If you plan to travel long-term as a woman over 50 and want to consider house-sitting as a sustainable way to fund your travels, where is our complete guide on how to become a successful house and pet sitter and travel around the world while looking after beautiful houses and taking care of pets while the owners are away.
What To Know About Housesitting
While there are different ways of approaching house sitting, these are my four cornerstones for getting housesits on your long term travels. They have helped me find great house sits in Australia over the last decade without putting too much effort in it. I hope they can help you. Of course, you may have to adjust them to your needs, but I hope they will show you how to get started and get it right from the beginning. Once you have these few things, 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 at 50+? If it revolves around saving money on accommodation, take 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. Most 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’ll tell you more about it towards the end of this guide.
3. Communicate your strengths with a killer profile
As good as a house-sitting tool is, websites will not trigger miracles for you. You must communicate, sell yourself, and maximise the platform’s functionality. The best tip I can give you is to create a killer profile that conveys all crucial information about your person, i.e., 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 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.
The best house sitting websites
Once you have decided to tap into the world of housesitting and try out long-term travel or maybe also considering a nomadic lifestyle, you need reliable tools to help you find the best house sits for your destinations. A house sitting website helps you promote your profile and land to the many opportunities. It’s best way to start with the first house sitting experience and lifestyle. You need a trusted and established website with a large pool of diversified homeowners located all over the world if you plan to travel and house sit around the world. Some sites cater for house sits in a specific continent or destinations such as the US, Australia, New Zealand, or Europe. Some are global like TS. Here is how Trusted Housesitters works.
For Global House Sitting use Trusted HouseSitter, click to get 20% discount on all plans – no code require
How to get started with house sitting with no experience
The first step is to choose the website. I wouldn’t sign up for one or max two websites at then beginning and then eventually add more sites, when you want to expand your pool and also maybe become a professional house sitter and travel around the world. Choosing the right website is key since most of them offer free and paid memberships. Here below my tips for helping you pick the right site and creating your killer house sitter profile.
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 and 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 or WhatsApp ID), your interests, skills, availability, and desired locations.
I used Aussie House Sitters to find top house sits in Australia in the past decade, and it helped me a lot. In my opinion, this is the best website for finding good house sits 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 customer service.
How to set up a compelling Housesitter Profile
The house sitter profile is the most important thing you need to have 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 homeowner’s attention for house & pet sits 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, map 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 decreases 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 there are for that house sit. 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 housesitters to whom they will reply.
- Write a compelling housesitter title in 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 housesitters (me included) face initially. I would use good references you have collected over the years from landlords, B&B hosts, volunteer work, etc. Reviews from friends are 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 on the spot. They can speak and also meet them in person. However, thanks to the digital world, phones, Zoom calls, and Skype help us 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 gig. 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, update them about their pets’ welfare, send them photos, tell them how you are doing, 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 mentioned before, the demand for housesitting is growing rapidly in Australia. The offer is higher than the market, though. So, you may be 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 housesitting needs. Remember that homeowners always pick the ones who – in their eyes – are the perfect fit for them.
Use Trusted HouseSitter, click to get 20% discount on all plans – no code require
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 housesitting 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, the homeowners will likely prefer you to 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 care for. 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 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; you should 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’m not too fond 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.
Conclusion about becoming a long-term house sitter
Either ten days or several months, house-sitting is a rewarding way of travelling long-term without having to pay for rent or expensive accommodation. While the saving-money aspect has an impact on funding your long-term travel, house-sitting also allows you to fully immerse yourself in a local community and creating the lifestyle routine of a real local, thus allowing you to experience places from a different perspective than the ordinary traveller.
For global housesitting I recommend Trusted Housesitters.
For the US I recommend Housecarers.
For Australia, I recommend Aussie House Sitters.
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This article was first posted in 2016 and last updated in October 2023.
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