How does housesitting work? (Frequently Asked Questions)

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Yes, I do housesitting on some of my trips. And when, for example, I was telling my new housesitting in the Ebro Delta in Catalonia-Spain, in the stories of my Instagram I was bombarded with questions 🙂 in the best of senses.

Before I started with the answers, I wanted to say that if you have a house to look after (or house and pets) you already know: I can be the housesitters you are looking for (don’t hesitate to contact me either by private message from insta or from the contact email of this blog and I’ll pass you my housesitter profile).

(The cottage I was looking after in New Zealand in one of my housesittings)

But what I want in this post, is to answer all the questions that were passed to me by messages one by one, so they are all together as a guide for housekeepers, so here we go!

Contents

Where do I start with Housesitting?

One: do you have time, availability, transfer capacity? Are you responsible, do you love animals and pets?…then start by reading this question and answer guide 😉

What is the housesitting system?

Simple: Pet homeowners need someone to take care of their home and pets for a while. Then they put a “house to take care of offer” on a website that puts hosts in contact with possible caretakers (housesitters). The websites I recommend to use this system are listed below.

Do I have to pay for the stay?

No, you don’t pay for the stay. If we are accepted as housesitters we will take care of the house and use it to live during those days, without paying anything for the house. But this does not mean “free accommodation”. It is a system that implies a great responsibility and commitment to assume to take care of that house and pets.

They pay you to take care of a house?

No, they won’t pay you to take care of the house either, it’s a “give and take” deal. The host gives you the keys to his house so that you can live a few days in exchange for taking care of the house and especially his pets. Although some host may offer money, it is not the essence of the system, nor is it the usual.

Is it a home exchange?

No, it’s not a home exchange, you don’t have to offer your home to anyone. It is only a matter of assuming the commitment and responsibility to take care of with total seriousness.

Do you always have to take care of animals?

Yes, it is the essence of the housesitting system. Because it is likely that if someone doesn’t have pets in their home, rather than looking for a caregiver they will use other systems such as Airbnb to earn money by renting their home. The essence of this system is that there are two with complementary needs: to be cared for by their pets (the host) and to be able to spend time elsewhere while fulfilling a commitment (the housesitter).

What were my experiences?

I did housesitting several times, although most of them I did in New Zealand. My experiences were extremely positive: first enjoy with new four-legged friends, make local contacts that welcome you to their land or place, live local experiences, get to know new places and cultures. If you want to see for example my experiences in housesitting in New Zealand you can find it explained with my experience in this post.

How did I discover housesitting?

Before going to New Zealand in 2014 I got in touch with Magalí Vidoz, who at that time was going around the world using this system and told it in his blog, and he gave me tips that gave me the necessary push to cheer me up.

What are the most common tasks to do when caring for a home?

The most usual, in addition to feeding and of course pampering pets, can be: watering plants, take care of a garden (if they have one), take care of the house and deliver it as we left it when we left (clean and tidy), take care of the security of the house … Many houses are also in rural environments and have farm animals that must also be taken care of.

And what are the requirements? Are they asking for experience?

The requirements for housesitting are basically to have an active profile on a website that uses this system (we will get to this point), to be of legal age, adult and responsible (literal). Basically read carefully the details in the offer of house to take care published to be sure to be able to fulfill everything we are asked in each particular house.

Can you take care of a house as a foreigner?

Oh, yes, of course I do. A host doesn’t give a damn about your origin. In my case, I’ve always done it abroad.

In short, how is the mechanics to take care of a house?

Voy a resumirlo punto a punto: 1. Te registras como cuidador en una web de Housesitting > 2. buscas ofertas de casas a cuidar y lees todos los detalles (fechas, requerimientos especiales, etc.) > 3. Te postulas a la que consideres apta según tus propios intereses > 4. Si tienes la suerte de que te responden, probablemente establecerás el contacto con ellos con varios email, un chat, o una videollamada > 5. Recibes el email de que te aceptan como anfitrión (lo que sería genial) > 6. You pack your bags 🙂

Are they interviewing you?

That’s up to the host, they’ll probably ask you for a video call (if it’s not a Hispanic country, it’s probably in English).

Do you have a profile and are there mutual qualifications?

Yes, in the housesitting system the basis of everything is trust and references. In our account we will have a profile to complete with all our data, interests, personal description, our skills as a caregiver, but above all, a space where we have to demonstrate in some way that we are responsible and that we love animals. So if you don’t love animals, don’t even think about using this system. Pets are complex beings that deserve all the respect, besides that it is better that you know how to connect with them and give them affection while their owners are not there. There is no course for this 😛 but those of us who love animals or had pets will understand it without further explanation. What I mean is that loving animals is exclusive, and having some or a lot of experience with pets is very important.

Do I have to pay for membership on housesitting websites?

Yes, most housesitting websites charge an annual membership fee to use the system (between $20 and $100 per year). It is a way to ensure a genuine interest and to give some more seriousness to the system.

How do you find out about a housesitting opportunity?

Simple, looking for the offers of houses to take care of in the websites of Housesitting

What are the most common Housesitting websites?

I’m going to mention some of the ones I know I can recommend. As for which one to choose, my recommendation is to look first at which country you want to go to, and which network has the most offer in each country, because there is no single answer as to which is better. In all of them you will be able to register as much to look for houses to take care of, as to offer houses and to look for carers:

Trustedhousesitters (Membresía 89 euros anuales tanto para anfitriones como para cuidadores, incluye una garantía respaldada por seguro). Esta web es una de las más utilizadas (si no la más) y tiene distintos sistemas y niveles de verificación de usuarios para brindar seguridad. Pueden registrarse y obtener un descuento de 25 en la membresía desde aquí. También pueden utilizar este código de descuento al registrarse >> (RAF145374) …This website is the one I have been using for the last two years, which does not mean that it is the best or that I do not intend to try others.

Housecarers. (Membership $50 per year). It has a good number of offers of houses around the world, although most in the most common countries of this system, and more limited in countries where the system is not widespread. Link to Housecarers here.

Mindmyhouse. ($20 membership only paid by caregivers). Although I didn’t use it, I know that it integrates the trio of the most used housesitting websites at a global level. Link to the website here.

How do I build my profile correctly?

Once you register, each website allows you to build your profile in a different way. The essential advice I give is to write 100% honestly about why you want to use this system. And what you have to think about when building the profile is that you must complete it with everything you would like to find in a potential caregiver. Always put yourself in the place of a host, think how you would choose a caregiver if you were in the reverse situation, and you were the one offering the house. In other words, write the profile, imagine that profile belongs to someone else, and think if it would give you confidence to take care of some of your most valuable assets. Talk about life history and relationship with pets and animals (but don’t exaggerate or overact your love for animals that may also sound bad or opportunistic). Be frank, sincere, explain why you want to take care of your home, or why you use the system in a way that is convincing. Upload photos sharing your life with pets.

Is there a housesitting website for each country?

Just as I mentioned in the previous question the most common websites, it may happen that in certain countries there are specific housesitters websites with offers for only one country. For example, in New Zealand I used Kiwihousesitters.com. Aussihousesitters.com also goes very well for Australia. For Canada there is the option of HousesittersCanada.com. For the United States Housesittersamerica.com or for the United Kingdom HousesitterUK. However, the global websites I mentioned earlier can also have a strong presence in these countries. It is always a question of evaluating in which one to register in function of our trip, and comparing the supply of houses that there are in each one of these webs.

Which are the countries where it is more usual and there is more offer of houses?

There are countries that are very consolidated with this system and have many options of houses (for example UK has sometimes more than a thousand houses looking for housesitters. The five countries with the highest demand for carers are Australia, New Zealand, France, UK, USA. For the rest of the countries, the demand is lower, because the knowledge of this system is not so widespread. In South American countries, there are some offers, but they are quite limited. The same thing happens in Central America, or even in Asia. Also in the rest of Europe the number of houses on offer decreases considerably.

Is it hard to get a house?

This is difficult to answer because many variables come into play. For example, if you apply to houses that already have many applicants (this is indicated in some offers in the case of websites like Trustedhousesitter), it will really be quite difficult. If your profile isn’t convincing, we won’t even count. My recommendation is to start by applying to houses that have few applicants, to be very flexible with the destinations, to start doing it in countries that have a lot of offer (UK is a good option), and to apply to several houses at the same time, for example, to try one day to apply to 5, to wait the next day and to apply to five more…and so on.

Do I need to have a good score or a letter of recommendation?

HS websites usually have different profile verification methods. The first thing is to have a complete profile (100% of all the info they ask for), and then try to comply with the other verification options offered by the websites (each may be different). The truth is that if it is your first time applying to houses, you will have to have a little patience, and be a little more insistent, as not having references obviously will be a little more difficult.

They’re waiting to meet you at the house, give you the key and explain everything?

Yes, that’s the logical thing to do. In every house I could take care of, the owners were waiting for me. Sometimes I was picked up at the bus or train station. They may also invite you to spend a day with them to get to know you better and explain everything calmly. Every owner can have his method. It also happened to me several times that when I arrived at the house the owners were only one hour explaining everything, and they left.

What is the minimum time to take care of a house

The dates are variable according to each offer and need of the host. It can be a weekend, or even several months.

Do we have to stay in the house all day?

No. No host could ask you to be locked in his house all day. Normally, you take your time to walk around and explore the area, go shopping, etc. Sometimes I was also asked if for example you can work and go out for example 9 hours a day to work and return home to take care of her. You should always discuss this with the host beforehand, and make it clear. Sincerity is essential in this type of system.

So, can I do housesitting on my trip?

Yeah, sure, I do, and I did. It can also be a way to travel, or even to be still a few days within a longer trip.

Can it be done as a family, a couple?

There are many houses that indicate in the offer “suitable for families with children”. There are also houses that put “preferably couples”, and others do not clarify anything, so then the applications are open.

Can we take our own pets home to take care of?

This I recommend you consult directly with a host in the offer. But I’d say it’s not the best thing to do in case there might be incompatibility or pet conflict.

Can many more people go to the house?

This question you asked me I imagine refers to bringing guests during a stay. It must be understood that this voluntary task is a responsibility with all that it implies. All house rules are asked directly with the host.

Is there an age limit for doing so?

No, even many houses will prefer older people. Next question

Do you ask for special documentation or a contract?

Some hosts are asking to sign a commitment contract, mostly to make sure they are not dumped. If the question refers to passports or documents in order, that has nothing to do with housesitting but with the legal status with which we are in the country. Of course everything has to be in order to assume such a responsibility.

Do I recommend it for girls?

Oh, yes, of course I do. If you are a little distrustful of an ad, my recommendation would be to look at other users’ reviews. It’s a system that I know works perfectly, and I know single women who do.

What if the animal gets sick or something happens to it?

You take him to the vet in case of any doubt or emergency. I wouldn’t know how to specify what “something’s wrong” implies. The housesitting consists in being responsible and apt in the task that they entrust us to give the best of us in the care of the house and mascot.

Do they pay for your transfer ticket?

Not necessarily. It is not a requirement of the hosts, unless you arrange it as part of your conditions, but they will probably choose other housesitters rather than pay for a very expensive plane ticket.

How long do you stay in the house depend on?

The amount of time the owner is absent.

How do I know if an ad is safe and not a hoax?

You can learn more about the host from their profile and previous caregiver reviews.

Does the house have to be cleaned?

Yes, the idea is always to deliver the house the same or cleaner than it was when you arrived.

Finally, surely there will appear more doubts that you can leave in comments in this same post and I will answer them with security 🙂

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