International Housesitting – A Guide to Housesitting Worldwide.

People with nice homes don’t want them empty while they’re away.

Hopefully, you’ve already read Part 1 of our series on housesitting – International Housesitting – How to stretch your travel budget and upgrade your trip.

In it, we explained what housesitting is all about, along with the many benefits of house and pet sitting for both homeowners and sitters. We also examined the downside of housesitting. As we say in Australia, it’s not all beer and skittles!

If you’re completely new to the new phenomenon of people minding homes and pets around the world, then head back and read it before you continue. But if your most pressing question is “How can I become a successful international housesitter?” then this is the right page to be on.

In this post I’ll discuss:

  • What kind of people need a housesitter?
  • How does housesitting work?
  • Where can I post or find housesitting assignments?
  • How can I increase my chances of getting an international housesit?
  • Our top tips to get your first international housesit
  • How can homeowners find a great housesitter
  • What homeowners can do to ensure the housesit runs smoothly
  • What housesitters can do to make the housesit run smoothly
  • What Do You Need to Do to Get 5-star Reviews and How Important Are They?

     

    What Kind of People Need a Housesitter?

    People who want house sitters

    People who love their pets

    It’s hard to put a label on any group of people, but in our experience, the people seeking housesitters have one or more of the following characteristics:

    • Pet lovers – people who care deeply for their pets and prefer they stay in familiar surroundings while the owners are away.
    • People with valued possessions and property they don’t want to be left sitting alone while they are absent. Some insurance policies become void after just a few days of a home being empty. Having someone present – collecting mail, keeping gardens tidy, going in and out – provides a deterrent to wannabe burglars.
    • People without family and friends who can house and pet sit for them, (or would prefer not to depend on them to fulfil all their requirements for both their pets and home.) For example:
      • Expats – singles, couples and families. A large percentage of which are teachers who want to take the opportunity to travel during school holidays,
      • Retirees that have moved to another country, and who now have time to travel
      • Older couples who don’t have children or whose kids have left the nest
      • Young professionals who’ve moved away from home
      • Professionals who travel often as part of their job

    As the benefits of engaging a housesitter spreads, more people from different walks of life are joining the international housesitting movement.

    How does Housesitting Work?

    Housesitting chat online

    Homeowners and potential housesitters see if they’re compatible

    Depending on which method you use from the choices below to advertise and find a housesit (as discussed in the next section), the process could be slightly different. However, there are a few critical steps that happen for the majority of sits. This process can happen in one interaction, or over a series of communications.

    1. The homeowner decides they need a house and petsitter and advertises the dates and an overview of the responsibilities of the house sitter
    2. Prospective housesitters find a housesitting assignment they want to do and think they are suitable for.
    3. The housesitter applies to the housesit, letting the homeowner know why they are the best person for the job.
    4. The homeowner assesses their suitability, along with any other applicants.
    5. The homeowner will then usually make contact beforehand to ask questions about things they aren’t sure about and give housesitters the ability to clarify things too.
    6. The homeowner makes their choice and offers the successful candidate the sit
    7. If that’s you, and you still want to do the sit after finding out all the details, you accept
    8. Together you work out the details of how and when you will arrive and depart, and clarify anything you need to know to make the sit a success
    9. The housesitter arrives and completes the sit, preferably with some kind of personal handover
    10. The homeowner returns and the housesitter debriefs them on anything they need to know and hands back responsibility for their home and pets
    11. The homeowner provides the housesitter with an honest review or referral based on their level of satisfaction, which is useful to other homeowners considering their applications in the future
    12. Sometimes the housesitter also gets the opportunity to give feedback on the home, the pets, and the homeowner so other sitters know what to expect.

    Where Can I Post or Find House Sitting assignments?

    If you’re asking yourself “How can I become a housesitter?” the good news is there are lots of places to get “hired”. (And many of them won’t cost you a cent!) However, using a paid platform can provide you with more safety and security, especially on international house sits, which I’ll explain further down.

    Finding housesits1 – Word of mouth

    People are more likely to trust recommendations from people that they trust. If you have a reputation as a responsible adult/adolescent among your family and friends, why not try putting the word out that you’re looking to start housesitting and that you do it for free. A couple of successful short sits will build your reputation throughout your network and within no time you’ll have people recommending to others. (If you have a reputation as a party animal, this might not be the best approach!)

    When we decide that we need to go back to Australia for any length of time, that’s the first thing we’ll be doing.

    2 – Your Local Area

    One way to get some points on the board and not have to cause too much disruption to your life is to find house and pet sitting gigs in your local neighbourhood. Put a notice up at the local pet shop, dog training school, supermarket, community notice board etc. regarding your availability and the personal characteristics that make you perfect for the role.

    3 – Facebook Groups

    Wanting to housesit in a particular location? Do a search in Facebook for groups that are either related to house and petsitting OR where house and pet owners hang out. Often you’ll see requests for sitters or you can put your credentials and availability up in a post.

    For example:

    There are hundreds more depending on where you want to go.

    4 – Dedicated House and Pet Sitting platforms

    There are quite a few dedicated house and pet sitting platforms around. Some have been around for almost two decades, others are relatively new.

    Many are free for homeowners. However, most, but not all, charge a fee for housesitters. This fee varies widely between the platforms, but they usually allow you to search for sits before joining so you can see if they advertised the kind of sits that you’re looking for.

    Some of these platforms also have a free trial period, or a money-back guarantee so you can test it out with little to no risk.

    Quite a few sites advertise international house sits, whereas others focus on a specific country or region.  I’ve added a good selection in the table below so you can compare.

    The thing I look at is the number of active sits vs the number of sitters. Even if your profile and experience is amazing (see below), you might still be facing an inordinate amount of competition with the smaller sites and find it difficult to get your first sit. That’s the reason we started with Trusted Housesitters. They have thousands of active sits and if you follow a few basic tips, it’s not hard to get your first sit and 5-star review to start you off on your housesitting journey.

    Although don’t discount the other sites, especially those that don’t charge homeowners BUT do charge sitters as you may find loads of sits and not that much good competition.

    Which platform is best for you really depends on what you are looking for, so it pays to evaluate a few sites before you commit to one or more. Here’s a summary of what I found as a result of exploring a good selection of them.

     

    Platform

    Cost

    Countries

    Pros

    Cons

    Trusted Housesitters

     

     

    $119/yr – sitters

    $119/yr – homeowners

    International – 130+ countries.

    Lots in the UK, US, Aus, Can

    • The largest number of active sits
    • Dozens of new sits every day
    • Free 24/7 vet line
    • App available
    • Can set alerts for destinations
    • 24 hr support team
    • Most expensive to join

    House Carers

    $50/yr sitters

    Free for homeowners with a $25 premium option

    International

    • Cheaper pricing
    • Free trial
    • One of the oldest platforms (18 years)
    • ~ a 10th of the number of active sits as THS

    Housesit Match

     

    £49 basic

    £79 premium for both sitters & owners

    International with a focus on UK, Aus & Europe

    • Smaller & more personalized. Reportedly a much higher chance of getting sits
    • Far fewer active sits than  THS

    Nomador

    $89/yr

    $35/qtr

    International – focus on Europe

    • 3 free housesitting applications
    • Seem to have a lot of longer sits
    • ~3-400 active sits at one time
    • Far fewer active sits than  THS

    Mind My House

    $20 – housesitters

    Free for homeowners

    International

    • One of the cheapest sites
    • Usually ~200 active sits
    • Less active sits than THS

    Aussie House Sitters

    $84/yr – Sitters

    Free for homeowners

    Australia

    • The largest number of housesits in Australia
    • Free to browse
    • Cheaper rates for renewing members
     

    Housesitting Tasmania

     

    $19 – 3 months

    $39 – 6 months

    $69 – 1 yr (but covers sitters & owners for this 1 price)

    Tasmania – Australia

    • Very specific to a small island of Australia
    • Far less competition – appears to be <100 sitters and some will only sit in specific areas.
    • Nice personal site.
    • Far fewer sits ~ 2 dozen active sits at one time.
    • Website functionality & search filters limited.

    Happy House Sitters

     

    Unlimited free trial for housesitters

    • 4 mths – $60
    • 12 mths- $65
    • 18 mths $85

    Free for homeowners

    Australia

    • Free option (very limited functionality –  can’t apply)
    • Cash back guarantee for paid subscriptions
    • Established since 1999
     

    Mindahome

     

    $59/yr – sitters

    Free for homeowners

    Australia

    • Good search facility
    • ~750 sits available
    • Not sure how to tell if sits are taken

    Australian Housesitter 

    $30/yr – sitters

    Free for homeowners

    Australia

    <50 sitters as competition

    <20 active sits when I checked

    Kiwi Housesitters

    $84/yr – sitters

    Free for homeowners

    New Zealand

    • Browse sits for free
    • Create Alerts
    • The largest site for NZ sits
     

    The Housesitting Company

    $59/yr

    Price for homeowners depends on the length of stay. Online quote available

    New Zealand

    • Extensive screening process?
    • More hand on, personal service.
    • Selection process sounds super strict but exact details not available before joining.

    Housesitters Canada

    Currently free membership for 2 years

    Canada

    • Free
    • Only list current sits
    • Only around 30 current sits and over 300 sitters
    • Far fewer active sits than  THS

    Housesitters America

    $30/yr for sitters

    Free for homeowners

    USA

    • Free to browse
    • Good search filters
    • Reasonably priced
    • Only around 40 new sits posted per week
    • Far fewer active sits than  THS

    Housesitters UK

    £29/yr for sitters

    Free for homeowners

    UK

    • Reasonable price
    • Free to browse
    • ~80 new sits/week
     

    Housesit Mexico

    Interesting pricing –

    $79/yr for sitters

    $79/yr for owners OR

    $79/yr for BOTH

    Mexico

    • Free to Browse
    • Ability to filter out inactive listings
    • Pretty good search function

    Only 8 active listings? and

    Around 300 sitters

    Luxury Housesitting

    $25/yr – sitters

    Free for homeowners

    International

    • Free to browse
    • Relatively cheap
    • Free to browse
    • Poor search functionality
    • Not all “luxury” homes
    • Many old listings or no dates
    • Far fewer active sits than  THS

    How Can I Improve My Chances of Getting an International Housesit?

    International House Sitting1 – Go looking in the right places – Decide where you would like to housesit and find the best platform or method to locate where the most number of matching assignments are posted.

    2 – Create an excellent profile so that homeowners don’t discount you in their first screen of applicants. After your application, your profile is their first impression and can be the difference between being considered or discarded as a suitable candidate. You can set up your profile in a number of ways, the majority of which are completely free:

      • Set up a dedicated Facebook page for your profile and a record of you housesits and homeowner feedback. Here’s how.
      • Set up a personal webpage. There are plenty of FREE options to do this. Here are a few.
      • Create your profile as a word or PDF document that you can send to homeowners. (much like a CV)
      • Create your profile on the housesitting platform(s) you decide to join.

    Get our free PDF containing 8 top tips for creating an amazing housesitter profile that will have homeowners wanting to find out more.

    3 – Write up a generic application that compliments your profile. (But then follow step 5)

    4 – Stay alert for new sits that match your wish list and apply as soon as possible and to as many as you can. If the functionality exists create notifications for housesits that match your wish list.

    5 – Use your generic document as a foundation BUT personalise your application for each sit. This is your first opportunity to make a great impression.

    6 – Follow-up with homeowners if you haven’t heard anything within a few days. Homeowners in popular locations who advertise on the big housesitting sites will be inundated with applications. A polite follow-up should ensure they either take a second look at your application or they will at least tell you if you’re not under consideration so you can move on. THS shows when a homeowner has put a halt to applications and has them under review.

    7 – Make personal contact quickly – If the homeowner expresses interest in you as a sitter, work out what questions you still have and try and set up a time to talk as soon as possible. In this way, you can clarify exactly what’s required of you to see if you’re still interested, and of course, if the homeowner is still interested in you.

    8 – If a homeowner decides to choose you, accept the sit as soon as possible. I usually find this comes directly after a conversation. If not send a reminder that you need confirmation either way.

    Do NOT accept a sit, if you are unsure about anything or have doubts. Once you commit you should only back out if there are extenuating circumstances – and that doesn’t include a better sit coming along! Your word is your bond!)

    Tips For Getting Your First International Housesit

    First time house sittersGetting your first housesit is often the most difficult but once you get over that first hurdle, getting desireable sits becomes exponentially easier. Many experienced housesitters don’t even have to apply to sits anymore if they don’t want. Between repeat sits and invitations, their dance card is full.

    1. Make sure you have a great profile and application. (Get our free tips list here)
    2. Be flexible with your wish list and apply for sits in less popular locations to get your few reviews on record. I don’t mean apply for sits you’re going to hate. But, for example, the UK has hundreds of sits available at any one time and some of them never get filled because there just aren’t enough sitters who want to apply. A few short sits in smaller towns in the UK can quickly build your reviews and increase your chances for more desirable sits in other parts of the world.
    3. Apply for as many sits as you can. Try and get feedback when you are unsuccessful so you can improve future applications.
    4. But….. focus your efforts on the house sits you are suitable and qualified for. If it says non-smoking couples and your a chain-smoking single, don’t waste your energy. If it says experience in farm animals and you’ve never set foot out of the big city, and have a cow phobia, ditto.
    5. Not that you shouldn’t do your very best on every sit, but make sure you “over excel” on those first few. Getting great reviews is the key to winning more sits, especially the most popular ones.
    6. Ask for a review at the end of the sit. It’s important to ask if the homeowners are happy with your “performance” and get their feedback as soon as possible. If they tell you they were delighted, then ask them for a review straight away. If they don’t seem happy, ask them how you can improve for next time.

    What Can Homeowners Do To Get the Best housesitter?

    1. Be clear on your expectations. If you don’t know exactly what you expect from a house sitter, it’s less likely they can answer all your questions and meet them.
    2. Read the applicant’s profiles thoroughly and take note of reviews from previous homeowners. However, don’t discount first-timers, if you think they might be great candidates. Everyone has to start on this journey somewhere.
    3. Talk to a selection of applicants before you choose – a video call might only take 15 minutes of your time but you can clear up a lot of questions on both sides. It could take dozens of written messages back and forth to achieve the same thing. There’s a lot to be said for instinct when you connect with people, and you will probably glean information that you can’t possibly deduce from even the most complete and professional profile and application.
    4. Communicate soon and often with your preferred candidates and keep them in the loop, even if you need to delay your decision for a while. The best sitters will get snapped up quickly. Understand that while you are evaluating multiple housesitters, they are probably applying to other housesits. If a homeowner is slow to communicate with us or makes promises and appointments they don’t keep, it sends up red flags and we move on because we feel that poor communication in the initial stages doesn’t bode well for the sit.

    What Can I Do As a Homeowner to Help the Housesit Go Smoothly?

    1. Try and organise to do a personal handover. If you can meet the housesitter and go over aspects of the pets and house you need them to take special note of, it really helps in our experience. If there is room in your house, then perhaps invite them to stay the night before you leave and have dinner together.
    2. Create a comprehensive ‘Welcome Guide’ containing important information your housesitter needs to know and if possible, print a hard copy so it’s available. This should include daily, weekly, and perhaps monthly tasks, emergency contacts, your recommendations for the local area, and anything else that can help the housesit run smoothly. Things like a “cupboard map” can reduce the need for your housesitter to go rummaging through your home to find what they need to survive and be comfortable.
    3. Ensure you have a reliable method of communication during the sit and a backup plan should the house sitter need to contact you.
    4. Give them plenty of warning if other people need access to the house – even if they are your trusted friends and family. Respect their privacy and their commitment to keeping your property secure.
    5. Let them know as soon as possible if your plans change and consider the impact on them. This is especially important if your housesitter is travelling a long way to do the sit, as their costs for altering transport arrangements and finding alternative accommodation could be substantial.

    What can I do as a Housesitter to make the housesit run smoothly?

    1. Housesitting rulesKeep the homeowner informed about your arrangements in the lead up to the sit. For example time and date of arrival. I always send our homeowners details of our flights or transport once we arrange them.
    2. Try and arrange a personal handover at both ends of the sit. It’s so much easier to understand the finer points of their house and pets.
    3. Work out how you will communicate during their absence. Do they want pictures of their pets? How many and how often? Once you know, make sure you comply with their requests.
    4. If they are open to it, connect on their social media profile and follow their travels. Because we’ve travelled so widely, we can often provide helpful information for them AND we love to see our homeowners enjoying themselves worry free because we’re looking after their home and pets.
    5. Treat their property as well (or better) than you would treat your own.
    6. Follow their instructions for their pets to the letter, even if you suspect they don’t abide by their own rules (e.g number and length of walks, food exclusions, household rules etc.) Unless of course, you feel it’s may harm the animals..and then it gets tricky. Seek clarification from the owners or get an expert opinion in these cases.
    7. Advise them of any problems as soon as they occur and get permission to take action if it wasn’t in your original agreement. Of course in the case of an emergency, use your common sense.
    8. Make sure their house is as clean or cleaner than when they left at the end of your sit.
    9. If they are arriving home late, think about preparing some dinner or providing a few snacks (and maybe a cold beer or wine) so they can relax when they get home. (Especially if you’re staying that night to facilitate a personal handover, which we often do.)
    10. Write down any issues you experienced or things they could have done to make things run more smoothly and (diplomatically) go over them upon their return so they can consider changing them for their next sitter.

      What Do You Need to Do to Get 5-star Reviews and How Important Are They?

      You’re not always assured of getting a 5-star review, even when you believe you’ve done everything the homeowner asked and they were delighted when they got home. Some people just don’t believe in perfection, I guess. However, if you:

      1. Communicate well and keep the owners updated on the health and happiness of their pet
      2. Notify them if anything goes wrong and deal with it if possible
      3. Greet them with well-groomed, happy pets, a sparkling clean home, and
      4. A diplomatic list of everything you’ve noted that they might need to deal with in the immediate future

      …there’s a good chance you will get a 5-star review. And that’s important. Housesitting sites seem to be a bit like Airbnb. Provided you act like a responsible adult and you don’t completely screw something up, a 5-star review is usual. With so many sitters available, even a 4-star review can turn a homeowner off.

      On sites where homeowners get to review their sitters, you usually get the chance of a reply. If you get less than glowing feedback and feel it is unjust, it might help if you calmly and logically give your side of the story. However, getting into a slanging match will only make the situation look worse. If you feel it is particularly unfair then you may be able to get the housesitting platform to step in and adjudicate, and perhaps get the review removed if they feel you have a case.

      Homeowner feedbackOne of our homeowners gave us a 4 for “Organisation” because we hadn’t downloaded and read the welcome guide before we arrived, even though he acknowledged we were riding fully loaded bicycles and probably hadn’t had a chance. I just replied that yes, it was very difficult reading the guide on a smartphone and I had it on the top of my list of things to do when we arrived and could access my computer. The overall score was 5 and the rest of the comment overwhelmingly positive because everything was perfect when they got home and we’d managed the consequences from a huge storm. Thankfully it hasn’t impacted on our ability to get more sits 🙂

      Wow, that turned into a MEGA post. I think I’ve covered everything but if I haven’t feel free to make a comment or ask a question in the comments below. And if you’ve got friends who you think would like this information, please share it with them or on your social media pages.

      Oh, and don’t forget to get our free PDF with tips on how to create a killer house sitter profile so homeowners can’t help but want to know more. You can get it here.

      Note: I do not receive any payment for this post (or any others on the site for that matter!). I do receive a small amount of money by allowing advertisements on the site and any purchases made through those links. 

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