Have you seen our house? A look at house sitting.

 *I like the song.

Digital Nomad Jobs – House Sit

If you’ve decided that you’d like to save money on accommodation whilst travelling but don’t really like the idea of helping others*, there is another way. Consider house sitting. I was always rather dubious about the whole concept of house sitting. I’d heard people say they were doing it for friends and family and watched them move out of their own (smaller, less well equipped, rubbish-er) house** into veritable palaces. I always figured it was a way to bags a free holiday but also pretend you were performing a vital service and not look like a free loader***. It turns out, apparently, that I have been wrong all of these years****. People will in fact let you move into their house and let you live there for free. All you have to do is look after the place, easy peasy, probably.
*I’m not judging, honest.
**Incidentally, the smaller, less well equipped, rubbish-er houses never required ‘sitting’.
***I may or may not have ‘house sat’ for my own parents once or twice in the past. I knew I was freeloading.
****Take that Mum!

If you like the idea of seeing the world from the comfort of other people’s homes house-sitting could be just the ticket. Obviously, if it was so easy to become a respected house sitter* everyone would be doing it, it sounds great after all. The competition for house sitting gigs can be quite tough and any little hints and tips you can learn before applying will help. Knowledge is power after all.

*Seems like a strange thing to write in any context.

Firstly, it’s pretty key that you understand a few of the downsides to house sitting. The major player here is that it’s not free. Whilst you can live in the house for free that’s pretty much it. Costs involved with house sitting can and do include membership fees, shopping costs, transport costs and basically everything you pay for now except rent. It’s great for you, the successful digital nomad, you’ve got money to burn, how much time does it take you to earn it though? A non-monetary cost is your time. You may have a long list of chores to do in a day and that can easily eat into your working or ‘having fun’ time. House sitting for someone doesn’t sound as wonderful when you think you might be stuck inside washing windows all weekend. People must have a reason for wanting someone to look after their house for them. I doubt many people do it out of the goodness of their heart.

‘We’ve been incredibly lucky in life Moira. Whilst we are sailing our yacht around the Caribbean, why don’t we let some poor, unfortunate soul ‘house sit’ our beachside mansion?’

Has probably never been said by anyone, you’re far more likely to hear

‘Bugger, we’ve booked to go on holiday but forgot about the 3 cats, shall we book them into the cattery?
‘Nah, don’t be daft, we’ll get a house sitter in and let them deal with it for free!’
‘That’s why I love you’.

Basically, you’re probably going to need to like animals. If the house listed has no pets, then maybe it’s in a weird area or needs a living soul in it at all times to appease something or other. I don’t know, just always check what you’re getting yourself into before you commit.

If you’re happy to spend some money, look after some pets or keep the evil house forces at bay, fantastic. You are ready to become a house sitter. There are lots of websites for you to look at to start your journey, they usually all have fees but these vary from site to site. I’m sure that as with everything in life some are better than others but I’m not entirely sure which ones are the best. I can’t do it all for you, have a look for yourself at Trusted Housesitters, MindMyHouse, housecarers, The Caretaker Gazette, Google search or, if you want someone else to do the work, this pretty cosmic blog post on the subject.

Once you’ve decided which site to use the next steps are quite straightforward. You’ll need to create a smashing profile to ‘sell’ yourself to potential employers. You’ve got to accentuate the positive*, write about how brilliant you are, how much you love animals, what your hobbies and interests are etc. Try and imagine what you would want from a house sitter, include references** and relevant experiences that show you’re the right digital nomad for the job. You’re basically applying for a job so treat your profile like it was your CV. Flexibility is a good trait for house sitters to have. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to pick specific dates exactly where you want. If you broaden your search parameters you’re much more likely to find a sit that suits. You’ll likely find a long list of places you think would be great to look after. Make sure that you thoroughly read the advert. Don’t apply just because the dates fit, be certain that you can fulfil any requirements the owners may have. If you do a shoddy job you’ll be getting a shoddy review and that’s the house sitting dream over.

*I like this song as well.
*It might be difficult for you to get references but try to get some of that ‘freeloading’ work we mentioned earlier. If you can’t manage that a character reference or landlord reference would be a help, it all counts.

When you’ve found your dream house to sit it’s time to apply. Compose a tailor-made application explaining why you’d be a fantastic choice to look after their property. You’ll need to be quite rapid with applying, these jobs are in demand and being near the top of the pile can certainly help you get noticed. Ask questions that you think are relevant to the job, if you show that you are taking a keen interest in all aspects of the job, not just the free house, you might stick in someones mind. As well as questions designed to get you the job, ask questions designed to help you know that you definitely want the job. Ascertain the true location of the property, what the requirements are, whether you have to pay for any utilities etc. It would be awful accepting a job, turning up and finding your ‘city centre, 1 cat, bills included sit’ was actually a ‘city centre (50 minutes away on the bus), 1 cat (and 6 kittens), bills included (up to $15) sit.

Super, you got the job. The last must know rule of house sitting is don’t be an idiot. This is someones house/pet that they’re trusting you to look after, do what you said you would do and do it well. Keep in touch with the owners as often as they would like even if this means daily emails. it’s up to them really, remember that you are living there for free, a 5 minute email won’t kill you. Keep on top of the chore list, don’t let the dishes pile up and rush to wash them a day before you leave. Finally, don’t kill the pet. That really won’t get you a good review.