Travelling can be expensive – flights, sights and accommodation stack up quickly into hefty costs, often limiting your options with how long you can stay and where you can go.
Enter ‘house sitting’ – the rising new trend backed by a number of reputable sites across the globe. The trend involves homeowners allowing house sitters to stay in their home rent-free in exchange for the upkeep and care of property and pets. While once the idea of a stranger taking care of your home and furry companions would have been balked at, it’s now seen as a mutually beneficial arrangement and can offer opportunities to house sitters of all ages and lifestyles.
Who Can Housesit?
Anyone reliable and trustworthy with experience in caring for pets and homes can house sit, but there are mostly two groups of people that do:
House sitting has, for many retirees and older couples wanting to travel, become an easy, comfortable and affordable option. Seniors often have an easier time in gaining the trust of homeowners on house sitting sites, with most having years of experience with tending gardens, caring for pets and maintaining their own homes.
Stan and Carole Thompson, a retired married couple from South Australia, are an example of how beneficial the house sitting process has been to them. Featured in a 2016 ABC article, the two shared their experiences as overwhelmingly positive, explaining that their age and experience earned them more trust from homeowners. Gardening and caring for pets alongside housekeeping are their regular duties while house sitting, and they say it’s opened the world of travel for them to involve lengthy and affordable stays – all while bonding with household pets.
Younger travellers also stand to gain a lot from house sitting in place of paying for accommodation on their holidays, and house sitting on an international scale to travel the world is a popular option among people of this age group.
In some cases, younger house sitters will extend their stay from a lengthy travel trip into a full time position. This involves travelling from place to place through taking up one house sitting job after the other, and is an extremely affordable and efficient way to travel for people who can master the system.
26-year-old US born Ben Harris is an example of this more permanent take on house-sitting, and travels the world year-round with his boyfriend this way to save costs on accommodation. In an article for Money Magazine he featured in, he emphasised the importance of taking the position of trust seriously and not just for personal gain, and ensuring that each one of the homeowner’s expectations for the care of their house and pets is met during their stay.
What are the Benefits?
Whether you’re retired, travelling one-off or wanting to make a lifestyle out of house sitting, the benefits of taking on care of someone’s home and pets usually far outweigh any negatives:
1. Cheaper Travel
One of the most obvious benefits of house sitting is avoiding the sting of expensive accommodation fees. Most situations don’t involve exchange of money between homeowners and house sitters, with the expectation that care instructions will be respectfully followed in exchange for the benefit of free accommodation.
2. Comforts of Home
Staying in a legitimate home can have its perks in comfort over hotels. While some hotels are lavish and designed to make you feel pampered during your travels, they usually come with the price tag to match. Cheaper hotels often lack amenities like kitchenettes, laundry rooms and open spaces that make travelling more comfortable and easy – house sitting eliminates these discomforts and doesn’t have you ‘going without’ as you travel.
3. Pet Care
For any animal lover, getting to spend time with a friendly pet will be a huge perk to house sitting, and it’s common for experienced house sitters to comment on this aspect of the position as one of the best. Some people even bond so much with the homeowners’ pets during their stay that they don’t want to leave them at the end of it!
What are the Expectations?
Of course, with something involving so much trust as a homeowner allowing a stranger into their home for an extended period, there are a number of expectations placed upon a house sitter to uphold to during their stay:
1. Be Respectful
Treating the homeowner’s home like your own is an important thing to exercise, but there are usually further expectations to respect privacy when it comes to their belongings and ensure none of their property gets damaged or mishandled. Pet care instructions should be followed closely with little deviation.
2. Be Trustworthy
Whether you’re a young traveller, retired couple or anything in between, trust is going to be a huge factor involved in housesitting. Homeowners will expect the prospective temporary carers of their home and pets to present themselves as reliable and trustworthy people, who won’t neglect their instructions or abuse their stay.
3. Be Reliable
As easy as it is to get caught up in sightseeing and living your best life while travelling, house sitting involves consistent adherence to the homeowner’s expectations and come before your personal holiday agenda. Exercising and feeding pets, managing the garden and keeping the home clean and tidy are all aspects to house sitting the owner is relying on you to follow on a daily basis.
How can You Sign Up to be a House Sitter?
There are a number of house sitting websites across Australia and internationally that connect homeowners with house sitters through a reliable, safe platform. Some of these include:
And many more.