How to Get Your First Housesit

How to get your first housesitting assignment

Our Current Housesit: Stay in Luxury Homes for Free with Trustedhousesitters.

If you’ve been considering House Sitting as a way to cut your accommodation costs whilst travelling, or to save on rent and bills when returning to your home country after a long trip, you’ve definitely hit on a great idea! House Sitting is a brilliant way to travel, whether it’s in your own back garden or further afield.

For just £4.99 a month, you can set up a profile with Trustedhousesitters, the biggest House Sitting website, and start applying for sits. Home and pet owners will offer you free accommodation in their home, in exchange for your services as a sitter. Housesitting in Europe and beyond is a a fantastic way to cut travel costs and stay in luxury accommodation for a while. Sits can be found all over the world, and vary in length from a couple of days to a full year. So, what are you waiting for?

A few people have gotten in touch with me recently asking how I got started, and how they can secure their first House Sit. In this post, I’m going to share with you exactly how I got my first House Sit, as well as some of the top tips from Trustedhousesitters and their members, to help you get started as a house sitter. For more information, you can also check out my review of Trustedhousesitters.

How to get your first housesitting assignment

Step One: Set up a good profile

Your profile is your shop-window as a sitter, so you have to make it really good in order to stand out as the perfect sitter for the owner of your dream home!

Be Thorough. Fill out all the fields with as much information as possible. Include all relevant experience that you might have. For example, even if you’ve never owned a dog, if you’ve helped out or played with a friend’s dog that counts as dog experience. Never housesat before? guess what – owning your own home, or renting one, still counts as house-care experience! I’ve even mentioned silly things, like the fact that I used to help look after my sister’s chickens from time to time, as this all counts as relevant experience.

“The more you put into your profile the higher up the search results you will appear and a homeowner is more likely to choose a sitter when they can get a ‘feel’ for who you are via your profile.” Trustedhousesitters.

How to get your first housesitting assignment

 

Include Photos. The Trustedhousesitters profile allows you to upload up to four photos, and I recommend including at least two. An obvious tip: don’t use a shot of yourself on a night out! Choose images which show you at your best and make you look friendly and approachable. Make sure you’re smiling! If you have any photos of you with a pet, use those – show what an animal lover you are!

How to get your first housesitting assignment

Include Some References. As well as Trustedhousesitter references, you also have the option to add external references, which can really help boost a new profile. We were lucky enough to have previously pet-sat for two of our friends, so we asked both of them to add references for us, which really helped – so if you’ve ever fed a neighbour’s cat while they were on holiday, or stayed in your parents’ home while they were away, ask them for a reference. But, even if you’ve never house or pet-sat before, you can still request character references from employers, colleagues or even friends. I asked a friend I lived with for four years to write a reference for me, as she can vouch for how I treat my property, and how responsible I am!

Apply for a police check. This is another thing that can really set you apart from other sitters. In some countries this can take several weeks so it’s a good idea to start this process as soon as possible. See how to get a police check on the Trustedhousesitters site. Sam got one after we’d been sitting for a while, and after I updated our profile to say that we had one, the amount of sits we got accepted for – and invited to without even applying – skyrocketed.

Need more inspiration? Feel free to take a look at my profile for some ideas.

Step Two: Include a Video

Let me be honest here – I never bothered adding a video to my profile, and it didn’t seem to affect my chances too much. However, both Trustedhousesitters and many of their top members recommend it – especially for brand new users. Housesitters with videos, on average, get accepted more frequently than those without – and as Trustedhousesitters point out, most users skip the video secti0n, so it could really help you stand out from the crowd.

How to get your first housesitting assignment

Housesitting lets you meet gorgeous pets, like Digby the Dog!

It doesn’t have to be fancy or long, just use your smartphone or webcam, and keep your video around 60 seconds. If you fancy yourself the next Spielberg, though, there are lots of free web or phone apps which you can use to edit the finished video to make it look professional!

The advice from Trustedhousesitters is to keep your video simple, short and to the point, but also lighthearted and fun; letting your personality shine through!

“I found that adding a video to my profile increased the amount of homeowners who got in touch. I concentrated on getting my personality across in a fun and informative way. As I used to be a political candidate I created a “campaign video” from the perspective of one of the dogs I house sit for. But you can do whatever you feel works best for you. It doesn’t have to be long – my video is 71 seconds!” Kelly, USA

Step Three: Get in there Quick

Many assignments are filled within the first 24 hours, and even when they aren’t a homeowner is unlikely to keep looking through fifty more applications when they’ve found the perfect sitter in the first ten. So, to be in with a real shot – make sure you’re that perfect sitter in the first few emails!

How to get your first housesitting assignment

Trustedhousesitters Daily Email

Only members of Trustedhousesitters can see listings for the first 24 hours, so once you’ve signed up you’re already in the lead.  Better still, Trustedhousesitters send out a daily email of all the new listings, so you don’t even need to search everyday. The email comes out around 7pm, so I just check it everyday as soon as I receive it, and apply for anything I fancy immediately.

To get in there even quicker, though, you should set up real time alerts for the countries you especially want to sit in – tHow to get your first housesitting assignmenthat way you can apply for them as soon as they’re listed, beating the crowds! This is especially important if you’re hoping to sit in one of the more popular destinations, like London, where homeowners receive hundreds of responses.

Apply for as many assignments as you think are a good fit for you – there’s no need to wait for a response from each homeower.

Step Four: Apply for Your First Housesit

Once you’ve found your dream housesit, the next logical step is to send that all important application – as quickly as possible. Applying for sits on Trustedhousesitters couldn’t be easier: just click “Contact this homeowner now” on the profile you’re interested in. Quick tip: right-click the button to open it in a new tab, that way you can keep the homeowner’s profile open too, to reference while you write your applicaiton.

How to get your first housesitting assignment

All you need to do is write a message just as you would an email and click send. This message will be sent to the homeowner along with your profile, so a short, friendly introduction is all you need. But…

Step Five: Make a Good Impression

As your message is the first thing a homeowner will see, you need to write something that will make a great first impression. You need to be stand out from the dozens of other messages they’ve received, sound professional, and basically show that you’re that homeowner’s dream sitter.

When we spoke to Toni and Drew, the owners of our first housesit, about what made them choose us over people with more experience on the site, they said that our personalised and friendly email really stood out above all the others. They were a little dubious about choosing a couple without any previous references on Trustedhousesitters at first, but our external references helped, as did our honest and detailed profile. But what really swung it was our email conversation – I was polite and professional, but also very friendly and (I hope) a little funny, which Toni and Drew said made them feel comfortable about choosing us.

How to get your first housesitting assignment

The conservatory in our first housesit

Don’t send blanket emails. These are really obvious to homeowners, plus they’re boring and easily forgotten. Reference the homeowner’s profile or photos, mention their pets by name, and make it clear that you’ve really read their whole profile. This is what I do every time, and we were able to line up two sits before we had any Trustedhousesitters experience.

Don’t Be Too FormalShow Your Personality, crack a joke (if you’re funny), and be as friendly as you really are – it will really help a homeowner warm to you. However, DO be courteous and professional at all times, too.

Ask QuestionsDoing so will encourage a homeowner to reply to you, and once you’ve opened up a conversation you’re in with a much better chance of securing the assignment.

“To maximize your opportunities, communication is the key. Be professional, create an appealing, honest and open profile, be that sitter the home owner can relate to. Put yourself in the home owners place, would I want ME looking after precious pets and home? If you’re passionate about what you do it will come through the written word. Obviously good references are vital! You need to make the home owner feel safe and confident, it’s ALL about trust.” Angela, Canada

Step Six: Be Responsive

Try to reply to any emails from a potential homeowner as quickly as you can – it could be the difference between getting a sit and missing out to another sitter. Many homeowners will send out a blanket email once they’ve closed the applications, saying that they’re going to review the applications and will be in touch shortly. I always make sure to reply to this with a short email: “thank you for letting me know, and if you have any questions for me please get in touch – my email is on all day”. This can set you apart from the other applicants as it shows you’re serious about the sit, and available.

How to get your first housesitting assignment

George the Cat, one of the three pets at our first housesit

Step Seven: Be Flexible

“If you want to get that dream housesitting job, you may need to plan to adjust to the needs of the owner. Are you looking for a 2 week stay between October 7th and October 21st? Is there a great job posted but the owner needs 10 days from October 17th to October 26th? Make it work! Adjust your plans so that you can be a perfect fit for the owner. The more flexible you are the more appealing you will be.” Tony and Meg, USA

How to get your first housesitting assignment
Be as flexible as possible with dates, so that you can easily meet a homeowner’s needs, but also try to be flexible with location. For example, London is a very popular area so homeowners receive hundreds of applications and can be as fussy as they like, which can make it really tough for first timers. So, look at areas outside of London like Essex, Kent or Surrey which are all really lovely parts of England, but are only about 30 minutes from the capital by train. If you’re willing to compromise on location, you’ll find you’ll be up against much less competition!

By the time we had four sits under our belt in various parts of England, Sam and I were not only accepted for every London sit we applied for, but we’ve also started receiving invites on a regular basis – and even have to turn people down frequently. Being flexible at first and getting that all-important housesitting experience will make it much easier to find sits in your dream locations later on down the line!

How to get your first housesitting assignment

Winchester is a gorgeous location, and only one hour from London!

If you’re not travelling at the moment, you could even consider starting with a sit local to you, to make life easier for both you and the homeowner:

“To get our first Trustedhousesitters reference and add to our experience we decided to look out for assignments in Edinburgh (where we currently live). One of these opportunities popped up and after a few emails, a phone call and a face-to-face meeting (one of the benefits of us being local) we agreed to take it on. What started out as us trying to improve our future house sitting opportunities turned into an amazing mini-holiday. After getting that Trustedhousesitters homeowner reference on our profile we were then offered a 5 month house sit in France and haven’t looked back since.” Jemma and James, Scotland

Once You’ve Finished Your First Housesit…

Leave the property in perfect condition, replace any food you ate (unless it was offered by the homeowner), and make sure everything is clean and tidy. This will impress the homeowners, and they’ll be inclined to write you a glowing reference which will really improve your chances of getting your next sit. Another nice gesture is to stock up the toilet paper and milk before you leave, to make coming home a little bit easier for the homeowners! When you’ve finished the sit, don’t forget to update your profile to reflect the new experience, and maybe add a photo of yourself with the pets from that sit. Finally, request that all important first reference from the homeowners – hopefully it will be five stars and full of praise. Then, you’re ready to start applying for more assignments.

How to get your first housesitting assignment

Fancy housesitting in a place like this?

Trustedhousesitters are one of my chosen affiliate partners, so I make a small commission on any sales generated from my site. But that doesn’t mean I don’t genuinely recommend the brand; in fact I joined the affiliate scheme because I use and love Trustedhousesitters myself and am happy to recommend it. If you decide to sign up, please support my site by using one of the links above to do so.

I hope this advice has helped! If you’re a housesitter and have any tips of your own, please add them in the comments – you could really help out a new sitter. And, if you’re new to sitting and have any questions, please feel free to get in touch!

About Emily Luxton

An award-winning writer and travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper, more intelligent travel. Seeking out adventure, cultural exchanges, food experiences and more as she attempts to get to know the world. Lover of the great outdoors, sunsets, good food, and the odd bit of luxury!

15 Comments

  1. Pingback: Review – Trustedhousesitters | emilyluxton

  2. Hello Emily,
    I have been loving your blog and it has been helping me with making a decision weather or not i would like to be a house sitter. I know you mentioned that you get to live in these houses rent free but do you also get paid? or the exchange is just free accommodation for taking care of their house and pets?

    • Hi Esther. Many housesitters charge but you’d normally need to join an agency for that and I think it can be hard to get into. Through Trusted Housesitters the arrangement is usually that sitters stay for free and the homeowners get free pet or house care. There is an option on the trusted housesitters profile to specify if you charge, but I think someone with no experience would struggle to get placements if they charged straight away. Although you can make money as a professional sitter, the average rate seems to be about £15 a day so I’d expect you’d need a second income as well as sitting. Hope that helps 🙂

  3. Emily– this post was so informative! Thank you! I have been considering housesitting around the world to save costs on my RTW trip that I am planning and this post sealed the deal!
    One question, in general, how much time do you have between getting a housesitting position and having to be at the house to sit? Is it a few months or a few weeks? Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Lexie
    http://stepstofollow.net

    • Hi Lexie! Thanks for commenting – and I’m so glad you found the post helpful 🙂

      the sits I’ve done have, in general, been arranged a few weeks in advance – but it all depends. Many people advertise just a few days or a week in advance of the sit, either due to a cancellation or some last minute plans, while others advertise months (even up to a year) in advance – for example we arranged out very first housesit about two months in advance. It’s normally very easy to find sits for about 2-3 weeks time!

      Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any more questions!

  4. Such a great, informative post! Thank you for sharing the information. I’ve thought about housesitting for future travel, but what I hadn’t thought about, but learned through your post was the idea of starting to housesit where I live in order to build experience and “credentials.” Thank you!

    • Thanks Sarah! I’m so glad you found it helpful 🙂

      If you are considering housesitting – especially for future travel – then sitting locally first is one of the best things you can do. There are a LOT more housesitters than homeowners on sites like Trustedhousesitters – so most sits, especially the ones in desirable locations, get a lot of applications. If you can do one local (ish) to you, preferably somewhere that less people will be interested in visiting (example – my first sits were in Cumbria, Winchester, and Tadley), then you’ll be in with a much better chance of securing that one and therefore getting that all important first reference. I can’t stress enough how much easier it was to find sits once I had one Trustedhousesitter reference!! After we had about 4/5, we were accepted for almost every sit we applied for – and we even started getting invites from people we hadn’t applied for!

      If you do decide to sign up and get started, please get in touch – I’d love to hear about some other sitters’ experiences.

  5. Really enjoyed your blog! George was quite the cat! I am a cat love and dog lover. I just joined and read again your post. I’ll have to up date and get a police profile. I worked in media for 27 years, 25 of them in Los Angeles. I am looking at new oppportunities as I was a traveling photographer, contractor working with many different cameras and crews. I think I will make a great house sitter! I am excited to try it and hope for the best.

  6. Hi Emily, thanks for the article, it’s really helpful. Now in our late forties we are embarking on an exciting new adventure, travelling around Europe in our motorhome, which we would like to combine with some Housesitting to ease the budget. So this is incredibly timely.

    • Hi Karen! Brilliant, I’m so glad you found the post helpful. If you have any questions feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to try to help! When do you start your new adventure?

  7. This post has great advice. Asking good questions has been our ticket to landing house sits. If we do a few minutes research and wordsmithing, we can usually engage the homeowner and show our competence / responsibility at the same time.

    • Thanks Tim! It’s such a good idea – if you can start a chat with someone then you’re already halfway there I think. And if you show that you’ve actually read the ad in detail, then you’ll immediately set yourself apart 🙂

  8. Francesca Chee

    Hi Emily,
    I found your blog very informative! My husband and myself are hoping to house sit in the latter part of this year and next year when we come over to Europe to visit my daughter. Your tips are very useful! Trusted house sitters looks like a good site, though I have seen negative reviews!
    Regarding police checks, I had one done in 2014 when I started volunteering with NSW Police. Would this suffice or do I need to obtain an Australian Federal Police check? I also love animals and have been a cat owner for two very spoilt Abbysinnians and am a grandmother to an adorable Schnoodle! I live gardening and believe in keeping a clean tidy house!

    • Hi Francesca! Thanks for commenting – glad you found my tips helpful 🙂

      As for the police check, I think the important thing is to have one. No one ever asked to see ours – but if they did I’m pretty sure yours would suffice. Do you have a certificate or something on file to show if anyone did ask to see it?

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