Yes, I know it sounds amazing and too good to be true. I know because I thought the same thing when I read about this system for the first time. Until I experienced it in the first person and confirmed that everything that seemed like a dream was reality. So, in this post, I want to tell you how to travel without paying for accommodation, taking care of houses around the world.
House-sitting and the collaborative economy
The House-sitting system is one of the many examples that exist of an increasing trend: the collaborative economy. But what is this? The collaborative economy is defined as an exchange of goods or services, based on solidarity, savings and mutual benefit. It is very important to emphasize the concept of mutual, which is clearly seen in the case of House-sitting, where one of the parties has a house, apartment, or some type of property that for some reason (vacations, trips, etc.) needs someone to take care of it, either because in the house there are pets that need attention and love, a garden that needs maintenance or simply because they do not want to leave their property empty while they are absent. And that’s where we enter, the second part of this relationship, travelers who want to travel around the world and think about how to reduce costs. And it is obvious that having free accommodation is a great option. So, both parties benefit and get what they want: the owners of the houses can go with peaceful minds knowing that their house and pets are in good hands and we can travel without paying for accommodation.
Why do we do House-sitting?
Because in addition to the enormous economic savings that this represents, especially for long trips (like the one we are doing), we like the idea of traveling very very slowly and we love this combination that we find in the House-sitting, which has (for us ) the exact proportions between the feeling of being traveling and, at the same time, having a “home”. So we can enjoy shopping and cooking at home but keep changing the supermarket; or the pleasant sensation of arriving home after a day of walking but that the house is changing; to have neighbors and acquaintances around, but to be renewed every so often.
And of course, if the House-sitting also involves the care of pets, what is more beautiful than the fact that each stay and each place are marked by the unconditional love of animals?
For all this, we love traveling by doing House-sitting!
What House-sitting is and is not?
To be good house-sitters, it is very important to have it clear that doing house-sitting is not synonymous with being on vacation with everything paid. Although, as I explained above, doing House-sitting means having free accommodation, in exchange for that we are expected to honor our commitment and responsibility to fulfill certain tasks that can vary in each particular House-sitting. For example: if there are pets, our task may be to take them for a walk a certain number of times a day and do all kinds of chores that the owner will explicitly clarify. Then, first of all, doing House-sitting implies a great responsibility and commitment. It is important to remember this so that our path along this way is successful.
How to get a House-sitting?
We live in a digital age, which may have pros and cons, but there is no doubt that this is an ally of the House-sitting movement.
Today there are several online platforms, through which we can apply to take care of homes around the world. Here I leave briefly the characteristics of each one, the ones that I used or not and why.
Platforms to get a House-sitting
It has House-sitting offers all over the world. It is one of our preferred platforms, through which we got our first three House-sittings: the first one of five weeks in Spain (you can read about our first experience doing House-sitting here) and the second and the third ones, which have not yet happened, so, for now they are a surprise! When they happen, we will share more information and our experiences on them.
Besides that we are “fans” of Nomador for it being our début platform in this field, we like it a lot also for several other reasons:
- It is the only one that has a free subscription option, through which you can apply to up to three listings (as long as they are not reserved only for subscribed members).
- It is also the only one that within the subscription fee options offers two alternatives: subscription for three months, which costs 25 euros or subscription for twelve months that costs 65 euros.
- It has very good filters in its search engine: you can filter the listings by country, city, region. Or by dates, period, season, minimum duration, etc.
Personally I recommend that if you are just starting on this field and do not want to pay for the subscription of twelve months, that you get the subscription for three months. This is better than the free option for several reasons: with any of the two paid options you will be able to apply unlimitedly to all the listings you want, the fact of being a subscribed member will generate more confidence in the house owners who receive your applications. Also keep in mind that although the three months subscription sounds a bit short, the important thing is that during those three months that the subscription is active, you can apply to all the listings you want, even if they are outside that period of time. In our case, we decided to start with the subscription of three months and in that time we got our first three House-sittings, which makes a total of six months of free accommodation… for 25 euros it’s worth it, right?
Something very interesting that Nomador also offers is another option called “Stopover”. This option is designed for stays of one or two days in Nomador houses while the owners are also there. In this case we would be like “guests”. We still did not have the opportunity to try this option but we will definitely do it soon, since it is an excellent way to meet people and share a few days with locals.
It has House-sitting offers all over the world. The subscription costs 89 Euros for twelve months with unlimited applications (but if you subscribe through this link you have a 25% discount!). We are also subscribed here and seems to very very promising!
It has House-sitting offers all over the world. We are also subscribed here and we think it’s an excellent option. It has less listings than Nomador, but, on the other hand, the subscription is much cheaper, only 20 dollars for twelve months, also with unlimited applications. In this platform there is no free subscription option.
It has House-sitting offers all over the world. The subscription costs $ 25 for twelve months. We have not tested it yet.
It has House-sitting offers only for the United States. The subscription costs $ 30 for twelve months. We have not tested it yet.
It has House-sitting offers only for Australia. The subscription costs $ 84 for twelve months. We have not tested it yet.
If you want to subscribe you can do it by clicking here.
It has House-sitting offers only for Australia. There are three subscription options: for four months it costs 60 dollars, for twelve months it costs 65 dollars and for eighteen months it costs 85 dollars. We have not tested it yet.
It has House-sitting offers only for the United Kingdom. The subscription costs 29 Pounds for twelve months. We have not tested it yet.
If you want to subscribe, you can do it by clicking here.
It has House-sitting offers only for New Zealand. The subscription costs $84 for twelve months. We have not tested it yet.
The first House-sitting, the hardest to get?
These systems are based on trust and mutual collaboration, so it is likely that the first House-sitting will be the hardest one to get. It’s mainly because you don’t yet have any recommendations, which are very important for this to work. For this stage, an alternative strategy may be to apply to listings in places that are perhaps not the most attractive or the most touristic, so you will have less competition and more possibilities to get it.
House-sitting gigs can be very varied in duration, we have seen from two or three days, up to one year… yes, one year! Another option, if you don’t have any recommendations yet, may be to apply to listings for short periods, which might not be ideal for travel but would help from the point of view of the reviews. Think that when someone reads our recommendations, whenever it is positive, it does not matter if the House-sitting has lasted two days, two weeks or two months. The important thing is that the owner has been happy and that will help us get the following gig. If we expect our first House-sitting to have the ideal length and location, just what we want, we may be very lucky or it may never arrive… like everything in life, it is normal to start small and keep growing from that point.
And finally, apply apply apply. This is pure mathematics. The more times you apply the more chance there is for you to be chosen.
Some other general recommendations
In all the platforms I mentioned, the listings can be seen without subscribing, so I suggest that before choosing which platform to subscribe to, look at all of them and choose the one that has more to offer in the area that you are looking for or which one best suits your needs and preferences. Or also, if you want to subscribe to several or even all of them, of course you will have more options to choose from.
In all cases you can create alerts with the search criteria that you choose, so that immediately a listing is published with this criteria, you receive an email notification. I recommend creating these alerts and, if possible, check these emails daily. Timing is important and if we are late, we may lose our chances.
When creating the profile, take time to put it together with great dedication, remember that this will be your letter of introduction, your curriculum of House-sitting. The owners of the houses do not know you and that will be the first thing they see about you. It is important to complete it in detail, with all the information requested. Build trust, tell why you want to do House-sitting, how it complements with the rest of your life, etc. Always put photos of you in your profile and do it with a lot of criteria, think that this will be the first impression you give.
When sending messages to owners, it is important to greet them using their name, so it does not look like a “copy + paste”. It is very important to read the listings in detail before applying and, when doing so, mention something that is said in the advertisement, for example, if the owner mentions the names of their pets, we can say “it would be a pleasure for us to take care of such and such”, with that small detail we show that we pay attention to what he took the time to write and that we are really interested. We can also mention the location, for example “I would love to do house-sitting for you and take care of your house / apartment / property in Berlin, Germany” . Convince the owner why choosing you would be a good decision, highlight your positive qualities, show good predisposition and a lot of interest.
When you receive a response to an application you made, even if it is negative, always thank the owner for taking the time to answer you. This is also a good moment to mention that although it did not happen this time, you can be in contact for another opportunity. In addition, answering a message is almost a matter of education and it is always good to leave the doors open for another time, the next House-sitting could be around the corner…
Our experience doing House-sitting
So this was the guide with tips and practical information so that you can also do House-sitting and travel the world taking care of houses. If you want to read the story of our first experience doing House-sitting, you can read it in this post:
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