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International House Sitting changed the way we travel – in an extremely positive and substantial way! By becoming international house sitters, we eliminate the expense of accommodations while experiencing cities worldwide.
We became pet home sitters in 2015 – and we have heaps of advice on house sitting international. We have taken care of houses – and pets! – in more than 20 destinations around the world…from Sydney to Singapore to Paris.
That said, being home sitters comes with a huge responsibility. It is certainly not for everyone…but it might be for you! Before we get ahead of ourselves and jump to our steps for how to become house sitters internationally, let’s talk for a minute about what it means to be pet & house sitters.
What is International House Sitting?
Housesitting is when a person (or couple or even a family) stays in someone else’s home when the owner is away. Housesitters are tasked with general care of the home (like bringing in the mail and watering the plants) – and, more often than not, the housesitter looks after the owner’s pets, too.
In most cases, house and pet sitting abroad works as a trade. Sitters offer free housesitting services in exchange for staying in the home rent-free. That is not to say that there are not paid house sitting jobs, but in most cases – and for the purpose of this post – we are talking about exchanges.
Housesitting Internationally just means that people are caring for other people’s houses and pets outside of their home country. Anyone can become an international house sitter – from vacationers to digital nomads to retirees to long-term travelers.
Based on our positive experiences, we are revealing top tips for how to house sit abroad…but first, let’s chat about the Pros and Cons.
Benefits of International Pet Sitting and House Sitting
One of the biggest benefits of becoming international house sitters is that you get to travel the world…and live in someone’s house for free. However, that is just one of the many advantages of house sitting abroad.
One of the things we like best about international housesitting is that we get to meet people from around the world. In fact, many of the homeowners have become our friends. We have stayed in touch long after the house sits are complete – and we now have network of friends that spans the globe.
Furthermore, homeowners often provide sitters with local insider tips – like a little-known cafe or a local event – that travelers would not otherwise seek out. Some owners take extra steps to introduce sitters to next door neighbors and their close friends, helping traveling sitters establish local connections that are priceless.
Another reason to take international house sitter jobs is to experience a foreign place as a local. Living in a home – with a pet – can give travelers a sense of stability and community. Houses are often located outside the touristic city center (sometimes even in quaint villages and remote places) where travelers can truly immerse themselves in the local culture. Rather than tackling the city sights with a checklist in hand, international pet sitters can get to know the city by walking the dog through different districts or meeting the neighbors for a coffee at the local cafe.
Responsibilities as International House Sitters
While there are numerous benefits to house and pet sitting international, there are also many responsibilities that come with a pet sitting house exchange. Owners typically welcome housesitters into their home for a couple of reasons: To look after pets and to care for the house – both of which are significant obligations for the housesitter.
House pet sitters are expected to step in and take care of the animals just as the owner would. This means adhering to the walking routines, feeding schedules and pet interaction that the owner outlines. For example, some pets can only be left alone for a limited number of hours at a time or need to be walked multiple times a day. Pet care is a priority – and it can have an effect on city sightseeing and exploration.
Additionally, sitters need to be willing (and prepared!) to get care for the pet if it gets injured or sick. This means having a plan – and flexibility – if you need to make a trip to the vet.
While most homeowners only expect basic home care, the responsibility of management and maintenance will fall on the sitter during their stay. If something breaks or goes awry during the housesit – like a plumbing issue – the sitter will need to be able to communicate the issues and be on hand to help the owner resolve them. And, unlike staying in hotels or an Airbnb apartment while on vacation, sitters need to thoroughly clean the house (or spaces used) for the owner’s return.
How We Became International Pet Sitters
When we initially started traveling full time in 2014, house and pet sitting was not part of our plan. I have never been a pet owner and it had been years since Kris had pets. However, we heard of other full-time travelers who did house sitting in Europe…and we were fascinated by their stories. We finally came around to the idea – and now we can’t imagine our travels without housesitting.
To be honest, after we decided to try international house sitting, it took a while to get our first housesit. The house sitting website we use is a platform that connects homeowners and sitters – but they don’t actually make assignments. It was up to us to get in touch with homeowners who were searching for housesitters – and make a good enough impression that they would choose us over other applicants.
After applying for several international house sitting opportunities, we landed our first house sit in London. We had spent time in the city before, so our visit was 100-percent about Woody – the adorable dog that was in our care. We had two weeks in the London housesit – and our focused attention paid off, because the owners gave us a glowing review (which is oh-so-important!).
We accepted our second housesit in Melbourne, Australia shortly after our London gig ended (thanks to that rave review!). The 7-week stint with a spirited dog named Tess was perfect for us – as we were able to spend time both working and exploring – plus we got to really know the neighborhood and the neighbors (some of who we are still in contact with!).
Another House Sit in Europe
After our successful long-term housesit with Tess, we took on an even longer two-and-a-half-month housesit in the Nijmegen, Netherlands with a dog, Berus. It was our first time house sitting in Europe over the holidays – and we absolutely loved it!
Read more about Housesitting for the Holidays!
Travel as an International House Sitter
After our third time housesitting – and our third time getting a shining review – we found it was much easier to get subsequent housesitting jobs. We have been housesitters on five continents in more than a dozen countries. In fact, we have been fortunate to be housesitters in some of the world’s most famous cities – like New York City, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Tokyo. And, while we still use a housesitting website to find new opportunities, we have been invited back to housesit by previous homeowners, too.
How To House Sit around the World
If we have piqued your curiosity on how to become a house sitter and see the world, use our following tips to find house sitting jobs worldwide!
Step 1: Decide Which House Sitting Websites To Use
The first step to becoming an international house and pet sitter is to join a house sitting network. The house sitter website we use is Trusted Housesitters. It is the house sitting site that offers the biggest inventory of international housesits, plus it is incredibly easy to use.
The house sitting service is membership-based; you pay an annual fee and can use the site as much as you want. Compared to other international house sitting sites (that are not as robust), the fee is a bit high (but the yearly fee is still less than the average cost of a hotel room in London – so we think it is well worth it!).
BONUS: Save 25% of the membership fee when you use this link!
Like most house sitting sites, Trusted Housesitting is simply a platform to connect homeowners and sitters. The homeowners post an opportunity – including dates, location, pets and other responsibilities – and housesitters choose which housesits to apply for based on their timeframe and interests.
Other International House Sitting Websites
While Trusted Housesitters is the only site we use to find housesitting jobs, it is not the only international house sitting website. When choosing between the different house sitting platforms, it is important to consider where you would like to housesit – as some platforms are more popular in certain countries or regions. We like to search for opportunities worldwide, so Trusted Housesitters works best for our needs.
Other highly rated house sitter websites are Nomador Housesitting (with a focus on housesitting in France and Europe) and House Carers (with a focus on Australia house sits).
Step 2: Create Your Profile
A solid profile is essential to getting house sitting jobs internationally. Like a resume, we thoroughly completed sections detailing who we are, why we want to housesit and what experience we have.
Because we were new to the platform (and, therefore, did not have any reviews), we asked for recommendations from everyone we could think of – friends, old roommates, bosses, landlords – to vouch for our competence and bolster our reputation. Basically, we needed people to attest to the fact that we are responsible individuals who owners could entrust with the care of their pets and home.
In addition to the 10 external references, we also opted to obtain a criminal background check (at an extra fee) – just to give the homeowners peace of mind that we are upstanding citizens.
Step 3: Search for Housesits
Once your profile is complete, start searching for international house sits!
Actually, with Trusted Housesitters, you can search for housesits before signing up – but you will not be able to contact the owners until you become a member.
On Trusted Housesitters, any homeowner in the system looking for a house sitter can post a housesitting opportunity, but you can use filters help narrow down your search. You can enter a location (city, country or continent) where you want to housesit – or use the map feature.
Other filters housesitters can use to pare down the results are Dates, Length of Housesit, Pets and Home Types.
Click on any of the housesitting opportunities to expand the listing and find out more about the housesit. Owners can provide as much (or as little) information as they want, but generally, they will provide an introduction, location and home information, the responsibilities and a list of pets. Previous sitter feedback will also be visible, which can be helpful in determining what that housesitting experience might be like.
Step 4: Apply for Housesits
If you find a housesit that you want to apply for, the application process is fairly easy. Simply click the Apply Now button and send a personalized note to the homeowner.
Housesits in popular cities – like New York City, London and Paris – get dozens of applications. Therefore, it is important to set yourself apart from other applicants in your letter (especially if you don’t have any reviews!). We created a standard submission letter that we use for almost all applications – and just change a few key details to personalize the application.
For the most sought after housesits, being timely is also critical – so we recommend checking the site frequently.
Step 5: Be Patient…and Keep Applying
Getting your first housesit is the most difficult – at least it was for us! Once we had our first housesit and positive review, the next ones came easier. We have more than 20 5-star reviews now, which helps significantly when applying for new housesits. If you get passed by on your first few applications, keep searching…and applying.
Pro Tip: A great way to get a first review is by housesitting in your own city or region. Because Trusted Housesitters is international, there may be nearby short-term housesits in your own neighborhood. Housesitting closer to home for your first housesit is not only be beneficial to gaining a first review, but it can help ease you into the role of housesitter so you will be ready to go international!
More Home Sitting Considerations
In addition to our outlined steps for getting a job housesitting and the pros and cons of being a house sitter that we outlined above, there are a few more considerations that should be contemplated before accepting house sitting jobs overseas.
House Sitting: No Pets or Pets
Many people seek out opportunities for house sitting without pets, which is possible – we have done it! In our case, the homeowner was weary of leaving the house unattended over Christmas (as pipes had broken during their previous winter trip) and they wanted their house ‘lived in’ so it wasn’t a target for thieves.
That said, it has been our experience that very few homeowners are looking for home sitting services if there are no pets involved…but it never hurts to look! (On the Trusted Housesitters website, there is a filter for No Pets to help sitters seek out those specific opportunities.)
The Cost of Free House Sitting
While sitters can get free accommodations when pet sitting worldwide, the other costs of travel should be considered. If, let’s say, you live in the United States and want a Sydney housesitting gig, you would need to factor in the cost of the flight, local transportation and, perhaps, lodging costs (if you need to arrive a day early, which we highly recommend!). The cost of visas is also something to keep in mind.
In some rare cases, homeowners may request that sitters pay for certain utilities, too. This, of course, should be discussed and agreed to in advance – but it is another cost to be considered.
Length of Stay for House Sitting Jobs Abroad
House sitting holidays range from a single night to several months. Both long and short stays have pros and cons. While two nights of luxury housesitting in a central London flat with one cat is appealing, the cost of getting there from abroad may not be worth the effort. On the other hand, agreeing to a long term housesit of a couple months can impede other travel plans that might pop up during the sit. Before applying for long term housesits abroad, make sure to do some prior research and check visa requirements, too!
Read more about why we love Long Term Housesitting – Coming Soon!
Sightseeing Limitations while House Minding
We have already touched on this under Responsibilities, but we feel it needs to be emphasized. When you offer house sitting services in exchange for a free place to stay while traveling, the house and pets take precedence over sightseeing adventures. That is not to say that you won’t be able to enjoy and discover the city where you are housesitting, only that your house and pet responsibilities need to be top of mind.
We think of housesitting as a job…and a pretty cool one, at that! In our experience, settling into a new home and being a pet sitter is extremely rewarding – and it might be for you, too!
Housesitting is not our only resource for accommodations…we use Airbnb, too! Read our Top Tips for Airbnb Guests here!
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