Because of housesitting, I have been able to give up my job and travel the world, with all my accommodation costs paid for! Want to learn how you can do the same?
What is housesitting?
How did I get into house sitting?
I had been working as a Flight Attendant for 3 and a half years and the sleepless nights and fast paced life was getting too much at times. Don’t get me wrong: I love travel so much, I just missed travelling at a slow pace. So I decided to quit my flight attendant job with the intention to do a working holiday in Australia for a year. I would work for a few months and then backpack for a few months across New Zealand and Australia. I had also been building my website so I was hoping to work a lot more on that during my year away.
As my flying job was based in the Middle East, I decided that after I would leave the job I would spend a couple of months back home in England first before jetting off down under to Australia. Getting to spend some quality time with my family and our pets was important to me after being away for so long. But moving back in with my parents was not ideal, especially seeing as I am over 30. I needed a plan before I quit my job.
So I looked into some options and came across a housesitting website. I had heard some people talking about housesitting in the past but never really thought twice about it before – until now. It seemed like a really interesting concept that would benefit both the sitter and the homeowner. After researching about it more and hearing people’s personal experiences, I was very keen to try it out.
Finding housesits online
I thought if I could get some local house sits near my parent’s house during the time I would be back home in the UK (August – October which is fortunately when many Brits go on holiday!), I would be able to still see my family a lot but also have my space and be able to really dedicate time to working on my website without too many distractions.
I went on the Trusted Housesitters website and started browsing for housesits near to my parent’s house. Luckily I found one just 20 minutes from them with the most beautiful Ragdoll cat. A few days later I found a house sit starting the day after that first house sit finished in my parent’s village!! It was a sign, so I confirmed both house sits and handed in my month’s notice to my airline. Shortly after I also managed to sort out three more house sits for the time I would be home – the timing worked out really well!
What was it like house sitting?
Straight away I loved housesitting! During each housesit I grew really attached to the pets – definitely a lot more than I had expected! All the pets had their own personalities but every one of them just loved having cuddles!! Many times when I was a flight attendant I would think about getting a pet cat, but as I was away a lot it seemed unfair to get one as I knew I wouldn’t be able to care for it properly. It was only when I started house sitting that I became aware of just how much I had missed being around pets!
Some of the housesits were just for a few days and some of them were for a few weeks. Either way though, all the pets brought me so much happiness! As I was working from home on my website it meant I could spend a lot of time with the pets when I needed a break from working, which was perfect!
When I decided to house sit and travel
Initially the plan was just to housesit in UK for a couple of months and then get a job in Australia and travel round after a few months. However I was really enjoying working on my website full-time and enjoyed seeing the progress I was making, so I thought what if I was able to carry on writing full-time when I go to Australia instead of getting a job out there. It meant I wouldn’t be able to earn as much than if I was out working, so if there was any way I would be able to cut down costs it would really help.
Accommodation is always going to be expensive, and is something we always need, so I thought if I could eliminate accommodation costs as much as I can when I am in Australia, I would be able to live there easily without earning so much money. I did make sure I had a few thousand pounds saved to support myself though, which is a requirement for coming across to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. With writing, money and income can be inconsistent, so if I was house sitting I wouldn’t have to worry about paying for accommodation, which would be a huge weight off my shoulders financially.
Plus after years of sharing apartments and dorms, I thought it would be great to have my own space without paying for accommodation! So I decided I would continue working on my website and house sit my way across Australia. It would certainly cut down costs and would be such an interesting way to see the country!
Arranging house sits abroad
Within a matter of days I managed to sort out two house sits in Australia both lasting a few weeks each. As I knew I would be travelling around with a big backpack and suitcase, I didn’t want to be moving around between sits every few days, especially since Australia is so spread out. Therefore I only looked at housesits lasting at least 2 weeks.
There was the odd few days where I didn’t get a house sit sorted, due to dates overlapping or nothing being available, in which case I just used that time to travel round! I even managed to sort a house sit in New Zealand so I got to discover that beautiful part of the world too! It was great that I already had a few house sits under my belt as it meant I had verified references on the website. This really helped to build up my house sitting profile, which makes it much easier to score future house sits.
The only website I used during the whole time was Trusted Housesitters. Click here for 25% discount off the membership fee! What I love about that website is that unlike many other house sitting websites, it is universal – it opens up a world of possibilities as you are not restricted to just house sitting in one country, you can use it to literally travel the world!
How house sitting enables me to travel
If I hadn’t have found Trusted Housesitters I would definitely have had to get a job straight away in Australia to pay for my travels and accommodation. But by helping someone by looking after their pets when they are on holiday, in turn I have a lovely place (for free!) to call home for a while and lots of animal company. Whilst I am not getting paid to house sit, I am getting somewhere to stay for free. Plus free wifi, free laundry, no bills, often a load of free food thrown in, it’s certainly not a bad deal!
I have been able to see lots of different cities during my time house sitting. Some of the animals have been more dependent than others, for example I had a couple of dogs that suffered really bad from separation anxiety so I couldn’t really leave them. In cases like this I didn’t explore so much as the animals always needed to be with me, so it was a great time to really work on my website, but other sits had animals that were so independent and I could be out all day exploring. Often the families left me their car to use too which was another way for me to save money!
Housesitting is great for travellers to unwind and slow down their travelling. You get to see the place from a local’s point of view and I love that. It’s really a fun way to see the world whilst still getting a dose of animal love!
Tips for applying for house sits
Big cities such as London and Sydney have a lot of people applying for each house sit. I have seen countless adverts in these cities with around 50 applicants! Trying to get your profile to stand out is hard but there are a few things you can do:
You need to have a few house sits under your belt so that you will have references on the website. If someone has to choose between someone with 10 references and someone with no references, I’m pretty sure they will pick the one with the references.
Usually the longer the sit, the more people apply, so start looking for short sits (one or two nights) near your home first, and preferably out of capital cities. This way there will be less competition and you’ll have a better chance of being selected.
A good way to get lots of references is to do several short sits first as you get lots of reviews in a short amount of time. Always make sure once you have done a sit that you review the home owner and get them to do a review for you. This will help you both in the future.
Take the time to fill out your profile properly. Select pictures of you with animals, and sell yourself! Write about your experience with pets and why you would be the best person for the job!
Other pet sitting websites you can use
Cat in a flat
Cat in a flat is an amazing website where sitters get paid to look after people’s cats! Sitters set the fee, and they don’t even need to stay overnight at the pet’s home if they don’t need to! Therefore lots of people do it in their home city just to make some extra cash – they come in and feed the cat, play with them for a bit and send the owners some photos, and the pay is good – like £10 per day! If the sitters stays overnight the pay is even better (average £35 per night). However at the minute it is only available in UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and The Netherlands.
It is free to join Cat in a flat and list your profile, for both pet sitters and pet owners, but they do take 19% commission from every booking, which covers the insurance. Bear this in mind when you set your fees.
Pawshake is a similar website to cat in a flat. It is mostly for dogs but there are lots of other animals too. You can also stay overnight at the pet’s home or have them come to your place for the day (like a doggy day-care). You can even just visit the animal in their home for a whole, or take the dog for a walk – there are lots of possibilities.
Pawshake is also free for pet owners and pet sitters. Like Cat in a flat, it also takes 19% commission.
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