Imagine staying in a beautiful home in another country for free. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. If you have a flexible schedule, just want to take some time off, or work as a freelancer, signing up with a house or pet sitting service is a great way to experience another city or country in a comfortable setting. The best part? It’s free. All you have to do is pay for your travel expenses. Some housesitting jobs even offer a small stipend.
While you can certainly search Craigslist, CouchSurfing, or some of the Lonely Planet forums, the best way to get your foot in the door (literally) on a house sitting gig is to sign up for one of the many sites that help connect house sitters and the people who need them. Typically these sites allow you to post your information and then for a fee, you get access to the list of homes available. The fee is anywhere from 20-50 USD a year for access while homeowners typically join for free. There are sites you can join for free to find house sitting jobs, but the paid listings tend to be more reliable than Craigslist or some of the other free listings. A few sites worth checking out include: Mind My House, HouseCarers.com, and Caretaker Gazette.
Sound like this is up your alley? Here are some things to consider before you agree to temporarily take over someone’s home.
Scope out the Location
Be sure to do a little research regarding the location of the home and access to public transportation. Unless you plan on renting a car for your entire stay (or you have access to the homeowner’s car), it’s important to make sure you can get around okay on your own without too much trouble. Flying halfway around the world just to be stuck in suburbia is not a great idea.
Garden and Pets
Most housesitting jobs involve looking after gardens and pets. Having to watch out for a pet can make traveling a little more difficult depending on the animal. While cats are generally pretty laid-back, most dogs shouldn’t really be left alone for more than eight hours at a time so if you’re envisioning more of a footloose and fancy-free vacation where you can leave at the drop of a hat and be back whenever you want, pet sitting might not be the best option.
If you plan on doing a lot of traveling during your stay, be sure to clear it with the homeowner to make sure you’re on the same page. They may prefer someone who plans to spend most of the time at the home while you are envisioning using the home as a base to tour other areas.
If you don’t speak the language of the country where you’ll be staying, you should definitely consider signing up for classes either before or during your stay. It will help make things a little easier. You should also get the phone number or contact information for someone nearby who speaks your language as well as the local language in case any emergencies arise and you need some assistance communicating that the dog is lost or there is a busted sewage pipe.