How to Become a House Sitter and stay for free
House-sitting can be a great way of keeping the cost of travelling in Australian cities to a minimum. It implies taking care of a house and pets while the homeowners are away on their travels. In a few words, it means having a home for yourself and staying for free.
You must pay high hotel room rates with single supplements as a solo traveller. Private rooms in hostels are not always cheap. It is where house sitting comes in as a great way to save money on Australia’s accommodation and experience a more intimate stay. At the same time, you immerse yourself in the local community.
I had heard – and read – a lot about housesitting from fellow travel bloggers, but it was only in 2014 that I finally got my first housesit in Sydney as a solo traveller.
The rise of house sitting in Australia
It has been hard for me to get started. I didn’t have any house sitting experience, no house sit references, or a police check. While there is a huge demand for house sitters in Australia, many people are willing to housesit, so competition is high.
After replying to many adverts, I stumbled upon a suitable advert, and within a few days, I got my first house sit. The homeowners were looking for a single, mature, reliable house sitter and a cat lover. I was lucky enough to be at the right place and the right moment, and the perfect house sitter for them.
In 2015 I had the opportunity to house sit in Australia several times. In Perth’s surroundings and on the northern beaches, in a beautiful home overlooking the Indian ocean.
Overall, it has been a learning-by-doing-it experience with lots of trial and error. I have learnt many things crucial to getting a suitable house in Australia. Here I want to share my house-sitting experience with you now.
These tips are for a single person, especially for women travelling alone in Australia long-term and wanting to try something different in their solo trip.
How to get started with house sitting and choose a website
A few reputable house sitters operate online, but some are overpriced, and some are not targeted on House Sitting in Australia. After robust research early this year, I signed up for Aussie House Sitters, an Australian website that specialises in house sitting only in Australia and New Zealand. I use this website. I like the functionality; the platform is easy to use, straightforward and practical.
What you need to know before signing up for a house sitting website
There are a few things that you need to check before deciding where to sign up. Most sites offer a free sign-up that allows you to browse through all housesit adverts, but if you want to contact homeowners, you need to pay for a yearly subscription.
What is an excellent subscription for a house-sitting website? It depends on the website’s functionality and services. On average, the rate is between 40-65 USD/year. And I wouldn’t invest more.
Functionality is critical, and a key to finding the right house sits. You will not need any fancy techie platform. You need a profile where you can upload your photo, write your bio, and add your contact details (including phone numbers and Skype-id), your interests, skills, availability, and desired locations.
How to set up a compelling housesitter profile
The house sitter profile is the most important because it gets homeowners’ eyeballs and sells you as a trusted house-sitter. Your profile is what your potential homeowners see first and what makes them choose you or not choose you. You must get the prospective home owner’s attention for a housesit search.
Some people worry about being too selective or not bringing experience. You will be surprised, but it does not work that way. Homeowners do have in mind the type of person that is a good fit for them.
- Check carefully what the house sitting websites offer concerning functionality and services (profile set up, personal details, alerts) and ensure Australia is the targeted market. She is what my house sitter profile looks like.
- The more specific you are in your profile, the better. Don’t be afraid of being too selective.
- Be honest and be yourself. Being new to house sitting doesn’t necessarily mean no one will offer you a house sitting job. The reality is that you don’t need any special skills or previous experience to house sit. Everyone can do it.
The only thing homeowners look for is a good fit. They want to feel good about handing their home and beloved pets to strangers. They must be sure they will have peace of mind while away. Your character is what counts, how reliable, committed, and trustworthy you are; you are what matters in the end.
- Be personal and honest in your bio. Say why you want to house sit, why someone should pick you and what you expect from house sitting.
Hot to get the attention of prospective homeowners
First, you need to create a compelling profile. Then you must find suitable house-sits and browse through all house-sitting adverts.
- Be flexible. Create your specific alerts with the desired locations and timing. For instance, if you plan to stay in Sydney, make a map of which areas you are prepared to house sit in Sydney by adding surroundings and setting up alerts for the desired period.House sit alerts allow automated notifications into your mailbox whenever new adverts that match your criteria enter the website database. It is the best way to access adverts before they go live.
- Read carefully through the advert and reply with a short mail. As a general rule, you shall reply when the advert is fresh, within 2-3 hours, after getting a reply decrease rapidly. Attractive house gigs will go quickly. Unfortunately, there is no magic rule on how to make it work. You don’t know how many competitors for that house sit are there.The homeowners will get dozens, if not hundreds, of emails and have to wade through them. So bear in mind that out of hundreds of emails, they may pick only 3-4 potential suitable house sitters to which they will reply.
- Write a compelling house sitter title on your mail. It makes your letter stand out, what homeowners read first, and what makes them click through. It only takes 10 seconds for the homeowners to shortlist house-sitting candidates.In the beginning, my reply rate to adverts was low. I hoped to get homeowners’ attention and get contacted directly to skip the tiring read-and-reply cycle. It is how I got two of my house-sit assignments. At first, I thought my profile was not compelling because I prefer to care for cats. On the contrary, this proved to help me.
- Less is more. Write a short reply and always add your references.
What if you don’t have any house-sitting references?
It is the issue all would-be house sitters face at the beginning (me included). I would use good references you have collected over the years from landlords, B&B hosts, volunteer work, etc. Review from friends is also helpful if you have taken care of their house or pets.
My Airbnb reviews helped me to get my first house-sitting job in Australia.
Engage with the potential homeowners
Engaging is critical, but it is also the most challenging part. It would be best if you tried to break through the email barrier. Try to get hold of homeowners on the phone and talk to them.
People naturally tend to trust house sitters in the country or maybe on the spot. They can speak and also meet them in person. However, thanks to the digital world, phones and skype help us all break that wall.
- Be available to chat on the phone (better) or on Skype (if overseas). You can add your phone number every time you write a reply to an advert. Now that you have clicked on the Send Button, you’ve got to wait, and you’d better arm yourself with patience.It will not happen straight away. It took me a few weeks before I started getting some replies. Usually, I get a response within 3-24 hours. Sometimes it may take longer, up to 3 days. And after that, it means you will not get any. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get replies at the beginning. That’s normal. Keep trying. It will work; it’s just a question of time.
- Be polite, don’t be pushy. Don’t follow up on emails unless they have come back to you first.
What if homeowners offer you to house sit
So, what happens when you get your first house-to-sit job? Once you have accepted it, show your commitment and add the booked house sit dates to your profile. This way, you will no longer be available during the reserved period. It shows them that you are taking it seriously!
I still remember the excitement when I got my first housesit. I couldn’t believe that I had got it. 🙂
- Show commitment and the homeowners that you have taken your house sit job seriously. Make an appointment to meet up before starting. If you are overseas, keep in touch via mail or skype and arrange to arrive a few days before the house sit starts.
- Keep in contact with the homeowners while they are away, give them updates about their pets’ welfare, send them photos, tell them how you are going, etc.
- Keep the house tidy and clean and return it to the homeowners in the same state or even better.
- Stick to the arrangments regarding the house sit tasks, i.e. feeding pets, walking dogs, collecting mail, watering the garden, etc.
Between 2015 and 2019, I have been house-sitting in Australia five times. One housesit for six weeks on the Gold Coast, and five housesits in Perth suburbs. I have been fortunate to get unique homes to look after from beautiful people with lovely pets. I am excited and can’t wait to house sit again and discover new corners of Australia.
Either ten days or several months, house sitting in Australia is a rewarding way of staying for free, thus saving big on accommodation expenses.
But it’s not only about the saving-money aspect but also about being able to live in a real home, living immersed in a new neighbourhood, becoming part of a community for a while, and seeing Australia from a different perspective from the typical traveller’s routine.
It is exciting and different to do in your Australia Solo Travel Adventure.
If you want to dig deeper and get to know all the tips and tricks from expert housesitters, you can also get the complete Housesitting Guide and start house-sitting around the world.
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This article was first posted in 2016 and last updated in Sept 2022.
If you find this article helpful for your trip, I’d appreciate it if you could support Rocky Travel and purchase the Aussie House Sitter membership using the article’s link or the affiliate links in the box below. Thank you!
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