The Lazy Loafer Guide to Becoming a House Sitter Pt 2
The concept of house sitting has quite literally altered the course of my very existence.
Where once I held down a 9 to 5 all in the pursuit of financial security, house sitting has offered me the freedom to travel the world and dedicate my time to the things in life that make me truly happy.
A little under 3 years ago I left home to travel the world.
My first house sitting assignment in Costa Rica opened my eyes to the potential for low cost travel accommodation and to this day I’m still utilising this savvy travel hack.
17 assignments later and I guess you could say I know a thing or two about securing the best house sitting assignments. So if you’re looking at becoming a house sitter as a way to reduce the cost of your vacation or RTW trip, read on.
Step 1 – Sign Up
Before you can begin to apply for assignments you must register with a house sitting service.
There are a number of them out there on the web and all serve to connect home owners with house sitters however, take the time to investigate which service suits your itinerary.
Some sites are location specific and others are geared towards niche property types so do a little research before you pay any membership fees.
I’m registered with Trusted House Sitters, they’re the largest online service and have the most comprehensive portfolio of properties worldwide. For someone like me who is keen to travel, they’re the perfect fit.
Step 2 – Create an Engaging Profile
This is perhaps the most important part of the whole process.
Your profile is essentially a CV and should offer insight into your character and detail your desire to house sit.
Your house sitting profile is the first point of contact with a home owner. Ensure it gives a good impression but keep it simple and don’t embellish it with unnecessary information.
No one cares that you think you look like a young George Clooney.
Stick to your employment history, reference your hobbies and interests and detail why you believe you are a great house sitter.
Upload some current photographs which show you in a good light. I’m not talking highlights and shadows here, more playing in the park with your dog instead of blind drunk at the office Christmas party.
Gather a few character and employment references that would be happy to chat to a prospective home owner should they feel the need to validate your credentials, just incase.
Finally if you’ve any common sense please spell check the document before you upload it onto the internet for all to see.
No one wants to offer an assignment to some who thinks they’re a great house spitter.
Step 3 – Apply For an Assignment
Once you’ve uploaded your profile take some time to search through the listings for an assignment that matches your itinerary.
Most services offer a search facility which allows you to whittle down their portfolio to only those assignments which suit your travel dates or desired location.
Sign up to the daily/weekly emails which list new assignments, and read each advert thoroughly before the thought of applying even enters your head.
- Check that the assignment:
- Suits your dates of travel and that travel to the property is within your budget.
- Is within your capability – Doesn’t require you to take on responsibilities you are not comfortable with or able to manage.
- Is exactly what you think it is – Do some research into the local area to make sure that the image of paradise the owner is depicting in their advert, is in fact a true representation of life on location.
Once you’ve done some preliminary research, email the owner to express interest in the opportunity they are offering.
Your profile will automatically be attached to the email so there’s no need to list your credentials in full. Simply give an over view of yourself and stipulate why you would like to house sit and why you believe you are a good fit for the assignment.
Step 4 – Accept an Assignment
Once a home owner has invited you to house sit for them it is your turn to ‘interview’ them.
Just as the owner was keen to understand why you wanted to house sit for them, you in turn should find out exactly what they expect of their sitter.
I like to arrange a Skype call or if possible a coffee date to chat through the assignment in person.
Before talking to the owner make a list of questions you need to ask, some of which might be:
- Please list all the responsibilities you will be handing over to me.
- Please tell me exactly what financial commitments I will have during the assignment, re internet, utilities, pet food, car insurance.
- What transport options will I have during the assignment? Will I have use of your car?
- Are your travel dates confirmed?
- Will I need to spend the majority of my time at the property during the assignment?
- Is there anything you think I should consider before accepting the assignment?
Step 5 – Pre Travel Prep
Remember that some owners prefer to have their sitter at their house for the majority of the day to either look after pets or be a presence in the property.
Don’t plan any activities that require overnight stays away from the property without chatting to the owner first.
Step 6 – Arriving at the House Sit
When you first arrive on location it can be a little daunting but if you set out with a positive attitude there’s no reason why your first meeting shouldn’t be just fine.
I like to arrive with a small gift. Something I’ve picked up on my travels prior to arriving or something endemic from my home town. It’s a small gesture that often sets you off on the right foot and starts the conversation flowing.
Before the owner leaves make sure that you go over all the responsibilities they have asked of you and familiarise yourself with any instructions they have left you.
Make sure the owner has provided a list of emergency contacts and detailed what you should do in the unlikely event of an emergency.
- Contacts you should request include:
- Neighbour’s name and telephone number.
- Name and phone number of a relative.
- Address and phone number of a their veterinarian.
- Emergency contact number for local police and fire brigade.
- Any local tradesmen they use if faced with home repairs they are unable to manage themselves.
If you plan to house sit as a solo traveller I would advise that you make plans to ‘check in’ with one of your own relatives or friends on a regular basis. Especially if house sitting in a remote location. This offers you and your loved ones piece of mind when you’re travelling and living in unfamiliar terrain.
Step 7 – Don’t Steal My Dream Assignments
Now that I’ve given you the tools to secure the best house sitting assignments, do me a favour and don’t steal them from out under my nose!
Did you miss part one of this series? See it here!
Author Bio – Charli Moore is a house sitter and travel addict with a penchant for dark chocolate. In 2011 she and her other half Ben waved ‘Adios’ to the corporate world and jumped head first into a life of perpetual travel. You can follow the adventures of this writer/photographer team over at Wanderlusters or find them on Twitter and Instagram.