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When we first started planning our full-time travel adventure, one of our biggest concerns was accommodation costs. While hostels, Airbnb’s, and campsites are affordable, paying for them daily would quickly exceed our budget. We’d also be working from the road and knew doing so on free, often unreliable, coffee shop Wi-Fi wouldn’t be ideal.
We were introduced to the world of house sitting through a podcast called “Zero to Travel” by Jason Moore. Jason is a travel blogger and digital nomad who shares tips on living a full-time travel lifestyle on his podcast. If you have any desire to pack up and go, I recommend you start with his podcast. However, if listening isn't your thing, then I recommend reading “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss, a book that is widely considered to be the Digital Nomad Bible.
I’d developed a habit of listening to travel podcasts on my commute to work each morning. Luckily, I stumbled across an interview with Nat and Jodie, a traveling Australian couple, early on in my podcast research. Nat and Jodie are self-proclaimed “Professional House Sitters” who travel the world full-time from one house sitting gig to the next. They had me intrigued from the moment the interview started by describing their house sits at chalets in the Swiss Alps, mansions in the mountains of Mexico, and quaint cottages in the United Kingdom. Needless to say, I was hooked.
What is House-Sitting?
I know most of you reading this already understand the general concept of house-sitting so I’ll keep the definition brief. House sitting is when a home owner travels for vacation, business, or other, and needs someone to care for their home, pet(s), or garden while they are away. Finding someone to help is often stressful for the homeowner, and a burden for whatever family, friend, or neighbor they can finally convince to do it. Additionally, if they can’t find someone to help, the homeowner must turn to boarding their pet(s). Not only can this cost a fortune, but the pets rarely receive the love and attention they’ll miss while their owner is away.
Enter Trustedhousesitters.com! Trusted House Sitters is an online community that pairs homeowners with house sitters worldwide. Homeowners can list their house sitting opportunity on the site for free and receive applications from potential sitters. Upon sign-up, each sitter will have created a profile that homeowners can use to get to know the applicants and decide who is the best fit for the opportunity. If a homeowner is interested in “meeting” a sitter, they can initiate a Skype call or video chat which gives both the homeowner and house sitter a chance to learn more and determine if it’s the right fit.
The site is not free for house sitters, but at just $119/year, it’s an affordable investment that will help you save thousands in accommodation costs annually. Plus, house sitters are encouraged to complete three-levels of verification including identity and background checks which help to put the homeowner’s mind at ease that each house sitter is invested in caring for their home and pets as if they were their own.
Can Anyone Sign-up?
The best part about house sitting is that it can work for just about anyone. We’ve come to learn that “trusted house sitters” are from all different walks of life including travel focused retirees to digital nomads in need of a home base for a few days or weeks. We’ve even heard of people who sign-up for an account when planning an extended vacation. If you want to live like a local and enjoy the idea of caring for someone’s pets while traveling, then house sitting is an affordable and fun alternative to hotel stays.
Aside from caring for some adorable pets in some amazing places, one of the biggest benefits of house sitting, especially for a digital nomad, is the home base and access to amenities like Wi-Fi and laundry. In exchange for watching someone’s home and pets, you can use the home to work, relax, and explore the area with adventurous pets in tow. Most of the time, the homeowner is more than happy to provide insider tips on exploring the area and can lead you in the best local direction. We’ve also made it a habit to talk to anyone that will listen and have found some amazing spots recommended by friendly neighbors and locals. We’ve been on the road for over a month, and consider house sitting to be the best way to live like a true local.
Do You Get Paid?
House sitting is more of an exchange than an opportunity for hire. You agree to watch someone’s home, pet(s), and garden in exchange for free accommodation in your desired area of travel. However, house sitters can decide to charge for their service, but if you decide to ask for compensation, you’ll be hard-pressed to book an opportunity since so many in the community sit for free.
For Derrick and I, house sitting means caring for adorable pets in beautiful homes that provide us a place to work, cook, clean, and relax while on the road. It saves us hundreds in food and accommodation costs each month and ensures we have a place to work for the income that allows us to continue traveling. Additionally, most of the house-sitting opportunities are for beautiful homes in places we could only ever dream of living. Derrick and I have now spent time in a stunning ranch home in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a hillside home on Vancouver Island, BC. Plus, after completing several sits, we’ve made friends with homeowners and bonded with some amazing pets that we can’t wait to visit again!
Where Are The House-Sits Located?
Another great aspect of Trusted House Sitters is that they have opportunities available around the world! There are other house sitting websites that focus on certain regions such as Australia or Europe, but our favorite aspect of Trusted House Sitters is their global reach. Derrick and I have spent hours on end browsing opportunities on Caribbean Islands, the Swiss Alps, South America, New Zealand etc. The more flexible you are in location and timeline, the more opportunities there will be available to you. Throughout the course of our travel planning, we've actually found it easiest to pick a general location and let the house-sitting opportunities determine our overall itinerary. However, if you're planning a trip to somewhere specific, even with a pre-determined timeline, chances are there will be someone who needs their home sat.
The biggest caveat is you'll need to fund your travel to and from the home. For most long-term travelers, this will be half of the fun if you've got some airline/travel points! The homeowners are also helpful in providing you the best advice for getting there affordably including cheap airlines, public transport tips, or even offering to pick you up from the airport! The beauty of house sitting is that the travel there is often your biggest expense since the accommodation costs are no longer a factor. Of course, thanking the homeowners with a "welcome home meal" or gift is a worthy expense for the amount of money they've saved you throughout your travels to their part of the world!
How do I Sign-Up?
TrustedHousesitters.com is free to browse if you’re simply interested in learning more. You can view various opportunities worldwide, and explore their FAQ for any questions I haven’t answered here. However, you do have to create an account to apply for an opportunity and to create a profile that homeowners can use to get to know you. Another perk for paid members is a subscription to the Trusted House Sitter's newsletter which provides 24-hour early access to view the newest house sitting opportunities. This allows you to apply a day before the unpaid viewers even see the new listings and ensure that you’ll stand out among the other applicants. This especially helps when a house-sitting opportunity is located in a popular destination or season, as those homeowners can receive anywhere from 30-40 applications throughout the review period.
If you determine that house sitting would be a good opportunity for you, then we encourage you to use our affiliate link to receive 20% off your annual membership! In exchange for this referral, Derrick and I will receive 2 free months of access and will be forever thankful to you, our loyal reader!
As always, if you have any questions for us, we’d love to hear from you! You can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below and we’ll answer you as quickly as possible! We hope to see you over in the “TH” community and, of course, out on the road!