House sitting for Fun and Profit

Dec 12

House sitting is a fabled way of living rent-free, seeing the world and really getting to know new areas. Many people leave their homes for extended periods – to travel for business or pleasure, or to relocate to a second home for a change, or for family reasons, but most of them don’t want to sell or rent – they just want someone to look after their home and often, their pets. So how do you start out as a house sitter? Here are some tips to get you started.


Set up a profile on a sitting site


Some sites will charge a joining fee for prospective sitters. As long as it’s not exorbitant, this is a useful way of screening out time-wasters, and house owners will know that you are genuine about sitting if you’ve made this commitment. They also provide support and resources for sitters.


Get character references


People will need more than just your word for it that you’re a good person. Get your employer or a former landlord or housemate to write you a character reference to bolster your application. This will reassure your prospective host that you will take their utmost care of their property while they’re away.


Get insured


Look carefully at your insurance policy to make sure that you will be insured if anything goes wrong while you house-sit. If you are sitting abroad, it will be essential to talk to your travel insurer to make sure your health care will be covered abroad.




If you intend to be a long-term house-sitter, it’s going to be a fairly itinerant lifestyle, particularly if you are moving between countries. This will mean  donating, selling or storing the majority of your belongings, bar some essentials. If you are lucky enough to have access to a free storage space, such as a friend or family member’s loft, this will make your decision much easier. Organising a yard sale or selling some items on eBay will also give you a small cash injection that will be useful for things like your emergency fund (see below!).


Secure back-up accommodation


You always need to have a Plan B should arrangements fall through for whatever reason. If you are sitting close to a friend, let them know and ask if they are happy to be a fallback option in emergencies. Either that, or have an emergency bank fund so that you can stay in a hotel should anything go wrong.


Vivienne Egan writes for Now Health International.