House sitting – The Free Ultimate Guide

Recently we have been getting lots of questions on how to get a dream house sit, so we thought it was time to produce the Ultimate Guide to House sitting – explaining 5 simple steps to help you get your first house sit and a few other top tips.

So far house sitting has taken us to a pretty woodland village in Scotland, way off the beaten track with our own private beach in the Mexican Jungle, and now in the beautiful cobbled café culture streets of San Miguel De Allende, with a few more lined up in the not too distant future…

House-sit-in-ParadiseOur house sit in the Mexican Jungle

What is house sitting?

Very simple indeed, homeowners need someone to look after their home and pets, meaning house sitters can travel the world or take a holiday almost anywhere in return for caring for pets and homes.

It’s not just for long term travellers, house sits range from just a few days to years.

 

Why House sit?

Just over a year ago I had barely heard of house sitting, but now it has revolutionised the way Kellie and me travel here’s why:

Stay in dream destinations for free!

A free holiday? Yes please! Basically you can go anywhere, beach paradises, city breaks, country retreats, house boats. If you can name, it probably exists.

We have saved thousands of pounds travelling around the world doing what we love, which is caring for pets and exploring new places. Sure it comes with responsibility, but we think it’s a great deal.

It stops you burning out

For me being on the move constantly is not appealing, house sits allow you to travel slowly giving you time to recharge your batteries before heading off on the next adventure. It’s been great having home comforts and really getting to know the areas we’ve stayed in.

You get to look after cute pets and local insider tips!

An obvious one I guess, but we are massive pet fans and would definitely own several if we weren’t travelling, we get the best of both worlds – Travel AND pets!

Plus the homeowner often gives you the lowdown on the best restaurants and must-sees in the local area.

Cute-dogsHouse sit with two cute dogs, private beach and dock.

 

Who Can Do It?

Anyone! Families, couples, singles, people with pets, retirees, travellers, holiday makers, the list goes on…

Obviously people are trusting you with their beloved homes and pets (in most cases), so you need to be a responsible person and liking animals is a must, but besides that pretty much anyone can do it…

 

Who we use

Trustedhousesitters.com $90 or £53 per year

Housecarers.com $50 or £30 per year

If you click these two links above and join them we get a little bit of welcome income. Thanks, that’s very kind of you!!

We have gained over 7 months constant house sitting experience (Seriously, over half a year rent free!) through them and basically they are ace!!

There are lots of other house sitting website, but so far we’ve been completely happy with these two, they offer a simple way to advertise, low membership costs and have many house sits all over the world.

Main-house-XcalakJungle House sit

5 steps to landing your dream house sit:

1. Kickass profile

The key thing to remember is that the homeowner is probably going to be receiving many applications so you need to get across how great and trustful you are.

We treat it almost as a job application, covering why we want to house sit and what experience and skills we can offer for the homeowner.

– You want your profile to be straight to the point and relevant, but also reflect your personality.

– Make it as easy as possible for the homeowner by adding your own titles where necessary.

– Break the information up; nobody wants to read long paragraphs of rambling information.

Add nice pretty pictures and even videos.

You can check out our Trustedhousesitters.com profile and our Housecarers.com profile to see what works.

2. References

If you have done previous house sits that’s great! You can get them to give you beaming references. If not, don’t worry there are many other ways you can get reference.

Have you looked after a friend’s cat, dog or ferret?

Does your boss think you’re amazing?

Do you check on your neighbour’s house when they are away?

Rack your brains; I’m sure there is someone who can give you a great character reference. Start from there and build on it once you get your first house sit.

3. Sign up for email updates & specific destinations

Remember, the world of house sitting can be a competitive place, so being on top of the latest house sits is vital.

We have applied for house sits less than an hour after they were posted, only to find they have already been filled!

We sign up for email updates; you can even choose particular countries and towns to focus on. As soon as a house sit is released it appears in our inbox, if it appeals to us we get straight on it with the application…

4. First message – First impressions

When you see a house sit you like, you send a message to the owner. The first contact message is very important, you want get the homeowner interested, but at the same time you don’t want to over do it with info and bore them to death.

First and foremost for us is the pets and home. Do they have two Jack Russells and a pool? If coincidentally as a child you grew up looking after the same breed and worked at the local swimming pool, tell them this…

Basically strive to find relevant experience so they click on your profile and discover you’re the perfect sitter for them.

Show personality they can connect with. They live in the mountains in Colorado – in the summer you love hiking through Scotland and jetting off to such a beautiful part of America is your idea of heaven.

Don’t bombard then with millions of questions in your opener, just peak their interest. If it’s the right house sit you can iron out the details once you get chatting.

5. Look local at first

We specifically looked for local house sits (within a few hours of our previous home in the UK) before we set off long term travelling.

Besides not being able to afford a holiday as we were madly saving every penny, the aim was to build up experience and references making it easier to find house sits when on the road. Plus it’s a really fun way to explore your homeland.

We even offered to meet up with the house owners so we’d be less of a risk than leaving their pets and home with a complete stranger.

House sit-laidback-SashaCute Sasha taking one of many naps

 

They say yes! Well done… What’s next?

 

Making sure it’s the right house sit for you.

Remember it’s a two-way thing; homeowners are getting a good deal too, so make sure you are happy and both your expectations match.

What’s important to you?

Is the house sit for 6 months on and Island with no internet and 6 other inhabitants? Do you have an online business and love meeting people? If so it’s probably not for you… on the other hand if you want to escape civilisation. GO FOR IT!

Also iron out the details, will you need your own transport?

Are there any bills to cover?

Are there other duties involved?  Cleaning, gardening etc

If so, how many hours per day? How big is the property etc

Be realistic, do you want to do these things and does it feel right to you? If not you can always say no and look for the next place…

 

You’ve said Yes -Keep in contact with the owners

Once you have said yes keep in contact. Skype, email, Facebook  etc, it’s easy to keep in touch nowadays, choose whatever way suits all of you.

You may have lined up a house sit several months in advance, so sending the homeowners a courtesy email every once in a while to let them know you still exist and are excited puts their mind at ease.

San-Miguel-De-Allende-House-SitExploring the cobbled streets of San Miguel De Allende in our latest house sit

 

A few other points to consider

For us house sitting offers the perfect balance of travel, pets and stability, but there are a few things you might want to consider:

– Many homeowners reasonably ask you not to leave overnight.

– Fixed travel plans may make it difficult. We are completely flexible, but if you have to be in a certain place at a certain time you may find it more difficult to find a house sit.

– It can be hard work –cleaning up poo, walking dogs, gardening etc. These are all things we are more than happy to do, but if your idea of a perfect holiday is sitting by the pool and not moving then maybe it’s not for you.

Don’t give up if you don’t find one straightaway. We know folks who have landed on their feet immediately, where as others have applied for many before the right one came along.

That’s it! With these simple steps you will be well on the way to finding your dream house sit.

It’s a great way to see the world, cheaply and with the added bonus of home comforts and pets. It’s definitely our favourite way to travel. If you have any other questions feel free to just give us a shout…

We use Housecarers.com and Trustedhousesitters.com to find our house sits.

Travel Expectations and Regrets

I was asked by a friend the other day if travel was all I expected it to be? Any regrets?

Leading up to this escapade there were nearly 3 years of planning and anticipation. We saved every penny we could, living so frugally we even sacrificed cake… and clothes… and almost every social occasion…in fact practically everything fun! But cake was the hardest.

We sold most of our worldly possessions over many months, which was a huge pain in the arse, but somehow therapeutic at the same time. Every waking moment seemed to be occupied by our dream to travel.

Clearly with all this in mind there was a lot riding on our great escape, at the time it seemed like a risk leaving all this ‘security’ behind.

Almost 7 months into this journey we could have been hugely disappointed, maybe even heading back to the UK with our tails between our legs and a failed dream.

Was it worth it?

me-and-rob-regrets

I’m pleased to announce the risk was 100% worth it!

In answer to my friend, it has exceeded my expectations.

More and more frequently Rob and I will turn to each other and say, “I love our life”. Sorry to sound smug, but before we started out on this adventure I cannot recall saying these words to him even once. We just seemed to exist most of the time, waiting for something to actually happen in our lives.

Finally it feels like the ‘thing’ has arrived and we must make it last…

The biggest lesson – I was miserable

I’m not ashamed to say that I spent a large proportion of my life being a miserable fucker. Like most people I’d been through some tough times, but even when things were good I could always find something to moan about. I’ve even got friends that call me moody as a nickname. And it was deserved. I was moody.

Sure there are times when that miserable fucker raises her head again. It is definitely less frequent now. I’ve very little to be miserable about. And that is not just because I’m living this life. It is because I have changed my attitude. If you want to find the negative you will, but if you look for the positive it is always there. This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned in my life so far.

No regrets

I don’t have a single regret about making this choice. I don’t regret selling my bed, my car and my TV. I don’t regret giving all the items I’d worked hard for to charity. I don’t regret leaving the security of a pension and stable income.

With the beauty of hindsight that stuff was just holding me back, offering excuses not to leave, and generally making me miserable.

This life isn’t for everyone. I get that. Not having a place to call home, not having your stuff around you and not having a vocation would make some people freak out. We’ve been called crazy, but I bloody love it.

idiot-boyfriend-regretsNo regrets-  I get to travel with this idiot

Why I love travelling

I love knowing that I am only somewhere for a finite amount of time. I don’t get bored being stuck in one place, going on the same walk or visiting the same café every week. Our lives for now involve 1-3 month cycles.

House sitting has meant we’ve been able to live in some amazing houses. Places we would never be able to afford to buy or rent ourselves. Living in towns we’d hadn’t even heard of, let alone thought about staying in for a few months. It suits us and it makes us happy.

But most of all I like the freedom. Knowing that we can go where we want when we want, despite the fact we are not rich and probably never will be. If we fancy going to Canada we can, if we want to live in France for a summer we can. I hadn’t expected for such a simple thing to make me so happy.

We set off with a leap of faith, very few plans and massive expectations. We still don’t know where we will end up, but everything seems to click into place when you just let it.

food-regrets Chilli sniffer- I also love trying new foods!

A Flying Man and a Dance Routine

Flying Man

Sorry for the sound of silence recently, my parents have been visiting and too much wine and eating seems to dull my ability to type… We are back with a bang!! This time with a flying man and a dance routine!

A flying Man and danger!

We got up way too early the other day to see Tyrhone, from tellthemisaidsomething.com fly! The man is a wee bit insane, in the nicest way possible.

Flying Man The early morning sunrise was definitely worth disturbing us from our slumber 

Basically he has a huge parachute and engine strapped to his back. It’s called paramotoring and is the latest dare devil sport.

He starts his engine, runs a bit, then takes off. It looks dangerous, in fact if he falls the wrong way on landing, he could get squished and chopped up by the motor. If he hits a tree, power line, migrating bird, gets caught by a freak gust of wind it could be curtains for him. A nice relaxing morning then…

So we went to watch him and filmed the event, keeping our fingers crossed that on his first flight without any kind of instructor he wouldn’t get chopped up. I don’t think my first aid bum bag would be able to patch him up if anything went wrong.

Flying Man Bum bags or fanny packs, whatever you call them they are cool!

Dance Routine

We also came up with a fantastic dance routine at the end of the video, which I reckon will open up a whole new world of career opportunities. All I’m saying is that I was definitely born to dance… and Sarah (Tyrhone’s partner in crime) definitely has innate talent.

Prepare to be shocked to your very core….

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Fun in a field

I don’t think I can really top that video, but Tyrhone’s insanity continued when he lent me his extremely expensive parachute (minus the engine).  It’s very sweaty work as you scamper around being pulled along by a huge kite, occasionally leaping into the air. I can only imagine what it feels like to be taken high above the clouds when you have the engine strapped to your back. I really think it’s the most fun I have ever had in a field.

Flying Man It took me many many attempts to get the huge kite up, but I got there in the end!

It was a great morning with many belly laughs to keep away the nerves of potential death or a maiming.

Latest house sit in beautiful San Miguel

4 weeks!!!

Seriously 4 weeks? No, it can’t be true!

Surely we haven’t been house sitting in pretty San Miguel De Allende for a whole month?

Our hearts have been stolen by this colourful colonial town. I’m running out of superlatives to describe cute little Mexican cities:

Pretty cobbled streets – tick.
Relaxed arty vibe – tick.
Perfectly manicured town square – tick.
500 million beautiful churches – tick.
Great food – tick.

But they all have their own unique character and there is something about this place which instantly made it feel like home.

Time is flying by, we only have two months left of our house sit. It feels like the blink of an eye. Where does life go? Please do make sure you live it and love it

disney-house-sit

The town that has been described by some as ‘a pensioners version of Disneyland’. Maybe it’s because of the gothic church in the square, which looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale…

Colourful-house-sit cobbled-house-sit

Town living is the perfect antidote to our recent off the grid experience and punctuates our escapades perfectly. We’ve had 4 weeks of exploring Mexico between house sits and experienced the usual highs, which inevitably involved food, as well as the temper tantrums brought on by a few lows.

But that is life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My usual mantra is the cliched ‘You can’t appreciate the highs, without the lows’, yep I’m that original.

Mexico is wonderful, the people are friendly, the cops only slightly corrupt, and seeing the sights, eating the food and meeting the locals only help to increase my love for this place.

BUT! There is always a but. It’s not a big but, more of a but.

A life where you are constantly moving  is a challenge, most of the time I embrace it, but not always.

Often it’s not the big things that test you. It’s the mild inconveniences which add up, like running out of clean underwear because you only own 4 pairs, due to the fact that it’s impossible to buy new ones in a country where the men seem to posses tiny tiny thighs. Seriously, the circulation to my feet is cut off by their vice like grip!

Or getting an explosive belly for the second week running, whilst en route to the next destination on a bus with no toilet, even though you wash your hands 40 times a day and are extra careful about where you eat.

Sigh… As I say not massive problems, please don’t send me your underpants in sympathy. Although you would probably resolve both problems if you did.

Just as we were beginning to crave a settled existence and the luxury of a consistent bed and big fluffy pillows, along came this house sit… aaaaand relax….

courtyard-house-sithouse-sit-kitchen-fullhouse-sit-kitchenThe Jones loving being a domestic Goddess – freshly made yoghurt.

hack-house-sitBromance! Playing hackie sack in the garden like all grown men should. We played host to the delightfully bonkers Tell Them I said Something  and Sarah Somewhere.

garden-house-sit

House-sit-flight-pathLoved waking up early one morning and discovering we were right under the flight path of hot air balloons. 

big-ears-house-sit Big Ears our new feline companion at the house sit

I don’t mind admitting I burn out when on the road for long periods, but frustratingly my brain craves change when stationary. It’s a constant battle where I want to experience everything but in a nice cosy way.

Thankfully we have found the answer to this problem…

Whoever invented house sitting is a genius and they deserve a firm handshake. We can flip between exploring the world and feeling settled whenever we like! I feel as if they developed the concept just for me.

Currently we are spending our days learning Spanish at a local school, taking in the cafe culture, walking the dogs at the SPA animals shelter where anyone with time and a love of fluffy creatures is welcome to volunteer, getting takeaway, making our own yoghurt, going to the cinema, making new friends, growing vegetables, pressing forward with business ideas and taking yoga classes.

House-sit-SPAOne of pups of the SPA animals shelter where we volunteer

It may sound far from an adventure to some, but we are getting to know San Miguel and absorbing everything it has to offer. Sometimes I have to stop to take everything in, like how lucky I am to be able to follow my dream, to chose my own path and where many of the grumbles in life are instantly forgettable. It took lots of hard work and sacrifices to get here, but it was worth it.

Next week my parents arrive and I can’t wait to discover the touristy side to this town!

In life you need balance for happiness, currently I feel like we have accidentally discovered it. Now if I can just find some underpants that fit…