There are quite a few websites out there for house sitting. Some better than others, and I don't think any of the ones I've looked at are perfect. We've paid the money to become members of two of them, and they've each resulted in a house sitting assignment for us, so it has been money well spent.
But, it's not been without it's frustrations.
Here's the two that we belong to...
And then there are all of these...
And I'm sure there are others too. It's become a popular thing because it provides value to both parties.
For most house sits of under a month, there's usually no money involved. It's rare that a house sitter would be paid...usually it's enough just to have a free place to stay. But for longer term house sits, the house sitter is normally responsible for utility bills if all they are doing is making the house lived in. If you're caring for pets or have other responsibilities, then longer term assignments may be totally free as well.
We did a four month house sit in Kingston, Ontario back in the winter of 2009. It cost us about $260 per month for heat, hydro, internet, and telephone. This was a situation where the homeowner contacted us through our profile at http://www.housecarers.com/housesitter-profile.cfm?mem=2145561395
Our current assignment here in England was also the result of the homeowner contacting us, but this time it was through our profile at http://www.mindmyhouse.com/owners/sitter_listing/9639
However, we have applied to at least a dozen advertisements on both these websites where the homeowner is looking for a house sitter. This has been where the frustration occurs.
We received very few replies. I think this is nothing short of ignorant on the part of the advertiser. If you're going to advertise for a house sitter, at least have the common courtesy to respond to each and every inquiry. I've even seen where I've applied for a house sit, received no response, and then the advertisement remains posted for weeks (and sometimes months) after the fact. www.mindmyhouse.com seems to be the worst for this...they have a lot of advertisements that are outdated and I think you have to be pretty quick to apply for the new ones.
I've also seen listings where it's not really house sitting. So you have to be careful to sort through the ones that are really looking for cheap employees, or the ones that say you have to pay them "reduced rent" in exchange for looking after their house. Fortunately, these two items aren't that common.
You need to be really flexible for house sitting. There are flaky people on both sides of the agreement and I've seen where a homeowner has had to re-list their opportunity at the last minute because a house sitter has cancelled out on them. And, we've had two situations where we thought we had an agreement and they've both been cancelled by the homeowner. Very frustrating, but some people obviously don't know the meaning of the word commitment.
But when it comes together, it can be a great experience, so we'll continue applying for house sitting opportunities despite the frustrations involved. We've loved looking after Harvey the dog for these three weeks, although three weeks is enough. For us, we don't like to stay in one place very long, although it would be better if we had regular use of a vehicle.
Ruth did a roast chicken with stuffing and all the trimmings last night. Sure was good. What does this have to do with house sitting? Absolutely nothing!