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Jobs & Careers

How to become a house sitter and get free accommodation

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Like the idea of moving around and exploring new places but don't have the money to splash out on accommodation? House sitting could be the answer you're looking for.

Pretty cottage and city apartment with house keys

Credit: Denphumi (keys), PJ photography (cottage), Fio Creative (apartment) - Shutterstock

Whether it's a quiet break in the countryside you're after or a cheap city break, there are house-sitting opportunities all over the country (and the world).

And we've got some news – the accommodation is free. All you'll have to do in return is look after the house and anything the owners have left in it.

So how does it all work? Read on to get all the ins and outs of house sitting, where to find house sits and what they entail, then venture forth.

If you don't like the idea of staying in someone else's house but still need cheap accommodation, you'll need to check out our guide to finding cheap hotel deals.

What is house sitting?

key with house keyring

Credit: nednapa – Shutterstock

House sitting involves looking after someone else's property while they are away on holiday or business in return for free accommodation.

It's a win-win situation. The property owner gets to feel safe in the knowledge that their property is being kept safe and clean and the house sitter gets to experience and live in a new place without worrying about the extortionate costs of accommodation.

Safety is a major reason why people may choose to open their house up to others – an empty property is much more likely to be targeted by burglars. Another reason may be that something needs looking after in the property, such as house plants or pets.

So, when you're house sitting for someone you will be expected to not only keep the place clean and tidy while they're away, but also keep any plants alive and watered and potentially feed and look after any pets. Either way, all the responsibilities expected of you will be made clear.

If the idea of looking after someone else's pets fills you with happiness we have another guide dedicated specifically to pet sitting.

How to find house sitting jobs

You will often find house sits advertised on websites dedicated to house sitting. These websites will usually include reviews of both the property owners and the house sitters to help ensure that both parties are trustworthy. Details of the property and the responsibilities expected of any house sitters will be included.

It's also worth asking family and friends if they, or anyone they know, would be interested in your services. This could allow you to house sit for free without paying website subscription costs.

Best house sitting job websites

Here is a list of the best house-sitting websites:

  1. TrustedHousesitters

    trusted house sitters logoProbably the most well-known of the house-sitting websites out there, TrustedHousesitters matches house sitters with homeowners all over the world.

    You need to pay a fee of £99 a year to access the house-sitting opportunities and advertise your services. They also have other membership options available for extra support, which include video calls and online chat with vets when pet sitting, accident and third liability insurance and even airport lounge access.

    £99 may seem quite a lot to be putting out up front, but let's face it, in most places in the UK that's less than two nights accommodation, so you'll be making it back in just one weekend.

    Register with TrustedHousesitters »

     

  2. HouseSit Match

    HouseSit Match logo

    Though it's a UK-based company, HouseSit Match has housesits advertised from all over the world.

    You can filter your search by country and also by any particular features you're looking for, such as a garden, beach or even a pool.

    They have two levels of membership available – Standard and Premium. The Standard membership offers all the usual access to available house sits and verified reviews for £69 per year, whilst the Premium membership offers the same with added support to create the perfect profile and get started for £89 per year.

    Register with HouseSit Match »

     

  3. Nomador

    Nomador logo

    Nomador operates from France but has house-sitting opportunities all over the world.

    It views itself as more of an "international house-sitting community", helping connect like-minded travellers and pet lovers.

    Nomador offers three different subscription plans – Discovery (£79 per year), Standard (£129 per year) and Premium (£159 per year). Each of these subscriptions is for homeowners and house sitters alike. So, if you subscribe you are free to both apply for house sits and advertise your house if you want someone to look after it while you're away.

    Nomador is one of the more expensive sites we've listed but they do offer a free Discovery option where you can create a profile and be contacted by homeowners for free. A great way to check if you think house sitting is right for you.

    Register with Nomador »

     

  4. HouseCarers

    HouseCarers logoHouseCarers was the first house-sitting membership website to launch back in 2000 in Australia.

    The site founders pride themselves on offering a more personal touch, focusing on quality rather than quantity, yet still claim to match over 10,000 sitters with homeowners each year.

    HouseCarers has housesits available worldwide and you can refine your search by the time period you're looking for, with long-term options available for three months plus.

    HouseCarers also offers the option to sign up for free and become a limited Unpaid member. This way you'll receive house-sitting jobs by email. If you receive one you like the look of, you'll need to pay the full $50 (approx £40) annual membership to apply.

    Register with HouseCarers »

     

  5. House Sitters UK

    House Sitters UK logoCreate a profile on the House Sitters UK site and you'll have access to all the house-sitting ads placed by homeowners and will be able to contact them directly.

    Once you've created a profile, homeowners can also contact you directly. You can check reviews from previous sitters at the property and there's the option for ID verification (for an additional £3) to ensure your complete safety.

    An annual membership with House Sitters UK costs only £29 for house sitters and, unlike Trusted Housesitters, it's free for homeowners to advertise on there. So there's potential for plenty of properties to be listed.

    Register with House Sitters UK »

     

  6. Mindahome

    mindahome logoOffering house-sitting opportunities in the UK and Australia, Mindahome is hosted by a small team in the UK.

    The setup is similar to most of the others we've listed here. You'll need to complete a membership form, pay the membership fee (just £20 for the year) and submit a profile. You'll then be able to search through all the available house-sitting jobs.

    Mindahome also offers a free "Guide to Housesitting" ebook with its membership.

    Register with Mindahome »

     

How to apply to become a house sitter

woman typing on laptop

Credit: WAYHOME studio – Shutterstock

Once you've decided which of the house-sitting websites above to become a member of, you'll need to create your profile.

This will be a similar process to writing a CV or job application. Writing about yourself is never an easy task but your profile is going to be the main deciding factor when it comes to whether you get yourself that free accommodation.

You can explain what you're willing to do, any expert knowledge or particular experience you may have looking after plants or pets and why you're the perfect pick for a house sitter.

It's important to be honest and open in your profile. Try to get some of your personality across. The whole point of these websites is to match the house sitter and homeowner.

You may have found your dream house to apply to, but if the owners are specifically asking for experience looking after a certain breed of dog and you decide to lie about it, you may find you've bitten off more than you can chew.

Likewise, if you find a house that's in the dream location yet it's obvious from the homeowner ad that the house is utterly pristine, you may find the pressure to keep everything that way and the fear of touching anything makes your stay less relaxing than you'd hoped.

When a homeowner is looking for a house sitter, they'll be looking for someone who matches their expectations. If everybody's honest, you should be able to find the perfect match.

Here are our top tips for a great house sitter profile:

  1. Explain why you want to house sit, including any personal traits that you think make you a great house sitter (e.g. love of cleaning, plant whisperer, etc).
  2. Include high-quality photos of yourself that reflect your nature and any experience you may have. For example with pets if you're planning on applying for pet-sitting positions, or in the garden to show your love of gardening.
  3. Highlight any specific experience you have that will be useful when house sitting, using examples.
  4. Include personal references, especially if you can get them from anyone whose house you have previously looked after.
  5. Include any travel experiences you think may be relevant to show your adaptability to different environments.
  6. Check your spelling and grammar.

Once your profile is out there, homeowners will be free to view it and if they like what they see, can contact you directly. Likewise, you're free to apply for any positions you see advertised.

It's important to read any ads thoroughly and refer to specific details in your application. Opening up your home to a stranger can be a scary prospect and a homeowner will want to feel reassured that they are picking the right person for the job. Cutting and pasting the same generic message to all homeowners just won't stick. Make it personal.

You'll then usually be invited for a video or telephone interview to get to know each other better and iron out any details. Make sure you do your research and you have a list of questions on what will be expected of you.

Make the right impression and you're in!

What are the benefits of house sitting?

a-young-blonde-woman-relaxing-on-a-sofa

Credit: Antonio Guillem - Shutterstock

House sitting offers loads of benefits but here are a few of our favourites:

  1. Free accommodation – top of the list! Whether you're looking to travel to other countries, or just around the UK, accommodation can often be the biggest spend. Even after finding the cheapest flights and following our tips on how to save money on holidays, you may still find that the cost of accommodation is just too much. As a house sitter, once you've paid the website subscription costs, the accommodation itself is free.
  2. Living like a local – you'll find house-sitting opportunities in many places where you possibly wouldn't venture if you were just on the tourist route. This is a great opportunity to explore a culture and truly live like the locals would. Make sure to get any local tips from the homeowner.
  3. Great for your CV – you can include house sitting on your CV when applying for jobs as proof you're a responsible person. There are also a bunch of reasons why it's a great idea to include travelling on your CV.
  4. Quality time with animals – house sitting often comes with the added bonus of a pet to look after during your stay. This is a great chance to get some animal love, as you're unlikely to have pets in your uni digs and you may be missing your pets back at home.
  5. Peace and quiet to study – you may be struggling to get your work done and knuckle down and study at uni. Way too many distractions and temptations for nights out with friends. House sitting provides a great opportunity to take yourself off to somewhere you know no one so you can get on with that uni work.
Found the perfect, calm studying environment but still struggling to get your work done? Check out our tips on how to work from home.

House sitting FAQs

Will I get paid to be a house sitter?

House sitting is usually seen as a mutual exchange where the house sitter is offered free accommodation in return for looking after and taking care of the property.

There may be the odd occasion where money is offered if extra work is involved, but generally speaking, you won't get paid for house sitting.

Who pays the utility bills?

For the majority of house sits, the homeowner will cover the cost of utility bills. The exception may be where it's a long-term house sit over a winter period where utility bills could be extra high.

It's important to be respectful when you're staying in someone else's property and not waste energy. if you need some help on how to keep bills down check out these energy-saving tips.

Do I need insurance for house sitting?

House sitters are not expected to obtain their own insurance for house sitting. Any major accidental damage will usually be covered by the homeowner's insurance or the policy included with their membership to the house sitting site.

Accidents happen and any minor damages during your stay, such as a broken glass, you should be honest about and let the owners know. You can then come to an agreement between you if you need to reimburse them.

Some of the house-sitting memberships we've mentioned will include accident and third-party liability insurance in case a pet causes any damage to another person or property when in your care.

If you're planning on doing any house sits abroad, you're strongly advised to get some travel insurance.

Do I need a visa for house sitting abroad?

As house sitting is seen as an exchange of services rather than a paid position, and most house sits are short term, a tourist visa will usually be enough to house sit in countries abroad.

Check with any travel authorities on how to obtain the correct visa for the country you are visiting.

Can I have friends to stay while house sitting?

This will completely depend on the homeowners. The important thing is to be honest. If you would like a friend to stay during your house sit then make sure you ask permission from the homeowners first. Many will be perfectly happy for you to share the space with a friend, whereas others may be more cautious.

Large gatherings or parties are a big no so don't bother asking. No homeowner is going to want to open up their house to all your mates with the potential for breakages and spillages, not to mention scaring any pets away.

Is it possible to find long-term house sits?

There are plenty of long-term house-sitting opportunities out there. It may be that the homeowner has a contract to work abroad for several months and wants someone to take care of the house, or that they themselves have decided to head off and travel the world for a while.

Most house-sitting websites include a filter for your length of stay so you can search for long-term sits only. This can be especially useful if you're thinking of moving to a new town and want to try it out first before renting a property.

Sometimes with longer-term house sits you will be expected to help out with the cost of bills, so make sure you have this discussion before making any commitments.

If you'd feel more comfortable looking after children than pets and plants, you can check out our guide to becoming an au pair.

Hannah Williams

WRITTEN BY Hannah Williams

Hannah Williams, Content Editor at Save the Student, is an expert in living cheaply. Hannah has written for a wide array of trade publications and has previous experience working within student housing. Having lived the life of a digital nomad for over 10 years, she is passionate about travel and online work.
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