Why You Should Be House Sitting

So here's the big, not-so-secret "secret" to traveling the world on the cheap:

Whenever possible, find cheap or free accommodation. 

Travel comes with 3 major expenses:

1) Transport
2) Food
3) Accommodation

And of these 3, accommodation will easily impact your travel budget the most, unless, of course, you start finding places to sleep for free.

Before we started traveling, many people had told us that finding a good house sitting job with a family was nearly impossible.

Nobody wants a family with a bunch of little kids tearing up their house while they're gone.

But the idea of house sitting was just too enticing to ignore.  Each day there are literally hundreds of listings being placed by homeowners around the world who need responsible people to look after their homes, pets, and plants while they're on vacation or working away from home.  And, being responsible people with an open-ended schedule, it seemed - despite the pessimistic warnings - that we were quite destined to play a part in this whole house sitting thing.

After about 2 months of travel, we opened an annual account for $80 with TrustedHousesitters.com, posted a few pictures and a description of ourselves, and then - we started applying.

Our first 6 requests for house sits came back with rejection letters.  Either the house sitters had already filled the position, or they just weren't interested.  So, as per usual, we started to doubt ourselves a bit, but in the end we just kept on applying.

After 13 rejections we landed our first gig in San Diego, California.  It was a 1 week house sit and it came with the bonus of having the kids be able to care for a cat!

A few days later we arrange a house sit in Calgary, Canada, and then - 2 more in Victoria, Canada!  Within our first two months of membership we had arranged over 2 months of house sitting.  And just last week we received a random request to house sit for a family in New Zealand.

It would seem that persistence and a little bit of faith work well when trying to get past the silly idea of "a bunch of little kids tearing things up".


5 Reasons Why You Should Be House Sitting

1) It's FREE!  We'll, practically free.  $80 a year is a small price to pay for the money you will save on hotels and rentals while you travel.  You can even sign up for cheaper services like mindmyhouse.com for only $20, but you might not get the same results.

Like I said before, whenever possible, find cheap or free accommodation.  Saving via house sitting will certainly help prolong and enrich your travels.

2) It's A Great Way To Travel.  It is rare that one gets the experience of living like a local in a foreign setting.  House sitting affords us the opportunity to integrate into a community as soon as we arrive at our destination.  We're surrounded by locals, not tourists.  We have our own space.  It is a very pleasant way to experience a new destination.

3) People Need You.  House sitting is more than a free place to stay.  People are entrusting their precious possessions to someone they believe will care for them properly in their absence.  They need responsible people to help them out.  In an increasingly paranoid world, it's wonderful to see that there are so many people who will sort through some references and take a chance on people they haven't met.

4) It's For Everyone.  If I was smarter and bolder, I would have started applying for house sits years ago when we were still living in Boston.  House sitting is not just for long-term travelers.  Odds are, there are a few people looking for house sitters in your neighborhood right now.  And if you get a few references under your belt, you might be able to arrange a 2-week gig for that big trip you're going to take next summer.

5) You And Your Kids Will Love It.  Don't underestimate yourself or your kids.  If your kids don't like dogs, then apply for the house sit with fish instead.  I am amazed at how often we broadly generalize and talk ourselves out of doing something.  Sure, not everything always works out perfectly, but sometimes it works out pretty great.  You'll never know until you try.


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'Why You Should Be House Sitting' have 25 comments

  1. May 13, 2013 @ 11:35 am James

    Hi Justin,

    We've had great success with TrustedHousesitters.com as a couple. We spent around nine months living in France on a few separate house sits and that was absolutely wonderful.

    I imagine it's fantastic as a family as well! Must be great to have all of that space and pets for the kids as well.


    • May 14, 2013 @ 11:37 am Justin Mussler

      Thanks for letting me know about your site! I have been eagerly looking at France since their are so many house sits in the area!


      • May 16, 2013 @ 2:41 am James

        France is definitely a country worth house sitting in. If you're willing to house sit through the winter (it can be a bit cold) quite a few long-term ones came up last year and so might come up again this year.

        However, France tends to shut down in the winter so if you're looking for things going on, better apply for a few summer house sits as well.


  2. May 13, 2013 @ 12:51 pm Mary

    I keep hearing about house-sitting, but didn't think it would work with a family. I'll have to look into it more now. Sounds like fun.
    The big question is, Will you be going to New Zealand?!


    • May 13, 2013 @ 12:59 pm Justin Mussler

      It most certainly does work for a family! Who is more responsible than a parent?

      You might be pleasantly surprised.

      As for New Zealand - I don't think we will be going this time around. Just too many things we'd have to reschedule. But no doubt, we will be going!


  3. May 13, 2013 @ 3:05 pm Richard Thompson

    I had heard of doing this before but I had never really seriously considered trying it. That's awesome that there are some sites available to make it easier/safer. Also this just saves so much money on accommodations. Thanks for sharing, and post pictures if you decide to go to New Zealand eventually!


  4. May 13, 2013 @ 7:14 pm Patti

    We hope to house sit in the future but I think for us the big stumbling block will be the fact that I am allergic to cats, dogs, bunnies, etc. I've heard that finding a house sit without pets is not as easy to come by. Have you noticed that as well? Safe travels ~
    Patti recently posted..Happy Mother’s Day Dolores ~


    • May 13, 2013 @ 8:10 pm Justin Mussler

      Not as easy - this is true, but I have seen many without pets! Many are businesses like B&B's and hostels that need help while the owners are away. Defiantly worth a browse.


  5. May 14, 2013 @ 3:32 am Meryl @ Expat Travels

    Ooh, you have piqued my curiosity too. Maybe not surprising - we came overseas in part because the job came with free accommodation. We love free! Have you tried the couch surfing websites? I'd be keen to look into it for our upcoming trip to Sri Lanka. We're not going for long enough to make the $80 investment worthwhile... yet.
    Meryl @ Expat Travels recently posted..No Nakey Bums in the Restaurant


    • May 14, 2013 @ 11:36 am Justin Mussler

      I have heard that Sri Lanka is sooooo cheap! You might not need free stays there.

      You can browse trustedhousesitters for free. I'd take a look.


  6. May 14, 2013 @ 7:07 am Rebecca Nelson

    Sounds like a great way to travel. When you decide to come to New Zealand please get in touch !!!


    • May 14, 2013 @ 11:35 am Justin Mussler

      We were so close on NZ, but the amount of cancellations and let downs with family wasn't worth it! I don't think we would be able to keep NZ off the blog when we go!


  7. May 14, 2013 @ 11:09 am Melanie Murrish

    I think when you have kids it seems persistence is the key! I am defo going to make more of an effort after reading about your success.


    • May 14, 2013 @ 11:34 am Justin Mussler

      Melanie -

      Probably about 80% of the stuff we do, or try to do, never pans out. And yes, we get down about it, but for whatever reason we keep going. Got 3 rejections yesterday! It's all part of the game!

      Let me know if you land one. Go for easy first. Short-term, local, undesirable location!


  8. May 16, 2013 @ 6:52 pm Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad

    funny you write this post, as few weeks ago I was looking into some housesitting gigs. Unfortunately, due to my current health situation, I have to stay around the doctor if you are in Puerto Rico.

    However, as soon as my case is settled, I'm so doing this! I wonder where housesitting will take me… My feet have been itching for too long !

    -Maria Alexandra
    Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad recently posted..Noche de San Juan history: Beach Thursday special!


  9. May 23, 2013 @ 4:34 am Bethaney - Flashpacker Family

    I'm definitely going to sign up for Trusted Housesitters and give this a go now that we're going nomadic. :)
    Bethaney - Flashpacker Family recently posted..40 Tips to Help You Travel Smarter, Cheaper, Safer, Lighter and, errr… Awesomer!


  10. May 28, 2013 @ 6:05 pm Nathan @GayTravelHerald

    I would have never thought of house sitting while traveling. This is something that I will have to look into, it sounds really interesting as an accommodation alternative.
    Nathan @GayTravelHerald recently posted..Lafayette Hotel & Bungalows, San Diego, California


    • May 31, 2013 @ 9:23 am Justin Mussler

      You have to give it a go! It will change the way you travel.


  11. May 29, 2013 @ 2:43 pm Eddy Baez

    Wooooooooooooow! This post was kickass! I might have to look more into this. Sounds like a great permanent job period. Do the homeowners pay you or the website? Who sets the price? This is very interesting. Great post!


    • May 29, 2013 @ 10:02 pm Justin Mussler

      For you, my friend, this is the solution to finding someone to watch your dogs! As for us, the free place to stay is the "payment". I wouldn't expect more.


  12. June 5, 2013 @ 1:16 am Kathryn

    I'm not a big fan of animals so I don't think this would be for me, but I wish it was!


  13. June 15, 2013 @ 12:08 pm Clark Vandeventer

    I have really got to get into this housesitting thing. Never explored it at all. Maybe it's time to pony up the $80 and go for it.
    Clark Vandeventer recently posted..Living with regret


  14. June 16, 2013 @ 2:01 am Pablo

    It's awesome to see that this is working out for you guys!

    I'll be heading out on a trip come October and I've been looking into working from hostel to hostel along with house sitting.

    I want to mix it up so I can get perspectives from both the locals and the backpackers.
    Pablo recently posted..Why I Travel


  15. July 9, 2013 @ 4:10 pm Danielle

    Sounds fabulous. I am assuming you are living off savings for food/etc and you are having to pay for flights to other countries yes?


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