Housesitting: the ultimate hack for budget travel

Whether you're housesitting as a favour for a friend or as a paid gig, read these tips to get the most out it.

Looking after someone's home and pets gives you a roof over your head in a new place, allowing you to travel without the expense of accommodation. In this article, Citro explains how housesitting works, the best way to get started, and common pitfalls to look out for. It can be a big commitment with rewards that deliver more than five stars.

Wait, what even is housesitting and is it real?

Housesitting is a much-needed service that allows people who travel for extended periods of time to gain peace-of-mind knowing their plants won't die, their pets will be fed, mail will be collected and burglars won't be tempted to raid an unattended property. These people willingly hand over their house keys to a trusted housesitter who commits to doing the 'job'.

It sounds too good to be true, right? Each homeowner has their unique needs from the person - or couple - who they engage to become housesitters, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re signing up for before taking on the job.

The reality is that the best housesitters - those who come with references and reviews from previous housesitting gigs - get the dream opportunities (like jaunting around a European chateau or holing up for a few weeks in a New York penthouse at absolutely no charge or cost beyond an airfare).

The other reality is that it often involves looking after dogs or a needy pet, so having experience with animals will put you higher on the employability list than someone looking for a cheap hotel room.

Building a solid reputation as a responsible and reliable housesitter takes time.

Start small, gather positive references, and gradually expand your horizons to more coveted locations. With dedication, flexibility, and a genuine passion for caring for others' homes, you can find yourself embarking on unforgettable journeys while enjoying the comforts of home away from home.

How to become a housesitter

If you're new to housesitting, the best way to get started is by asking people you know about opportunities. Ask family, friends and co-workers if they need someone to look after their house while they're away. By getting one positive reference under your belt, it will be easier to convince strangers that they can trust you with their home.

There are quite a few online platforms out there to find housesitting opportunities around the world, though most of them do come with fees.

Trusted Housesitters is one of the largest housesitting platforms in the world, with a growing audience in Australia. You can find global housesitting opportunities by signing up, creating a profile, and applying for house sits.

Meanwhile, Aussie Housesitters is a more affordable option for those looking to find house sitting opportunities within Australia.

There are many different websites that provide reviews, information and a comparison of popular housesitting platforms. You can also join Facebook groups to ask people who have had recent experiences the best steps to take in your area.

When looking for housesitting opportunities, it's important to be flexible. It can be often difficult to come across opportunities that perfectly line up with your own desires in terms of location and timing. However, if you widen your searches slightly, you'll find it easier to come across good opportunities.

Create a polished housesitting profile

As a housesitter, having a well written and up-to-date profile on the right housesitting platform can help you attract homeowners. Make sure to list your experience, especially if you're familiar with the basics of home appliances. Demonstrate your love for animals, as many housesitting jobs include pet care. Don't forget to mention any special skills such as speaking foreign languages or gardening knowledge. And lastly, show off your genuine enthusiasm for this new adventure - it'll go a long way!

Build up references

Prospective homeowners will want to know that they can trust you with their home, so having quality references is essential. If you have no prior housesitting experience, ask former landlords, neighbors, employers, or anyone who can speak to your character and reliability for a reference.

It can also be easier to get housesitting jobs that are in your own neighbourhood, so consider applying for short-term stints nearby as a way to build your pool of references.

Organise a virtual meeting

It is important to have a virtual meeting with homeowners beforehand to ensure your own safety - and chances are, they'll want to meet with you to do the same.

Make sure to ask as many questions as possible - no detail is too small. It's important to scope out all their needs and expectations so that there are no surprises when you arrive.

If you feel like there's a bad energy with the homeowners, don't hesitate to trust your gut instinct and pass on the opportunity.

Preparing for your housesitting assignment

When preparing for a housesitting assignment, it is important to create a checklist of tasks that need to be completed in order to ensure the home remains secure and all responsibilities are fulfilled.

This could include taking care of any pets, watering plants or gardens, collecting mail and newspapers, turning on lights at nighttime for added security purposes – the list goes on depending on what types of duties were agreed upon beforehand with the homeowner.

Additionally - safety tips should also be taken into consideration when prepping for this type of job, such as never giving out personal information online or over-the-phone without verification first (especially credit card numbers), always double check locks before leaving the premises each time.

Once a potential housesitting opportunity has been identified and all questions have been answered honestly during communication exchanges prior to accepting it - negotiating terms is essential in order to make sure both parties are comfortable enough with how things will progress throughout duration of assignment.

For example: discuss payment options upfront so there is no confusion later down line about who pays whom when services rendered come due.

Establish clear boundaries regarding visitors allowed inside residence while homeowners away (if any).

Ask if there are specific items that must remain untouched by sitter at all times and provide contact info where owners can reach you 24/7 should emergency arise while they away from home.

These types conversations help set expectations straight right off bat which helps avoid misunderstandings once actual work begins.

The benefits of housesitting

Housesitting offers a special blend of adventure, companionship, and comfort. It isn't just about saving money; it's a lifestyle choice that can open up a world of new opportunities, connections, and explorations.

Housesitters can immerse themselves in the local culture and experience a place like a resident rather than a tourist. Housesitting offers a home away from home where you can interact with locals, and savour genuine flavours of daily life in other locations.

Engaging with neighbours, attending local events, and becoming part of the fabric of daily life can provide a profound sense of belonging. For those who want to explore new horizons without losing the feeling of home, housesitting offers the best of both worlds.

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