House Sitting is not for the Faint of Heart

Let me assure you that house sitting is not for the faint of heart. It is a job that comes with responsibilities. It also requires a lot of persistence finding house/pet sits. I can easily spend up to six or seven hours a day finding and making arrangements for possible sits. Let me give you my two-month report.

How I Do This

I start by looking at eight different websites and one meta search site which list available house/pet sits. That is a daunting task. Fortunately, the meta search engine brings together most of these. Another method is Facebook, where I find some specific sites (usually a country or a more specific group) geared to house sitting. Unfortunately, these sites are usually filled with requests from people seeking house/pet sits; hosts looking for sitters are few and far between but occasionally are found.

My other not-so-secret method is using spreadsheets. There’s no way I could keep all the information in my head. Let me give you an understanding of this. It boils down to pending applications (or possibilities), rejected opportunities, and accepted opportunities. I also maintain a file of 13 documents I need to consult or forward to hosts.

At the end of September, I have applied for 60 sits, am holding 6 possible unapplied sits, have received 53 rejections, have 1 acceptance which host then cancelled, all resulting in 6 acceptances. As I said, house sitting is not for the faint of heart. It is necessary to have good administrative abilities.

Why is it so difficult to find a site? Competition. There must be thousands of people looking for house/pet sits. The reasons are various, but usually sitters are looking for a free homestay (no rent or mortgage to pay), a desire to travel and experience new places and cultures, waiting for a home to be built, merely for a vacation, and so on.

How to Secure a Housesitting Opportunity

Several factors have to be weighed before making an application. You must pick a country or location, then find situations matching the dates you can accommodate, how to get there, if there is a supermarket and other shops nearby, if you can arrive before and then after the host leaves and returns. It is ideal to find opportunities that don’t overlap, yet without huge gaps in between.

Two of the biggest concerns are pets and transportation. Ninety-eight percent of house sits include pet sitting. After all, that’s the major reason a host needs coverage in order to go away. Cats and dogs are the main pets offered to sitters. However, many homes have less common animals: rabbits, birds, rodents, reptiles, exotic pets, farm animals, and horses, to name a few. Taking care of pets usually requires feeding, walking, and may require playing with and cuddling. It’s helpful to be a pet lover.

For financial reasons, transportation is a big factor to be considered. Will you need an airplane, train, bus, or taxi to get where you want to go? What do these cost? You have to determine how far apart the sits are, and what you are going to do between sits if they are not back to back. That requires some knowledge or research of a country with which you’re not familiar. I’ve already made the mistake of having two sits near each other with an intervening sit far away. That means two long train rides.

Other Considerations

My theory on free house/pet sits is that I’m actually being paid. I consider it a fair trade to monitor a house and pets in exchange for no-cost housing. I’m actually saving what I would have spent in rent. There are people who request payment for house sitting, but they are in the minority. The only reasons I can think of for charging for your services is if you are an actual housesitting business and you make that clear up front, or if you are house sitting in your own community where you are still paying rent or a mortgage.

The largest number of house/pet sitting availabilities are in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. Bey0nd these, France probably comes in next, followed by Canada and the other Western European countries. Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, Central and South America have essentially not discovered house sitting.

Would you agree with me that house sitting is not for the faint of heart? Is it worth it? I would say Yes. It’s a great way to travel at lower costs, meet new people, and experience new cultures. I’m happy to do this as long as I can hold up and find the opportunities. What do you think?

Two Side Notes

The grammarian in me contends that house sitting as a noun is two words. If it is used as an adjective, it is one word. Any other grammarians in the group?

Second, this post is the first one in year three! I can’t believe I’ve written a post every week for two years. The quality has varied and the readership too, as to be expected. This blog has experienced slow growth, but I’m not interested in numbers. I expect to continue writing, with more countries on the horizon. I appreciate all of you who have stuck with me.

Fact: Treat house sitting as an adventure
©: Other than sharing, the contents of this blog are copyrighted and cannot be used in any other way without permission

Author: Warren R. Johnson

I am a US citizen travelling in Europe. I have retired from two long-lasting careers: an ordained minister with an exclusive ministry in sacred music (organist-choirmaster), and a book dealer (2 stores and Internet selling). Another shorter career was as a data manager in medical research. Today, I am pursuing a writing career.

7 thoughts on “House Sitting is not for the Faint of Heart”

  1. Hello Warren, This is good to know. I thought about doing this when my husband and I retire this year. He is a veterinarian and I am a nurse. But it seems like it is too much time to spend looking for opportunities. But on the other hand it would be nice to have a dog to cuddle with while traveling. 
    Safe travels,

    1. Thanks, Haydee – Yes, it’s work, but I’m finding it to be an enjoyable and low-expense way to travel. You might register with a service and just give it a try. Whatever you do, enjoy your retirement. – Warren

  2. Warren, when you apply for a house sit, does your experience count? In other words, are home owners more likely to pick you because you’ve shown yourself to be a reliable sitter? Do you get ratings from the people you sit for?

    1. Hi, Bill – Yes to all your questions. You are intuitive. I currently have two recommendations – the first from my long-time landlord in Georgia, and the second from the homeowner in Germany (I had him write this early as I’m still here). I also will write a review of the homeowner. So, I believe that my lack of reviews is hurting me, but there’s nothing I can do about that, except wait for more reviews. In that regard, it was not the best idea I could have made starting off with a 3-month sit, but I have 5 more sits scheduled. So I’m on my way and hopefully will find it easier as I co along. Thanks for reading and giving me your questions. – Warren

  3. As an English teacher, I would put a hyphen between house and sitting if you mean it to be a noun. Otherwise, the word sitting is acting as the gerund & house as the adjective. Thus, house-sitting would be the term as a gerund.

    1. Hi, Debbi,
      Thanks for reading my ramblings. I appreciate your input concerning the hyphen issue with house sitting. There seems to be no consistency when using this word (phrase), and I’ve been attempting to unify this. However, I now must go back to the drawing board to consider your input. I think you’re right, which means I’ve been doing it all wrong and not providing any consistency. Good catch.

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