What to think about when choosing a house sitting website
House sitting has definitely become the latest way to enjoy slower local and international travel, without breaking the bank. But with this growing popularity, we are also seeing more house sitting websites, groups and forums where you can both find and place house sit jobs, all over the world.
As someone new to the world of house sitting, this can be a little overwhelming. There are just so many different opinions about how to get started, where to look for jobs, and even about best practice in what’s currently an unregulated industry.
But, if you have made the decision to use and be part of the house sitting lifestyle, then how exactly do you know which are the best house sitting websites to sign up to. How do you establish which house sit site is RIGHT for your particular needs?
We’ve been full time house sitters now for five years and have done a lot of research. We’ve tried many different house sit platforms, and evaluated those that work well for us in different situations and a variety of destinations. We of course have our favorite house sitting websites, those that work best for us, but this might be very different for you.
To make the selection process a little easier, we’ve listed below some of our observations to help you make the best decision when looking for the best house sitting websites for you. But remember, we are all different, and want different things, so carrying out some research of your own is always a wise decision.
Consider your ideal house sitting location first
Before making any decision about which house sitting platform to use, there’s one initial question you should ask yourself:
“Where do I want to house sit?”
Knowing where you want to house sit will affect whether you pick an international house sit platform, or a more local country-based house sit website. You’ll also need to make sure that you can get an entry visa for the destination of your choice, and for the length of time needed.
But once you’ve given the location some thought and done your research, what else should you think about?
1. Browse house sit sites and jobs BEFORE signing up
We always tell people who ask us about starting out as house sitters that “It’s free to browse.” In almost all cases it is.
So before you hand over your money to anyone, take a look at the sites we’ve listed below, and view the house sit jobs on offer. If you find a house sitting site where you have to pay to look at assignments, set it aside until you’ve evaluated all other options.
There’s absolutely no point paying to join a site that doesn’t have sits in the locations in which you want to sit!
Here are the Top 5 International House Sitting Websites we would recommend checking out for worldwide sits:
2. Check how many house sits are available in the location of your choice
You’ll find some house sitting websites are better at marketing into particular locations than others.
For instance, House Carers is an international site, but they are based in Australia, so they have a lot of sits on that side of the world. Nomador on the other hand started out in France, and still has a loyal and extensive European following.
TrustedHousesitters is the largest of all the sites, based out of the UK, so as well as internationally, you’ll always find a huge selection of UK sits on their site too. There’s more competition for the popular destinations, so a good profile and a willingness to apply to a lot more sits should be part of your consideration. But because of the number of sits advertised, you’ll also find many sits in other areas where not so many people apply and your chances of selection will be higher.
If the website has the ability to check both current and completed sits, use this as a way to check out how many sits have been secured in a particular location in the past. You might just be looking during a low season, when in fact plenty of sits are available in your preferred location at other times of the year. They just haven’t been listed yet.
Don’t forget that there are a number of very good country based websites like HouseSitMexico for example – you’ll find a link to our regularly updated House Sitting Website Comparison further down the page. We’d prefer you read all our tips first before going headlong into all of the options available! We don’t want you to get confused!
3. Does the platform provide email alerts?
One of the most important features a house sitting platform can offer is the ability to let you know, on a regular basis, when a house sit becomes available in your chosen location.
If it can do this within a date range, all the better.
As house and pet sitting becomes more popular, the competition for house sits will become tougher. You need to try and be one of the first people to apply, and email alerts will help you to get your house sit application to the top of the home owner’s shortlist.
This will of course depend on your profile, relevant experience and references too!
There are a couple of aggregate search sites that you can use to look for sits, each of them covering a different selection of house sitting websites, but sadly as of now, neither covers all options. Still, if your chosen sites are included it would be well worth taking a look at HouseSittingWorld and HouseSitSearch.
4. Can I place reviews and read reviews from other sitters?
In the same way that a home owner likes to read references from other home owners, we sitters too like to know that there’s some feedback about the property and pets from other sitters, to help us make an informed decision. So our preference is for house sitting platforms that have reviews about home owners.
Most sites now have this facility, but managed in different ways.
Check whether there are two-way reviews available.
5. Does the website have a secure messaging service?
How will you be able to get in touch with home owners and make applications?
Again most platforms these days have secure messaging services, and a method of storing and organizing your applications. Make sure it’s nice and user-friendly, and secure.
6. How friendly is the back-end of the website?
In this digital age, our tolerance for poorly run and badly designed websites is reducing all the time. But we all have our own likes and dislikes in this respect.
Get a feel for each of the house sit platforms before you sign-up.
Fully evaluate the site, the feature lists, and the different options available before making your final decision.
- Is the platform logical – is it easy to navigate around the site?
- How easy is it to search for a house sit using the free browsing facility?
- What search filters are available and as mentioned, do they have email alerts?
- Is there lots of helpful info to guide you through the process of signing up?
7. Do a high % of adverts have photos and detailed descriptions?
A little pet peeve of ours is when a home owner puts up a listing without any photographs, especially of the pets, but also of the property we will be caring for. In fact, we no longer apply for sits without photos.
Some house sitting websites are better than others at ensuring their members complete this part of the process – not all sites vet the adverts so this is a good thing to check.
Similarly, check out the level of detail provided with each house sit advertisement. Is there plenty of information about the pets and the duties, the location, the home and so on?
Remember that as a house sitter you are generally part of a free, but fair, exchange of services, so it’s important to know what the home owner is expecting of you during the house sit. The more detail you can see, the better you can assess this.
8. What happens if I lapse my membership?
We don’t all house sit full-time or even regularly every year, so it’s a good idea to find out what happens to your profile, your references, your photos etc., if you let your membership lapse for a year or longer.You can test out the customer service facility when you ask this question!
9. How much is it to join the platform?
This can range from totally free, to over $100 USD per year for the largest, most popular of house sitting platforms.
Usually a house sitting platform that isn’t charging a membership is pretty new to the scene, and they’re trying to build up a database of house sitters.
Keep this in mind, as while it’s always nice to find a free house sitting website, you could find your options for sits limited. We think it’s better to combine the use of a free site with an alternative paid membership house sitting site too.
Remember that, even a long weekend of house sitting will pay for the most expensive house sitting platform in terms of hotel or Airbnb room savings!
10. Does the site have customer support?
It’s important to remember that house sitting platforms are essentially a match making service. They simply facilitate a connection between home owners and house sitters, and it’s your own responsibility to make sure you do your own house sit due diligence. You should ask the right questions and pick a house sit that best suits you.
That said, it’s comforting to know that there is an easily accessible customer support or help line where you can get advice or assistance should it be needed.
Make sure you check out what this includes, what hours it’s manned, and how involved customer services can or will get on your behalf, should there be a problem.
A number of the house sitting websites also operate discussion forums on Facebook, where you can ask advice of other house sitters too. And of course you can always join our House Sitting Magazine Facebook Group to get extra support from like-minded house sitters and home owners!
11. Are there any associated benefits of joining?
You’ll find that some platforms have partner offers which will give you discounts on a variety of travel or house sitting services or additional services – TrustedHousesitters has a 24 Hour Vet Line for assistance.
This may be of no interest to you whatsoever, but it’s worth checking. We recently partnered with TrustedHousesitters to offer a free 365 day initial trial of mapahub.com to all members – it’s on the member’s dashboard. This gives you the opportunity to meet up in-person with other house sitters all over the world for a year – free of charge!
So you never know, there may be something that will benefit you on your travels.
12. Is there an app version available for easy use on smart devices?
This obviously isn’t essential, but if like me you spend a lot of time browsing sits, it does make that process easier if you can do it on your phone. TrustedHousesitters led the way with their app which is available for Apple and Android devices, and although we still prefer to do most of our messaging (ease of typing) on the laptop version, it is great to check messages, read welcome guides, and for setting up date based alerts. Nomador has also recently released an app which allows homeowners and house sitters to communicate more effectively and informally during a house sit.
Which are OUR favorite house sitting websites?
We have our own favourites which include TrustedHousesitters, HouseCarers and AussieHouseSitters. We’ve had great success with each of these sites depending on where we are looking to house sit around the world. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t recommend other platforms, it’s just that these are the sites we’ve used consistently since starting out and they’ve worked for us.
To help you decide, we have put together a comprehensive comparison of all of the reputable international websites and the regional house sitting sites
This comparison is updated regularly as new features are added and prices changed. It also includes a number of specially negotiated house sitting discounts – so go ahead and take a look.
Can you see independent reviews on sites like TrustPilot?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll like to check out independent review sites to see what is being said about the services provided by the company you choose. Just to be clear… these are reviews about the company, nothing do do with your own references, ID checks or homeowner reviews.
Both HouseSitMatch and TrustedHousesitters use TrustPilot, while Aussie House Sitters use Feefo. I’m sure other platforms can be found on review sites too – a Google search should help with this.
As with any reviews, check out as many as you can – don’t stop at the first bad feedback. Undoubtedly in an unregulated industry, there will be the occasional house sit that goes wrong, in the same way some people might have problems with a hotel or B&B.
House sits that go wrong are usually as a result of one or other of the parties involved not doing their due diligence or not being totally upfront about a particular aspect of the exchange.
Paying for a house sitting platform doesn’t guarantee success but we believe it certainly helps!
Getting Started with House Sitting
Signing up to a house sitting platform is just one part of the process to becoming a house sitter. It’s probably the easiest step, but this match-making service will not, by itself, make you a successful sitter.
You’ll need to create a great profile that helps you stand out from other applicants. Some home owners in top locations get 100+ applications, and profiles that do not show references, pictures and a well-thought out introduction will simply not make it through to selection.
It’s important too that you understand the original ethos behind house sitting.
Home owners are opening up their homes to strangers, allowing them to look after their most precious possessions. So for many home owners it’s about personal connections.
As no money is changing hands, trust has to be established by making things personal and building a relationship. This isn’t always the case, but it’s something to be aware of when applying for sits.
Think always about what you’re bringing to this exchange, and don’t make house sitting all about you and what you want.
Remember “fair exchange” at all times and you can’t go too far wrong.
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Last updated on July 12th, 2019