Our top 10 house sitting tips

Want to save money on accommodation while you travel and spend time with cute pets? Then house sitting is the perfect solution. I’m writing this post from a spectacular farm house in rural Portugal where we’re currently looking after dogs and pigs. Over the last three years we’ve also house sat in a lavish Spanish villa and all over London, which has saved us thousands of pounds in accommodation and satisfied our pet cravings. So, how do we land all these great opportunities? Here are our top house sitting tips.

London house sits, Andrew with three dogs we looked after

*You can read all about our individual house sitting experiences in these posts:

1) Join housesitting websites

First things first, sign up to house sitting websites. Trusted Housesitters is by far the biggest website out there and has opportunities around the world from Europe to Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada. We’ve personally had great success with the site and have completed eight sits with them to date. Other sites to try include: MindMyHouse, HouseCarers, Nomador and Housesit Match. All of these sites charge an annual fee to join, the Trusted House sitters fee is $119.

trusted housesitters sign-up

2) Get some experience with animals

Most house sits involve looking after pets, so one of our top house sitting tips is to gain experience caring for animals. In your profile, talk about why you love pets (you really should if you’re applying for a pet sit) and provide details of animals you’ve looked after and any pets you’ve had. If you don’t have any experience with animals, consider volunteering or dog walking for a local animal shelter. In our profile, we mention the fact that we’ve volunteered with animal shelters in the past.

Roef, the Portuguese Water Dog on the beach at sunset

3) Get references

We didn’t have any experience when we set up our house sitting profile, so we asked friends and colleagues to give us some personal references to get us started. Ask a few friends, family or colleagues to write a couple of sentences mentioning that you’re reliable, honest and trustworthy.

4) Write a killer profile

Make sure you write a personalised profile that shows off your skills and personality and add photos of yourself, included some of you with pets. Home owners like to get a feel for who you are as a person so keep it simple and informal. You can take a look at our profile here for ideas, but we emphasise the following points:

  • We have a nomadic lifestyle so we’re flexible on house sitting dates and locations.
  • We work from home so we can keep a constant eye on pets and properties.
  • We have successfully nearly 10 house sits in the past.
  • We love animals and have looked after cats, dogs and pigs.
  • We’ve had our own pets in the past and volunteered at animal shelters.

Snout and Crackling, pet pigs we looked after in London

5) Make a video

One of the best house sitting tips we received when we were building our profile was to add a video of ourselves. Yes, it was embarrassing, but it really helped us land our first house sit. All you have to do is sit in front of the camera for a minute or two, talking about who you are, why you want to house sit and what experience you have.

Walking Boo in Greenwich Park

6) Get a police check

Getting a police check can boost your chances of landing a house sit. We happened to have one because we’ve taught abroad and we advertise this on our profile. It’s worth noting though that none of the people we’ve sat for have asked to see the checks, so it’s not usually a deal breaker. If you’re from the UK, you can order a basic check from Disclosure Scotland for £25.

beautiful black and white cat in London

7) House sitting tips – start in your local area

If you haven’t house sat before, start small by applying for sits in your local area or in a less competitive place to build up some experience and positive reviews.

Amy walking the dog at sunset

8) Be persistent and flexible

You’ll have much more chance of finding a house sit if you’re flexible with dates and locations, which is great if you’re a traveller looking for house sitting abroad. When you first start you may have to send out many applications before you get a sit, especially if you’re applying for popular areas like London. Be prepared for some rejections and persist. Sign up for email alerts for new sits (you can do this by area) and apply as soon as one is posted.

Our Spanish house sit - pool and home

9) Offer to do an interview

When we apply for a house sit we always offer to chat with the home owners on Skype or over the phone, if we’re in the area we’ll also suggest meeting up to discuss the sit. This helps both you and the home owner decide whether you’re a good fit for the placement. In most cases, we also arrive at the house sit a few hours or the night before to get used to the pets and their routine, the house and the local area.

Pigs enjoying a mud bath in Portugal

10) Be a model house sitter

Once you do get offered a house sit, make sure you do a stellar job and look after the house and pets as if they were your own, which will earn you great reviews. Here are some things we always do when we house sit:

  • We arrive before the owner leaves to meet the pets and learn about the house.
  • Send regular updates to the owners while they’re away with pictures of their pets to put their mind at ease.
  • Ask if we want to have visitors over, most people are fine with this as long as you’re not planning a party!
  • Stick to the pets’ regular routine as much as possible and give them plenty of company and reassurance.
  • Thoroughly clean the property before the owner returns and wash used towels and bed sheets.
  • Buy some basic groceries for their return such as bread, milk and butter, sometimes we even bake them a cake to say welcome home.

Want to get get free accommodation, explore new places and look after cute pets? Find out how to get a perfect house sit with these top house sitting tips.

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Do you have questions about landing a house sit or additional house sitting tips? Let us know in the comments below.

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6 thoughts on “Our top 10 house sitting tips

  1. We haven’t used any websites. After studying them, they all looked more or less like scams and there was a lot of negative feedback. So far we have located our places by just asking around from friends and Internet forums and on Facebook.

    • Hi, thanks for your comment, that’s really interesting. We’ve had positive experiences with Trusted Housesitters for the last few years and it has allowed us to make connections with people who we’ve done repeat sits for. It works for us but your approach sounds great too, what forums do you look/post on?

  2. We have considered trying a house sit, but keep hearing how difficult it is to get the first sit. Some people have compared it to applying for a job in a very tight economy: all work and no reward. Was it difficult to get your first house sit? Can you give an estimate of the number of sits you applied for before you got one? Maybe it helps a lot that you are a talented writer or have a great blog?

    • Aww, thanks Nikki! I don’t think our blog had much to do with landing our first house sit though. We did actually ask the first people we sat for why they chose us and they said it was mainly because we worked from home so would be with their dog a lot (she was just a puppy then). I think making a video also really helped. We probably applied for about 5 sits in London before we got our first one, we always tried to apply as soon as they came up too. If you’re thinking about house sitting, I’d definitely do a couple of sits in less competitive areas first because they’ll be much easier to get and then the reviews from those will help you land sits in better places. Good luck!

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