Home Travel Top 10 Must-Have Skills For Being a Successful House Sitter

Top 10 Must-Have Skills For Being a Successful House Sitter


This article will give you all the information you need to become a successful house sitter. I’ve been using house sitting websites for years as a means of extending my travel experiences. It’s a fantastic way to save money on accommodation and a great doorway to new opportunities and possibilities.

I’ve worked remotely as a global digital nomad for the last two years, house sitting in 9 different countries along the way. I’ve learned a lot of tips and techniques to make myself stand out to potential hosts during that time. So, if you’re wondering how to get into house sitting, you’ll find everything you need to know here.

What is a House Sitter?

house sitter

A house sitter is someone who accepts an opportunity to spend time in someone’s home and look after it whilst they’re away. This can vary from a 1-night stay, to sits that last months. Throughout this period, you must vigilantly oversee and maintain the overall upkeep of the property; collecting the mail, putting out the trash, and watering plants are typically always part of the deal.

Anyone can become a house sitter, even without any experience, and many websites facilitate communication between hosts and house sitters. These platforms allow users to create in-depth verified profiles and receive reviews for completed sits.

Requirements to Become a Successful House Sitter

sign up house sitting

To become a certified house sitter you don’t need any qualifications or experience. But there are a few requirements that potential house sitters should consider before taking the plunge. It’s important to be certain that you’ll be comfortable in someone else’s home, and confident that you’ll be able to handle the day-to-day household responsibilities.

To kickstart your journey as a house sitter, consider these key requirements:

Sign up: I’ll delve further into this later, but initially, prioritize registering on a house-sitting platform. There are numerous, excellent websites with varying costs and associated perks out there waiting to be explored. Trusted Housesitters is my preferred choice for house sitting and I’ll elaborate more on this shortly.

Craft an outstanding profile: Regardless of the platform you choose to join, take advantage of the feature to create a personalized profile. Showcase your strengths, experience, and motivations for engaging in house sitting. Proactively seek character references to present potential hosts with compelling reasons to choose you over other candidates.

Know your comfort zones: Before you consider signing up for a 3-month stay in a cabin in the woods, be sure it’s something you want and are capable of doing well. Perhaps consider starting small and testing your boundaries to find where you’re comfortable. This will also allow you to learn what house sitting fully entails, and where your comfort zones lie.

Must-Have Skills to Become a Successful House Sitter

watering plants house sitting responsibilities

Some key skills often come in handy if you’re interested in becoming a house sitter. From my own experiences, here’s a list of 10 must-haves you need if you’re interested in entering the house sitting world!

1. Responsibility

When you accept a role as a house sitter, wherever it may be, it comes with great responsibility. You’ll be tasked with taking care of one of the most important things in the host’s life – their home. Approach this with the level of responsibility you’d expect for your own home.

There may be regular tasks such as watering plants, collecting mail, or remembering trash days. If pets are involved, the need for responsibility is heightened even further with walks, feedings, and routines to be adhered to.

House sitters must prioritize safety, security, and cleanliness, maintaining a responsible and tidy environment in the absence of homeowners.

2. Professionalism

To become a successful house sitter you must maintain a strong element of professionalism. This doesn’t mean you can’t kick back and enjoy your stay because, after all, that’s what traveling is all about. But, remember, that you’re entrusted with someone’s home; your role is to ensure everything runs smoothly and with care.

Many of the properties that I’ve cared for have felt like home and this is one of the many great advantages of house sitting. Adopting a professional mindset toward a posting is a great skill to possess as a house sitter.

I’ve experienced everything from sick pets to burst pipes and smelly drains that made the place almost unlivable. These are things that can happen in any home and being professional and proactive in dealing with them is an important part of being a successful house sitter.

SEE ALSO: 6 House Sitting Disasters and How to Avoid Them

3. Respectfulness

trust house sitting skills

The feeling of being in a home rather than a hotel or rented apartment is one of the best things about house sitting. Most of the hosts that I’ve sat for have encouraged me to make the place my own. While this makes for a much greater traveling experience, it doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to explore the house!

Always keep in mind the boundaries you would like if the shoe were on the other foot. Some hosts may have rooms they designate as off limits, perhaps due to private documents or simply because it’s their private space. Always be respectful of their wishes in this sense.

I’ve occasionally been entrusted with locating essential documents or information inadvertently left behind by the host family. At a house sit in Nashville, I got a message saying ‘So that room I said you didn’t need to go in, yeah I’m gonna need you to have a good root through everything for me’.

4. Adaptability

Although you’ll have a good amount of information about a house sit before you even apply, things can look different in the cold light of day. Not to turn anybody off here, but a few of my postings haven’t lived up to what I was expecting. Being able to adapt to these potential situations is an important skill to have.

The majority of my previous house sits have surpassed my expectations and I often didn’t want to leave. But, there have been a couple of sits I’ve accepted where the house was pretty filthy, the pets were a little crazier than advertised, and the ‘easy’ walk to the supermarket was a full-on hike.

This is all part of being a professional house sitter and I look back on these situations as learning and growing moments; I’ve learned to be more thorough with my searches and questions with the host, and have grown through pushing my boundaries to explore what I can adapt to and what does and doesn’t work for me.

5. Sociability

I’ve only taken one house sit where I didn’t meet the hosts in person beforehand. Typically, homeowners invite a house sitter for a night or two earlier to facilitate a smooth handover and to fully explain and demonstrate any instructions. It’s a great way to get to know the area and the people you’re sitting for.

Being open to meeting new people and getting involved in social situations such as going out for meals with the hosts, cooking and eating meals together, and communicating regularly during the house sit is an important part of being a successful house sitter.

I’ve met so many great people house sitting – I’ve even been invited back as a guest to most places I’ve taken a post! Having good social skills can not only increase the length of your stay but also enhance the experiences you will have.

6. Flexibility

calendar dates

When I first set up a house sitting profile, I only applied for beach sits in San Diego, CA. Guess where I’m yet to house sit? Not only is that area a super popular place that everyone would love to sit, but it really restricted the options I could apply for. I had to reassess what I was looking for from house sitting.

Ultimately, I wanted it to enhance my travel capabilities and experiences so I began to broaden my geographical horizons and wherever I could, expand my date ranges. This opened up a world of fantastic opportunities.

Being flexible with your dates and location will be a big help in landing some truly great house sits. The ability to tell a host that your dates are currently wide open can also provide a real advantage over someone who is being picky or flakey about arrival times.

7. Organization

Successful house sitting requires active organization skills. Keep in mind that it’s two sets of plans that are combined for a house sit, the sitter’s and the host’s. If through a lack of organization, a sitter has planned to arrive on the wrong date this can throw all the plans up in the air and has a terrible domino effect on the entire experience.

I’ve known hosts to relist their property at very short notice when a disorganized sitter has made a mix-up. Much like responsibility and professionalism, being organized is another skill that will benefit both you and the house sitters.

Consider factors like jet lag, time differences, and onward transportation when applying for international house sits to ensure a smooth stay. If I’m heading to another country, I always leave a healthy buffer of at least a few days before the sit starts – just in case there are any travel delays my side.

8. Awareness

On the subject of international house sits, being aware of how many days each country allows for a tourist visa is pivotal. Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that you’re fine to travel anywhere for any length of time when applying for lengthy house sits abroad. I’ll admit to applying quickly for a few then retracting when I realized I wouldn’t have enough days on my visa in my early days of applying.

Your government’s website is a good resource for information on foreign visa requirements. I also use ivisa.com as a tool for finding the information I need. Be aware that often applying for visas directly is cheaper or even free, ivisa.com may charge you a fee for doing it on your behalf. I always get the information I need and then apply directly.

International driving permits are also a recent requirement in hundreds of countries. If you’re planning to drive, or as in some situations, need a car during your house sit, be sure you can legally drive before you arrive.

9. Proactive

problem solving

Being able to take proactive steps in everyday situations is a great skill for a house sitter to have. Remember, the host will more than likely be on vacation, so bothering them with every little thing that concerns you is going to get annoying.

You need to have the common sense to make the call to the host if there are legitimate concerns. However, being able to proactively solve basic household problems is a key feature of a successful house sitter. I had a sit last year with a drain that kept backing up, I went to the store and bought some de-clogger for $5, problem solved!

A previous host of mine told me of a house sitter who insisted on messaging them every time she ate an item of food from their panty. They had told her she could eat it all but she kept messaging… Things like this are unnecessary and annoying for many hosts.

10. Follow Through

Prepare to accept a sit once you apply, committing to the responsibility that comes with it. I’ve heard from many hosts that generic applications from people who throw out dozens of emails to see what sticks are an instant cause for rejection. Write personalized and individual applications that show you’re keen and ready to be the one.

Sitters canceling is another major problem for hosts, it can throw their plans into disarray. Being non-committal or showing a lack of enthusiasm will often lead to hosts looking elsewhere.

Having firm plans, even if they’re not fully booked, is a great way to show commitment toward a sit. For example, don’t say ‘I guess I can be there the day before’, instead say ‘I’ve checked the flights and I can be there on the 1st, ready to start on the 3rd’. Behavior like this can set you apart from other applicants.

How To Find Work as a House Sitter

pet sitting

There are thousands of house sitting opportunities out there just waiting for the right application to come along. Listings are available in countries around the world, it’s not just isolated to a few places.

Knowing the best places to find and secure house sits is an important skill in itself. I’ve outlined a couple of my favorite websites for finding great house sits below, along with the best ways to go about securing them.

1. Trusted Housesitters

My go-to website for house sitting opportunities is Trusted Housesitters. Their fantastic platform has everything you need to become a successful house sitter online. They also have an app with great features that allows users to save their favorite house sits for future notifications. Refined searches and app alerts when your criteria are met are another huge plus.

Trusted Housitter’s all-encompassing premium membership is only $259/year and includes unlimited house sits, cancelation insurance, and a whole host of other benefits – that’s cheaper than a modest weekend break. More basic membership options to get you started are also available for just $129/year. Use the discount code GOATS20 for 20% off!

2. Mind My House

It’s a great idea to have more than one membership active at any one time. But of course, this could mean paying out hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year for house sitting sites. I use Trusted Housesitters, but I also like Mind My House, and at $29/year it’s a very affordable alternative membership to have in your back pocket.

The majority of house sitting opportunities will only be posted on one website so having a second source just makes sense and increases your chances. Mind My House is a great website forged from almost two decades of experience. Hosts join for free so there are always an ample number of listings looking for sitters.

3. Build Your Profile

about me profile building house sitting

Your introduction to any potential host will be your profile. Whichever house sitting site you join will have the facility to create a verified and personal profile. Be sure to utilize every option available to you and provide as much detail and insight into yourself as you can. Things like photos, videos, social media links, websites, and references are all great things to include.

Reviews play a big part in securing house sits. When I first started, I knew I wouldn’t secure any far-off exotic postings without some solid reviews under my belt. To resolve this, I looked close to home and took on 4 short and fairly straightforward local house sits. The reviews all count the same and it showed my future hosts that I was a reliable and capable sitter.

4. Send a Personalized Application

When it comes to applying for a sit, take the time to write a personalized message to the hosts. I’ve been told by many of my previous hosts that they can spot generic, spam-like applications a mile away, and it’s a huge no-no. I’ve heard of applicants referring to the wrong pet names, the wrong city, and even the wrong country! Don’t be that person.

This doesn’t mean you can’t develop a template formula that works, but it’s definitely worth taking an extra few minutes to personalize your application. Comment on something that may have been mentioned in the listing. For example – ‘I see the grass will need cutting, that’s great for me because I’m a keen gardener’. Things like this will set you apart from other applicants.

5. Be Committed

I see a lot of house sits being relisted close to the date and hosts scrambling for new sitters after having someone bail at short notice. You can imagine how much of a stress and upheaval this must be. I know that hosts are very switched on to this when looking at applicants; by showing a level of commitment you can put yourself in pole position.

In your application, express a level of certainty about the sit you’re applying for. Rather than saying ‘I need to look at flights’, make sure you’re able to instead say, ‘I’ve researched my flights and I can be there on the morning of the 1st, ready to start on the 2nd’. The impact of this kind of commitment and planning could be a huge factor in securing a house sit.

How Much Do Successful House Sitters Make?

luxury home house sitting

There’s rarely a financial exchange when taking on a house sit. The true value comes from the huge savings on accommodation that can be made, the opportunities to stay in some truly breathtaking homes, and the enhanced experiences to be had. I shudder to think what my expenses would have been in the last two years without house sitting. My nomadic lifestyle simply wouldn’t have been possible.

Housesitters America is one of the only websites I know of that has an option for a per diem payment for sitters. Non-US citizens should be wary though as earning money this way is more than likely a breach of tourist visa regulations. So, tread very carefully here.

Pros and Cons of Being a House Sitter

travel house sitting pro

Numerous advantages accompany being a successful house sitter, but like any pursuit, there are also drawbacks to consider. Drawing from personal experiences, I’ve detailed both the positive and negative aspects below.

SEE ALSO: 15 Pros and Cons of House Sitting and Pet Sitting

Pros of becoming a house sitter

  • Free Accommodation: Perhaps the main benefit is the huge sum of money that can be saved by not paying for hotels or apartments whilst traveling.
  • Travel Opportunities: House sitting opens doors to explore new cities, regions, and countries.
  • Enhanced Experiences: Immerse yourself in the local culture and community, and experience a destination more authentically than traditional tourism allows. I’ve volunteered for community projects whilst house sitting and have met so many friendly neighbors.
  • Free Transport: A lot of listings include the use of a car which is a bonus and again saves a fortune. Often hosts will pick you up from the airport, train/bus station too.
  • Home Amenities: Access to amenities such as fully-equipped kitchens, home entertainment systems, and outdoor spaces enhances the experience of any trip.
  • Extended Trips: With no accommodation to pay for, house sitting allows for lengthier stays. I’ve enjoyed several fantastic 3-month stays at numerous locations.
  • Experience Varied Housing: House sitting introduces you to an array of residences, from forest retreats and high-rise city apartments to expansive desert ranches.
  • Pet Companionship: Many house sits include animals. Building bonds with various pets provides companionship and the joy of caring for animals without any long-term commitment.

Cons of becoming a house sitter

  • Unpredictable Schedules: House sitting may come with uncertainties, as schedules often depend on the needs and routines of the homeowners and their pets.
  • Visa Limitations: If you’re house sitting internationally, you must be mindful of the stay duration permitted by your visa in any given country. This constraint could limit opportunities for listings requiring a longer commitment.
  • Adjusting to Unfamiliar Surroundings: While hotels offer a predictable experience, house sitting can present unfamiliar situations that require adaptation, potentially taking you out of your comfort zone.
  • Competition Challenges: Gorgeous residences in coveted global locations attract swift applications and intense competition. To stay competitive, responsiveness, a standout application, and a compelling profile are essential.
  • Physical Demands: Some house sits may include gardening requirements that aren’t within everyone’s capabilities. I’ve had to mow a couple of incredibly large lawns!
  • Reviews: Success as a house sitter often relies on positive reviews from homeowners, adding pressure to consistently meet or exceed expectations.
  • Responsibility and Commitment: The responsibility of caring for someone else’s home and pets is a significant commitment that may not appeal to those seeking a more carefree lifestyle.

How to Become a Successful House Sitter: FAQ’s

Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions on how to become a successful house sitter:

What qualifications do I need to be a successful house sitter?

It’s fairly straightforward to become a successful house sitter without a degree or any qualifications. Simply get signed up to a great house sitting website like Trusted Housesitters, build a thorough profile, and start applying. Success will come by being outstanding at any posting you take and receiving 5-star reviews for every sit.

How do I become a successful house sitter with no experience?

To become a successful house sitter without any experience requires a gradual approach. Begin with smaller, uncomplicated sits to assess your capabilities and gauge your enjoyment of the task. Opt for opportunities closer to home initially, ensuring you remain within your comfort zone.

This strategy will not only allow you to accumulate a few positive reviews to bolster your profile, but also help establish a solid foundation for your house sitting endeavors.

Are house sitters in demand?

Yes, there is a huge demand globally for house sitters. Thousands of hosts are constantly looking for long and short-term sitters. Check out Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House to get an idea of just how many listings are currently available.

Is house sitting a hard skill?

House sitting is a versatile skill that’s accessible to almost everyone. Valuable skills for house sitting include openness to new challenges, adaptability to diverse environments, and the ability to handle situations outside your comfort zone. Being a responsible and sociable person will give sitters an advantage when applying for house sits.

How much do beginner house sitters make?

House sitting typically doesn’t entail monetary transactions. The financial advantage lies in the opportunity to travel with free accommodation. Successful house sitters also gain an enriched living experience in homes and neighborhoods surpassing standard hotels or rentals.

Is house sitting a stable career?

Pet sitting lacks financial stability, making it challenging as a career option. However, it offers abundant opportunities for enhanced travel experiences, with thousands of listings globally seeking house sitters.

Building a robust profile on house sitting websites is the first step toward being a professional. Eventually, you may consider expanding to a personal website and setting fees as an experienced and highly sought-after house sitter.

What are the characteristics of a successful house sitter?

Successful house sitters exhibit adaptability, openness to challenges, and the capacity to handle varied environments. They’re reliable and have good communication skills. Navigating the diverse nature of house sitting with a proactive approach and attention to detail will help you gain 5-star reviews and ongoing success as a house sitter.

What should a house sitter put on their resume?

A house sitter’s resume should highlight key skills such as adaptability, reliability, and effective communication. It should include details about their experience in house sitting, showcasing specific responsibilities and achievements. A strong emphasis on their ability to handle diverse environments and challenges is crucial.

Additionally, including positive reviews and any relevant certifications will enhance the credibility of a resume. Building a comprehensive profile on house sitting platforms is key and will further increase the likelihood of an application being accepted.

In Conclusion

House sitting is a great way to expand and enhance your travel experiences. It’s certainly been a huge part of my life since leaving the UK two years ago. I’ve met so many wonderful people, taken care of some beautiful homes, and been to places I never thought I’d visit, all through house sitting.

The financial benefits are obvious but house sitting is so much more than just a means to save money. The possibilities that have opened up as a result of the freedom that house sitting brings have had a huge impact on my life.

I encourage everyone – my own mum, as well as strangers I get chatting to along the way – to get signed up! It’s a terrific way to travel and there are so many opportunities waiting for applications.

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