple immediately became whether or not to even finish the housesit. On the one hand, they felt obligated to fulfill their promise of looking after the house for three months. They had also planned all their onward travels around the dates of this assignment and would have to scramble to arrange alternative accommodation. They had also invested in buying appliances, fans, cell phones and even a DSL line in order to have decent internet to work.

On the other hand, even once they committed to the assignment and made adjustments to create a more positive situation – things somehow managed to get even worse. New nuisances just kept coming up, including nosy neighbors, more outages, insect infestations and the stress and tension that would build after being ignored by the homeowner with each email.

Their dream summer evaporated, and the stress was causing fights between Rachel and Robert as well. Instead of the glorious three months they had envisioned, they were battling the housesit from hell and it was hard not to take their frustrations out on each other. On top of everything there was a bitter feeling of disappointment – the couple has housesat in several places around the world, and the assignments had all gone well; this one which they had been looking so forward to had them feeling trapped, instead.

They went back and forth – to leave or not to leave. What would happen if they left the house? But if they stayed, how would they handle the situation?

costa rica watching sunset.JPGLeave a housesit or not?

We talk all the time about how housesitting is a Win-Win Situation for everyone, so if the tables turn and it becomes a win-lose, you might also consider whether or not to leave your housesit. What is the breaking point where you say enough is enough? Is it ever okay to actually leave in the middle of a housesit?

The short answer is yes. If you reach your breaking point and feel that the housesit is more than you can handle, you have the right to walk away. However, there are steps you should take and things to consider before ever leaving in the middle of a housesit.

Communicate with the homeowners

First of all, before you even think about leaving, communicate your issues to the owner. Express your concerns, and don’t be afraid to ask for things to get fixed.

The last thing the homeowner wants to do is have to leave their vacation and return home, so in almost every case, they are going to want to accommodate your needs so you don’t leave.

If you have an unresponsive homeowner like Rachel and Robert did, then you need to make clear that the lack of communication is going to be the reason you leave. It is not a threat, but you must draw the line and make clear that the assignment is beyond what you are comfortable with, and if it is not fixed, you will leave.

Give them enough time to fix the situation, or to find a replacement, if you still decide you need to leave.

los angeles neighborhoodHere are the things we recommend you consider before leaving:

Pets

The most important consideration for any housesit is always going to be the pets. Are there pets involved? We would personally never leave a pet alone, no matter how bad the situation is and recommend that if there are pets involved that you make their safety and happiness your number one task if you do decide to leave a housesit. If you decide to leave while the owners are vacationing halfway around the world, make sure to arrange for the pet to be looked after before leaving.

Comfort

How much would you have to invest to improve the situation? If there are only a few appliances missing, you might be able to make the home more livable with little money. A few cozy pillows, a blender, and a fan might make a huge difference already.

Costs

How much will it cost to leave the housesit vs making the best out of a bad situation? What do flights cost to return home or to fly somewhere else? Are there other potential housesits nearby?

Isolation

If you are housesitting by yourself, it is much harder to make a bad housesitting experience into something you can endure. If there is no internet for example, even though it had been promised to you, and you are all by yourself with no local connections, you’d probably make yourself miserable for the duration of the housesit. Remember: there is no need to do this. It is supposed to be an enjoyable experience for you, too, especially as the odds are you are not being paid for this.

Deserted BeachHow to improve a bad housesitting experience

Rachel and Robert decided to stay because they invested a lot of money to fly to Turkey specifically for the housesit, and because they made travel arrangements in the region for after the assignment. How do you handle a housesit gone wrong when you decide to stay?

Ask the owner for assistance

Again, communicating your discomfort and dissatisfaction with the owners is key. Most owners are understanding and will offer to fix certain things. We had a housesit with an insufficient internet data package once and when we told the owner we couldn’t run our business with so little data, they upgraded to a better data package in order to ensure that we stayed.

Enjoy the surroundings

You most likely chose a housesit not only for the home, but also for the surrounding area. So get out and explore – in Mica and Mike’s case, they had enough beaches nearby, Lycian ruins, hamams and other sights. Make the travel experience as positive as possible, so you get the most out of it

Improve the living situation

Like Rachel and Robert did, buy or repair things in the house that are subpar or non-existent. We always buy a coffee pot when there isn’t one (we need our coffee!), but even installing internet or purchasing other appliances to make the most of the housesit can radically improve the situation. You might be thinking that you shouldn’t have to make these purchases, and in a way, you are right. But when you weigh the costs of leaving, rearranging your travel plans and then of course paying for accommodation – which you are not as a housesitter – you can see that most of these costs are far less than leaving the housesit.

housesit dogIf you do decide to leave a housesit

If you have communicated all the issues and your needs to the homeowner and things have not improved to a point that you can live with, then give the owner advanced notice that you are leaving. Even if that is just five days or so, give them a chance to find a new housesitter. Make sure that a caretaker or a friendly neighbor also know you are leaving, but be cautious of who you tell. You don’t want the neighborhood to all know that the house is being left vacant. We advise this not only because it is the right thing to do, but you don’t want to be held responsible should a break-in occur in your absence.

Again, the most important thing to do is make sure the pets are cared for in the best way possible. Don’t let the pets suffer just because of an issue between humans!

Lastly, leave the house in as good a condition as possible. Even if you are angry, kill them with kindness. Clean up, make sure everything is put back exactly the way it was before you arrived. That way you leave looking as professional as possible and have done so covering all the bases in the appropriate way.

Have you experienced a bad housesit? What did you do to improve the situation, or did you leave?

Break Free: The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting

Family housesitting: A mother and her son housesit and travel around the globe

In the latest installment of our housesitting interview series, we are talking to Ruth, a single mom who is housesitting with her 8-year old son while they travel the world. Ruth talks to us about how they started housesitting, if it is more difficult to get housesitting assignments with a child, and her favorite and worst housesitting experiences.

Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from, how long have you been housesitting for, do you do it full-time or sporadically, what do you do for a living.

I am a 51 year old single Mum from Australia, with an 8 year old son.  We are currently traveling in South America, and have been traveling the world for 13 months so far.

We first started housesitting in Australia. We were selling our home to come on this trip, and the house was pretty empty, so we had the chance to care for 3 homes in that time.

Then the house sold, and we were asked to housesit a neighbors home. This worked perfectly for the time we had to clean up the house for the hand-over to the new owners.

But our first big housesitting assignment was on an island in Fiji for 6 weeks.  This was a great time as we made friends with the neighbors and locals, as well as having a good ex-pat community we merged in with.

Our last house-sitting was for 2 months in Brazil.  It was 3 hours out of Rio, but we had the most spectacular view overlooking the harbor, the lakes, and river. It was a to-die-for location.

Mother’s Day breakfast overlooking the Rio harbor in our house-sit in Brazil

Mother’s Day breakfast overlooking the Rio harbor in our housesit in Brazil

How did you find out about housesitting?

When I was preparing for the journey of our lifetime, I looked for ways where we could travel slowly, emerge ourselves in a different culture, and save money.

Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

I read about it in a travel book, and then ‘Googled’ different sites. I came across Globetrotter Girls who recommended various sites, so I joined several.

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

We travel fairly fast given the fact most countries only allow you a 3 month visa. Being a single Mum, and on a budget, this can get tiring and expensive. Hotels can get lonely, and hostels can be dirty, so house-sitting gives us the time to slow down, catch up on his learning, and make new friends with the locals.

This lovely lady allowed me to house-sit her unit in Sydney

This lovely lady allowed me to house-sit her unit in Sydney

How many housesits have you had and where?

We have only house-sat a total of 8 times so far.

6 were in Australia – one having a cat and dog; 1 in Fiji which had 2 cats, and a great garden to care for; and Brazil – which turned out to be more of free labor in exchange for a place to live.  I learned a big lesson with this particular house-sit, and we ended up leaving early, but it all worked out great in the end.

Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

Our first housesitting gig was through friends. Several neighbors and friends asked us, as they knew I was good with plants, and my son was an animal lover. We actually scored our first international house-sit on the first application which was pretty amazing!

My son helping to do the dishes

My son helping to do the dishes

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

Yes, I think in one place, we found the responsibilities a little full on. She had us cleaning other houses, her pool & ours, and doing too many chores. It was slave labor for a bit there, and I have learned to ask how many hours they expect you to clean. She also put up photographs of another home, and not the place we were to live. We were quite misled, and it was a costly lesson.

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

Definitely Fiji. The house was glass fronted on a hill overlooking the beach. I loved the town, the friends we met, and the neighbors we got to know. My son even went to school there. The garden was not too hard to look after, and the cultural experience was incredible!

The patio of our Fiji house-sit overlooking the sea.

The patio of our Fiji house-sit overlooking the sea.

You housesit with your son – Do you find it harder to get accepted for a housesit because you are traveling with your child?

We recently were rejected for a string of housesits because I had a child. Too remote; aggressive dogs; luxury home, and other excuses were given. I don’t mind. If they think we are not the right fit for their home, then it needs to be someone else, as you need a good relationship with the homeowner. However, I have also been approached for 4 housesits in the last 3 months we had to turn down because timing or location did not work for us.

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

In Australia we once house-sat a country 2 story home. It was lovely but quite remote. There were no street lights, and we had a hand drawn map to find it. It took us hours. When we woke the next day we discovered the opposite neighbors were really good friends that we had known about 10 years ago from our church. It was pretty cool.

In Fiji, one of the cats loved to find rats and frogs and bring them into the house. I trod on one on the kitchen mat when I woke up and went to make coffee. It wasn’t so fun as I had no shoes on!

Off to Melbourne for our first house-sitting assignment when my son was 3 years old

Off to Melbourne for our first housesitting assignment when my son was 3 years old

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

Definitely Brazil. The location was remote. The advertisement was misleading. No-one in town spoke English and we spoke no Portuguese. The work load was full on at times and over the top. The bathroom stunk as the septic tank needed replacing so we had to run a fan 24/7. It had not been lived in for a while, so the first night the mosquitoes came out and my son had about 200 bites on his face alone. It was a really lonely and horrible time, but the house / location was pretty lovely.

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

We have a police clearance and great references. We also put we are Christians in our profile, and that we are traveling long-term. I am also a qualified landscape designer, so people feel pretty reassured about their garden. I also put that my son is an animal lover, so I think that helps.

I think the main thing is to read carefully the advertisement, and to reassure the owner that you are what they are looking for, and you will take good care of their house.

We house-sat in Adelaide when a neighbor went interstate – this was when our house sold and we had to clean it out.

We housesat in Adelaide when a neighbor went interstate – this was when our house sold and we had to clean it out.

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

We use Mindmyhouse, Housecarers.com, and Trustedhousesitters. They are all pretty good.

You are not only housesitting and traveling, but also focus on ‘Random Acts of Kindness‘. Can you tell our readers a little bit more about that, and how they can get involved?

When we decided to travel long term, we didn’t want to just ’see the world’. We wanted to make a difference. So my son and I talked, and really it was his idea. He decided to pack up his toys, and books and take them with us to Fiji. So we rang the airline and received permission for 40 kg of donations for he poor. We found a needy village, and some kids near us who had been deserted by their Mum. So we used our money to pay their school fees, buy them clothes and food. Then for the village we raised some funds with our facebook and blog, and we hired a 4WD and drove to a really remote location and then distributed all the items. The kids were so poor they had one shoe, or only a man’s singlet on a teenage girl as a dress with no underwear.  We helped a lot there. It was very rewarding.

In Los Angeles we passed out food to the homeless.

In Bolivia we worked with many of the beggars, glue sniffers, alcoholics and homeless. We gave money to those who could use it (not glue sniffers or alcoholics), and we gave out food and clothing. It was an amazing time.

If anyone would like to donate to our Random Acts of Kindness, they can give give through our Paypal link on our website exploramumourworldtrip.blogspot.com.

Ruth and her son visiting the Jesuit ruins in ParaguayRuth is a single Australian 51 year old Mum who has been travelling the world with her son, who is now 8 years old. They decided to change their lives about 3 years ago. It took 18 months in total to prepare for the journey, but it has been the greatest thing they have ever done.

They will be traveling through South and Central America for the next 6 – 9 months, so if you are looking for a housesitter in that region, feel free to contact Ruth at her website or Facebook

Meet Jemma and James, the housesitting couple

How did you find out about housesitting? Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

Credit goes to Erin and Simon from Never Ending Voyage for that one. Although there are plenty of blogs that discuss house sitting, theirs was the first that sent us down the rabbit hole that eventually led to us becoming house sitters.

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

For us it’s to save money on accommodation. We discovered a lot of the other benefits – such as living like a local, slow travel etc – once we were actually house sitting, but initially the main motivation was to save money.

How many housesits have you had and where?

I think we’ve had eleven or twelve housesits now and they’ve been spread out between the UK, France and Portugal. Last year we had four French house sits in a row lasting nine months in total. That was a really great opportunity to experience France and to find out just how terrible we both were at speaking French.

james poolWas it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

Our first application was a complete fluke; we managed to get that one straight away. After that though it was a frustrating twenty or so applications before we really got anything worthwhile back. Also – and I think this is worth mentioning to anyone thinking about house sitting – we didn’t realize that a lot of house sitting websites don’t update the assignments to ‘sitter found’ when a sitter has been found. We were unknowingly applying for assignments that had been filled a year before.

TrustedHousesitters.com was (and still is) the exception to this rule; their assignments are very up-to-date. Now if we use any other house sitting websites we only tend to apply for them when they come up (following new assignments via email or RSS). It just saves a lot of time that way.

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

We took on a five month housesit in the French countryside. During that time an invitation came through the door from the Association de Chasse. Jemma describes the chasse on her blog as a “bunch of local men who grab their shotguns two to three days a week and wander into the woods to shoot at things”. Most of the time they tend to shoot each other, but once or twice a year they work on their aim and put together a meal for the village. We RSVP’d yes of course.

The dinner was six courses in total: gabure (soup), an assiette de charcuterie (cured meats), venison stew, a shot of whisky as a palette cleanser, wild boar, cheese and salad and finally a desert of custards and biscuit. There was a lot of wine from Madiran, the nearby wine region, as well.

Being the only ‘foreigners’ there felt incredibly special. I think getting to be a part of a community like that is something that’s really unique to house sitting as opposed to other ways of travelling – hostelling, hotels etc.

James-and-Ralph-on-groundDid you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

Last October we looked after 18 alpacas. It was a weird setup as even though they were farm animals and bred for their wool, they still had names and even came to their own names. We also had to be able to tell them all apart.

alpaca sittingWe learnt how to herd them, weigh them and work alongside a vet to help out with the medical work. My least favourite part was when one of the male alpacas had a cut on his man bits. I had to rub cream on him every day. I thought we shared a few intimate moments but I’ve heard nothing from him since.

We also had to separate the males from the females and Prince Charming, the studmale from all of the alpacas. I’m not sure how he ended up with that name actually. He spent most of the time spitting at the other males and being father to half of the farm, he had played the field in more ways than one.  Thankfully we managed to keep them all in their separate groups and the owners didn’t come home to any new alpaca offspring.

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

As mentioned, we often had to do medical work on the alpacas. One day Jemma was standing in front of one of the females cleaning out some gunge that had gotten trapped in her eye. The alpaca was sitting down and being uncharacteristically well-behaved. Then it got bored, slipped its neck between Jemma’s legs, stood up and took off running down the field.  Jemma was too surprised to do anything so all she could do was grab the alpaca’s fur and hold on. All I could do was laugh.

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

We crashed our own car on our first housesit in France. Nobody was injured – well apart from my pride – but it was quite difficult house sitting and dealing with insurance companies at the same time. During that two week house sit we also had to find a new car, arrange to go back to the UK to buy it (after the house sit) and work out a plan to drive across France in time for our next house sit. We never neglected our duties during that house sit, but we felt bad. We wanted the homeowners to come back and everything to be perfect but instead we had to explain our own saga and ask them if we could leave our stuff there while we sorted everything out. They were very understanding – everyone in France crashes their car at least twice it seems – but at the time we felt like we could have been better house sitters. Obviously it was a complete accident but it took us a while, me particularly, to stop beating ourselves up for it.

james_angelaDo you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

Take on a few house sits locally first. We’ve found that no matter your experience level if people can meet you first, they’re much more willing to give you a shot.  

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

TrustedHousesitters.com as mentioned is the most functional of the websites and I think we’ve gotten all but one of our house sits through them. They’re also the only site to have its own devoted page that lists all of the long-term assignments. That’s incredible useful: long-term house sits really give you a chance to experience life as a local and without having to travel in between house sits you save even more money.

We did build our own website as well, but being honest even though we’ve been offered a few house sits through that, none of them have been in areas where we’re currently able to house sit. 

Additional info:

pet sittingJames & Jemma are ‘the house sitting couple’. You can find out more about them on their website thehousesittingcouple.com.

Gone nomadic: An interview with newbie housesitters Kathleen and Brock

Originally from the US, Kathleen and Brock headed to Australia and although their original plans fell through, their discovery of housesitting saved the day! They’ve since had three housesits and as a pair of digital nomads, this lifestyle is sure to continue. Thankfully they have let us interview them to share their story here, and, as always, for the ultimate information on housesitting in one book, pick up a copy of Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting.

How did you find out about housesitting? Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

We learned about housesitting earlier this year!  We are both from the U.S. and traveled to Australia on a working holiday visa in January.  Long story short, the job we accepted prior to arriving in Oz didn’t turn out to be what we expected (we were completely miserable) and we had to come up with a plan B that wouldn’t drain us financially in a very expensive country. Kathleen reads a lot of travel blogs so she knew of several other “nomads” that rented apartments/houses as opposed to staying hotels and hostels, and a few travelers that blogged about housesitting. We didn’t find this site right away, it was Hecktic Travels that caused the lightbulb to go off… housesitting was our plan B! We immediately signed up for TrustedHouseSitters.com and HouseCarers.com and created solid profiles.

Brock with dogs in NZ

Brock with dogs in NZ

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

We house sit because we lead a nomadic lifestyle traveling the world slowly. It has always been our dream to live in countries all over the world and get to know cultures while living as locals and house sitting affords us exactly that. We love to travel, but we are also bloggers and house sitting is a great fit for us because we need quiet places to write and work. We also miss amenities of home (kitchens, cars, etc) most when we are moving around so it is a little treat to have those little luxuries once and a while.

How many housesits have you had and where?

We have had three house sits so far. One back home near Chicago, one in rural Australia and we are currently house sitting in New Zealand. Both the one in Australia and New Zealand were for a month and we found them through the websites we are registered with. Later this year we have another one lined up in southern California, also.

Mussel hunting in New Zealand

Mussel hunting in New Zealand

Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

Honestly, we applied for two sits when we were in Australia and we got one of them! The other sit was downtown Sydney and they wrote telling us they get a very high volume of applicants because of their location. When we decided we wanted to house sit in New Zealand we applied for two sits and both applications were accepted. We ended up having to turn the second one down after further conversations about dates. We have been very fortunate so far!

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

The house sit we are currently at will be very hard to beat. We would probably try and buy this house from the homeowners if they were interested in selling it! The house is in one of the most beautiful parts of the country and we have ocean and mountain views out of almost every window. New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and the people here are so kind you can’t help but always being in a good mood. We are taking care of two very well-behaved dogs that go for long walks along the beaches and forest trails everyday. We are semi-rural which means it is quiet and peaceful, but we are also a 40-minte drive or 6-minute boat ride into town. It is the kind of place we would live if we were ready to stop traveling.

Brock and kitty

Brock and kitty

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

The house we took care of in Australia was completely off-grid. This meant the entire house was run on solar energy. Living in a home completely powered by the sun is what originally attracted us to the assignment. It did present some very interesting chores/responsibilities like checking our input/output everyday and carefully watching our use of energy, running the generator if there were several cloudy days in a row, and running the watering system that pumped directly out of the stream everyday. Also, we don’t think this is unusual because of the locations of our sits, but in Australia and New Zealand we’ve had had chickens to feed and collect eggs from each day.

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

So far we haven’t had any real out-there funny experiences. The animals we take care of are pretty funny with their unique personalities, but nothing too crazy yet.

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

We had some bumps in the road at our house sit in Australia. There were some hiccups with the very important watering system and we were terrified all of the plants weren’t going to die if we couldn’t get it working, but it magically started functioning properly after a few days. Then, one of the chickens died. That was pretty awful. We just found her dead one day and had to bury her. We also were still unfamiliar with the internet usage policies in Australia (we were more accustomed to paying for the speed of internet as opposed to an amount of data). We had no idea how to gage how much internet data we use to know what we would need through the month. The homeowners had a specific amount of data for each month and we ran out pretty quickly. Having no internet is a problem for bloggers.

Kathleen with Chickens

Kathleen with Chickens

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

The best advice we can think of would be to build a strong, honest profile. It is also really beneficial to have great references. If it is at all possible we suggest getting some experience house sitting, even for someone you know or near your home. This will give you a feel for it and give you the opportunity to gain a relevant letter of recommendation. Also, remember house sitting is like a job with serious responsibilities. It may be a way for you to travel to new exciting places, but don’t forget homeowners are entrusting their home and often times their furry family members. Being a good house sitter once you’ve secured an assignment comes from taking your responsibilities seriously and cuddling those animals that need cuddles, and cleaning the house, property or pool. We always ask the homeowners if they would like regular emails about how things are going or if they’d prefer we don’t bother them while they are away. Sometimes a note and quick picture of their animals gives them confidence that things are going well back home.

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

We are signed up with HouseCarers.com and TrustedHouseSitters.com. We have secured one job with each site so far!

Kathleen and Brock

Kathleen and Brock

Brock and Kathleen are an American couple traveling full-time since June 2012. They are completely different in every way except that they agree life should be their favorite adventure and they weren’t finding that working 9-5 at a desk. This year they have house sat in Australia, New Zealand and are looking forward to an assignment this summer in California! They travel very slowly with the intention of getting to know a country and it’s culture by living like a local as often as possible. You can follow Kathleen & Brock and their adventures on: OurFavoriteAdventureFacebookTwitter & Pinterest.

As always, for the ultimate information on housesitting in one book, pick up a copy of Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting.

Interview with housesitting experts Nicole and Michael from Suitcasestories.com

How did you find out about housesitting? Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

Nicole’s mother is a full time house sitter and has been for many years. It was at her suggestion that we started house sitting in 2000 when we were building our home, to save on rent whilst also paying a mortgage.

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

Twelve months ago we sold our possessions and left our ‘conventional’ life in Australia to live a life of travel. In order to afford this lifestyle we need to save money where we can, which is why we housesit. We have saved over $20,000.00. That’s a lot of money for someone living a nomadic lifestyle.

But that’s not the only reason. We love immersing ourselves into the community and culture when we visit different countries. Housesitting allows us to do just that. And I won’t deny that having space is also a major factor. When you are with your partner 24 hours a day 7 days a week for, well for years, you really need a little space where you can have some ‘alone time’. There is no space in a hotel room!

Suitcase stories beach house

House sitting on an island paradise? Yes please!

How many housesits have you had and where?

We have had over 20 house sits in various locations throughout Australia, UK, Europe and North America.

Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

We were very lucky because our first few sits (the ones in 2000) were from word of mouth through Nicole’s mother. However, the first sit we did as nomads (2012) was the very first one we applied for. We were so lucky!

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

One of our favorite sits has been a house in Vero Beach Florida. We first sat for them in October 2012 and they asked us to come back to sit again in January 2013, which we happily accepted. The house is absolutely beautiful (full of mod-cons and luxuries) and is located on a little island just off the main land. But more than that, we grew very attached to the 2 Bichon Frise dogs they have. When we returned in January the dogs remembered us and were so excited to see us. I guess it was a mutual attachment!

Michael with Leo and Toby in Florida

Michael with Leo & Toby from Vero Beach, Florida

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

No nothing yet. We are always up for a challenge! So far we have looked after cats, dogs, birds, fish, turtles, chickens and a goat. We would be open to something a little unusual though!

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

There’s been nothing too outrageous so far. However, we did look after a dog that was attracted to Nicole’s leg a little more than what she was comfortable with! The thing was he was a very large dog so every time he decided to, lets say ‘show some affection’, he almost knocked her over!

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

Well, that large dog comes to mind! But we’ve been very fortunate that all of our housesits have been a positive experience. The worst thing to happen to us was actually before we started a sit. We were contacted by a home owner offering us a sit in Maui. Of course we jumped at it, I mean it’s Maui! We were so excited. The house was an architects dream, right on the ocean, great pets – It had everything going for it. We made the plans and arrangements and then they cancelled their trip! We were so disappointed. Not to mention that we had turned down other sits because we thought we were booked for those dates. Luckily we ended up finding a replacement sit in Costa Rica, so I guess all’s well that ends well.

Suitcase stories house

We have looked after many styles of homes; modern, cottage, apartments, beach houses and much more

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

Be yourself. Be honest about what you are capable of. Be genuine – For example; if you do not like dogs, don’t accept a sit with dogs. It’s dishonest and no good for yourself or the dogs.

When you send an application to a homeowner, it shouldn’t just be about you. It should be about how you can help THEM. You should personalize it and mention their pets by name if they have in their ad. If they have mentioned how much they love their garden, you should make reference to that. You can talk about yourself and your strengths of course, but the focus should be the homeowner. Always personalize each application letter – Never just cut and paste the exact same text!

References are a big help. Even if you haven’t housesat before, you can still obtain references from people like your landlord, someone in the community, friends, your vet (to show you take care of your own pets) and anyone that can testify that you are a good person. A police check is a great idea too. It shows you are willing to take a few extra steps to show the homeowners you are trustworthy.

Once you start sitting always ask for a reference from the homeowners you sit for. If you do a good job (which you should every time!) then they will be more than happy to recommend you to others. Also, if the homeowners are happy with your service they will ask you back again. We’ve been asked back on many occasions, which is the best compliment we can get!

I think it all comes down to pride; if you take pride in what you do, it will show.

Michael walking Pumpkin & Alfie

Michael walking Pumpkin & Alfie in Atlantic Beach, Florida

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

When we first started full-time housesitting a year ago we signed up to 6 websites. However, when it was time renew recently we only renewed 4 of them; trustedhousesitters.com, housecarers.com, mindmyhouse.com and luxuryhousesitting.com. We get most of our assignments from Trusted House Sitters, then House Carers and only a few from Mind My House.

About Nicole and Michael:

Nicole and Michael are an Australian couple who gave up their careers, sold their possessions and left their ‘conventional’ life behind for a life of travel and housesitting. They have been living a nomadic life for 12 months and see no end in sight.

They recently launched Suitcase Stories, a website where they share their stories, travel tips and destination guides. Their main goal for this website is to inspire others to travel and to show people how long term travel is not only possible but affordable.

You can follow their journey on Facebook and Twitter also.

Nicole and Michael

Nicole and Michael

Interview with the Wanderlusters Charli and Ben, who are housesitting their way around the globe

In today’s interview, Wanderlusters Charli and Ben, who are housesitting their way around the world, are sharing some of their best, worst and funniest housesitting stories, how they got started housesitting and which housesitting websites they have the most success with. They are also providing some invaluable advice for newbie housesitters.

How did you find out about housesitting? Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

Having decided we wanted to travel we were then faced with the impossible task of choosing a route and deciding where to start your adventure. When you make the decision to commit to a nomadic existence the world literally becomes your oyster, with an endless bucket list and a fist full of wanderlust your head literally implodes at the possibilities. We knew we wanted to visit South America. Ben had been dreaming of the Far East ever since visiting Malaysia as a child and Charli was desperate to soak up some culture and a little of the good wine in Italy. However we just couldn’t decide where to start. It was just as we were beginning to lose our minds that Ben’s younger sister sent him a link to trustedhousesitters.com. Unfamiliar with the concept we thought perhaps this would provide us with a destination with which to start planning our itinerary. On a whim we signed up, created a profile and began applying for assignments all over the world. A week later we were asked to house sit in Liberia, Costa Rica and the rest as they say is history.

House Sitting in Costa Rica

Relaxing by a waterfall close to our house sit in Costa Rica

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

We are permanently nomadic and house sitting provides us with rest bite from the stresses of continuous travel. When traveling for any length of time budget is always one of the main factors driving your experience and house sitting has helped us to save 90% of our accommodation costs in the past two years. While the financial aspect is a bonus we find the opportunity to live like a local in areas that we would have otherwise not considered on our itinerary to be the most rewarding part of the whole house sitting experience. We have met such wonderful people during our assignments, the home owners, their friends and neighbours have all contributed to our journey and we now have a wealth of contacts all over the world. Each assignment is different to the last and provides us with an opportunity to learn new skills and educate ourselves about life in a community far removed from the ones we grew up in.

How many housesits have you had and where?

We have had ten house sitting assignments so far:
Leicester, UK
South Kensington, London, UK
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Liberia, Costa Rica
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
Ojochal, Costa Rica
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Valla Beach, NSW, Australia
Auckland, New Zealand

House Sitting in New Zealand

Spencer soaking Charli after collecting his frisbee from the water.

Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

To be honest I can’t remember how many assignments we applied for before accepting that first sit in Costa Rica I would guess quite a few! I recall I spent the best part of a week compiling our profile, selecting images and applying for assignments we felt we would enjoy. We currently receive an interested response from about one in every five or six that we apply for however I know our comprehensive advert and references help. In the beginning we asked our previous employers and landlords to write a short character review to post on our advert. Having applied for a lot of house sits we now realise how important your profile is. I’m pleased that when compiling our profile we treated it like an employment CV as I think that helped to portray who we are and what we can offer home owners.

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

We’ve been so lucky over the past two years it’s hard to pick out a favourite! Living beneath Kylie Minogue and Rowan Atkinson while apartment sitting in South Kensington rates pretty highly, although we didn’t catch a glimpse of either during our stay. The views from our last sit in Costa Rica were breathtaking, you could see out to the Pacific Ocean from the plunge pool and the top level boasted 360 windows for incredible views over the surrounding rainforest. While in Australia we looked after the world’s most wonderful dogs, a hilarious duo of border collie and beagle who were the polar opposite of characters. The beagle chose to spend her days laid on soft furnishings in the sun while the border collie had us running the length of the local beach on a daily basis. Our current house sit has another wonderful canine, his insane Frisbee catching skills have won him the nickname ‘acrobat dog’ affectionately given by the children who play down at the beach in front of the house. It’s hard to describe just how much these experiences have benefited our travels, they remain some of our favorite memories from the journey so far. You can read about our house sitting assignments in Australia here.

Wanderlusters Charli and Ben on the Nullarbor Plain, SA, Australia

Wanderlusters Charli and Ben on the Nullarbor Plain, SA, Australia

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

So far we’ve haven’t looked after anything too far removed from the traditional list of household pets, however our forthcoming assignment here in New Zealand involves caring for a troop of 12 Alpacas. The owners have assured us that they are easy to maintain and fortunately don’t need exercising. We had visions of walking down to the local village with them each on a lead, getting all tangled and trying to coordinate collecting their poop with a gigantic plastic bag!

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

While at our first house sit in Costa Rica we woke in the night to torrential rain, about fifteen minutes later a deafening sound began. It sounded like a low pitched siren and was gradually getting louder and louder. Half asleep and not thinking too clearly I informed Ben that it was a tsunami alert and we had to find high ground. Classic. After running out the door and into the garden towards the car Ben stopped and started to laugh hysterically. He’d noticed the direction from which the noise was coming and the unusual number of toads at his feet. As it turns out the noise was the sound of thousands of mating toads. According to the neighbours at that time each year after a particularly heavy rain fall, toads are known to collect near the mango plantation behind the house and look for a mate. Their loud display was designed to attract females, not alert sleepy house sitters to impending natural disasters. Read about our house sit in Ojochal, Costa Rica, here.

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

All the home owners we have met so far have been wonderful and I’m delighted to say we haven’t had any negative experiences. I think the fact that we do a lot of research on the local area and spend time talking to the owners to make sure we understand their expectations helps to ensure we have the best possible experience. Read our dive report from The Poor Knights Islands which we visited whist house sitting in Auckland.

At The Poor Knights Islands, North Island, New Zealand

Charli and Ben at The Poor Knights Islands, North Island, New Zealand

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

The best piece of advice we can give those considering becoming a house sitter is to ensure you fully consider an assignment before accepting it. Before we commit to an assignment we always talk to the homeowner on the phone or via Skype, making sure that they are on our wave length and understand who we are and what we can offer them. Get as much information from the home owner about the assignment as you can, including images of the house and pets. Establish whether you are comfortable with all the responsibilities and set your expectations correctly. The thought of a secluded mansion on a remote Fijian island can shut down rational brain function in the best of us, however understanding what is expected of you and ensuring you’re well prepared will mean that every experience is enjoyable.

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

We are currently signed up with:
MindMyHouse- we have been offered two of our ten sits through this site
House Careers – We have yet to accept an assignment through this site although have been offered a few
Trusted House Sitters – By far the most successful for us, we have accepted five of our ten assignments through here.

Lake Alouette Golden Ears National Park BC, Canada

Charli and Ben run Wanderlusters, a new website dedicated to providing ‘Wisdom for Wanderers’. Still in the early stages of development those eager to travel can search for real world advice and keep up to date with the latest in travel news. Charli and Ben have set up the site to share their experience of long term travel. Help them spread the Wanderlust and follow them on their travels. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Housesitting Profile Makeover #1: How to improve your housesitting profile

For those looking to have success as housesitters, there are two major things to keep in mind when setting up your housesitting profile. First, homeowners have hundreds, if not thousands, of housesitters to choose from and can even be overwhelmed by the number of applications they get.

Second, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This well-worn expression is probably the most important thing to understand when creating your profile. Homeowners want someone trustworthy above all else to care for their home and pets for extended periods of time.

We go into detail in our post, How to set up the perfect housesitting profile, where we talked about the importance of the right photo, a catchy headline and how to highlight how you fit the homeowners needs, even if you don’t have any experience housesitting.

Our first ever housesitting profile makeover

One of our readers, Kristen, is feeling frustrated that, despite being signed up to two websites, she is not getting a response to her housesitting applications.

The challenge: Compared to many housesitters out there, Kristen is young, between 18-25. This might make some homeowners nervous. However, Kristen is an online entrepreneur so she is very flexible with times and locations, and she also has a healthy amount of experience caring for homes and pets. We need to highlight the trustworthy and experienced elements of her profile without trying to hide her age.

Let’s start with a look at Kristen’s existing profile on MindMyHouse.com

Kristen profile MMH

What works?

The availability of references is an encouraging start, being self-employed shows flexibility and Kristen obviously has experience with the gamut of household pets.

Room for Improvement

The Headline: Friendly, nonsmoking + responsible young woman excited to look after your home!

Suggestion:
Add profession into headline to counterbalance young age:
Friendly, animal-loving online entrepreneur available to care for your home and pets.

The photo

The photo has a great, large view of the face like we suggest, with a big open smile, which makes her seem friendly and open. However, it comes off a bit too young and seemed like a webcam photo at first glance.

Suggestion 1: I would include this in one of the additional gallery photos, but opt for a more professional looking picture.

Suggestion 2: Add a few more photos to the gallery showing yourself with pets or doing one of your hobbies.

About this sitter

20something woman seeking meaningful adventures through housesitting. Longer term house sits are preferred and I’m willing to go anywhere from N. America, Central/South America + Europe.

Homeowners usually want older, mature couples, and Kristen is a young, single female. That doesn’t mean she isn’t capable, but she needs to lead with a more mature angle, rather than ‘20-something’.

Room for Improvement

Why not start with an introduction like this:

‘My name is Kristen, I live in XX and I love to travel. Because I am running my own online business doing XX, the location independence allows me to housesit for long periods of time and/or at short notice.’

Even though there is an extra section for ‘Experience’, this is the first and potentially only paragraph busy homeowners will read. This is why something like: ‘I have experience caring for homes in TOWN, TOWN and TOWN, and have cared for pets like dogs, cats, hamsters, fish and birds.’ should be added here, too.

You mention willingness to go anywhere, which shows commitment, but we would suggest leaving out ‘adventurous’. An adventurous retired couple has a very different feeling to it compared to someone in their early 30s. You want to avoid giving homeowners any reason to worry about parties or something similar.

Why they want to house sit

I am a responsible, adventurous and passionate young woman starting her own online business through coaching and freelance writing.

Experiencing new cultures like a local is my passion (did I tell you about the time I interned in Bucerias, Mexico for a summer?) The best way to experience a new place is by living like a local and experiencing everything the town/city/country has to offer.

I am also looking to expand my Spanish from intermediate to fluency, so if you’re in a Spanish speaking country, talk to me! :)

Room for Improvement

Again, we would suggest leaving out ‘adventurous’ and start with responsible, honest and trustworthy writer and XX coach, who works full-time online.

Reword ‘looking to expand my Spanish’ to something like ‘I speak Spanish and would love to use my language skills during a housesit which is why I look forward to housesits in Spanish speaking countries.’ – say what you can offer rather than what you want.

Keep your statement of ‘the best way to experience a new place is by living like a local and experiencing everything the town/city/county has to offer.’ This is a great reason to housesit. Why not also add that while you love to experience new cultures and countries, you need a quiet place to be able to focus on work as well.

This reads as responsible, plus pet owners like this as it suggests you plan on being around a lot to spend time with pets and won’t be out sightseeing and day-tripping all the time and neglecting the pets.

We suggest you leave the part in brackets out ‘did I tell you about the time I interned in Bucerias, Mexico for a summer? Go for something like: ‘Experiencing new cultures like a local is my passion and I loved my time in Bucerias, Mexico, in 20XX, when I spent the summer interning at a XX organization. The XX months there showed me I adapt well to local life in new countries and my preferred way of travel is living like a local / soaking up local life, for weeks or months at a time.

Their experience

Throughout my life, I’ve been taking care of animals. I grew up with cats, dogs, birds, fish, hamsters – you name it! I take care of my friend’s cat while he’s out of town (which is at least once a month for a week) as well as maintain plants and bring in the mail. While my parents are out of town, I also will go home to take care of their three dogs and bird.

Room for Improvement:

This paragraph comes off a little young, with the mention of your parents and your friends. Instead of saying ‘your friend’s cat’ you could say here that you ‘take care of a cat one week a month,’ and regularly return to your parents’ house to look after their three dogs and birds, along with other household responsibilities such as XXX. You can even mention the breed of dog, since that might be all some homeowners with the same pets need to choose you over someone else.

What can they bring to the assignment

I have experience taking care of animals + houses alike (including my own apartment) and I am no stranger to having someone else rely on me to take care of their pets. I’m naturally attracted to animals and love to be around them.

Room for Improvement

Everything you say here is great, but you can also add here specific characteristics if you have them:

Do you enjoy any chores or household work in particular, like gardening or anything else around the house? Point out again that you are flexible, self-sufficient, reliable, great with animals – anything that could be of interest for homeowners. If you have a car (if you’ll be applying for housesits in your home area) you should also mention this, as many homeowners prefer sitters with their own cars.

Kristen’s profile on Housecarers.com:

Kristen profile HC

Hi,

Thank you for taking the time to look at my page! I am absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to house sit as I have traveled extensively to quite a few countries around the world. I believe the most authentic way to experience a country is by living like a local and feel house sitting is a great compromise.

I’m also a huge animal lover and have experience taking care of dogs, cats, birds, fish and more. I find myself to be very capable and responsible. I would treat your home as if it was my own.

I am friendly and love getting to know people on a deeper level. I think it’s important to make connections with people you meet in your travels and even in your own home town.
Other random facts about me: I have an intermediate level of Spanish and am open to learning other languages. I am a nonsmoker, vegetarian, and an optimist.

I look forward to hearing from you!

All my best, Kristen

Room for Improvement

Overall this is a very positive representation. We would suggest neatening up the content a bit and always keeping in mind that your profile should include information that will resonate with homeowners looking for a stable, safe sitter for their home and pets.

We would leave out the first tow sentences – ‘Thank you…’ and “I am absolutely thrilled…” It comes off a bit too keen. Start with your second sentence instead: ‘I believe the most authentic way to experience a country is by living like a local and feel house sitting is a great compromise.’ - this is a great intro.

While it is important to emphasize you are good with animals, continue from that first sentence and talk about why you want to housesit: you are self-employed, location independent, can work wherever you want, and that housesitting allows you to work in a quiet environment and yet allows you to get to know new places at the same time, etc).

Next explain time you have spent abroad in one or two sentences and then go into your experience caring for pets and homes.

In the second paragraph you say ‘I find myself to be very capable and responsible.’ Do others find you responsible? If so, we would say something like ‘those who I housesit for would describe me as capable and responsible’ making it somebody else’s assessment of your characteristics rather than you rating yourself.

Keep the sentence ‘I would treat your home as if it was my own.– that is what many homeowners want to hear and truly appreciate.

The ‘random facts’ are great, but why not address it as ‘additional information’ or just include it in a small paragraph without naming it. I have an intermediate level of Spanish and am open to learning other languages. I am a nonsmoker, vegetarian, and an optimist. This will give you an advantage for housesits in Spanish-speaking countries, and we have come across many housesit ads where the owners prefer vegetarians, so this will be an advantage for you as well.

If you are not a party girl, don’t hesitate to say that – should homeowners be worried about trusting a 20something with their house, they will appreciate it if you say something like: ‘At the moment, I am focusing on growing my online business and spend most days in front of the computer. I am social and like to go out for drinks occasionally, but I am not a party girl. I am a hard worker and truly enjoy the company of pets while I work from home, which is why housesitting works great for me.

Another thing that you should add is that you have references, if you have any. If they will give you glowing references, don’t be afraid to say that ‘excellent references are available on request.’

The most exotic housesits around the world

Not a single day goes by without us drooling over one of the many housesitting ads we receive in our inbox every day, from exotic places such as Fiji and Hawaii to dream locations like New York City, Paris or London. These were only some of the housesit we have spotted this year – tempting us to apply!

Housesits 2013 adshousesits 2013We have shared some housesitting stories of fellow housesitters, who were able to land some truly amazing housesits around the world, over on Globetrottergirls.com.

Check out the post Dream Housesits around the world: Travelers share their most memorable housesitting experiences and read about a couple who scored a housesit on an island in the Gulf of Thailand, complete with service staff, home cinema and swimming pools, as their very first housesitting gig; or the father and son who are looking after a desert oasis in Morocco. Another first-time housesitter got a dream housesit in Costa Rica, including an infinity pool overlooking the Pacific and sloths in their backyard, and a family of five who are taking care of a villa on the tropical island of Langkawi in Malaysia. Other exotic housesits include a traditional wooden home in Kyoto, Japan, a houseboat in Amsterdam and a beachfront property in Fiji!

mexico our private beach

Our most exotic housesit to date came with its own private beach on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Break Free in 2014: How to afford the trip of your lifetime through housesitting

Are you still not convinced that housesitting is the key to breaking free in 2013, allowing you to travel longer for less, or allowing you to travel at all, because you don’t have to worry about your pets and house?

Watch the book trailer for Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting and get inspired to become a part of this unique travel trend!

You can download our 120+ page book on housesitting, packed with pictures and three bonus print-outs that will ensure you a successful housesitting experience, plus a 25% discount to one of the world’s top housesitting websites for $11.99 right here.

You can pick up the Kindle version for $9.99 on Amazon (same great 25% discount, but no print-out bonuses) so you can read it on the go!