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Housesitting Digital Nomads

House Sitting: A Guide For Digital Nomads & Generation Y Workers

If you’re a digital nomad and you haven’t heard about house sitting yet, you’re probably reading the wrong blogs. House sitting is a rapidly growing trend, especially in location-independent worker circles, where there are now several ebooks on the subject and plenty of proponents to sing its praises.

The concept of house sitting is simple: homeowners – and especially pet owners – need someone to look after their home and pets while they’re away. As someone who likes to travel, you can offer to help them out and “sit” in their home while they’re away; walking the dog, feeding the cat and watering the plants or whatever else is needed.

For digital nomads and generation y workers this is an absolutely fantastic opportunity. Free accommodation, often for several months at a time, is never something to turn your nose up at. Here’s a breakdown of some of the pros and cons to consider before getting started.

Pros of house sitting

  • Free Accommodation: Always good of course. Even if you’re working for yourself, that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily earning a lot and so a free place to stay is always welcomed.

  • Nice Accommodation: I think it’s fair to say that a lot of the housesits that come up are nicer than anywhere most people would rent. It’s not uncommon to see beach houses in California or townhouses in London pop up. TrustedHousesitters.com recently listed a beautiful apartment in New York (you can still see it on the New York housesits page) and the owner was looking for someone for six weeks! As a sidenote: I’d also say that looking after homes with pets can be a luxury that you don’t get with other types of accommodation.

  • Get Settled is Easy: Moving around and renting accommodation, especially for less than six months comes with its own difficulties. Some countries have extraordinarily large amounts of paperwork and hoops to jump through and it’s quite nice to be able to avoid this. Most homeowners are quite good about introducing you to a few people and showing you where everything local is as well, which certainly comes in handy. Finally, most homes are usually set up with wifi which is very handy, as getting this set up, especially for short-term stays is a royal pain in the backside.

Challenges of house sitting

I’ve deliberately called these challenges rather than cons as I don’t think there’s anything that would put me off house sitting, but it’s always a good idea to take these things into consideration.

  • Handover Days: Most homeowners ask for a day or two before the housesit begins to meet you, show you where everything is and get you to meet the pets if there are any. Personally, I think handover days are a really good thing and they’ve come in useful for every housesit I’ve done. That said, if they fall on a work-day, it means the time has to be made up elsewhere.

  • Responsibilities = Time: I love having dogs to walk, and when they’re not walking over my head in the middle of the night, I love having cats to look after as well. It’s important to remember though that looking after animals, cleaning pools, and even just watering plants and little chores like that, all take time. But if you’re like me and you enjoy it, it’s time you’re willing to give.

  • Stuck in one place: This hasn’t been an issue for me yet, however it’s important to realise that as a house sitter you will need to stay in the property for the duration of the assignment. Not in all day of course, but if you see cheap flights pop up, you can’t nip off anywhere for the weekend.

Getting Started

Think house sitting is for you? Here’s a few tips to get started:

  1. Build up your references: You wouldn’t buy an Amazon product with no reviews, and understandably a lot of homeowners are reluctant to take on someone who doesn’t have references. On TrustedHousesitters.com you don’t just need to get house sitting references, you can begin with character and employment references. It’s also worth taking on a few local housesits to get some house sitting experience and references under your belt. I’ve housesat in the same city that I lived in purely for this. If you’re already travelling, some countries (like Australia and Canada) have loads of housesits so be sure to fit these into your schedule whilst you’re visiting.

  2. Get a police check: a police check in the UK costs around £10 and is the same in most countries. It takes about a week to come through and is as simple as walking into a police station and asking for it. The credibility it adds however is priceless so worth getting.

  3. Read between the lines: House sitting is a great opportunity for you, yes. Just don’t forget why you’re there when you contact the homeowner. Too many people talk about why they want a free holiday and not what they can offer the homeowner.

Further Reading:

About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog GenerationY.com was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.


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