This post was last updated on November 24th, 2015
We’ve done our fair share of housesitting in stunning destinations around the world like Costa Rica, France and New York City. As such, we get a lot of emails and questions about what it’s like and how other traveler’s can find housesitting jobs, too.
A Cruising Couple’s guide to getting started with housesitting:
Spoiler Alert: we have a special bonus gift for our AWESOME readers at the end of this post—ahem, that’s you ;-)
International house sitting has gained quite a bit of press in recent years. After all, what’s not to like about free accommodation in exotic locations and extra vacation money in your pocket? While we love house sitting, it’s definitely not for everyone, and there are a few things to keep in mind before you immediately agree to that year-long housesitting job in Timbuktu.
Let’s start off with what we like about house sitting:
Okay, so this is honestly probably the most important pro for most travelers. Accommodation is often the priciest part of your vacation. Decent hotels can be as much as $200 a night depending on the locale, and if you’re planning on staying for longer than a couple of nights, that can put a pretty big dent in your vacation fund. Free accommodation’s looking pretty nice, especially when you get to trade the hotel room for this…
We’ve loved just about every home we’ve house sat in–from the home in the South of France that was surrounded with nothing but expansive countryside to the home in Costa Rica that’s front porch was positioned looking out over the top of a mountain. The homes have offered us an escape to private pools and a chance to unwind in personal hot tubs. Not to mention, amenities such as personal house-cleaners and laundry rooms (a much-coveted feature when on the road.)
Local, Off-The-Beaten-Track Locations
In France, we house sat in Azille, a charming town in the South of France. We were only a short drive from some popular tourist destinations, but we were far away enough that we got to experience authentic French village life—an indispensable chance to see things most tourists don’t even get close to. Like the town’s annual feria—five days of partying, food, dancing, and bull running!
Although not all house sitting gigs have pets, most do. If you’re an animal lover, you’re in luck. We still think fondly of one sweet black ball of fuzz, aptly named Ralph. This bundle of pure pup nuzzled itself into my lap and didn’t leave for the rest of the week. Needless-to-say, he was the perfect accompaniment to long work days at my computer. And then there was that other time we house sat for ten rescue dogs… Although they weren’t quite as calm as Ralph, they certainly made for an adventure. We even ended up adopting one of them permanently…who still makes for quite the adventure.
Great for Slow Travel
If you have time and want to delve deep into a new destination, house sitting is perfect for you. You’ll get to live like a local, make friends with your neighbors, and have a home away from home to cozy into. Slow travel by house sitting lets you experience all sorts of details you would have missed had you just breezed through or stayed in a hotel.
Perfect for Digital Nomads
You can literally have offices around the world—for free. The longer we’ve been nomadic, the more we seem to miss homey comforts like a place to unpack your clothes, and a kitchen to cook in. House Sitting lets us experience a taste of home-style living while still being stimulated by the adventure and excitement of a new place.
All good things have their downfalls. Here are some aspects of house sitting that might be considered cons:
It’s still kind of a job
Although I refer to it as free accommodation, house sitting is technically more of an exchange. You still have responsibilities to take care of the pets, water the plants, and look after the home itself. Depending on what type of vacation you’re looking for, it may or may not be a worth-while exchange. For us, it’s a no-brainer—we love animals and work from home anyway, but if you’re not too keen on animals and want a total escape from responsibility, it may not be the right fit.
Someone Else’s House
We all have our own way of doing things. You’ll be living in someone else’s house, who may have an entirely different way of organizing or decorating. It probably won’t be your way of doing things, and if this is a deal breaker for you, it might be better to stick with traditional methods of accommodation.
Sometimes Remote Settings
Some house sitting locations might be remote, and not necessarily ideal for vacationing. While this can be a good way to have authentic cultural experiences, it might not be perfect if you want to check out the top tourist attractions. The good news is you can choose where you want to house sit, so keep this in mind while making decisions.
Sometimes Requires Staying at the Home
This is another thing you might want to specify with the homeowners before agreeing. Typically, homeowners will want you to stay at the house for long periods of time. While we were in the South of France, the homeowners asked us not to leave the pets for more than 3 or 4 hours a day—perfect to keep us on track with work, but maybe not great if you want to get out and explore. However, when we house sat in New York, the pets were used to being home alone all day while their owners were at work, giving us the freedom to be out between 8 and 10 hours a day. May or may not be a deal breaker for you, but definitely worth talking over with the homeowner before agreeing.
Do I need to know the local language?
Not always! Ask with the homeowner. Usually it’s helpful but not necessary.
How do I find jobs?
For starters, word of mouth. The more you house sit, the more likely you are to have people approaching you or friends of friends notifying you when openings come. Online websites are usually where you’ll find most of your opportunities, though. TrustedHousitters (see more below) is where we find the majority of our housesits and, more recently, house sitters coming to Costa Rica to take care of our pups.
Will anyone hire me if I don’t have any experience?
Yes! Everyone has to start somewhere. Rack up as many character references as possible. Maybe even watch a friend or family member’s pet for a weekend to help get started. Make sure to fill out your online profile in depth, and convince people why you are the ultimate choice! (Obviously, always be honest ;-) )
Will we ever house sit again now that we have pets?
Maybe! We’re actually talking with someone in Costa Rica about an extended house stay, and they said we could bring our zoo with us! So, who knows – it’s not unheard of to bring your pets along for the house sitting gig with you, depending on the owner.
How do I start?
Remember that super special gift we said we were going to give you?
TrustedHousesitters (the housesitting website we find all our gigs) has kindly offered to give all of our readers 15% off of their annual membership if they sign up during the month of October!
All you have to do is sign up HERE and use the code CRUISING.
The annual membership is a pretty small fee, less than a single night at a cheap hotel, and this website will help you find safe and trustworthy homeowners to housesit for.
Have you ever house sat before? Have any stories or tips for us?
Disclaimer: We receive a small commission if you sign up for trusted housesitters using the link above. We pay for a Trusted Housesitters membership ourselves and only recommend services we use and trust. This small commission goes towards keeping A Cruising Couple alive and thriving :)