If you’re travelling – or planning to go travelling – and you haven’t heard about house sitting, where have you been hiding? This is part one of a two post series by James Cave of TrustedHousesitters.com about house sitting.
House sitting is a rapidly growing trend. The concept is simple: people going on holidays need someone to look after their home and often their pets as well. In return for you taking on those tasks, they’re willing to let you stay in their home and look after it while they’re away.
Once you hear about house sitting the idea just makes sense. Not too long ago I was planning to leave Edinburgh where I was living and go travelling with my partner Jemma. Both of us wanted to travel but at the same time we also wanted to be able to work while we travelled; I already had a few clients and both Jemma and I needed to fund our travels. Despite all of my optimism about the idea, working from a tent or even a hostel dorm was never going to be easy – and probably never possible being honest – and so we kept on looking for another option.
Long story short we stumbled across the idea of house sitting. At the time there wasn’t much information about it so we ended up trying just about everything out: from building a website, to trying to get ourselves featured in the media publications that a homeowner might read.
Since then times have changed and there’s now a lot more written about house sitting. I’m also lucky enough to have in my hands the first house sitting survey every done (to my knowledge). This survey includes feedback from hundreds of homeowners and house sitters so I’ve broken it down into a few of my favourite nuggets.
Tip #1: Start Locally
Looking through the results of this survey, there was one figure that really jumped out. When looking at house sitters who had so far been unsuccessful in landing a housesit and comparing them to people who had managed to get quite a few housesits through the site (6-10) I noticed that 60% of those who were getting the housesits had one thing in common: they’d all started with a national housesit rather than an international one.
This makes sense. When I first signed up with Trusted Housesitters I was looking through the latest house sits and noticed one in Edinburgh, where I was living. Although it was actually a little out of my way and I didn’t need to take it on, I did it just for the experience. In the end I actually really enjoyed it and of course I got some experience and a great reference as well.
You can browse the latest housesits here on TrustedHousesitters.com. If you see one in your area, it’s worth taking it on to get some experience under your belt.
Tip #2: Do You Have Confidence In Your Profile?
House sitting is all about trust. When a homeowner decides to take on a house sitter they’re really putting themselves out there and it’s up to you as the sitter to show just how reliable you are.
Interestingly a lot of the people who weren’t getting housesits hadn’t put up a picture of themselves, didn’t have any references and hadn’t got a police background check.
For every one of these trustworthy features you add to your profile, your chances of landing a housesit jump by 25%. The good news is a lot of these things aren’t that difficult to get.
- Photos: Surely you’ve got a camera?
- Background checks: In most countries a police background check costs around $10 and is simple as going into a police station and asking for it. Usually it takes a week or two to come through.
- References: You can build up your profile by asking landlords and previous employers for references. It’s also worth letting friends and family know that you’re thinking about becoming a house sitter and offer to look after their home and pets while they’re away.
Tip #3: Engage with the homeowner
House sitting is a wonderfully cheap way to travel, but don’t forget you’re looking after someone else’s home at the same time. Most homeowners that I’ve met through Trusted Housesitters are very kind and usually one of the reasons they agree to take on a sitter is to give someone else the chance to travel to their part of the world.
Of course their main reason for signing up is to keep their home safe and their pets happy, so make sure your email focuses on that.
Angela Laws has been house sitting for more than five years and is one of the top-ranked house sitters on the site. She’s looked after vineyards in France and beach houses in California and her ability to land these much coveted housesits has had her featured in publications like Canada’s MetroNews. As with any ‘job’ application, Angela says the key is to read the listing thoroughly to see what the homeowner is 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.
It might seem simple but these three tips really seem to make all the difference
- Start locally
- Make sure your profile is properly filled out
Apply for a housesit as you would with a job