If you’re just starting out as a housesitter, one thing you’re probably wondering about is how to find and arrange your first housesit. It takes a bit of legwork to secure your first one, but don’t worry, once you’ve finished jumping through a few hoops, you’ll be booking sits in no time!
STEP 1: SETTING UP A PROFILE
The first thing you’ll need to do is set up a profile on a housesitting site. Actually, you’ll probably want to set up multiple profiles on different sites so you have access to the largest variety of available sits. Unfortunately these sites all have totally different interfaces, and they don’t tend to be terribly user friendly, so creating a number of profiles is kind of a time-consuming and frustrating process. Also kind of unfortunate? Each site requires you to pay for an annual membership. But this cuts both ways: because there’s a (small) barrier to entry, it means you’re competing with a smaller pool of people for desirable places to sit. So that’s good!
Below are the three sites that we’ve used to arrange our own housesits (there’s a fourth reputable site that we haven’t explored much since it’s U.S.-based and we’ve been looking for international sits — you can find this one, and more, under the resources tab).
The biggest and best housesitting site, with the most comprehensive international reach, is called Trusted Housesitters. As you can see, it has a clean look, and is also the easiest of the bunch to navigate. An annual membership will set you back $120.
Nomador is another good one that we’ve used. An annual membership here is $90, but with that reduced cost comes a reduced number of available sits, with most of them on the European continent (and the majority of those in France).
Housecarers is the third site we’ve used. At only $50 for an annual membership, it’s the cheapest date of the bunch. As before, less money means fewer options. Also, the interface is kind of an ugly, confusing nightmare.
For your profile(s), remember that homeowners are looking for someone to stay in their homes, sleep in their beds, and care for their beloved pets. In other words, they want sober-minded, tidy, and responsible people (or couples) who love animals. Make sure you present yourself as such. Definitely include information about any animal experience you have. You also have the ability to upload images (of yourself playing with dogs or cats, for example) and an introductory video. In our experience, it’s worth the investment of time to do both.
For reference here’s the profile video we made before we’d secured our first sit:
STEP 2: SEARCHING FOR HOUSESITS
Once you’ve set up your profile(s) you can start searching for sits by date, country, length of stay, or all of the above. Note that the search functionality of these sites is not always stellar, and things can fall through the cracks, so you might need to play around with various search fields to make sure you’re seeing everything that’s on offer.
STEP 3: CONTACTING THE HOMEOWNER
When you find a sit you want to apply for, it’s time to contact the homeowner. Basically, you’re going to be sending the person who listed the housesit a direct message. Our advice? Make your message as personalized as possible. Use the names of their pets (usually listed in the ad) and talk about how excited you are to meet them. List the reasons why you’ve always wanted to visit (insert name of place here). You’re not lying — you really do want to visit that place and play with those cute animals, don’t you? So let the homeowner know how much you’d appreciate the opportunity!
After you send your message, that’s it. You just wait and see if you’re a match! Usually you’ll hear back from an interested homeowner within a few days. If they decide to go with someone else, however, you may not hear back at all. Keep at it!
FINAL NOTE: THINK GLOBALLY, SIT LOCALLY
A final note: as much as you may want to jump in and stay in that awesome French chateau for three months as your first sit, it’s probably not going to happen. You’re untested, with no experience or positive reviews to your name (yes, housesitters are reviewed just like guests are on Airbnb). The best thing is to start small. Find short-term sits in your own city and take yourself a few little mini-vacations! It’s fun, and it’s a way to build up your confidence, see if you even like staying in other people’s homes, and get some good reviews. Trusted Housesitters recommends this approach, too. We did this in New York City before we left for Europe, and we loved it.
Happy housesit hunting!
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