The Joys of House Sitting

After months of living out of a backpack in Central America, staying in cramped hostel rooms and getting sick of eating in restaurants, we unpacked in our new apartment in Jacksonville, Florida. There’s more space than we know what to do with, a ridiculously comfy bed, a well equipped kitchen, and even a terrace overlooking the river. Best of all we are staying here for four weeks without paying a penny.

This is our second house sitting assignment, and we’ve just arranged another in Japan. It’s proving ideal for our nomadic lifestyle for a number of reasons.

1) A Home Without Going Home – Travel gets tiring and although we have no urge to settle down, it helps to have a rest from constant movement every now and again. We get to enjoy home comforts like a couch, privacy, a/c, kitchen, our own washer/dryer, fast internet, comfortable office chair and desk, swimming pool and we even have use of a car. It makes a wonderful change from crappy hostels.

2) Save Money – We get to stay in places we’d never be able to afford. The only expenses we have for the month are food and petrol. This opens up many possibilities. We’ve just arranged a house sit in Kyoto, Japan for the end of the summer. It’s a country that’s been on our wish list for a long time and we wouldn’t be able to afford to go if we hadn’t found the house sit.

3) Get Work Done – It’s much easier to work when we aren’t moving around and staying in uncomfortable accommodation without a suitable place to work.

4) Visit Places We Wouldn’t Usually Visit – We would never have visited Jacksonville if it wasn’t for the house sit, but there are many beaches and national parks to visit in the area, we’ve eaten the best cheesecake ever at the French Pantry and it’s a convenient base for day trips to St Augustine and Savannah.

5) Live Like a Local – When you are staying in someone’s home you adopt their life to a certain extent and get to explore untouristy areas of town. Our house sit owners introduced us to their family before they left and one of their daughters invited us to a local improv comedy night that she performs in. We enjoyed an entertaining evening and chatted with Jacksonville locals – we never would have known about it without the house sit.

6) Temporary Pets – Many house sits require you to look after pets. As our nomadic lifestyle isn’t best suited to owning pets it’s nice to have some temporary ones every now and again.

Simon with Mani the puppy while house sitting in Argentina

Simon with Mani the puppy while house sitting in Argentina

How to Find a House Sit

Are you convinced on the joys of house sitting? It’s an opportunity that’s available to everyone as you can do it for as little as a few days up to a year.

Here’s how to find a house sitting placement.

1) Join a House Sitting Organisation – There are many websites that put house sitters in touch with house owners for a small annual fee. We are members of Mind My House and Trusted Housesitters and have also tried House Carers.

2 ) Create a Good Profile – Write a detailed profile about yourself and why you’d be a good house sitter. Make sure to include details of any previous experience looking after houses or pets. I think linking to our blog helps as owners can read a lot more about us there. We also link to our couchsurfing profile as it has references from strangers who have hosted us in their homes.

3) Check Opportunities Daily – Once you are a member set the alerts to email you every day. It’s very competitive so apply as soon as you see a suitable opportunity.

4) Be Flexible – If you don’t have any luck at first, keep trying. It helps to be flexible – you’ll have more luck in the beginning applying to less well known destinations. Once you’ve built up some experience you’ll have a greater chance of getting the most competitive house sits – we really want a house sit in Italy for the summer but haven’t found one yet.

5) Keep Your Eyes Open – It’s also possible to find house sitting opportunities through friends and informal networks. We found our first house sit in Argentina while couchsurfing with a family who needed a sitter a few weeks later.

More Information

The Globetrotter Girls have house sat in Italy, Germany, the USA, Canada, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, New York and many more. See their Ultimate Housesitting Guide and their excellent and very detailed book Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting that’s available for the Kindle or as a PDF.

Dalene and Peter at Hecktic Travels have looked after houses in Canada, on a tropical island in Honduras, Turkey, and all around the world. They’ve written a guide to house sitting – see Housesitting 101 and Housesitting 201 and their ebook How to Become a House-sitter and See the World.

Trail Wallet

Have you tried or considered house sitting? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

39 thoughts on The Joys of House Sitting

  1. Hey Guys,

    Loving the house sitting advice :) We are off to Costa Rica next month to house sit in Liberia. Can’t wait, we have been following your journey through Central America, very jealous of your equestrian interning! Just wanted to say thank you for inspiring us to chase our dreams and to blog our experiences along the way.

    Ben & Charlotte (Wanderlusters)

  2. Great tips, guys! We LOVE the concept of housesitting – it’s perfect for digital nomads. Sometimes it is just nice having your own kitchen, living room, neighborhood… and not packing/unpacking your backpack every two days or so. Congrats to the housesit in Japan – so awesome!

  3. And isn’t it so nice to have a base, just for a little while. Hopping from place to place all the time does get exhausting. This should give you guys a much needed break!

    • It is a good break from moving around, although Simon is working far too hard taking advantage of that comfy desk chair!

  4. I’d heard about house swaps but not much about house sitting – what a cool idea! Definitely have to look into this when I get back from South America.

    • It’s definitely worth taking a look at. Unfortunately not many house sits come up in South America, although we have seen some in Panama and Costa Rica.

  5. I can totally relate to this post! We recently settled down so to speak for 4 months in Tulum, Mexico and it was nice to call somewhere home for a little while. But it wasn’t to long and we got itchy feet and we are on the road again now :)

    • Two months is the longest we’ve been “settled” so far but I think we might try staying out a bit longer somewhere in Asia next winter. The itchy feet do always kick in though don’t they?!

  6. We actually use house sitting as well as our major way of finding the next place to go. It’s wonderful for all the reasons you mention: having a base for a bit, pets for our daughter, new places to see, etc. Yes, after a few weeks we do get an itch to move on.

    We’ll be spending two months house sitting this summer in New Mexico for a gal who originally hosted us as Couch Surfers. Our first house sitting gig was a friend who needed someone to watch their dog while they were gone on vacation.

    We too have found Mind My House to be a wonderful resource!

    • Glad to hear you’ve had lots of luck with house sitting too. I love the randomness of letting an available house sit decide where you head to next. It does take you to some unexpected destinations. New Mexico sounds like fun.

  7. Sounds like you are enjoying Jacksonville- other great day trips are Amelia Island and Little Talbot Island. If do you go to St. Augustine- eat at Aunt Kate’s (best seafood… I’m drooling right now, it’s so good) and it’s right on the intercoastal waterway, so great at sunset. A great taco place near University Blvd is Mr. Taco. It’s in a strip mall, but has the best carnitas taco ever.

  8. House sitting is something I’m keen on doing in the future. Have been thinking about it for a while. It’s great to know that other people out there are doing it to spice up their travel lives.

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  12. Well my husband and I need to relocate and looking for a couple to house sit our
    house in PANAMA, Las Cumbres, still for sale, so we need to keep available
    for prespects at all times.
    Our plans are to move in September 2012, yes is just around the corner and do not know what to do with the house.
    We are in a very good area of Panama, near city, just 30 minutes from the Tocumen International airport, 1hr from beach. email me at chayopma at Gmail….thank you

    • I have traveled to Panama several times visiting friends in Bocas Del Toro. On our last visit we meet a couple from Spain who were house sitters. The idea really made me excited. I am 58 yrs. old and a retired Nurse and My husband is 71 and fererally retired after 37 yrs. service. We both loved Panama. We love pet’s especially dog’s and take great pride of taking care of our own property and would another homeowner. We are non- smokers and occ. drink. Very Interested in sitting your home. Thank you, Debbie and Les Flaherty. We are honest people with no lifetime arrests.

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  15. My husband and I are at a stage in our lives that this would be perfect for us. We are both in our fifties and each have our talents that could be beneficial for someone wanting to go away and come back to a project being done or just the security that their home and animals are safe.
    Thanks for sharing info.

  16. hello,

    I am seeking a job as a housesitter. I would like to travel and do this at the same time.

    I am bonded and working on getting licensed to do this. I have great character refs, I have a stable, responsible lifestyle.

    I do’t drink, do drugs, or smoke. I am a clean freak and a organizational freak.

    You can depend and trust me. I am conscientious, positive and sincere.

    Thank you for the opportunity.

    DJ

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  18. Thanks for the tips and love the web site. We joined your world August 2013 and brought along our two kids ages 11 & 8. Currently on a house sit in New Zealand. Here for a month. Beautiful. Wondered how you found a place in Japan? That is where we want to go next and didn’t see very much on the web sites you have listed. FYI check out kiwihousesitters.com and aussiehousesitters.com for down under picks.

    • Japan housesits come up very rarely. In fact I’ve never seen one other than the one we did which was with a British/ Japanese-Canadian couple which we found on mindmyhouse.com. We just got lucky!

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