snowbird housesitters


by Vanessa Anderson

Last updated on July 27th, 2019

Have you ever yearned for the snow, and perhaps considered being snowbird housesitters?

Whilst many of us are looking for warm weather house sitting opportunities, there are some that want to experience the magic of snow and ice. Aussies spring to mind in this case!

Winter in Europe is expensive as the ski season gets underway, and house sits are unlikely as properties can generate high rental incomes. But in Canada it’s a different story and house sitting jobs are available every year as the “snowbirds” migrate south. Many are long term sits as people need a house sitter to look after their home and pets throughout the wintry months.

Louise Read describes her experience of snowbird house sitting.


A snowbird migrates with the seasons.

In Canada, the Northern USA and Northern European countries, human snowbirds are typically retirees or business owners who wish to escape the snow and the cold temperatures of the winter season. Instead they benefit from warmer climates with increased sunlight hours.

Generally, they travel to Spain, the Bahamas, Mexico and the southern USA states where they often maintain a winter residence. They leave the north in November and return in April. The average snowbird is gone 4-6 months.

Many snowbirds own small dogs and cats, and given the high cost of kenneling or a home check service, international house sitters are beginning to become a more popular option.

Snowbirds will begin looking for winter house sitters as early as July and, as the popularity of winter house sitting increases, so too will the competition for sitters in Canada who are willing to brave the cold. As the winter months in Canada are a unique challenge, house sitters get an unforgettable experience.

Winter house sitting for snowbirds – adventure abounds!

For those house sitters who have not had the opportunity to experience a typical Canadian winter, this is a fantastic opportunity. Depending on the location of your house sit, snowbird house sitters can:

  • ski cross country or downhill
  • ice skate outdoors on lakes and canals
  • do some ice fishing
  • go snowmobiling
  • experience the absolute joy of a hot tub in sub-zero temperatures

For the truly adventurous, try:

  • ice hockey (hard)
  • curling (easy and fun to learn)
  • winter camping (above average outdoor survival skills strongly recommended)

Getting prepared for the snow

Last year, I agreed to be a snowbird house sitter at a winter house sit in Alberta, Canada. The expected average daytime temperature will be around -20 C. To date, there have been two in-person meetings with the owners to learn about the dogs, the hot tub, and how they expect the management of snow and ice around the home and property.

Fortunately, as a Canadian I’m well prepared for the cold of winter house sitting, and know exactly what to expect from the weather and its unique impact on the dogs. Our host has used house sitters for many years and cannot imagine leaving the house for so long without a sitter in residence. There are many others who also need a house sitter to keep their home and pets safe.

Unique challenges for snowbird house sitters

If you do agree to snowbird house sitting in Canada during the winter months, be warned. It can be a very challenging experience.

Snow storms or ice rain can wreak havoc on the roads and driving in such conditions presents many hazards.

Once the temperature drops below -30 C, you must take special precautions when outdoors ensuring that ALL your skin is covered lest you get frostbite.

Remember that no matter the temperature, the dogs still need to go for a walk.

Some dog breeds have pads that allow the snow to accumulate between them and you’ll have to clean them out. You know this to be the case when the dog stands still and holds their paw up as if they’re injured (they’re not).

Regardless of the dog, they cannot be left outside without access to shelter in extreme cold.

Winter snowbird house sitting in the northern climates can be a thrilling experience. While it presents challenges, unique opportunities abound and, if you take advantage of them, you’ll find these house sits create amazing memories!




Maryjo Paradis-Smith -

My husband and I are having a house built in Northwood, NH. It will be ready to move in around April We need housing until this time. We are professionals (I am a teacher in Dover and he is a maintenance supervisor for the State of NH) in Concord). We can supply letters of reference on request. Both of us love animals. My husband is very handy.

Vanessa Anderson -

Hi Maryjo and thanks for your comment. However, we don’t match people with sits here at House Sitting Magazine. We are a resource for the house sitting community. You’ll need to sign up to one of the house sitting platforms and a good read for understanding which will be best for you, can be found at:
Good luck with your house sitting!

Rebecca Weber -

We are looking for winter house sitting in the Twin Cities . We are both experienced homeowners who sold our home and live on a yacht 7 months a year and we are looking to houses it November 1 to April 1. We were going to live on the boat all winter but our having 2nd thoughts. We are full time medical professionals (MD and NP) with small calm dog. We can be pet sitters too. We can be flexible and live on boat as needed in the winter also

Vanessa Anderson -

The best place to look would be on the international house sitting platforms like TrustedHousesitters, Nomador, HouseCarers… but also try You can get a 15% discount with HSMAG15 and obviously they specialize in Canadian sits.

Lynn -

My husband and I are looking for a house/ pet sitting job in southern Maine for winter months 2020 to be near our children.

Vanessa Anderson -

There are a couple of good platforms you can try… One is who only specialize in the US, and the other is who are international, but with good coverage in America. It’s harder if you want a specific location… it sometimes helps to be a bit flexible and extend the area a bit. Hope you find something.

Janice -

We are looking for a winter only house sitting in the area of Copperopolis, CA. We are retired and would like to be close to our kids during the winter months.

Vanessa Anderson -

Hi Janice, thanks for stopping by! It’s always a little harder when you want a specific location. I would try browsing on the international sites listed in the article, and HouseSittersAmerica too, using the filters to hone in on that area – see what’s available. If not much or nothing there, either widen your search a bit or perhaps try FB groups for people living in that area – you might have to get a bit more creative. Good luck!


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