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There are a few common reasons a homeowner elects to hire a house sitter. The most common is that they have one or more pets which need caring for.

Many homeowners have a garden, pool, or lawn that needs looking after as well. The opportunity to perform these tasks in exchange for free accommodation is a great way to travel on a much tighter budget.

You might even meet the neighbors or friends of the homeowner and gain a local connection to show you around or provide advice on what to do in town.

How to get started

There are a number of websites that connect homeowners with potential house sitters.

Step one is to choose a sight and create a profile. HouseCarers is among the best, and it’s super easy to get started. Signing up is free, and there’s an option to pay $50 for an annual membership that allows you to view and apply to as many opportunities as you wish.

Before joining a site, identify where you plan to travel. HouseCarers, for example, has members around the globe, while some sites such as House Sitters America are specific to a country or region.

Another strong option for international travel is Trusted Housesitters.

When to apply for a house sit

In general, applying as soon as possible after a house sit is listed ups your chances. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get your application in right away – it’s actually more important to have a quality profile and application that speaks to the homeowner and resonates with them.

How to create a great house sitter profile and maximize your chances for success

Overall, your profile on a house sitting site should reflect your personality and convey your qualifications. Talking about travel is great, but don’t make it the sole focus – homeowners want someone who is serious about the task at hand. Here are a few hints:

  • Think of what you’d want someone staying in your home to say. Likely, you’d want someone quiet, responsible, and content with being alone. Highlight your online teaching to show that you’ve got it together career-wise and aren’t just bumming around crashing on couches. Talk about what draws you to their area – why are you visiting, what do you hope do while in town, the type of stuff that shows you are knowledgeable of and interested in where that person lives. Use a good profile photo, preferably of you with a pet!
  • Specifically address your love for pets. This is a big one. Demonstrate that you love and know how to take care of a variety of animals. I’m not encouraging you to lie. It will be obvious right away if you don’t know what you’re talking about during the interview process. But definitely, speak to your experience. Show your passion for animals. Don’t be afraid to do some research to learn about specific animals that you aren’t familiar with.
  • List references. References build trust, and homeowners will check with yours to confirm that they can trust you to handle assigned duties. If you’ve ever taken care of a relative or friend’s home while they’re away, list that person as a reference. A current or former employer that can speak to your positive traits is a good option as well. Another strong option is a landlord.
  • Stay in touch! After you apply for a house sit, stay in touch with the homeowner. Ask about their pets. Inquire about the duties listed. Let them know that you are interested in their home and their offer.

Common duties of a house sitter

  • Pet care. Sending the homeowner quick updates and photos of their pets is almost always appreciated. They generally miss their furry friends and a photo can really make their day (and make you look great in the process).
  • Pool care. You may never have cared for a pool before, and might not even be much of a swimmer. The cool thing about housesitting is that you don’t have to lie about this to land gigs. The homeowner should list, or be able to provide, information on their pool and the type of maintenance or oversight it needs. Some will even provide step-by-step tutorials on what to do, and the internet is always there for the majority who don’t. Swim University is a great resource for pool care tips and best practices. You can search specific issues or topics and check out walk-throughs of many common issues that arise.
  • Garden care should be straightforward as well. The homeowner will provide details on what type of lawn, plant, or flower care is needed. Often, your tasks will be as simple as watering plants and mowing the lawn.
  • General home order. Part of the appeal of a house sitter is in have someone to keep the place orderly. Keep the home in the condition you found it. This should go without saying, but be tidy and clean up after yourself regularly. Follow any house rules, and generally avoid disturbing things that don’t need to be disturbed.

Optimizing your career as a house sitter

Having a great (and free!) place to stay in the places you travel is a process that starts at home.

Keep a close eye on the site(s) you sign up with. Don’t be afraid to tweak your profile here and there if you find it isn’t doing you justice.

The ultimate goal is to build a personal connection with the homeowner that not only shows them that you’re up to the task, but that you are someone they’d want to invite over for dinner.

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