What We Look for in The Perfect House Sit
House sitting has allowed us to travel the world (Amsterdam, Vienna, Athens, Budapest, Prague… just to name a few) and have companions while doing so! It’s an exchange of services that allows us to forgo a hotel and stay in a home for a matter of days, weeks, or months. With well over two-dozen house sits behind us, we have a few tips to finding the perfect house sit opportunity!
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We thought house sitting was too good to be true. Turns out that it’s an amazing way to travel and very possible!
Benefits of House Sitting
House sitting is a great way of reducing lodging expenses while traveling! Plus, if you find that staying in a hotel is a dry, sterile experience, house sitting is a wonderful solution! .
When house sitting, we have the chance to settle into a place that’s someones home. It’s lived in by someone so it has character, comfort, and conveniences that a hotel room just doesn’t have.
We also like that many house sits come with the responsibility of caring for a pet, usually dogs or cats. Having a pet around, that we can play and cuddle with gives a sense of comfort and calmness that’s surprisingly nice, especially while being so far from home.
Wondering where we find our house sitting opportunities? We've had great success using Trustedhousesitters.com! It's easy to use, well designed, and they're constantly updating and improving their website. They even have a mobile app!
House Sitting is a Give and Take
In many ways, finding a house sit is like looking for a job. We need to find an intriguing one, apply, and go through an interview process. But one important thing to remember is that just as much as the home and pet owner is interviewing us for a good match, we’re interviewing them as well. We’ve had many house sitting experiences and from each one we learn something new.
We’re stepping into someone else’s home and life, so we need it to work well for us too! This isn't just for our comfort and benefit, but also for the homeowner and pets. There are, of course, compromises we’re willing to make, but there are also must haves.
When we apply for a house sit there are specific things we look for. These may not be things you’re looking for, but perhaps they’ll help you to think about things that you’ll want for a great house sit experience.
Read more about house sitting, the sites we recommend, and other lodging options in Cheap Alternatives to Hotels: Save Money on Lodging!
What We Look for in a House Sit Assignment
Accessible by Public Transportation
We don’t own a car and we don’t want to rent a car if we can avoid it. We like walking and traveling by train and bus wherever we can. If a sit requires a car, we usually pass.
High Speed and Reliable Internet
We’re both consultants and work remotely. So it’s vital to our livelihood that we have reliable and high-speed internet access.
All ‘broadband’ isn’t equal and peoples definition of broadband varies as well.
Over time we’ve learned to ask the homeowner what their internet connection download, upload, and latency are, by asking them to run a speed test from Speed Of Me or Fast.com. They’re great lightweight, non-flash based speed test sites that even work on mobile.
Not Too Many Animals
We both adore pets!
Dogs, cats, turtles, guinea pigs, … etc. We love them all! And at one time or another have had them as pets and cared for them.
However, we know our limits and capabilities. House sits with too many animals are beyond our current capabilities since we're sightseeing and working as well.
Committing to a house sit with too many animals would be a disservice to the pets and the homeowners.
We look for house sit listings that give detail on the pets, homeowners, the home and the responsibilities. We’ve found that listings with very sparse descriptions aren’t good matches for our personalities. We’re very detail orientated, so having a homeowner who is similar, leads to a mutually beneficial experience.
Don’t miss our Ultimate Gear and Packing Lists! Whether you’re traveling long-term or going on a short vacation, we'll show you how to travel with a single carry-on. We share our packing lists (his and hers!), packing tips, and our favorite gear. Plus, we discuss what we don’t carry and why!
A House in a Location We Want to Be
House sitting is more than just accommodations in exchange for pet or home sitting.
We want to travel and see new places. So, we look for house sits in places that are on our travel bucket list. Usually, that means somewhere that we haven’t been before.
Homeowners create their listings with all of the details for their house sit, including images. This means that house sit listings can vary in the number of pictures given, from zero to a dozen or more.
Having pictures gives us insight into the pets, the home, and the lifestyle of the homeowner. We want it to be a match for both sides, so making sure that personalities, organization, and lifestyles match up is important.
We occasionally run across a homeowner who has expectations that seem unreasonable for us to accomplish in conjunction with our travel goals.
Between the two of us we have a clear understanding of what we can and can’t do. So, we know how many dog walks we can fit into a day or how much time we can spend watering plants. We know how much time we can dedicate to daily chores and we know how much time on average we’ll spend at the home with the pets each day.
Don’t Feel That You Have to Give Up a 'Must Have'
When we first started house sitting we felt that we needed to accept every opportunity that came our way. The competition for house sits can seem fierce and it can feel like the homeowner has all the control in the decision making process.
In our case, we make sure we keep both the homeowner’s needs and our needs at the forefront.
If the opportunity doesn’t seem right, if it seems like we’re giving up too much, then we’ll pass. If it’s not us, there’s someone else out there that’s a good fit.
Overtime, if it doesn't seem right, we’ve learned to step back and let the opportunity go to another person, because surely, there’s another opportunity for us just around the corner.
Our tool box is full of resources! From travel hacking to house sitting, digital nomad jobs to privacy and security, financially independent retire early (FI/RE) to entertainment, plus travel hacking (credit cards, miles, points, and rewards), and much much more…
We’ve seen house sits range from a couple of days to a couple of years!
Our first year abroad was also our first year house sitting. It was a whirlwind adventure and we averaged just two weeks in a location. This meant some stays were a few days and some were up to a month. To match with our travel style, we looked for house sits that were between two and four weeks long.
However, after our first year of travel we decided to keep house sitting full time. Part of our decision to keep traveling and house sitting was to travel a bit slower. On top of reducing travel stress a bit, traveling slower meant that we were looking for house sits that were a three to twelve weeks in length.
It all depends on your own travel style, but short house sits means your moving on to a new sit more often, therefore seeing more places. On the other hand, longer house sits give you more time to settle in and develop a daily routine. Plus, who says you have to stick to one style!?
The above strategies have led us to find amazing house sits!
We’ve had homeowners contact us months later and ask us to sit for them, even when they originally found someone else. We’ve been asked back by homeowners on several occasions and even offered compensation.
We’ve seen big cities and small cities. We’ve met some amazing pets and made some wonderful friends.
Ultimately, we’ve fallen in love with house sitting and we think maybe just maybe, we’ll do it in some capacity or another indefinitely. Don’t hold us to it though…