Craig Conley

The Ultimate House Sitting Guide

For those wishing to travel on a budget registering with a house sitting website is a must, because the opportunity to live rent free all over the world is not one to be missed.

While many people are still unfamiliar with the concept of house sitting, it is fast becoming a recognised alternative to the standard ‘package holiday’.

House sitting is exactly what the term implies. Home owners in need of pet and/or property care seek an individual, couple, or family to take over their daily responsibilities during a period for which they are away from home.

There are a wealth of opportunities on offer requiring a house sitter to take on a diverse mix of responsibilities, some for just a weekend, others for over a year.

A little inspiration for potential house sitters – If you’re reading this you’re obviously very interested in house sitting, so here’s a fun fact for you. All the photographs in this article were taken during my various house sitting stays!!

I pay annual membership to TrustedHousesitters and have used their platform to secure sits in amazing destinations like New York, Las Vegas, Sydney, Barbados, and St Kitts & Nevis.

If you choose to purchase membership through a link in this article a percentage of your payment will go to me. Thank you in advance for your support in helping to keep my blog online!

What is house sitting?

House sitting stays provide the opportunity to immerse yourself in communities all over the world.

House sitting also offers you the chance to head off the beaten track and get to grips with life in exciting new locations.

If you’re a culture vulture, you’re sure to find sits listed in major metropolises which will enable you to live for less while you soak up the bright lights of the big city. For those who enjoy the simple life, there are always opportunities to get back to nature in more remote locations.

In short when you sign up to become a house sitter, the world literally becomes your oyster. You decide which opportunities to apply for based on the destinations that inspire you most.

Who can be a house sitter?

The answer is ANYONE.

Old, young, rich, poor, married, single, retired…. The list is endless. There are no restrictions and no prerequisites.

Each sit is unique and the home owner will choose the sitter they feel can best fulfil the brief set out in their advertisement.

Where do I sign up to be a house sitter?

I use a brilliant website called The key is in the name, trusted.

The site is exceptionally well designed and attracts a diverse range of homeowners and house sitters, and I can assure you within the first week of being a member your list of potential sits will be as long as your arm!

I’ve been registered with TrustedHousesitters for almost seven years, and have been successful in my application to twenty house sits in eight different countries.

To give you an idea of the extent of their portfolio I’ll tell you where I’ve taken on house sitting stays – England, USA, Canada, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, Barbados, and St Kitts and Nevis.

I’ve also applied for house sitting stays on Fiji, Hawaii and Vanuatu, in Thailand, Japan and Dubai. Every morning I receive a daily email listing new sits, and its becoming increasingly difficult not to apply for those in locations on my bucket list!

Here’s some house sitting inspiration – check out these inspiring destinations to house sit this summer!

What does house sitter membership cost?

It’s very easy to sign up to become a house sitter.

For an annual fee of anywhere between US$20 and $US89 – a real bargain when you think about how much you’re going to save in accommodation costs – you can register and create a profile. Your profile is laid out like an employment CV, and it is here you have the opportunity to catch the eye of the homeowner you’re applying to.

Join TrustedHousesitters by clicking on the banner below!

Be thorough when you create your profile.

A profile that includes recent photographs is much more likely to be considered than one without.

The same applies for the information you provide. The more detailed your description on your profile, the better equipped a homeowner is to decide if you’re a suitable house sitter.

Take a look at this guide to creating a successful house sitter profile to make sure you stand out from the crowd.

Treat your house sitter profile like an employment CV. You want to come across as responsible and trustworthy, but make sure you show a little bit of personality too.

How do I apply for a house sit?

It’s very easy to allow your excitement to take hold and force you to send off applications willy-nilly.

While it’s great that you’re passionate about becoming a house sitter, remember that you must fully consider the logistics involved with each sit before you apply.

Read every word of the homeowner’s advert and make sure you understand the responsibilities they will be passing over to their house sitter. While a month in a lodge on the Serengeti might sound appealing at first, make sure you understand exactly what will be required of you during your stay.

Be realistic.

If you’re planning to house sit with your family, make sure that you decide exactly how much responsibility you are happy to take on and consider the suitability of the location.

For instance you would probably enjoy house sitting out in the countryside with plenty of space for your little ones to play. A studio apartment in a busy city centre might not be conducive for family life.

Similarly if you’re planning to house sit by yourself, make sure you are able to complete all the tasks set by the owners. Sometimes sits are better suited to a couple or family, whereas others are ideal for single travellers.

Make your application unique.

While it’s good to have a template application ready and waiting, tailor it to each individual sit. Homeowners appreciate little references to their advert. It gives them confidence in you as a sitter, and shows them you have read and considered each aspect of their opportunity.

What happens when I’m invited to house sit?


Receiving a positive reply to your application is always a moral boosting moment, however this is where the roles reverse and you become the interviewer.

Communicate. This is the best piece of advice I can give you.

Communicate with the homeowner and ensure you ask every single question that pops into your head. While it’s brilliant that you’ve been offered the chance to house sit, you now need to be absolutely sure this is the sit for you.

If at all possible try and chat with the homeowner over the phone, via skype or in person. Make sure that you understand exactly what is required of you and that you are comfortable with the level of responsibility you’ll have.

Get to know the home owners.

Understand the kind of people they are, and the way they live their lives. It won’t be long before you will literally ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ so make sure they are a good fit.

Consider the logistics involved with getting to the property. If the house sit is abroad make sure you consider the cost of flights, transport, visas and the cost of living at your destination.

If in doubt, read my helpful guide to House Sitting Abroad.

What is expected of a house sitter?

Once you’re received a positive reply and confirmed your desire to house sit the fun begins.

Enjoy the opportunity to experience life as a local at your destination. Take the time to research the local area and find out if there are any community groups, fitness classes or activities that you’d like to join in with during your stay.

If you’re going to be pet sitting and responsible for some animals, familiarise yourself with the basic standard of care required and make sure you’re well prepared. While the home owner will acquaint you with the finer details once you arrive, it’s good to have a basic understanding already.

Look for areas of interest nearby and try to see as much of the local area as you can. Make sure you understand whether the owners expect you to be at the property 24/7 and plan your itinerary accordingly.

What about payment?

There are two ways that money can change hands during a house sit.

You as a house sitter can stipulate that you charge to house sit. Some sitters feel they provide a service worthy of payment and while that is more than acceptable, I decline to charge.

I feel that the opportunity to experience life in locations all over the world negates my desire to make a profit.

I believe that I stand a better chance of being accepted for a house sit by house sitting free of charge. After all, the exchange provides me with free accommodation all over the globe, what more could I need?

You should also consider the fact that a work permit may be required should you charge to house sit abroad.

As a house sitter you may be liable to pay utility and maintenance costs during your stay. It is quite reasonable for homeowners to ask you to contribute towards the running costs of the property, and this should be discussed in detail before you accept an opportunity.

Never agree to pay a deposit before arriving at a house sit, but be prepared to pay for the utilities you will use once the sit has begun.

Maintenance costs should also be discussed in detail with the homeowner. Understand exactly what financial responsibilities you will have during your stay and make sure you and your bank manager are comfortable with them.

What to do at the end of a house sit

When you’re coming to the end of your stay make sure you take the time to ensure the property and animals are in tip top shape, and ready for the homeowners return.

I like to offer to collect the owners from the airport if they’re flying in locally, and always have a meal prepared for their arrival home. Ensure you tidy up after yourself, wash the sheets, clean the bathrooms and do your utmost to leave the house in the condition in which it was passed over to you.

So there you have it. My guide to house sitting.

I hope you’ve found it of use and wish you all the best with your own house sitting adventures.

If my guide has got your wanderlust juices flowing why not take a look at my Instagram feed to find out where I’m house sitting now?!

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Are you a house sitter? Perhaps you’re contemplating registering as a house sitter? Share your comments with us below.

Travel Blogger & Photographer
  1. Thanks so much for your insights. We have just joined trustedhousesitters and applied for our first position. We will let you know, if we are chosen. We look forward to continuing our travels . We are now in Panama. Our nickname is “go is our middle name”. Janice

  2. Great post. This is actually what I was looking for before I head to South American countries next year. Good to know everyone can do house sitting. I thought it was only for older people who just want to live and work abroad. You proved me wrong and I’m so excited to be checking the website to read more about it. Thanks!

  3. You and suitcase stories have both fully inspired us to include house sitting into our travels. It seems like an awesome way to get to see more and really experience an area. Plus, get to know the people there. I love it!

    1. Thanks Kimmy, I can assure you it will enrich your experience of the places you visit. We’ve benefited so much from our assignments, not only have we learnt new skills, languages and customs but we’ve made some great friends too!

  4. Fantastic guide. I just read your guest post on and wanted to see what else you’ve said about house sitting. That’s a nice touch to cook a meal for the house owners for them arriving home and offering to pick them up from the Airport.

    I’m currently on a house sit which I found through which I believe has mostly Australian listings however I’ve seen others talk about and them talking about it being the best of the bunch of sites so I will need to check them out for the next time.

    1. Cheers Chris, I really feel that sitters should make the effort to welcome the owners back into their home. To come in from a long flight to a home cooked meal and a clean house is something I’d be so grateful for. Wishing you all the best for future assignments!

  5. So glad I found you and this article in particular. Given that my husband is a contractor (hello!) I think we would do well as housesitters, and in fact, house swapping is part of our retirement travel plans. (along with the blogsite I started after getting fired from advertising at 51:)

    1. That’s fab Jane! Sounds like you’ve some awesome adventures planned! If we ever buy a property we’ll certainly be looking into the concept of house swapping. For now we are content to care for other’s homes as we travel the world.

  6. Amazing! This is so cool how people do this, if you aren’t location dependent for work I think this would work out quite nicely – see the world as a local and the price is definitely right 🙂 Thanks for such an informative article about it!

    1. Thanks for your kind comment Lauren. Long term travel and house sitting definitely go hand in hand, but securing assignments instead of paying for self catered accommodation when you’re on vacation is also a great way to utilise the concept!

  7. Fabulous guide! I have been looking more into house sitting lately for when we go back to Costa Rica, it seems like a great way to travel and meet new people. Plus I would love to house sit somewhere with a pet, it’ll help me stop missing my own dog!

    1. Pet sitting is a great way to get your fix of four legged cuteness when you’re travelling. We’ve looked after some brilliant animals in our 4 years of house sitting and have actually started choosing assignments with pets over those without! I wish you all the best with your first assignment!

    1. Some owners are happy to accept sitters and their pets, it totally depends on their situation and the temperament of their animals. Keep an eye out, you just never know! All the best for your travels!

  8. This a great article and great timing, as I was just talking with a friend who would like to try it and I told him about this article, your blog and I’m sure it will help him a lot! Great work guys! I still think i should try myself as well.

    1. That’s so kind, thanks Marysia!! I highly recommend house sitting as a way to immerse yourself in new cultures and reduce the cost of your travels. Let me know when you secure your first assignment!

    1. Good for you Michela! We had a blast house sitting in Sydney, such a great city! House sitting is definitely on a par with matchmaking, both parties need to be on the same wave length for it to work. But when you find the right assignment, I think you’ll know, you’ll feel comfortable with the arrangements and so will the owner.

  9. Hi there. It’s nice to see articles on house sitting on the net to offer advice for new or experienced house sitters. I would like to add to the resource mix Aussie House Sitters. If you are looking to house sit Down Under then it’s definitely worth a look.

  10. We just joined THS as home owners/house sitters. 12 hours later we found our perfect house sitter for the end of the month. I had no idea how fast it would be! Kinda awesome.

    1. That’s brilliant Cristina!! So pleased to hear that you’ve had such success with! We’re house sitting on Barbados at the moment through THS, it’s such a superb way to source accommodation when you travel, I wonder how we’d get by without it! Wishing you all the best for your travels, are you off anywhere exciting?

  11. Sail boat sitting sounds like fun! We applied to look after a sail boat in Sicily this summer, the owners were leaving it in a marina to head back to the USA for a wedding and needed someone to care for their dog. Sadly we weren’t chosen to take on the assignment, but I bet is was quite an experience for the lucky sitters who were offered the gig!!

  12. Wow, thank you for this really informative article! We haven’t done any house sitting yet but will for sure do so once we’re back on the road!
    Cheers from Germany,

  13. I was looking for housesitting a while back and found it to be difficult to find a place etc. It’s nice to have a source of info now, thank you for this article 🙂

    1. Hi Maddi, Thanks for your comment. House sitting has completely changed the way we travel, it has helped our budget no end, and introduced us to some fantastic folks all over the world! Don’t give up on the concept, I’m sure there’s an assignment out there for you!

  14. Have heard so much about housesitting lately and I have to admit it almost seems too good to be true, but after reading this you are further convincing me that it is legit. As an animal loving couple it seems ideal, we just need to make that break out of the cubicle so we can get the time off though. Thank you for the words and inspiration!

    1. No worries Jill! House sitting has offered us the opportunity to experience some truly incredible parts of the world, and I doubt we’d have explored locations so thoroughly without a base from which to do so. Passing through as a tourist just can’t compare to living like a local! If you have any questions or just want to chat do send us a mail through our contact from! Best wishes.

  15. Like you say, this isn’t a very well known concept yet, and I haven’t given it much thought myself to be honest. But reading more about it here makes me pretty interested about it. I’m definitely going to check out the website you provided in here.

    1. Great to hear we’ve inspired you Maaike! House sitting has completely transformed our experience of travel, and has allowed us to reduce the cost of our adventures dramatically!

  16. I don’t have a website, I am simply a wanderer…a slow wanderer and animal lover.
    And I do some Chinese medicine based energy work.
    With love.

  17. This sounds amazing. A great way to save money and see new places. The problem of what to do for money while staying there is still present, unfortunately.

  18. Really good advice! We’ve been house and pet sitting for the last 6 months exploring the UK and have looked after some wonderful pets as well as chickens, ducks and geese. It’s given us the chance to travel extensively at little cost, stay in some beautiful homes and look after some adorable pets. We couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

    1. Hi Connie,

      Thanks for your comment! I freelance as a writer so I have a location independent income which allows me to work from anywhere in the world. House sitting works well as an alternative to a self catered holiday too, it’s not just for people who travel full time!

  19. Wow, just stumbled onto your website while looking for information again. Great information! I have been interested in house sitting for years but have yet to take the plunge. My husband and I have just started our family and I would like to start with small USA sits and build to longer international trips as our kids get older in order to road school them. Do you have any specific advice on house sitting as a family?

    1. Hi Amber,

      Thanks for leaving a comment and sorry for the delay in my reply. I would recommend chatting to a family travel blogger and friend of mine Erin Bender from – she and her family have been house sitting a number of times, I am sure she would have some great advice to share!

  20. I am Oscar I am good of taking care of something of others like your pet your children and more so all I am too say is I need a job thank you.

  21. Love this!! I’ve been house sitting for over a year now and it’s an amazing way to get a local feel for a place. Plus pets, so like, win-win!!! Thanks for this informative post!

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