Financial Travel Tip #81: Free Accommodation With House-Sitting

by Nora on May 25, 2013

So far in this latest series of Financial Travel Tips on free accommodation, we’ve discussed home exchanges, volunteering on boats, and work-trade arrangements. Today, we’re talking about one of my favourite ways to experience the world: House-Sitting.

The concept is as simple as it sounds: there are a number of websites that connect homeowners who need somebody to care for their pets/plants/etc in their absence, with travellers who are up for the task and enthusiastic about living a slice of “local life”.

Choose Wisely

Gigs can last from a few days to upwards of a year. Responsibilities – as well as amenities – can vary greatly. Thus, it’s important to apply for gigs that fit your needs and travel desires; for example don’t rope yourself into a rural position caring for many animals or requiring your presence all the time if you don’t want that responsibility.


Cast a Wide Net

There’s some fierce competition for housesitting jobs, so you have to be quick on the draw, professional, and present a good face. And you have to apply for a lot of jobs; even if you’re “god’s gift” to house-sitting, you can expect more rejections than successful applications.

Here are 10 Tips for Landing the Perfect House-Sitting Gig.


House-Sitting Resources

Trusted HouseSitters –I’ve had good luck with this site a few times; there’s a favourable ratio of homeowners to house-sitters, giving you better odds of landing gigs.

The Caretaker Gazette  -I’ve used this site since I started traveling, and have found both house-sitting and other work-trade volunteer arrangements here. I like the variety of both locations and positions listed here.

House Carers  –I landed a gig or two with them in early years, though admittedly I let this subscription slip in favour of the above two sites.


And here are a few more sites that I haven’t yet used (for no reason in particular):


Housesitting World





Managing an Online Business While House-Sitting

After spending years struggling with the work-life balance between managing my online business concurrent to either volunteering in trade for my accommodation, couch surfing, and volunteering on boats, I’ve found that house-sitting is the best match. (I can’t speak for home-exchanges in this realm, but I would assume it’s similar to house-sitting).

It allows me to enjoy the comforts (and privacy) of home (somebody else’s home, that is), and I can explore the world beyond my front door when the day’s work is done.


Oh yeah. Did I mention the accommodation is free?


Additional Resources

If you want a little more hand-holding and armchair-house-sitting experience before you jump in, check out the article below for a few tips and e-books to help you in your house-sitting adventures.

House-Sitting: Nice Work – Here’s How to Get It

Do you have any experience house-sitting? Where? Please share your tips and experiences in the comments! 



More Forms of Free Accommodation:

How to Get Free Accommodation Book CoverHouse-Sitting isn’t the only way to enjoy free digs around the world. I’ve been doing it in one form or another since 2007. Check out this jam-packed resource to help you make your next trip a lot cheaper – and probably more enriching:
How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World





{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rick & Colleen Ray May 26, 2013 at 2:32 am

We couldn’t agree more! We’ve been house sitting full time for over a year now and find that it is a wonderful way to travel. We not only save enormous amounts of money while traveling the world, but our experiences are more interesting, more immersive. We meet our neighbors, shop in local markets, use public transportation and live like a local. We’ve met and made friends with people all around the world. House sitting provides an experience of a place that just doesn’t happen when you stay in hotels.


2 theprofessionalhobo May 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Awesome! I’m glad you’ve had similar experiences. Do you have a favourite house-sitting position or location that sticks out for you?


3 Jeca May 29, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Shhhh!!!!!! Nora!! No, housesitting is terrible. Never do it.

Okay okay it’s pretty good. But I don’t want the extra competition.

I follow your 10 Tips article as religiously as possible and I truly think it’s helped me land some good gigs. Those tips + some sales experience = people seem to think I’m a good candidate. I *am* a good candidate, but there are a lot of good candidates on those sites!

One thing I’ve found is when you’re pet sitting, the pet(s) themselves make a surprising difference in your quality of life. One dog needed a lot of exercise but tried to maul any other dog that came within 50 yards – a difficult combination in a city with a lot of street dogs. Another dog hated going for walks (weird, I know), which made her super easy to take care of, but she had the personality of a cardboard box. The current dog needs a lot of exercise but there’s a woodland nearby that I can let him run around in, he loves to cuddle, and is crazy smart – so smart he borders on mischievous. He’s my favorite so far.


4 theprofessionalhobo May 30, 2013 at 7:57 am

Hi Jeca – Whoops! I take it all back. House-sitting sucks. Don’t sign up everybody – you’ll hate it. There…better? 😉

And you’re right about the pets – they can actually make or break the gig.
To that end, it’s really important to ask a lot of questions about the pet and their care and personalities (and even if possible to get a peek at them in person or over Skype)…and the more questions you ask about the pets anyway, the more likely you are to get the job because you are implying interest in all the right things as far as the homeowner is concerned.


5 Lucy Beevor June 15, 2013 at 6:18 am

We’re looking into taking our editorial business on the road next year and would love to go back to the States for 90 days (we’re UK citizens, although my boyfriend is dual nationality and holds a US passport). We would love to try house sitting but we’re unsure of the legal implications. As far as I’m aware the VWP forbids you to volunteer if you receive payment or payment in kind, such as free accommodation or food. I’m presuming house sitting falls into that category too? Do you or any of your readers have experience of house sitting in the States or any advice on the proper way to go about it? We’d also like to try Canada as well later on down the line. Thanks Nora! Your blog has inspired us to take our business on the road… now we just need to figure out all the hows! Lucy


6 theprofessionalhobo June 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Hi Lucy,
The visa regulations for volunteering and house-sitting vary from country to country (in many places it’s fine as long as no money exchanges hands), and often these in-kind arrangements fall into a grey area of sorts. It’s easy enough to position a house-sitting gig as “staying with friends”, but I tend not to say too much either way to the immigration agents – whose job it is essentially to ensure that you’re not planning to enter the country and fall off the grid to stay forever.

Here’s a bit of info about how I manage the visa situation:


7 Bob Baro November 8, 2016 at 6:53 am

Enjoyable blog
If you don’t mind my asking ….. how do you handle your sex needs on the road
Seems like a taboo question no one actually realistically deals with in an honest straigh fashion way


8 Nora November 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

Hi Bob,
Wow – that’s an interesting question! I don’t actually find it that difficult to have my “needs” met on the road! In some ways, when traveling it’s easier to meet people than when you live in one place and see the same people all the time. I’ve had a good few romances on the road in the last 10 years. 🙂


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