House sitting is an interesting concept. Basically, what it means is to live in someone’s home, taking care of it (and pets) for a period of time while they are away. Finding the best housesitting websites can be a challenge, especially for new-time users.
My husband and I used to travel for six months of the year. For the other six months, we would house sit. Now, we are mostly living in Mexico and looking for house sits in different areas.
We first heard about house sitting while in Costa Rica. We met several couples who told us they were house sitters and could go anywhere in the world if they wanted to. This sounded interesting to us, and upon our return to Canada, we immediately registered with a popular house-sitting service.
We are now well into our third year, with over 20 house sits to our credit; several of them are repeat clients.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with some insights on 3 popular house-sitting services, what house sitting means, how it works, the pros and cons, and what to look for when choosing a service, either as a house sitter or the owner looking for a house sitter.
As house sitters ourselves, my husband and I are affiliated with more than one house-sitting service and are extremely happy with them.
3 Best House Sitting Services/Websites
1) Trusted House Sitters
This company was launched in 2010 by co-founders Rachael and Andy when Andy saw a need. He was helping out a friend, caring for his two cats and three dogs in Galicia, Spain, when he realized that many people would prefer to leave their pets at home in familiar surroundings rather than board them out.
It is one of, if not the largest, companies that offer this service. They have a very strong presence in Australia, the U.S., Canada, and the UK, but their house sitters and owners are worldwide.
Even their staff is encouraged to do hands-on training by house sitting so they can gain a better understanding of what clients are looking for.
Since there is huge competition, one of the things recommended for new members is to provide a top-notch profile so that you stand out. Don’t be afraid to include any private house sits; this is how we got started with over 10 years of house sits for family and friends.
The nice thing is that you can choose what animals you wish to sit with. While we are willing to look after most animals (including chickens), we do draw the line at snakes and other large reptiles. Not all house sits include animals; sometimes the owners want to make sure their property is looked after while they are away.
2) House Carers
House Carers has been around even longer than Trusted House Sitters, starting their company in 2000 by founder Ian White. Although based in Australia, their operations are global, with faithful homeowners returning year after year.
It is free to homeowners; however, a $25 fee gives a Premium Membership, which ensures some extras such as being able to add private notes to sitters’ profiles, participate in the Referral Reward program, and receive a bonus six-month membership.
There is a free trial for house sitters but options are very limited. For example, a sitter won’t be able to contact homeowners.
A paid membership allows a sitter to respond to messages from homeowners or apply for any house sits, place contact phone numbers on a profile visible to logged-in homeowners (not seen by the public), appear as a featured house sitter (in rotation with other sitters), upload up to 14 photos with captions, appear in unpaid limited members in search results, and include a link from a website if the sitter has one.
3) House Sitters America
House Sitters America has been uniting homeowners and sitters in the U.S. since 2007. They provide a safe and convenient service making it easy to be a sitter or homeowner.
Some of their features include in-site messaging, ID verification, and a review and rating system for both owners and sitters.
Registration is very affordable at only $49/per year. You can also browse the website for house-sitting opportunities until you are ready to become a member.
Another great feature is that homeowners can register and contact prospective sitters for free!
While other house-sitting services encourage you to sit for free, House Sitters America leaves that up to the sitters.
1) Trusted House Sitters
- The largest company in the world, therefore, has lots of choices
- Two verification levels are available for house sitters
- Annual membership (no hidden costs)
- Homeowners & Sitters basic cost $129; combined basic cost $189
- Free 24/7 Vet Advice Line
- Insurance-backed guarantee for homeowner
- Easy-to-use website, including a place to load up to 14 photos
- Great messaging system
- Resources are available for both owners and sitters
- A welcome guide prepared by the owner is available to the house sitter
- Reviews are available upon completion of sits
- App for iPhones and Androids
- Has excellent client reviews
- The price might be considered steep by some, although if you compare that to finding living accommodations or boarding your pet, it becomes quite reasonable
- Since the company is so large, the competition is hefty; therefore, having a profile that shines is necessary
2) House Carers
- Well-established company
- Lots of great resources and a large FAQ section for both owners and sitters
- Affordable membership for sitters – $50 US
- Homeowners have free membership; premium membership is $25 US
- No automatic renewals (reverts back to free/guest)
- House sitting agreement
- Referral program for both owners and sitters
- Has excellent reviews
- Can only be reached through their contact page; sometimes it takes at least 24 hours before you hear back.
- Free house sitter trial is very limited – for instance, you can’t upload photos or contact homeowners
3) House Sitters America
- Well-established company (since 2007)
- Affordable memberships for sitters
- Free for homeowners
- Option to be a FREE or PAID sitter
- Easy-to-navigate website
- Extensive FAQs section
- Review and rating section for both owners and sitters
- Great reviews and testimonials
- In-site messaging
- ID verification
- No auto-renewals
- Concern homeowners may cancel at any moment since they don’t have to pay a membership fee
- No app
Why House Sit
It isn’t all for the benefit of the owner; it also fills a need for the person doing the house sitting. People house sit for a variety of reasons.
- An opportunity to travel
- FreeIt isn’t all for the benefit of the owner; it also fills a need for the person doing the house sitting. People house sit for a variety of reasons.
- Save money
- Genuine love of animals
- A way of life – they don’t want to be tied down to a mortgage, house rental, etc.
- Experience the culture in other areas/countries
What does it Mean to House sit
Members of a house-sitting service will usually pay an annual fee which owners and sitters can connect.
To house sit means to look after someone’s home, often but not always with pets included (we did a 4-month house sit in Ottawa with no pets), for a period of time in the owners’ home, assuming some responsibilities, such as light housekeeping, watering plants, yard or pool maintenance, or administering medication to pets if needed. These sits can be just a short weekend, a couple of weeks, several months, and sometimes even a year.
It is very important for a house owner to know his property and pets are in good hands and that the sitter can provide peace of mind, knowing that all is safe and secure, and they (the owners) can travel worry-free.
You better love animals! We have looked after cats, dogs, chickens, fish, and even pet geckos. The above photo is of us and two beautiful golden retrievers. We were privileged to house sit for them twice.
What to Expect When Choosing a House-Sitting Service/Website
When my husband and I first thought about house sitting we didn’t have a clue about the first steps. We were recommended to Trusted House Sitters by some friends and 2 years later, with several house sits completed, we feel we made the right decision. We have joined other sites but because Trusted House Sitters is so large, we never lacked for houses to sit in. I do remember that when we first started, we had four house sits back to back (!). I guess maybe we have a good profile.
Regardless though, when you are first starting out as the sitter or the homeowner, you want to find a service that will provide certain criteria to make your house sit an enjoyable experience for everyone. The following are a few items I would suggest you look into, based on the information provided on the three house-sitting companies mentioned here.
House Owners and House Sitters
- Does the company have a good reputation
- How long have they been in business
- Do they provide an insurance-backed guarantee (for homeowners)
- What is the cost of joining
- What is the renewal procedure
- What areas do they cover – is it global
- Do they provide a review section (for house sitters and homeowners)
- Do they ask for security verification (for sitters)
- Is there an easy messaging system to communicate with each other
- Can photos easily be added
- Do they provide an incentive or referral program
- Customer service – are they easy to reach
House sitting can be a rewarding and fun experience for everyone concerned. For the sitter, It’s an awesome opportunity to feed your imagination and quench your thirst for travel, meet new people, learn about their cultures, and of course, look after some furry new friends along the way.
For homeowners, it is a chance for you to meet new friends and travel in peace with the assurance that your home and ‘family’ are in good hands while you are away.
We hope with this review we have provided you with some guidance in picking out a house-sitting service that is perfect for you, either as the homeowner or the sitter.
Are you a house sitter? Have you used house sitters before? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.