Want to Housesit? Top Tips to Get Started
My name is James, and I housesit full-time along with my partner Jemma. Currently I’m into my fourth housesit in
having housesat across Portugal
as well. UK
For me it’s the perfect way to travel: it’s cheaper than an apartment and much more relaxing than a hostel or hotel. It also usually involves some pet care (we’ve looked after cats, dogs, ducks, chickens, turtles and alpacas) which is a real bonus: both Jemma and I love pets so dog walking and alpaca herding never feel like a chore.
Getting started is the hardest part. When I first began house sitting there was very little real information of how to go about applying for housesits and what homeowners were looking for. Trial, error and lots of persistence was the only way forward. You can imagine how happy I was when Trusted Housesitters ran a survey of all its members and handed me all of this information about what homeowners look for when choosing a sitter and what some of the “most successful” sitters are doing to get all of the top housesits.
James and Jemma house and pet sitting!
Here’s a few of the nuggets I gleaned...
It’s very interesting to look at the differences between those who’ve been unsuccessful in getting any housesits and those who’ve done quite well for themselves; say 6-10 housesits. The figure that stuck out to me was that for 60% of those people with 6-10 housesits, the first housesit they took on was national, not international. So while you obviously want to look after chalets in
and beach houses in the Caribbean, the
evidence suggests you’re better of applying for those nearby – and getting a
bit of experience – first.
I experienced this when I first signed up with Trusted Housesitters. I was browsing through the latest house sitting jobs and noticed one just down the road from me in
where I was
living at the time. Even though I already lived in Edinburgh , and the housesit was actually a
little out of my way, I took it on. It got me one of my first references on my
profile, some really great experience in pet sitting and, rather unexpectedly,
I got to see another side to Edinburgh
by living in a new part of the city. Edinburgh
James and his alpaca friend!
What Does Your Profile Say About You?
House sitting is all about trust and unsurprisingly, those who were offered more housesits had more trustworthy features on their profile. For every trustworthy feature (references, photos, police background checks etc) there’s a jump in “successfulness”, often by as much as 25%.
Tip: You don’t just need to add house sitting references to your profile. If you’re starting out you can add character, landlord and employment references. If you’ve housesat for friends and family (and it’s really recommended that you do) you can also get a pet sitting reference that way. Police background checks are really easy to obtain too - most countries enable you to apply for one online for about $10 or it’s as simple as popping into your local station to register for the information.
Top Tips from a House Sitting Pro
Angela Laws has been house sitting for more than five years, as well as taking on house sitters for her own home in
. Some of the assignments
she’s picked up recently are enviable to say the least: townhouses in Canada London, mansion apartments in NYC and beach houses in . California
As with any “job” application, Angela says to read it thoroughly and get a grasp of what the home/pet owners are looking for. “I’ve had pet owners tell me that they get applicants who never even mention the animals”, she said when I asked her what her ‘secret’ was. A home owner and former pet owner herself, Angela’s real ‘secret’ is empathising with homeowners: she’s able to make a connection and has a genuine care for other people’s home and pets.
So there you have it, three tips to get you on the right track:
- Start Locally – Build up your experience by taking on housesits nearby
- Get References
- Read the description thoroughly and make sure your application reflects what the homeowner is looking for.
In part two Rachel Martin, director of Trusted Housesitters, shares a few of the things she’s noticed and recommends.