The good news? There are only a few big house-sitting websites, so it won’t take long to check them out one by one. By doing it this way, you’ll only pay when you know there are great opportunities available.
With all these websites, you can browse the house-sitting jobs for free, but you’ll have to pay before you can contact the homeowners. The membership fee is relatively low compared to the potential savings — one year’s membership is a fraction of the nightly rate you’d get at a hotel.
Regardless, there’s no reason to pay more than what you have to, so spend a few extra minutes on these house-sitting networks before you bite the bullet:
Deal alert: 30% off all membership plans at Trusted Housesitters with the code “BLACKFRIDAY30”. Until Nov 30 only!
Got all three websites open in your browser? Good, here’s what you do next.
1. Browse the house-sitting jobs for free
You only have to pay when you want to send messages to the homeowners, so make full use of the free browsing feature before you purchase a membership.
You can search by date, location and length of stay. The more flexible you are, the more options you have and the higher your chances of landing a house-sitting gig.
2. Read the listings in detail
Every homeowner is different in how much detail they include in the listing. Some listings are really brief, but try your best to gauge how suitable each house is for you.
Here are some things to consider:
- Does the house have all the amenities you need?
Is it equipped with laundry facilities? Will you have Wi-Fi and cable? What about a coffee maker and other small appliances?
- Where is the house located?
Is it in a city or a rural area? How close is the house to stores, restaurants and public transport?
- Will you get to use the homeowner’s car?
This can dramatically cut your transport expenses, but also consider the cost of insurance and gas.
- What kind of climate is it?
Being flexible is great, but don’t change your itinerary to take on a house-sitting gig in the dead of winter if you hate cold weather.
- What kind of maintenance work does the house need?
Are you expected to shovel snow, clean gutters or change furnace filters?
- How much attention do the animals need?
Many house-sitting listings require that you also take care of pets. Some in rural areas even ask that you take on farm duties. Consider how much time and effort you can dedicate to the animals. Will you be out most of the time or will you be home to accompany the animals? How much experience do you have in pet grooming, administering meds, etc.?
- What about plants?
Will you only have to water potted indoor plants weekly or maintain an entire outdoor garden?
You probably won’t get all this information from the listing alone, but keep these things in mind when you contact the homeowner.
3. Choose your house-sitting website/s
At this point, you should have a short list of a few house-sitting jobs that you like.Go with a website that has the highest number of promising leads.
For me, House Carers had two listings I really liked, while Trusted Housesitters only had one that I was only mildly interested in, so it was an easy decision. After joining House Carers, I gained instant access to a control panel, where I personalized my profile and sent messages to the two homeowners. One homeowner came back saying that he had accepted another person but would be happy to have me the next year. The other one was a match.
Overall, I’m happy with my House Carers experience. It does a good job of connecting house-sitters and homeowners. Based on what other travelers say, Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House also provide similar levels of service quality.
These websites are only connectors, though. Whether the house-sitting gig goes well or not will depend on how well you maintain the property, take care of any pets and communicate with the homeowner. But that’s a topic for another day. ;)
Want to learn more about free accommodation?
For a comprehensive guide to house-sitting, check out the e-book How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World by Peter and Dalene Heck of Hecktic Travel. Not only does it have lots of tips and resources, but you’ll also get a discount code to their favorite house-sitting website.
House-sitting isn’t the only way to do it. If you want to find out more about the different types of free accommodation, check out this e-book: Free Accommodation Around the World. Written by Nora Dunn, who has traveled full time for 8 years, the book has a lot of useful, practical information.
Image: Jocelyn Durston (CC BY 2.0 License).