House Sitting

A Guide To Starting House Sitting

We’ve been house and pet sitting full-time now for nearly 5 years and have had long holidays in numerous locations with the company of adorable and loving pets and all we pay for is our transport and food. We spent 3 months in California, 3 months in Australia, 7 weeks in Spain, as well as time in France and Thailand. We’ve also stayed in many of the UK’s top tourist destinations. 
Read our step by step guide, including everything we’ve learned along the way.  Find out how you can become a house and pet sitter in your spare time, part time or full time and travel the world on a budget.

Us With Mookie at The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA

So What Does House Sitting Involve?

Basically, house sitting is when you live in and care for someone’s home, often taking care of their pets at the same time. To be honest, the majority of house sits do involve taking care of peoples pets as well as their home.
One of the real advantages of house sitting is that it allows you to “live like a local” instead of staying in hotels, you experience a destination as if you lived there yourself, with all the comforts of a home.
You don’t have to house sit full-time like us, its also perfect for the occasional getaway, or the odd week during the year. For example, we’ve had all sorts of house sits from a long weekend in Norfolk and Suffolk, to a week or two in Scotland and Wales. As well as longer sits in Spain, USA, Thailand and Australia.

What Does A House Sitter Do?

People use house sitters to look after their home and pets while they go away for short or long breaks. You’ll be responsible for looking after the security of the home and things like collecting the mail, watering plants and maybe cutting the grass on longer sits. The majority of people use house sitters as an alternative to boarding their pets. It’s clear that pets are much happier at home, following their normal routines, being looked after by other pet lovers who give them a holiday while their owners are away.

the travelling petsitters
Bonnie and Teddy Having a Happy Holiday At Home

Can Anyone House and Pet Sit?

Absolutely!  Potentially, anyone can house sit.  But you really must enjoy the company of pets and take the responsibilities and house sitting duties seriously.  We know of single sitters, couples, families and even people with their own pets having amazing experiences house and pet sitting around the world.

How Can I Start House and Pet Sitting?

It really is quite simple!  Just sign up to one of the many house sitting platforms.  OK, but which one though?  Well, we are registered with the largest one, Trustedhousesitters, we’ve been with them for nearly 5 years now and to be honest we haven’t needed to join any other platforms as we’ve found all the sits we needed for our adventures so far in the UK, Spain, America and Australia.

Charcoal in Sydney, Australia
Kai in Santa Monica, USA

Any Tips When Joining?

Well, there are few things we did from the moment we joined and we’re happy to share these with you and hope they help you become just as successful.

Once you’ve joined Trustedhousesitters its a good idea to consider the following. These are all the things we did and we are sure that they really helped us secure house sits.

Think About A Catchy Profile Photo!

You need to stand out from the competition so your profile really needs to catch the owners eye.  A catchy profile photo was the first thing we thought about.  We felt it was important to get across our love of pets.  If you click on “find a pet sitter” on the THS website, notice how many sitters only have a photo of them, but no pet in the photo. Not only does having a pet in the photo show your love of pets but also shows you have experience of pets already.

Our profile photo has us with beautiful Txuri the Pyrenean Mountain Dog

Ask People For Character References!

Ask people you know for Character References as these are really important. Not only do they show how reliable and suitable you are for house sitting but until you have some pet sitting reviews, references play a big part in your profile. They also show up under you profile photo when owners are searching for sitters.
Just as an example – on the right shows Julie has two Character References and Jonathan doesn’t. Julie already stands out!

Create A Great Profile For Yourself!

Highlight your strong points about your personality and what you would bring to the house/pet sit.
Include any past experience of house and pet sitting, however small, maybe you looked after your friends tortoise one day, just make sure its all included.
Have you got any skills that might be handy during the sit? Think about anything you may have done in the past, maybe you have some experience with larger animals, perhaps horses, or have training in swimming pool maintenance, maybe good at gardening or DIY, cleaning or property management skills. Dig deep and build a list to add to your profile!

Sell Yourself With Your Photo Gallery!

Try and use photos that will again show your love of pets. Maybe you’ve got some photos of pets you’ve had in the past, or you have friends that will let you have photos taken with their furry or feathered friends. We did just that, and as we’ve been on sits have made sure we take a photo at each sit suitable for our profile photo gallery. 

Any Tips For Getting Chosen For Sits?

Apply For Local House Sits First!

Probably our top tip that you might want to think about when starting out is to apply for local sits.  We did this ourselves, as we put ourselves in the owners shoes and thought that if we were handing over our house keys and furry babies to strangers we would really want to meet them first.  Especially as we had no sitter reviews when we first started.  When we applied for our first 15 sits we let owners know that we could come and meet them before they selected us. As a result, the face to face meet up made it really easy for all 15 owners to choose us, but it also gave us the opportunity to meet the pets and have a look at the home. It was a great chance for us to make sure we would also be happy to do the sit.

Be Quick To Apply When You See A Sit!

As soon as you see a sit that ‘grabs’ you – respond quickly. You’ll be amazed at the amount of sitters that will also apply for some of the best sits. Being the first to apply has often enabled us to secure a sit. As you can imagine pet owners want to get booked up quickly and will quite often pick the first sitter that fits all the criteria they are looking for, rather than wait for numerous applicants and then have to sift through them all.

Make Sure Your Application Catches Their Eye!

Your first chance to impress any potential home owners will be online when you contact them directly with your application to sit for them.  This will be the first impression the owners get of you.  We always make our application email personal to them, mentioning their pets by name and responding to any particular requirements the owners asked for. This shows you have read their advert thoroughly, after all they have probably spent quite a bit of time writing it!  Let the owners know what makes you the sitter they should choose.  Mention your abilities and experience whilst also injecting your own personality into what you say.  Sound as enthusiastic about the sit as possible and let them know what a great opportunity it would be for you as a sitter.

Be Sure To Offer A Video Call!

If you are lucky enough to be selected by owners on to their shortlist, you can be sure they’ll want to meet you virtually.  Make sure you let them know in your initial application that you’d be pleased to have a video call with them.  We have used Skype, Whatsapp or Facetime prior to confirming all our sits, it’s a great way to “meet” the homeowners, get to know them and ask any questions about the pets, house and sit in general.  Both parties need to feel happy and relaxed that they’ve made the right choice.

Any Tips Once I've Been Chosen?

Ask The Owner For The Welcome Guide!

Make sure you ask the owner to send you a copy of their Welcome Guide.  Read up on the sit well in advance, check that you have details of everything about the house, from the mains water tap and WIFI codes to the security alarm code and bin collection days. The pets routines and feeding information, details and phone numbers of the vets and any emergency contact numbers.  Always arrive well prepared for the sit. Make a list of all the main points from the owners welcome guide.

Keep In Regular Contact With The Owner!

Anything you think of before the sit, either before or when you read the welcome guide, make sure you ask all the questions you need answered before the owner leaves you in charge.
Keep in contact with the owner about a suitable arrival time and just ensure you have a little contact with the owner before the sit, just to re-assure them you’ll be there on the day of the sit.  Remember that some owners will be using a sitter for the first time and may be a little worried that the sitter won’t arrive.
Keep in touch with the owners while they are away. Its a great idea to ask how much communication they would like from you during your stay.  Some owners love a daily picture and update of how their furry loved ones have been getting on.  Some owners prefer contact only if an emergency arises.  Ask what the homeowner prefers.  We love to send photos of the pets showing they are happy and healthy, we think it puts the owners minds at rest while they are away from their home.

Do A Great Job And Receive A Brilliant Review!

As well as obviously taking great care of the pets and sending the owners little messages and photos while they are away.  Keep the owner’s home clean and tidy.  We probably go a little overboard when cleaning up before the owners return, but it all goes towards a good overall impression of how you have gone about completing the sit and the respect you have for the owners home.  Recommendations often come from going a little above and beyond what most would consider normal!
On the owners return, apart from ensuring their pets are happy and relaxed and coming home to a clean house, consider spending a little time with them when they return.  We have cooked a meal for some of our owners and chatted about our time in their home with their pets and listened to stories about the owners time away.  If you’re a little short of time, then even a cake and coffee goes down very well.
Be sure to give the owner hints before you leave or in a little message a few days after the sit about giving you a review, a genuine review that can be read by future owners that may be considering you will be invaluable for your future sits!

We hope this blog post helps you start your journey as a house and pet sitter!

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