House and pet sitting is an incredibly rewarding way to travel.
Not only do you get to travel the world for overseas house sitting and live like a local, but providing in-home pet care allows you to enjoy the company of animals knowing that you are helping to ease a stressful period in their life when their owners are away.
Follow the 13 easy steps in this handy Beginner’s Guide to House and Pet Sitting to get you started on your journey as an international pet sitter.
Table of Contents
Decide if house and pet sitting is right for you
What is house and pet sitting?
House and pet sitting is when you live in a person’s house or apartment while they go away for work or on a holiday.
Generally, you are required to look after their animals and care for their home but on some occasions, there may not be any pets and you might just be required to look after their house and their plants etc. Some people will expect you to mow their lawn, clean their pool, and even shovel snow while others might employ a house sitter and gardener while they are away.
Don’t be concerned, you will find out all these details during the house-sitting application process.
House sitting assignments can vary in time periods from a weekend to several weeks and even a year or more. Just like each person is different, every house sit is a little bit different too.
These Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Sitting will help you decide if house and pet sitting is right for you.
Benefits of Pet Sitting
Spending your free time house and pet sitting isn’t for everyone, however there are lots of benefits such as;
- free rent for pet sitting in the destination of your choice,
- a more relaxed method of travel rather than the rush to move from one hotel room to the next;
- the opportunity to live like a local and really get to know the area where you are staying,
- the chance to meet new people,
- and obviously you get the opportunity to provide in-home pet care to some really wonderful animals.
Who can become a pet sitter?
Anyone can become a house or pet sitter but some of the key characteristics required in a good pet sitter are:
- Good communication skills
- Willing to follow rules
- Experienced with handling animals
- Love for animals
If you aren’t sure you have what it takes to be a pet sitter, then take this easy quiz.
Sign up to a pet sitting site
The first thing you need to do is sign up to one or more pet sitting sites.
A house-sitting site enables the communication between people looking to have their house or pets looked after and people like yourself who want to pet sit for them. House and pet sitting sites generally charge an annual administration fee for you to take advantage of their services. Although the annual fee will generally cost you less than one night’s accommodation in a hotel, so it is more than worth it.
Most sites are specific to certain countries so you may need to shop around till you find the right one for you.
List of house and pet sitting sites
There are literally dozens of sites where you can sign up to start house and pet sitting around the world, here are just a few:
- Mind A Home
- Trusted House Sitters
- House Sitters
- Aussie House Sitters
- Aussie Pet and Home Minders
- Happy House Sitters
- House Carers
- Luxury House Sitting
- Australian House Sitters
- Leading Paws
- Paw Shake
- Work Away
- Mind My House
- Simply Sitting
- Kindred Spirits: Connecting vegans and vegetarians for house sit and swap experiences
- You Home My Home
- World Wide House Sitters
Why we chose Trusted House Sitters
We opted to go with Trusted House Sitters as they have a good reputation and a large client base. Their market is primarily in the US, UK and Australia. All of their House Sitters are covered by their Insurance Backed Guarantee and they have a 24/7 Vet Advice Line.
I also chose them because their site has the best searching capability. Their filtering options let you narrow down by both I also chose them because their site has the best searching capability. Their filtering options let you narrow down by both start and end date of when you are available, the minimum and maximum timeframe that you are interested in house-sitting plus lots of other options.
Trusted House Sitters charges both the sitters and the owners to be members and offer a discount if you sign up for both. They are actually one of the the most expensive house-sitting sites but from what I have found so far, they give you the best value for your money.
Create your User Profile
Congratulations! You’ve signed up to a pet sitting site and now it’s time to start working on your pet sitting profile.
At this point you will be super excited and desperate to apply for your first house sitting assignment.
Take a breath and complete your profile and verification process first.
Setting up your profile and getting verified generally takes one to two weeks to complete. Take your time and do it properly so that you give yourself the best chance of being able to go house and pet sitting around the world.
Complete your verification process
The house sitting verification process involves sending in your Passport/Drivers License details to the house sitting site.
Some sites also allow the option of you getting a Police Check. If this option is available to you then it is definitely worth getting as it will provide peace of mind for your pet sit family.
I was way too enthusiastic when we first signed up to a pet sitting site and we got declined on our first pet sitting application.
It was so disappointing!
I was perfect for them, why didn’t they like me?
Looking back now it is SO obvious why I got rejected. I hadn’t finished our profile, we didn’t have any references and we hadn’t completed the verification process with our Passport/Drivers License. I wouldn’t have chosen myself either!
Create an awesome user profile
When you are creating a pet sitting profile you need to put yourself in the shoes of the family who are searching for someone to look after their house and provide reliable pet sitting for their beloved pets at home.
What type of information do you think they looking for?
You should share why you want to provide a pet minding service. Share what house and pet sitting means to you. Provide details about yourself and previous pets you have owned so you can make a connection with the homeowners looking for house sitters.
Include skills that might be relevant e.g. that you cared for a geriatric cat or had a dog with diabetes. Mention that you have provided local pet sitting for friends and family.
And above all, be honest. You might get away with promising experiences or traits that you don’t have once or twice but you are bound to get caught out eventually. A bad review on your pet sitting profile will result in you having trouble getting pet sitting opportunities in the future.
Last of all, make sure you include plenty of photos of yourself.
Getting lots of references is an incredibly important part of setting up your user profile.
The purpose of the references is to be able to portray a picture of you to future house sitting families so they can gauge your ethics and personality, helping them to decide if you are the best fit for their house and pet sitting requirements.
You should ask both work colleagues and friends if possible, and aim to get as many references as you can.
Research pet sitting assignments
Whether you look for international pet sitting or just do a search for ‘pet sitting jobs near me’ will depend on your financial situation, health, personal commitments, and how flexible you are with your time etc. Some house and pet sitters like to find families looking for local pet sitters within a short drive of their own residence and turn it into a long weekend away. Other house sitters, including ourselves, plan an entire holiday for months at a time around house sitting overseas.
If you are planning an overseas holiday around your house-sitting commitments then you should aim for a location that has plenty of house-sitting opportunities, especially for your first few times.
We initially found that we only received a successful response from 1 in 3 applications at the most, in fact for the majority of applications we never received a response of any kind.
Some owners respond immediately to your application whereas others will sit on several applications and make a decision when they feel the best alternative has come along.
I have to admit to finding this very frustrating but it’s their house so they can follow whatever process they like. However, it does make it hard when you are trying to plan your travel arrangements.
To find out more about researching pet sitting assignments, read our easy to follow Pet Sitting Process to find out how we plan our house and pet sitting adventures.
Apply to house or pet sit
Once you have found one or more pet sitting assignments, the next step in the process is to apply to sit.
Make sure you read the pet sitting ad carefully and cover every point mentioned in your response.
Depending on how far away the pet sitting assignment is, you may hear back immediately, or it may take several weeks. Keep looking for suitable assignments and applying for them. You won’t always get accepted for your first preference.
Once approved, confirm all the assignment details
Congratulations, you have been approved for your first pet sitting assignment.
The first thing you should do is confirm with the homeowner their exact arrival and departure requirements. For example;
- When do you require me to arrive?
- Is it ok if I arrive the day before so I can get to know the pets and their routines?
- What day and time do you expect to return?
- Can I leave before you return, or would you like me to wait till you arrive?
You should also ask them to provide details on each animal you are looking after, including medication, exercise, food etc.
Ask lots of questions
The homeowner should provide you with a pet sitting manual but if there is anything you aren’t sure about then you should ask lots of questions. You might like to just confirm some of the following:
- Exercise time per day
- Process of dealing with good and bad behaviour
- How long the animal can be left on its own
- Does the animal require medication?
- Is the animal allergic to anything?
- What should I do if your pet gets sick or has an accident?
- Does your pet have any quirks I need to be aware of?
Plan your travel
It is only once you have been approved for your house-sitting assignments that you should start to plan your travel arrangements. At no point should you start paying deposits for flights, car hire or accommodation for between house sits until all your house sitting arrangements have been confirmed.
Depending on where you plan to house sit you may have several travel costs.
If you are house sitting locally then you will probably have access to your own car. Occasionally the family you are house sitting for may offer you the use of their car but generally you would either have to use your own or hire one. If you are staying in a major city then you may be able to get away with just using public transport.
If your house-sitting job is overseas or in another state to where you live, then you will have to take into account the cost of flights etc. You should never book anything like flights or car hire until your sitting job has been fully confirmed.
Free rent for pet sitting
For the period of time where you are looking after a family’s house and pets then there are generally no costs for accommodation, and you get provided with free rent in exchange for house sitting.
I say generally because nothing is ever 100% certain in life. You might come across the occasional house sit job where they request some sort of payment. They should always do this in advance so you can always choose not to apply for that particular house sit.
We always request to stay the night before the family leave to go on holiday, for several reasons;
- The homeowner gets the opportunity to know the people who will be providing them with pet sitting services
- It gives the family peace of mind to know that their house sitters aren’t going to be late and cause them to miss their flight
- You get to meet your pet sitting family as well as their pets at home and to see how they interact with one another
- It is one less night that you have to pay for your accommodation.
When looking after someones house you should expect to pay for all your food costs. Some families will require you to buy ALL your food items whereas others might allow you to use smaller volume items like spices, or even washing powder and just have you replace them if the item runs out.
Unless you are doing long term, house sitting then you would not expect to pay for amenities like internet or electricity etc.
The house-sitting family should clearly explain their requirements on their house-sitting profile. You should also read any reviews written about the homeowner because if they have been charging house sitters a fee and not providing them with warning in advance then you can be pretty certain that they will have had some unhappy reviews written about them.
Communicate regularly to build a relationship
Make sure you keep in touch, especially for house-sits that have been organised months in advance. The homeowners are relying on you to ensure that their holiday plans go smoothly so it is more reassuring for them to hear from you occasionally, and it also helps to build a relationship.
If it is an overseas house sit then you should provide them with updates of your travel arrangements as you book your flights and car hire etc. If it as local house sit then just update them on when you plan to leave and how long, it will take you to travel to their house.
What to do while house and pet sitting
In case you aren’t sure what to do while house sitting, an easy starting point is to make sure you follow all the guidelines set out by the homeowner regarding feeding times and exercise etc.. You should also comply with their wishes as to how long the animals can be left on their own, rules regarding pets on furniture etc.
Generally, the homeowners will leave a manual with everything you need to know to look after their animals and hopefully some tips on the best things to do and see in the local area. This is your chance to live like a local and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Whatever you do, make sure you take the time to relax.
A big advantage to house sitting is that it is a more relaxed method of travel so take advantage of that and make sure you put your feet up with a good book. To get you started, we have put together the ultimate list of books to read while pet sitting.
Prepare for the homeowners return
As the date of the homeowners return approaches you start to get yourself organised and pack up your belongings.
If the homeowner is travelling a long distance you might like to pick up a few grocery essentials for them like bread and milk and possibly even prepare them a meal.
You should also make sure that the house is in a cleaner condition than when you arrived. You should:
- Wash your sheets and towels
- Fold the sheets and towels and leave them neatly on the bed
- Vacuum your bedroom and other rooms that you used
- Clean the bathroom
- Make sure the kitchen is clean and all washing up put away
Last of all, for longer house sits we like to bring a gift for the homeowner and leave it on the kitchen table. Here are a few gift ideas for your pet sitting family.
Write a review
With most house sitting sites, the review system is how you build up your reputation and are able to get more easily accepted for house sits.
Depending on the house-sitting site, you can also write reviews of the owners as well. This is how pet sitters find out if the owners have unrealistic demands or are going to charge you fees that you weren’t expecting. If your house-sitting site offers you the option, then you should write a review of the homeowner.
Assuming you write a good review, and the homeowners were happy with the service you provided, then they will generally feel obligated to return the favour and write you an excellent review.
Keep in touch with the homeowner
I like to send a thank you email to the homeowners a few days after leaving to ask how they enjoyed their holiday and just make sure that they were satisfied with the condition of how we left their house and pets.
If you have no intention of returning to this location, then you could stop the communication there.
Whereas if you think you might like to return to the area again then you should stay in regular communication. Don’t harass them, but a 3-6 monthly email would be suitable. You could use the opportunity to update them on any recent travel you have done.
Homeowners would prefer to have someone they know (and their animals know) rather than starting over again with a stranger. So if they liked you there is a good chance that they might ask you to come back again.
Wherever you choose to go house and pet sitting, whether it be local of international, make sure you have fun and enjoy the house and pet sitting experience.
To recap, follow these 13 easy steps to get you started on your house and pet sitting journey:
- Decide if house and pet sitting is right for you
- Sign up to a pet sitting site
- Create your User Profile
- Research pet sitting assignments
- Apply to house or pet sit
- Once approved, confirm all the assignment details
- Ask lots of questions
- Plan your travel
- Communicate regularly to build a relationship
- What to do while house and pet sitting
- Prepare for the homeowners return
- Write a review
- Keep in touch with the homeowner
Save the ‘Beginner’s Guide to House and Pet Sitting’ for later!
Have you tried house and pet sitting around the world? Share the location of your first sitting experience by leaving a comment below.