How to Secure Your First House Sit

We’ve heard from a few of you that you’ve had trouble getting started in the housesitting “business”. We had a similar start back in 2015 when we first began full time travel. But now that we've had a few house sits around the world, we feel qualified to give you some advice.

We had heard of this website called Trusted House sitters, and to be honest it sounded too good to be true. Free accommodation in locations around the world. Really? There had to be a catch or a scam in there somewhere.

Note: Having a cat on your lap does not improve your chances of securing your first house sit

Note: Having a cat on your lap does not improve your chances of securing your first house sit

We set up our account and paid for a year subscription. It wasn’t much, to be honest, but if you want 20% off, feel free to click here.

We built a  profile and then started to casually apply to some sits around the world. The response was…tepid. That isn’t really the right word. Sometimes it was total crickets. No response at all.

One response from a homeowner was that they chose another couple from Canada. So. Close. Darn Canadians. This is why we call them “better Americans”. Well that and the free health care and no questionable foreign policy and crackpot president. Oh, and the guns. Right. Anyway.

I somehow found out who they chose for the sit and spied their profile. This was my first clue that we were doing it all wrong.

You must have a good looking house sitter profile.

What does this mean exactly? Well, talk about who you are and why you are house sitting in the first place. Talk about your experience caring for pets of your own, or if that is lacking, talk about your experience owning your own home.  If you don’t have any of those things working for you, maybe you are really clean and tidy? Maybe you tended a garden? Point being, show yourself to be capable and caring and responsible. This person wants to trust you since they are leaving you to care for all their worldly possessions.

So we revamped our profile. We added photos of us with animals and us traveling. We asked for reviews from friends to get us started and to show that we actually have friends and are real people. And above all, we told our story and explained why we want to house sit. Hint: It’s not for the free travel. It’s for the animals!

How else did we secure our first house sit?

We frequently checked for new sits.

This means going beyond signing up for their daily emails that contain new house sits. It’s too late by the time you get that email. You have to check the website daily, and maybe twice a day depending on where you are in the world. People are posting new house sit opportunities all day long. Quite often the email is only a recap. Some of those housesits could be 20 hours old.

Be ready to apply. 

Some housesits get dozens of responses very quickly. Especially when its a house in the south of Spain in the winter. Or if there is a pool and minimal work to be done except for watering some plants and checking the mail.

This level of response can be quite overwhelming for the homeowner, and to deal with the deluge some people cut it off after the first 5 or so applications. So if you don’t apply quickly, you may not even be considered.

We recently applied for a rare housesit in Tokyo that had between 0-3 applicants. We didn’t get it because they literally chose the first person to apply. Now this isn’t a strategy most homeowners take when choosing a well vetted stranger into their homes, but it proves the point. You have to be quick. Do not hesitate. 

Make your application email stand out.

If you are applying to a ton of housesits you may be tempted to create a stock statement that you just cut and paste to the homeowner. While this may be well and good for you, it probably comes across as canned and bland. So take some care to personalize your application email.

If the owner has a garden, talk about your gardening experience. If the cat is older, ask if it needs daily medications. Make it light and conversational and show that you read the post and have given some thought to what is being asked of you. Saying that you’ve always wanted to go to Bali isn’t going to cut it. Because who doesn’t want to go to Bali?

We like to end by saying that we would love to set up a Skype or FaceTime, which for us is absolutely necessary before we commit to any house sit. This also primes the homeowner to think about the next steps.

Apply to a lot of house sits.

I'm not exactly sure what our success rate is in applying. I think we've applied to roughly 40 house sits since we started full time travel in 2015 and have successfully secured 13 of them. That's about 30%. Now if this were a mid-term and you got that score, you would likely be disappointed. But I want to set your expectations on how hard this can actually be. Even with a dozen stellar five star reviews from homeowners on the site, we still don't get every sit we apply for. And neither will you. But with a little effort and a little planning and a little luck, you'll be able to get your first house sit. :)

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