Author Archives: Dani

How to live like a local when housesitting

The opportunity to live like a local is our favorite aspect of housesitting!

Longer stays allow you to experience cities and towns around the world the way the people who live there actually do, not the way that guide books and the hotel concierge suggest. The experiences you have are truly authentic and meaningful this way.

You might be further away from the main attractions or downtown center than if you had booked a hotel, but because you have plenty of time, all you really need is a plan. Here are our hard-earned tips and tricks to traveling locally when housesitting.

Pre-trip research is key

The first thing we always do before arriving in the area is to research the destination as much as possible. That means using sites like Wikitravel.org, Tripadvisor.com and a whole host of travel blogs and websites to find out about major attractions and off-the-beaten path things to do within a day’s reach, always keeping in mind what kind of pets we will be caring for at each particular housesit. For example, if we are caring for cats, then we can be gone for longer periods of time thanks to feline self-sufficiency, whereas if we have dogs at home, we either figure out how many of the attractions we can take the dog(s) to, or shorten the number of hours we can be away from the house.

The homeowner is your local concierge

niagara wine country & lake

A visit to the Niagara Wine Country had been recommended to us by the homeowners of the house we were looking after in Canada.

When we arrive to each housesit, we ask the homeowners their advice on what to do. In many cases, the people who have housesitters are also avid travelers, since they are leaving you with their house as they go travel for weeks or months at a time. On a handful of occasions, homeowners have actually had a big box filled with guidebooks, maps and tons of brochures covering everything there is to do in the area. Homeowners have given us great tips, like nearby waterfalls, hikes or river views not mentioned in any guidebooks.

Even when the homeowners are not so travel savvy, we still try to solicit useful local knowledge from them, such as must-try food and drinks native to the area. For example, when we were in Canada, we were told that we not only had to sample Poutine (which we already knew), but also Beaver Tails, a delicious pastry which we had never heard of. In Italy, we focused our attention on local wine (of course!) but also checking out trattorias that only locals in our small village ate in.

Let the dog be your ambassador

If there is a dog in your care while housesitting, let him or her sniff out their human friends and introduce you. The neighbors or people in the dog park recognize the dog and come over to you for a chat. This is a great way for more local travel tips and also the chance to make a few local friends as well.

If you are cat-sitting you won’t be out on any walks with them, obviously, but that won’t keep you from meeting the neighbors. Hopefully the homeowner has introduced you or at least left you the contact details for friends in the area. We have also been known to invite people over to the house and make pizza or snacks (as long as the housesitters have said it is okay to have the neighbors over – ask first!). In one housesit, we made friends with someone nearby whose son was in a band, and she invited us to see him play in a bar that we wouldn’t have thought to go into. We had a blast. Another time, we spent an afternoon telling stories and talking travel with a fascinating neighbor who has had nine lives and lived to tell about them all.

Bring your hobbies along

jess and millie in saguaro national park

Hiking is something that you can also enjoy with the pets you are caring for. In Arizona we hiked in the Saguaro National Park.

But let’s say you don’t really get along with the neighbors. There are plenty of other ways to get entrenched in local life. If you are an avid reader, you might ask around or do a Google search to find out about a book club. There are also running, walking or hiking clubs, or if you are housesitting in a foreign country, you can sign up to a language course. You can even go for the extra private classes, since you are saving so much money on accommodation! This is a great way to make local friends and really get to know an area in such a more intimate way and make new friends.

Be a part of the community

One of the things we love most about housesitting is that because we are somewhere for an extended period of time, we can become a part of the local fabric. We buy fruits and vegetables from the same vendor and strike up conversations with the locals in our favorite bakery or the coffee shop we visit a few times a week. You can pick up the paper from the man on the corner and wave to the grandma who leans out the window watching the kids on their way to school in the morning. In this way, you temporarily become a part of the community in a city or village you may have never even traveled to if it weren’t for the housesitting opportunity.

 

The advantages of housesitting: The housesitter’s perspective

In Part I of this 2-part series, we have outlined the advantages of housesitting for homeowners. In Part II, we are sharing why housesitting is a win-win situation for both sides and how housesitters benefit from caring for somebody else’s house.

Whether you are a long-term traveler or just looking for affordable accommodation, housesitting is the perfect way to go – here are the main advantages of housesitting:

1. Free accommodation

That’s right – free. When you housesit, you stay in a proper house in exchange for caring for the house and pets.
ontario dogs letterbox

2. Living as a local 

You will stay in a local neighborhood, shop at the local store, eat at local restaurants see a place through a lens you otherwise never would have staying in a hotel.

3. Cook for yourself 

This is a major advantage for long-term travelers. Rather than relying on restaurant food, you can cook up recipes using ingredients from local stores. If you are simply ‘on vacation’ while housesitting, meaning you are only there to relax, you might not want to cook for yourself. In this case you can always go out or even have food delivered. But cooking for yourself is cheaper, takes less time than waiting for restaurant service and is an utter blessing to be in complete control of your diet.

4. Privacy 

Even if you stay in a great hotel suite, you have maids to deal with and anything you want to do outside of the room takes place out in public. When you housesit, you have an entire house or apartment to yourself. We love this for working out, having drinks out on the terrace, even just watching TV in the living room on the couch.
Canadian beer

5. Being home without going home

Traveling can be tiring, and a housesit allows stability and the use of a comfortable house for a few weeks or months at a time. At first you might not miss certain things, but after a couple of months on the road, having a couch, a washing machine, reliable internet, maybe even the use of a car for shopping and sightseeing are such a relief.

6. Puppy love

There are housesits out there that don’t require pet care, but most homeowners who invite house sitters in to their homes have pets they love dearly. Caring for dogs, cats, goldfish, and in rarer (and more rural cases) chickens, horses or sheep is often part of the deal.  Cuddling up with the pets is so heartwarming, but as to be completely mobile, it doesn’t make sense to have our own. House and pet sitting allows time with furry four legged friends on a temporary basis.

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The advantages of housesitting: The homeowners’ perspective

Housesitting: An all-around Win-Win 

The thing that makes us the most enthusiastic about housesitting is the fact that, when done correctly, everyone wins.

This is the first of a two-part post on all the advantages that housesitting offers – for housesitters and for homeowners.

Advantages for homeowners:

1. Take a longer vacation

You own a home. You have roots and responsibilities. You can’t just go away for a longer period of time, can you? Yes! If you invite a housesitter to stay in your house, suddenly all those longer trips you wanted to take become possible. That month in Europe you never took in your early 20s or a return trip to see how things have changed since then. Take that trip around the country in an RV camper van, spend two weeks in Peru hiking Macchu Picchu, or even six months on the beaches of Thailand. You make the rules and only those housesitters who fit the description apply.
iano sunset with champagne

2. Peace of mind 

Knowing someone is in the house while you are away means a stress free getaway. Whether you take that long trip or your family is just taking the annual vacation, you know your house is safe, and that if anything goes wrong, someone is there to deal with it.

3. Save money

You don’t need to pay the neighbor boy to come pick up the paper, the mail, walk and the dog and mow the lawn. Housesitters do all that, plus deal with any packages, workers and issues that arise. All for free.

4. Keep your pets happy

You also save the cost and stress of kenneling your pets. You can be happy knowing that while you are on holiday, your pets are happy and healthy at home, rather than in a kennel missing you. Housesitters feed, pet and play with your animals, give them medicine, remove ticks and keep them happy while you’re away.

5. Safe House

Simply put – having a housesitter is just about the best theft-deterrent out there. You leave, but your house is still lived in. Forget automatic timers on lights. Instead, you have people coming in and out all the time. Rather than becoming a target, your house remains off the radar to thieves who take advantage of empty house.

Read on to find out why a housesitter would want to stay in your home in Part II of this post.

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 $8.99 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!

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 for housesitters, free for homeowners

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 for housesitters, free for homeowners

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.

Note: If you join TrustedHousesitters with this referral code, you’ll get 20% off your membership fee!

Annual fee: US$99.00 for both housesitters and homeowners

Nomador is a fast growing housesitting platform with currently just under 25,000 members. The site allows you to send three applications for free before committing to a membership and the homes listed are spread all over the globe – I saw housesits for Peru, Malaysia, England, France, Canada and the U.S. (to name just a few) when I was browsing the site. Since Nomador is France-based, it has the highest number of housesits in France I’ve seen on any of the housesitting websites!

Annual fee: $89, but 3 applications can be sent before committing to an annual membership.

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 for housesitters, free for homeowners

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: AUD69.00 per year for housesitters, free for homeowners

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 for housesitters, free for homeowners

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: AUD15.00 – special offer, limited time only! for housesitters, free for homeowners

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 for housesitters, free for homeowners

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: AUD30.00 for housesitters, free for homeowners

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 for housesitters, free for homeowners

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: –

All House Sitters is a new housesitting platform for New Zealand, currently free of charge for both housesitters and homeowners! I saw quite a few interesting listings on the website – definitely worth checking out if you’re planning to housesit in New Zealand.

Annual fee: Currently offering 12 month membership free for housesitters; free for homeowners

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 for housesitters, free for homeowners

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: £15 for housesitters, free for homeowners

France

Nomador.com does not solely offer housesits in France, but has the highest number of housesitting opportunities available in France that I’ve seen so far. There is also a French version of the website for Francophiles!

Fee: $35 per quarter or $89 per year for sitters, free for homeowners

Portugal

A new platform for housesits exclusively in Portugal, established in 2015. I personally haven’t used it yet and there don’t seem to be a lot of sits on there right now, but it might be worth keeping an eye on the site.

Annual fee: free to register

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$25.00 for housesitters, free for homeowners

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$48.00 for housesitters

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 $8.99! 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

 

 

 

How to get a great housesit

You have signed up with one or maybe all the housesitting websites, but have yet to have one of your applications accepted. We feel your pain. Getting that first housesit is very difficult, so here are some tips that can help you to improve your chances of being chosen:

1. Improve your profile

After putting you in a list of possible housesitters to accept, the homeowners will most likely have a look at your profile. Make sure that your profile is as detailed as possible. Provide a well-written paragraph about yourself, your profession, where you are based/from and how old you are. It is also a good idea to explain how/why you have the mobility to be a housesitter (you work remotely, you are retired, you are on a career break).

The most important piece of information is to share your experience with house/pet-sitting. Even if you have never taken care of someone’s house (friends/family counts here), you can at least mention your experience with animals. Have you owned cats or dogs? Have you worked with horses? Make sure to include anything that might be of interest for a wide variety of homeowners, including that you have references.

Lastly, include some pictures. Select a couple of pictures that show your face, maybe you caring for a pet and most importantly the pictures should reveal your personality.

Housesitting2. Apply quickly

The best way to find out about new housesitting assignments is to sign up for daily email alerts. Most of the housesitting websites let you choose a country / several countries, and you will be notified of new housesits in these countries via email every day. As soon as you see an ad for a housesit you might possibly want, react quickly.

Write and send your application as soon as you see the ad. Homeowners get dozens of applications within the first 24 hours and housesitting positions get filled very fast. The earlier you apply, the higher the chance that the homeowners will remember your application and that the position is not filled yet – some gigs, especially in popular locations, are filled within a week of posting.

3. Make your application personal

Not much different to a cover letter for a job application, personalize your housesit application for each and every housesit you apply for. Include details that the homeowners mentioned in their ad, for example that you have experience with the type of pet they have, have spent time in the same location before, or anything else that you can show that you relate with that makes you a great choice for caring for their home.

Even though the homeowners can look at your profile, the application will most likely be their first impression of you, so introduce yourself again with a more personalized version of the information in your bio.

Another important thing to include: if you have references from previous housesitting assignments, make sure to include them right in the application letter. This makes you appear experienced, trustworthy and confident that these people have good things to say about you.

4. Get references

If you don’t have any housesitting experiences, get creative and think of who you can put down as a reference. Have you dog-sat for a family member who would agree to be your reference? Do you have a great relationship with your landlord who can confirm that you are a responsible tenant who values their home? Tell friends that you are interested in housesitting and maybe they can help spread the word so that you can housesit for friends or co-workers to get that first reference.

Homeowners just want to know that they can trust you. When we casually mentioned to a client that we were looking to housesit in the U.S., she was thrilled at our experience (which was limited at that time) and asked right away if we could house and cat sit for her in Los Angeles.

5. This application is not about you

When you apply for a housesit, the homeowners are choosing the person or couple that is best for their home and their pets, not based on who you are or what you need.

It is perfectly fine to list things the most basic things that you require – like internet, transportation, an urban environment – but both your profile and your application need to focus on what you bring to the assignment. Finding out about your needs and looking at your deal-breakers can be discussed after you have been selected as a possible housesitter.

For now, making a responsible, reliable and friendly first impression is most important and there is no better way to do that than to relate to the homeowners why choosing you will reduce their stress, make them feel their home is safe, and allow them to enjoy their time away from home.

Getting that first housesit can be tricky, but we are certain that following these steps will help make your profile and application stand out amongst the crowd.  We started in just the same way and have now had eleven housesits in two years all over the world!

HouseCarers bannerGet started housesitting now – our housesitting book Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting is now on sale for $8.99 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!