Her Packing List is not just about packing better, it’s about traveling better. With that in mind, we’re providing this series on house sitting around the world so you can potentially make your travels better, longer, and cheaper with periodic house sitting assignments across the globe. Written by house sitting pro, Charli Moore, this series will show everything from how to get an assignment to what to pack when you’re on your way.
If I told you that I’d been travelling the world none stop for the last 3 years, I’m guessing the first question you would ask me would be…
“How do you afford to pay for that?”
I’d then tell you that I am a house sitter and consequently live on a severely reduced daily budget thanks to my ability to live for free all over the world.
“Live for free?” you’d reply, a little confused.
In the last 3 years I’ve lived on a mango plantation in Costa Rica, a beach front property in New Zealand, a macadamia farm in remote Australia and in a four storey town house in British Colombia. I’ve looked after 14 different homes and saved myself the cost of more than 18 months accommodation.
Best of all I’ve lived like a local in locations all over the world. I’ve met some fantastic people and explored off the well-trodden tourist trail without breaking the bank or adding to my already colossal student debt.
So how can you house sit around the world?
Finding Your Dream House Sitting Assignment
The first step to becoming a house sitter is to register with a house sitting service.There are a number of them out there and more are popping up all the time so be considered in your choice here.
Take a look at the assignments on offer before you sign up. See if you can find the number of available assignments listed for the locations you wish to visit, the more assignments the site has to offer the better your chance of finding something that appeals to you and of course, the better your chance of securing an opportunity.
The membership fees vary but in my experience you get what you pay for.
Initially I hedged my bets and signed up to 3 sites. I spent almost $200 in the process and in hindsight I really didn’t need to.
Over the last 3 years I’ve had the most success with Trusted House Sitters. They are now the largest house sitting service connecting home owners and house sitters, and they have an extensive portfolio of assignments all over the world.
Creating A Kick Ass House Sitter Profile
Once you’ve registered with a service, you’ll need to create a tip top house sitter profile. This is the most important part of the whole process.
Take the time to complete every section of your profile.
Be open and honest about your reasons for becoming a sitter and talk about yourself in detail.
Discuss your career, hobbies and interests. Divulge any pet peeves or phobias and stipulate what responsibilities you are happy to take on during an assignment.
Stipulate whether you will be travelling alone or with a partner, and detail what you hope to get out of any assignments you take on.
Source some willing references who are able to competently assess your character or ability to house sit. While character references are great, having someone who can vouch for your house sitting credentials is a real bonus, so consider asking a close friend or relation if they need a house sitter for the weekend or even overnight.
Once you’ve compiled your profile, upload some recent photographs of yourself either engaging in your favourite hobby or looking after an animal. Show your personality, but remember to be conservative in your depiction of yourself.
FYI: drunken office party snaps are best left hidden on Facebook!
Applying For Your First Assignment
So you’ve signed up to a house sitting service and created a fab profile. The next thing to do is to apply for your dream assignment.
Don’t forget that the world is literally your oyster so search for any and every location you’ve always wanted to visit.
Whether you’re looking for a short term break or a long term house sitting assignment to test out expat life abroad, there are some things you should consider when sending off an application:
- Ensure you’ve read the home owner’s advert thoroughly and be certain you can fulfil their requirements.
- Find out if you’ll need a visa to cover your stay, vaccinations or a basic understanding of the language if house sitting abroad.
- Spend some time researching the local area and make sure it is a location you want to visit. Just because the owner chooses to live there does not mean it will be paradise. Do your homework before you agree to live there.
- Craft a tailored application letter which instils confidence in the owner that you are a great candidate. Talk about their assignment, mention that you are happy to take on responsibilities X,Y and Z as mentioned in their advert, and ask intelligent questions to prompt them to respond.
- If applying as a solo female, draw attention to the fact that your skill set is more than adequate to fulfil the requirements listed and reiterate any characteristics you believe make you the perfect applicant.
After you’ve made sure the assignment works for you and sent off a tailored application, cross all available limbs.
If you have made sure that you are suited to the assignment and have communicated that fact in your application, then there’s a great chance that you’ll be in the running to secure your dream house sit!
If you’re keen to become a savvy international house sitter then watch out for the 2nd part of this fab house sitting series here on Her Packing List.
In my next article, I’ll be looking at how to choose the right assignments, select suitable locations and why it’s a good idea to get to know the home owners before you arrive.
In the meantime happy house sitting everyone!
*All photos except title photo by Charli Moore.