Everything you need to know about house and pet sitting – the smart way to travel
Our comprehensive guide on how to become a house sitter – for anyone with a passion for animals and travelling slowly.
If you haven’t tried house sitting before you might just find information and inspiration on this page that’ll change your life.
Scroll down the page or click on the links below.
What is house sitting, why you should consider it as a means of seeing the world, and how to find your first housesit
What Is House Sitting And How Do You Get Started?
How to become a house sitter – a beginner’s guide
House Sitting In France, Spain & Portugal: A Pandemic Tale
Preparing For A Pandemic: A House Sitter’s Guide
What’s It Like To House Sit In Rural France?
What’s It Like To Travel And Mind Other People’s Pets?
What is house sitting?
House sitting is an increasingly popular way of visiting a country without the need for booking accommodation.
Basically, it’s an exchange of services between volunteers (house sitters) and homeowners, whereby the sitters are on site to look after the owners’ pets and provide security for their home while they’re away for a period of time. In return, the sitters typically enjoy rent-free accommodation.
Usually, the cost of utilities such as gas and electricity, are covered by the host, too. So, for the house sitter, any financial commitment is normally limited to transportation and living costs. Where a financial contribution is required by the host it’s usually stipulated as such in their listing.
What are the best house sitting websites?
The biggest player in the market is Trusted Housesitters, who also happen to be the most expensive. But for the largest selection of housesits to choose from then it’s worth paying the extra. And they remain our go-to site for sits all over the world.
For housesits in the UK we also use House Sitters UK. And they have sister sites in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, too.
Elsewhere, House Carers have been offering their house sitting service longer than anyone else. And Nomador are particularly good for European housesits.
Another cheap option is Mind My House (currently just $20 per year membership). We’ve used them in the past (especially in the early days) but we switched to Trusted Housesitters because of the sheer number of quality sits on offer.
Is long term house sitting possible?
House sitting assignments can last for anything from one day to one year, or even more. Of course, the longer term sits are much rarer – but they are out there.
We’ve picked up sits for six-month periods in the Caribbean and the US. And we’ve had a number of three-month sits in Brazil, France and the UK.
However, be aware that when they do come along, there’s usually fierce competition.
Can you get paid to housesit?
Yes, that’s possible. In fact, there’s an increasing number of people who treat house sitting as a business and will only accept paid assignments.
We’re not one of them. We prefer the flexibility of choosing from a wide range of sits where no money changes hands. Instead, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement based on developing trust and personal relationships rather than a formal contractual exchange.
That’s not to say either way is the better option. If being paid to housesit is a motivator then go for it!
Is house sitting safe?
There’s no doubt that there’s a considerable element of trust involved during a housesit. Both for the homeowner and the house sitter.
As a homeowner, you’re entrusting a relative stranger with the welfare of your pets and the security of your home. And as a house sitter, you’ll be relying on the house being secure and the pets not having unexpected behavioural issues. Indeed, we’ve had one instance where a dog we were walking on a lead suddenly lunged and bit a passer-by, drawing blood.
Of course, where you housesit can have an impact on your safety, just as it would if you booked a holiday. For instance, we got caught up in the devastation of Hurricane Irma while we were house sitting in the British Virgin Islands. And our house in Panama got directly struck by lightning, taking out all the electricity with it.
But house sitting, as a concept, is safe. It just makes sense to do your due diligence before accepting an assignment. Make sure you have a phone or video conversation with the owners first and clear up any concerns upfront by asking the appropriate questions.
Is house and pet sitting the same thing?
The two terms are pretty much interchangeable. While there are housesits that don’t involve pets, more than 95% of those advertised will involve one or more animals.
if you find a housesit that doesn’t involve pets it’s likely to be because the owner doesn’t want to leave the place empty while they’re away. Perhaps because they are worried about security. Or there’s a need for an ongoing presence to attend to minor repairs, cold weather issues etc.
Hi – we’re Ian and Nicky and we’re a non-smoking English couple who’ve swapped a corporate life for one of exploring the world.
We’ve travelled extensively over the past decade, including many house sitting assignments in Europe and North/Central/South America.
House sitting provides us with the opportunity to continue exploring the world without the need to rush around from one place to the next. And it gives us the opportunity to once again share our lives with animals – albeit temporarily.
At the same time, it allows us to indulge in some of our other interests such as food (cooking and eating), walking and photography.
Our experience comes from 30 years as proud homeowners in the UK, with a lifetime of living with and loving our pets.
Having been homeowners for so long we understand what your home means to you. So you can be confident that we’ll treat yours as if it was our own. And you can rest assured that your pets will be left in loving hands, too.
SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Guanajuato, Mexico
LENGTH OF HOUSESIT
3 weeks (total)
18 – 28 Nov 2022
4 – 10 Dec 2022
3 – 9 Jan 2023
Billy (Labradoodle); Digger (street dog)
Nicki and Ian sat for us in November for around 10 days and it could not have gone better. They are truly caring people. They cared about our two dogs, our house, and us even though we were gone. They have more experience than many people on the site, and it shows as they are very busy. From our sit in San Miguel de Allende they went to a long sit in Guanajuato, about an hour away. We had a chance to do a 5 day R&R in Cabo San Lucas. Without asking, Nicki volunteered to return to San Miguel de Allende to stay with our dogs. Ian stayed in Guanajuato. This is who they are, kind, considerate and thoughtful. Our housekeeper loved them and asked us to have them come back for our next trip. I highly recommend them, your animals and house will be in better condition than when you left.
EL PESCADERO, Baja California Sur, Mexico
LENGTH OF HOUSESIT
19 Aug – 16 Oct 2022
When we left our house in August 2022 in the hands of Nicky and Ian, it was the first time we felt confident our property was in excellent hands. Having had several bad experiences with housesitters in the past, we cannot express how appreciative we are for the attentiveness and care they gave to our Baja house for two months.We had great communication with them throughout their stay, including when they had to prepare for a possible Cat 1 hurricane. They knew how to get ready and even thought of things we hadn’t considered before.Our house is also a vacation rental so we were so pleased that everything was in great shape when we returned for the rental season. We had very little to do to prepare for the upcoming rental season, something that had never happened in the past.We would highly recommend Team Nicky and Ian for any housesit!
NEW BRIGHTON, Wirral, England
LENGTH OF HOUSESIT
19 – 27 Mar 2022
Nico (Labrador); Storm (cat)
A huge thank you to Nicky and Ian for looking after our home and pets last week. Throughout our holiday Nicky kept in touch sending regular updates and pictures of our pets. This was the first time we have left them at home with sitters, and it was so reassuring to see them both looking happy and chilled at home. Our home was absolutely immaculate when we returned home, thank you!
WINTERBORNE WHITECHURCH, Dorset, England
LENGTH OF HOUSESIT
27 Feb – 15 Mar 2022
Mabel (Staffordshire Bull Terrier); Max (Border Terrier); Guff (cat); 4 tortoises; chickens
This was our first time using house sitters so we were a bit nervous and ‘green’ about how it all worked but Ian and Nicky were brilliant and made us feel perfectly confident that all would be fine by the time we headed off. When we got back everything was ‘spick and span’ and all the creatures happy. Ian and Nicky are a great couple and we would happily have them back in our house again.
HIGHGATE, London, England
LENGTH OF HOUSESIT
12 – 19 Feb 2022
Basil (Cavapoo); Lupo (Daschund)
It was a real delight dealing with Ian and Nicky and having them sit for us. Having had one holiday cancelled because of the dreaded Covid, luckily, we managed to book them again for a break in February. Their communication before the sit was excellent, asking all the right questions. We didn’t get to meet them before or after the sit due to timing issues but we felt very secure leaving our house and pets with them. They were very caring to Basil and Lupo and looked after our house beautifully. They are very warm, kind people and I would not hesitate to have them sit again (if they are free!). If they are free for your dates, you should definitely book them ASAP! Thank you Ian and Nicky!
LEWES, East Sussex, England
LENGTH OF HOUSESIT
21 Jan – 6 Feb 2022
Halle (Sprocker Spaniel); Taggie (Cavachon)
Ian and Nicky have been housesitting and looking after our two dogs for the past two weeks. It was quite short notice and they arrived with no complications at exactly the time we agreed. They are very friendly and obviously adore dogs who were beautifully looked after, had plenty of walks and generally well cared for. The house was spotless on our return and they had even made us some cookies. I cannot recommend them more highly.
THANKS FOR READING
Hi, we're Ian and Nicky, an English couple on a voyage of discovery around the world, and this blog is designed to reflect what we see, think and do. Actually, we'd like to think it also provides information, entertainment and inspiration for other “mature” travellers, too. So please feel free to pour yourself a glass of something suitably chilled and take a look around.
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