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House Sitting in an Alpaca  FarmHouse Sitting in an Alpaca FarmWe welcome our first guests, James and Jemma, the "House Sitting couple" that will give us some great tips on how to find an House sitting assignement!

"Last July we decided to go travelling full-time within Europe. Funding a trip around Europe isn’t cheap, so we were lucky to line up nine months of house sitting in France. We also managed to get house sits at both ends of the stint in France; one in the UK and one in Portugal.

It’s hard to estimate how much house sitting saved us on accommodation costs. After we finished our last house sit in France we had to drive back to the UK and to keep costs down - we also would have been to worn out from driving to properly enjoy anywhere as well - we stayed in a few budget motorway hotels. When I say budget I mean the lampshade was held together with masking tape. For that “luxury” we paid around thirty euros a night. Nine months would have cost us around eight thousand euros and a trip to the loony hospital. In contrast, here’s a picture of one of the places we looked after in France.

So yes, we’re big fans of house sitting, but it’s perhaps because of the sheer number of nights we’ve slept for free. Davide wrote a great post about free accommodation options for travellers recently but as he wasn’t as won over by house sitting, I decided to get in touch and share some of the things that have worked for us.

Get Experience Locally First

IMotel lamp fixed with tapeMotel lamp fixed with tapet can be daunting to look at the most “popular” house sitters on a website like TrustedHousesitters.com because of the sheer number of references each sitter has. When you’re starting out and you have no references, it can be rejection after rejection.

So what should you do?

We found that people were more willing to take us on locally with zero (or very few) references as it meant they could meet us face-to-face. So we started keep an eye on house sits in our area, rather than just the ones in far flung destinations abroad. We also let friends and family know that we were available for house sitting, should they want a weekend break.

House sitting in your own city might not seem as exciting as house sitting abroad, but we ended up having some great experiences, met some great animals and got a few references for our profile as well.

Aside from references, there are a few other ways you can improve the trustworthiness of your profile:

    1. Get a police background check. In the UK this was fairly easy and cost GBP10.

    2. Make a Youtube video. Have to confess we haven’t done this yet, but it’s definitely worth doing.

    3. Put up plenty of photos, especially photos of you with animals.

Apply Straight Away

House sits go quickly. We didn’t realise how quickly at first but they often go in less than twenty-four hours. The problem with a lot of house sitting websites, as Davide pointed out, is that a lot of homeowners don’t take down their listings once as sitter has been found. Very often you end up applying for house sits that you’ll never get.

Writing individual emails takes a lot of time and we’ve found that the best thing to do is to apply for them as soon as they go live. How can you keep track of that? We’ve tried quite a few things including Google Alerts, Twitter and Email Alerts. Twitter and email alerts were the most effective, but a far more important tip would be to have your profile ready to go (written up, pictures etc) as soon as that dream house sit comes up.

Prioritise Places Like Australia, NZ, the UK and North America

Applying for house sits can be a lot of work, particularly in terms of the amount of time it takes to write emails to homeowners. I’ve seen some great house sits come up in places like Thailand and Costa Rica, but if I was travelling to either of those countries and there weren’t any current house sits it wouldn’t bother me. Why? Because accommodation in Thailand and Costa Rica is cheap; you can stay in a hotel, guest house or even an apartment for very little.

Compare that to Australia which is home to Sydney and Melbourne, two of the world’s top five most expensive cities according to a recent report. If I was going to Australia, I would definitely house sit. Sydney, the world’s third most expensive city, has a good number of house sits, some of them for several months at a time, as does the rest of Australia. The UK, NZ, Canada and the United States all have plenty of house sits as well as does France where we just were. If you’re just starting out as a sitter and are planning on visiting any of these countries, any of them would be a good place for building up your profile.

Don’t just write why you would love a free holiday; come back with what you can offer the homeowner. Do you have experience looking after that particular type of animal e.g. cats, small dogs, big dogs or better still a specific breed? Are you a couple? Great, that means there’s two of you there to look after the place rather than just one. Are you a family? Even better, you’re too old to have parties! For a rural housesit, have you lived in the countryside before?

Put together a basic list of selling points you will use for each application. (For example, we work from home so that means we can keep any pets company for most of the day, whereas lots of other sitters will want to be out sight-seeing.) Combine this list with all of the specific points you have for that particular house sit and you should have a very good opening email that will get read and get you a good response.

Finally, don’t forget to right a good subject line in your email. ‘House Sit Application’ for example is terrible, but ‘House Sitting Couple with Experience House Sitting in Australia’ would work much better."

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About Us

Davide Vadal? and Otilia Lefter

We are Davide and Otilia, an international couple with itchy feet, living a non conventional life traveling around the world and learning everyday something new....
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