House sitting has been one of our favourite ways to get to know Australia. We’ve stayed rent-free in some fantastic homes and got to meet some great new cuddly fur-friends – from cats and dogs to horses, chickens and goats! It’s a great way to save money while long-term travelling and also a fantastic way to have a staycation here in Australia on a great budget.
There are lots of house sitting websites you can sign up to, we reviewed Aussie House Sitters a little while back and have put together a table below on some of the other best options available.
|House Sitting Site||Cost||Link|
|Mindahome||$59 for 12 months||mindahome.com.au|
|Aussie House Sitters||$84 for 12 months||aussiehousesitters.com.au|
|Family Friendly House Sitters||$49 for 12 months|
$79 for 24 months
$129 for 36 months
|Trusted House Sitters||$99 USD for 12 months||trustedhousesitters.com|
|The House Sitters||$50 for 12 months||housesitters.com.au|
|Happy House Sitters||$65 for 12 months||happyhousesitters.com.au|
But once you’ve signed up to a house sitting website, what’s next? There are some important things to think about to make your house sitting experience as successful, safe and enjoyable as possible. We reached out to some fellow travel bloggers who are also experienced house sitters to find out their best advice.
House sitting Tip #1
Maureen from “So Many Places! So Little Time!” -Online travel magazine & blog.
Our very top tip for successful house sitting is to check your housesit websites first thing every day, have a template response prepared, and immediately respond to any house sits that you are keen to pursue. You will find that the most sought after house -sits, in the most sought after areas, will be quickly taken. You need to be one of the first to respond with an email that gives the people seeking a house sitter some good solid reasons to choose you.
Those good solid reasons include the fact that you are honest and dependable, neat and tidy, and just love cats, dogs, gardening or whatever their pet or house care needs are. The best way of providing this is with glowing references from previous housesits, and if you haven’t done any house sits previously, then personal references from people in authority. Always give contact details and invite the people looking for house sits to contact these referees.
Have a template already set up on your phone or computer with all the basic details and gap fills to adapt the email to the house sit requirements. It is absolutely useless to send out an obvious one-size-fits-all response. You must adapt it to their requirements.
A small video clip introducing yourself is another good idea to show that you don’t look like an axe murderer. And you must invite them for a chat on Facetime, Skype, or whatever video phone app you use.
Our most recent house sit was in Singapore. We were lucky to get it, as there are very few house sit opportunities in Singapore, as most expats have maids who can look after their pets while they’re away. You can read more about our Singapore house sit with the wonderful Charlie cat here.
Elly McGuinness of Parenting, Passports and Profits
My top tip would be to put time and effort into your profile
If you’ve joined one or more house sitting websites, put a decent amount of effort into creating your profile, or updating it if you have been a member for a while. As a family who housesits we’ve focused on this, especially when we were first starting out and didn’t yet have any reviews.
Sometimes it’s harder to get house sits as a family because the home owner is often specifically looking for a single person or couple. If you’re also new without any reviews then this can make it more difficult to get your first sit.
Although it might take a little longer and a little bit more effort, families can also be offered great opportunities, even on the big house sitting platforms. We have been given a number of them ourselves and recommend the following steps towards putting time and effort into your profile:
- Upload plenty of photos of your family, especially including photos with pets
- Create a video for your profile
- Complete all of the available steps to boost your profile outside of having reviews. This will likely include external testimonials, an address check, and possibly police or identity checks
Francene from Not Grey Nomads
Crispy and I have had some great house sit experiences which have really helped us, particularly when we’ve had to stop for work. Nothing quite like having a free washing machine when you have work clothes to clean! We find it best to bring all our own stuff in from the van, like towels, linen, pantry staples, even our favourite cups and things. We usually have a spot cleared on a bench or table and that way we are kind of living on top of their space, rather than in their space.
Personally, we like to have left before the owners come back as it all feels a little weird and awkies after you’ve been living in their home for a while. But before we go, we spend a good solid day cleaning – showers, floors, lawns etc. Usually the place is cleaner when we leave than when we got there! We’ve even brought a couple of murky pools back to life! We figure if it costs us one solid day of housework for our free accommodation, we’re still getting a pretty good deal.
We also try and do a few little things to leave a lasting impression. We always send our home owners pics while they are away of their animals getting lots of love and attention. Not enough to interrupt their time away, but enough to help them to feel like they made a smart choice for their beloved pets. I don’t like to get into their personal belongings too much, but we try to make sure all the beds are made with clean bedding and that there is no dirty washing in the washing basket. Oh, and fresh bread and milk in the fridge. You know what its like, back from hols, tired from travel, and suddenly you realise you have all that washing to do AND you have no food in the house! At least they will have clean sheets, breckie sorted and can worry about the rest of the washing and the shops after that.
We worked out we spent 9 months out of the past 12 in house sits! We’ve had chickens, fish, dogs, cats, even a 40 year old Galah, and our dog Bella has made friends with them all. Thankfully we found a house sit that went for the full 3 months we had our caravan in for repairs too, which was a huge help to us. We use Aussie House Sitters and now we have some great references to give. With referrals to friends we got $35 off our 2nd years membership. We love our van, but its nice to have a home base occasionally.
House sitting Tip #4
Emma from My Rig Adventures
TIP: Do a ‘Meet & Greet’
We’ve been wandering the country full-time for 18 months now and have multiple house sits under our belt. I can certainly say that we’ve learnt a lot from our vastly different house sitting experiences.
My biggest tip for house sitting is to make sure that you do at least one ‘Meet & Greet,’ if not two. It’s easy to go in with your rose-coloured-glasses on and miss important things that could potentially arise during your stay.
A ‘Meet & Greet’ is not just for the home owner and house sitters to meet each other, it provides both parties with a chance to really get a good feel for who the people are, what’s involved in the position and what the accommodation is like.
As a House Sitter you want to make sure you know where you are/ aren’t allowed on the property, what jobs will be required (in detail), who you can contact if there are any emergency situations (like a water main bursting – yep, it happened to us!) and so on.
Remember, house sitting is an equal exchange between two parties. Both parties must be happy with what is being asked of the other for the exchange to be successful.
TIP: Take notes during your ‘Meet & Greet,’ because you’re bound to forget things down the track.
Rai from A Rai of Light
I’ve had a number of house sitting assignments throughout my travels and each time I’ve learnt more about what it takes to be successful at it.
The house sitting tip that has served me the best through each of these assignments is the idea of being flexible. While it is important to have clear and concise communication in arranging the dates of arrival and departure, it’s just as important to allow some sort of flexibility in the plan. There were times when the owners had to be away for an additional week or two and as a result of being able to meet their requests I have received return invitations in addition to additional assignments from word of mouth.Flexibility is also important in arranging a house sit – everything from the location to the pets you prefer. It doesn’t always align and hence the need to allow for something other than that. The more flexible you can be on dates and location the better, making the day to day house sit experience that much more enjoyable.
Michael from A Big Peachey Adventure
Our biggest piece of advice is:
Take responsibility for making sure you get a very thorough handover. A “she’ll be right” attitude and handshake agreement is all well and good if everything goes without a hitch.
But things can and do go wrong.
We had two house sits back to back once. The first? Written notes that covered everything, hung out for a couple of hours going through the lot… and even had a couple of beers together. We felt very prepared (and welcomed into their home).
On the other hand, we had one house sit that was pretty much: ”Here’s the keys, back on the 17th… any questions?” Yes. Lots. We’d made up a bit of a checklist. This allowed us to (politely) cover off on all of the key things we needed to know in case anything went wrong.
[We would’ve hated to be in a position where we needed to make a decision about a sick dog without the owner being contactable]
Here is a great house sitter checklist that covers all the bases to make sure everything is clear before you start.
Have you enjoyed house sitting as part of your travels? Comment with your best tips below!
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