We just wrapped up a two week stay in southern Spain. Our days were filled with puppy kisses, long breakfasts, and nightly sunsets over a stunning view. The best part? All of it was free, thanks to house sitting. If you’re wondering how we scored such an awesome place on a travelers budget, and are interested in learning how to get free housing, read on!
What is House Sitting?
For many travelers, finding affordable accommodation can be difficult. Staying in hostels and using websites like Airbnb and HostelWorld can certainly lower the cost of accommodation abroad, but for those looking for free housing, there’s another option: housesitting.
We signed up with Trusted House Sitters at the beginning of our trip, and have used it several times throughout our European travels. The setup is simple: Home owners who plan to be away for an extended period of time list their home on a house sitting website, and travelers who need a place to stay apply for the job. Home sits vary in responsibilities but typically include locking up the house each night, maintaining the landscape of yards, and caring for any pets that homeowners have. In exchange for looking after a house, travelers receive free housing.
How Does it Work?
To apply for a house sit, travelers should first choose which site they’d like to go with. There a number of options at the bottom of this post that have good reputations, and we personally use Trusted House Sitters. Most house sitting websites have an initial sign up fee, but this pays for itself after two to three nights of house sitting, and is well worth the cost.
After signing up, fill in all the applicable profile details to show home owners who you are and what you can offer. If you have anyone willing to write you a review from previous experience, this is very helpful and should be added as soon as possible.
Once your profile is live, start applying for house sits! Make sure that each email is unique and clearly says who you are, what you can offer to the particular sit, and what experience you have that makes you the perfect fit. If it helps, think of each message like a job application. We’ve included additional tips and tricks to land your first sit below.
Landing Your First House Sit
1. Sign Up For Emails and Apply Quickly
When you sign up, allow Trusted House Sitters, (or related site) to send you daily emails. These emails contain the most recently posted house sits, and you should apply for any that suit you immediately. Most house sitters choose their sitter out of the first few people that apply, so it’s important to have your profile in that bunch.
2. Be Flexible
When it comes to applying for house sits in a certain location, it helps to be flexible. Most house sits aren’t in major cities, and the ones that are go incredibly fast. Try to be flexible with your location preferences to open a wider net of potential sits.
3. Practice Email Etiquette
Email etiquette is important, as this is the only impression outside of your profile that potential hosts will get of you before a Skype call. Double check for spelling and grammatical errors, include the names of the home owners and their pets in the email, and let your personality shine through in your writing. Imagine you are in a home owner’s shoes, about to leave your pets with a stranger. What would you want to see in an application message?
4. Have References
Having references on your profile boosts your chances of getting chosen immensely. Users gain references by completing house sits and having hosts write reviews for them on their profile. If you’re trying to get your first sit and find yourself getting declined even after following the rest of the above steps, try to get a reference another way. Most sites allow people to ask references about your work ethic, character, or past home and pet sitting experience outside of the platform. When we signed up, we asked our neighbor, whose dog we had watched several times, to write a review about our ability to care for pets. This review was enough to land our first house sit, and we’ve had no troubles since.
Which Site Should I Sign Up For?
The sites below are some of the best house sitting sites out there. Each of these sites has testimonials from travelers, and a decent variety of sits. Take a look and find one that suits you best.
- World wide, most house sits are in the United States, Europe, and Australia.
- Same cost for both home owners and sitters ($75 for 3 months, $120 for one year)
- Take 20% off with this code
2. House Carers
- World wide, most house sits are in the United States and Europe
- Free for home owners, $50 per year for sitters
- Smaller house sitting database, most house sits in the United States and Europe
- Free for home owners, $20 per year for sitters
- Primarily caters to European House Sits
- Free for home owners, has two membership levels (£35 and £75) per year for sitters
- Caters to United States House Sits
- Free for home owners, $30 per year to be a sitter
- Caters to Australian House Sits
- Free for home owners, $65 per year to be a sitter
- For luxury listings, smaller database
- Free for home owners, $25 per year for sitters
House sitting is a great way to get free housing while exploring new places. It allows you to meet new people, see places you may not have otherwise, and often times, cuddle and play with adorable pets. Regardless of your motivation, house sitting is an experience worth looking into!
Some of the above links are affiliate links. This means that we make a small commission if you choose to sign up after clicking on some of the links in this post, at no extra cost to you.