How to Become a House Sitter in Australia
House sitting in Australia can be a great way of keeping the cost of staying and travelling to a minimum. It implies taking care of a house and pets while the homeowners are away on their travels. In a few words, becoming a house sitter in Australia means having a home for yourself and staying for free.
I had heard a lot about housesitting from fellow travellers, and in 2014 I finally got started with my first housesit in Sydney as a solo traveller. Since then I’ve been housesitting a few times in Perth, the Gold Coast, and I loved it.
In cities like Sydney and Melbourne, hotel room rates for solo traveller come with a high single supplement. Private rooms in hostels are not always cheap and sustainable on the long term. It is where house sitting comes in as a great way to save money on Australia’s accommodation and experience a more intimate stay.
That’s why I share my experience about how housesitting in Australia work and my tips on how to become a successful house sitter.
For housesitting in Australia, I recommend Aussie House Sitters.
The four cornerstones of housesitting
While there are different ways of approaching house sitting, these are my four cornerstones for getting housesits in Australia. They have helped me find great house sits over the last two years without too much effort. I hope they can help you.
Of course, they may not suit you 100%, but I hope they will show you how to get started and get it right from the beginning. Once you have these few things in place, everything will be more natural, and house-sitting opportunities will start rolling into your mailbox.
1. Why housesitting? Know your purpose
Why do you want to become a House Sitter? If you save money on accommodation, your answer takes a minute to consider your response. If you feel this more profound, you will see your primary purpose. Either you are travelling long-term or working independently, taking a career break, wandering around Australia to find a new place to settle, or enjoying retired life and the benefit of no fixed address.
No matter your purpose, the common denominator is the willingness to live in someone’s home, take care of their house and house pets, and enjoy the freedom of moving around without worrying about renting a place. This results in free accommodation and zero-cost rent. House sitting gigs are unpaid, so there must be a fair balance between the mutual exchange of free stay against the house and pet care.
2. Pros and cons: identify a good fit for you
Always consider house-sitting gigs that are a good fit and perfectly match your skills and capability of handling it, no matter how experienced you are with pet-and house-sitting. In a few words avoid taking on work you are not 100% sure you can manage and commit to. Also, the length of the house sit does play an important role. And I’m telling you a bit more about it towards the end of this guide.
3. Communicate your strengths with a killer profile
As good as a house sitting tools are, websites will not trigger miracles for you. You must communicate, sell yourself, and make the most of the platform’s functionality. The best tip I can give you is to create a killer profile that can convey all crucial information about your person, i.e. your purpose, personality traits, skills and experience. You don’t need fancy tools; you need a short and effective presentation of yourself. Maybe a house sitter video presentation is a great idea. Your profile must stand out among the crowds and get the eyeballs of many suitable homeowners.
4. Grow your connections and network
It may sound a bit daunting if you are not familiar with housesitting yet. So reading blog posts about house sit and learning from fellow travellers or bloggers is, in my opinion, essential. I read a lot of articles that finally made me take the plunge. You can also search for a House Sitting Facebook Group to familiarise yourself or clear up doubts and fears. It took me a long time to get my first gig, as I had no house-sitting experience.
How to get started with house sitting
A few reputable house sitters operate online, but some are overpriced, and some are not targeted at House Sitting in Australia. After robust research, I signed up for Aussie House Sitters, an Australian website that specialises in house sitting only in Australia and New Zealand. For these countries, I only use this website. I like the functionality; the platform is easy to use, straightforward and practical. And it’s the best if you only want to house sit in Australia.
For housesitting in Australia, I recommend Aussie House Sitters.
Things to consider when choosing a housesitting 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.
The best house sitting websites in Australia
Once you have decided to tap into the realm of housesitting and try out a nomadic life, you need reliable tools to put it into place. It would be best if you had good ways of promoting yourself to start with the house sitters lifestyle. You need a trusted website with a large pool of diversified homeowners located all over the territory in Australia. Some sites cater for house sits.
I have used Aussie House Sitters to find a top house sit in the last three years, which helped me much. In my opinion, this is the best website for finding a house sitting job in Australia. If this is the only country you mainly want to housesit, this site comes in very handy, with an affordable yearly fee and excellent service.
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.
For Australia, I recommend Aussie House Sitters.
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
Not getting house-sits – How to handle rejections
As said before, the demand for housesitting is rapidly growing in Australia. The offer is higher than the market, though. So you may be finding yourself struggling to get your first gig. And you are likely to get lots of rejections at the beginning.
So what to do? Don’t despair. It’s not the end of the world. As long as you get a reply with the rejections, that’s always a good sign.
That means you have been shortlisted – out of hundreds – and notified about it. Building rapport and thanking people for getting back to you belong to the best practice. I appreciate people and ask them to stay in touch for future housesit needs. Remember that homeowners always pick the ones who – in their eyes – are the perfect fit for them.
What you shall know before considering a house sit
House sitting may sound like a fun and exciting experience. It has many pros but also cons. However, it also brings a high level of commitment. Here are a few things to know before choosing the type of housesit experience you want.
Short-term house sitting vs long-term housesitting
If you are new to housesitting and planning your first house-sitting gig in Australia, I suggest starting with a short-term house-sit. One or two weeks will give you an idea of what it is all about. And if you like it in the first place. I wouldn’t start with a long-term commitment to your first house sit gig.
When you’re house-sitting as a solo traveller, chances are that the homeowners will prefer you vs a couple to look after their house and beloved pets if the circumstances are a good fit. It depends on the required work and the number of house pets to take care of. While one pet is perfect for the single house sitter, two or more pets – and more housework – best suit couples or travellers with a companion. The number of homeowners seeking female solo travellers to housesit is rising.
Long-term housesitting requires a higher level of commitment, and it can be risky to start with a few months’ houses sit if you haven’t done it before. A short-term test is always an excellent way to start. While on the one side, you can see if this is the right thing for you, it will show you what you like and don’t like.
Meeting in person before starting
As a long-term house sitter, you must commit to the requested work and the time, and it is best suited when travelling long-term. Once you commit to timing and tasks, you cannot change your mind and must stick to the work involved. Your responsibility is to clarify doubts and fears before accepting a house sit.
That’s why meeting in person is golden, and you shall always plan it. However, it may not always be possible, so a conversation over the phone, on ZOOM or Skype can be the right way to get to know each other and ask questions.
Signing a house sit contract
While on one side, you must be 100% sure that you feel confident with the job, you must also make sure that a safe and free stay and all things ticked off your list are guaranteed. Signing a house-sitting agreement can be a good thing to consider. I am not a fan of house-sitting arrangements but if this makes sense for you, go with it. There is a standard form on any house-sitting website that you can download and adjust to your homeowners’ needs.
Ready to get started with Housesitting in Australia?
Between 2015 and 2019, I have been house-sitting in Australia five times. One housesit for six weeks on the Gold Coast, and five sits 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 exploring Australia differently from the typical traveller routine. It is an exciting and another way to explore Australia Solo.
If you want to dig deeper and learn all the tips and tricks from expert housesitters, you can also get the complete Housesitting Guide and start house-sitting around the world.
For global housesitting I recommend
For the US I recommend
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This article was first posted in 2016 and last updated in Jan 2023.
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