The concept is simple. A home owner plans to vacate their residence for a while – anything from a few days to twelve months and everything in between.

what-is-house-sittingThey search a house sitting website to find a house sitter or two to keep things running smoothly on the home front and provide home security while away.

Under the trust-based value exchange arrangement of house sitting no money changes hands.

House sitters do not get paid to ‘sit’, nor does a home owner get paid to have their house ‘sat’.

Sitters exchange their time, care and know-how for interesting places to stay and unique experiences.

Home owners and renters leave home with peace of mind knowing their home and property are being maintained, and their pets and animals cared for.  85% of house sits involve one or more pets. With a sitter (or two) in residence, pets remain happy at home in their familiar environment, with their regular routine maintained.  A win-win-win arrangement in anyone’s language. 😉

What do house sitters do?

The house sitting jobs required of a live-in house sitter vary enormously.

To care for a cat and water a few plants in an inner city apartment, is less work than minding a property with six dogs, four cats, five goats, ten hens, a pool and large lawn in the country.

dog-walkerHouse sitting jobs are often negotiated.  If a home owner is keen to secure a particular house sitter, they may be prepared to make arrangements for a task or two to be done by someone other than the sitter.

By way of example, as a single sitter I did not want to use the ride-on mower to maintain the sprawling lawns on an isolated property. Because the home owner’s priority was care for their ageing dog and security for their home, they were happy to pay a contractor to do that job.

In all cases, the objective is for the arrangement to be a win-win-win for the home owner, their house sitter/s, and the pets in residence.

What type of people house sit?

There is no ‘type’.  House sitters come from all walks of life. They often come in pairs but are sometimes alone, and range in age from young to old(er). In general, when it comes to securing a gig, age and experience trump youth and beauty.  And while not all home owners are open to little people, lots of families are happy for another family to live in their home in their absence.  Meet some house sitters, here.

Who are Professional House Sitters?

People who charge for house and pet sitting services are often referred to a “Professional House Sitters”. 

However, this term is not as common as it once was, because these days it’s generally acknowledged that people who ‘sit’ for free are no less professional than house sitters who charge home owners a fee.

Why do people ‘sit’ for FREE?

There are many reasons why people house and pet sit for free, and in every case the underlying reason is to save money by “earning” free accommodation.

house-sitting-to-save-moneyThe two most popular reasons why increasing numbers of people are turning to the value exchange arrangement of house sitting are:-

  1. To “earn” free holiday accommodation – in their own country, or on the other side of the world. Whether a short break, long holiday, weekend escape or family holiday, by side-stepping the expense of holiday accommodation, the travel budget goes much further.
  2. “Earn” free rent in your home town or city. More and more house sitters ‘sit’ to dodge paying rent.  Not only do house sitters not pay rent, they also avoid the cost of utilities, digital subscriptions and WiFi.  In major cities and popular tourist destinations where housing costs are high, house sitters are able to save tens of thousands of dollars a year.  A growing segment of this market are Millenials, who ‘sit’ to save a home deposit.

Other reasons why people sit for free include:-

  • Digital nomads ‘sit’ to have a place to call home for a while.
  • In cities such as London, Auckland, Sydney, Toronto and New York where housing costs are high and overcrowding common, people look for houses to sit to have their own space for a while.
  • Many travelling house sitters have housesitting down to a fine art and travel the world, one house sit at a time.
  • People on road trips seek houses to sit and pets to pamper as a break from the rigours of the road.
  • Newcomers to a city or region look for houses to ‘sit’ so they can live in different areas before deciding where to settle.

Notwithstanding the fact that more and more people turn to house sitting to save money, it’s a fact that the majority of house sitters have a genuine love of animals.

Why house sitting isn’t entirely free

A condition of all house sitting jobs is to provide live-in home security for house and property and care for the pets in residence.


Me with one of my regular fur kids Circa: 2019

In addition to staying in the house every night, house sitters need to set aside time to carry out the house sitting jobs.

House and pet sitting is not a one-size-fits-all.  So before committing, both parties discuss and agree expectations to determine if they’re a good ‘fit’.

The time involved to carry out duties varies greatly.

Standard tasks include bringing in the mail, taking out the garbage and watering plants. Many homes have a lawn and garden. Some have a pool to be maintained.

The majority of house sits involve a pet or two, and dedicated care time needs to be put aside to care for the companion animals in residence.

Some pets are accustomed to having people around more often than not and cannot be left home alone for long. Whereas others can be left all day.

These and other aspects need to be outlined by the home owner to the house sitter, and house sitters need to explain their expectations in relation to the house and pets.  The better the ‘fit’ the better the sit.

⇒Click to discover how-to Get Started as a House and Pet Sitter.

Free vs Paid House and Pet Sitting – 4 Key Differences

The free model of house and pet sitting is very different to the paid arrangement.  

The paid arrangement is an employer / employee relationship based on payment for services rendered. Paid house and pet sitters request payment for each job required of them. They charge to bring in the mail, take out the garbage, walk the dog, groom the cat, clean the litter tray, feed pets, pick up poop, etc.

cat-sitterThe free model is a value-exchange arrangement based on mutual benefit.

No money changes hands, because house and pet sitters “earn” the opportunity live-in another person’s home, for free, in exchange for carrying out the house sitting jobs agreed before the sit commenced.

We explain four key differences:-

  1. Free house sitters can sit anywhere. Paid pet sitters cannot sit abroad.

    House sitters who charge home owners are restricted to ‘sit’ in their own country, or regions where they have the necessary Work Visa.  Otherwise they work illegally and risk fines or deportation.  Countries where paid house and pet sitting is commonplace have websites designed exclusively to connect home owners with local paid pet sitters. Read more

    Because free house sitters are not seeking paid work they can legitimately care for homes, properties and pets anywhere in the world. 
  2. Free sitters can travel widely. Paid Pet Sitters need to be settled in an area.

    In order to attract work from websites, paid pet sitters need to be settled in an area and obtain online Reviews and References from people in that area. Most home owners look for paid pet sitters they can hire on an ongoing basis, so they search for local pet sitters with verifiable references. Paid sitters who move around a lot have little chance of finding paid house sitting jobs.Read more

    People who ‘sit’ for free are NOT restricted to where they live, or for how long.  Free house sitters can apply for house sitting jobs anywhere and everywhere.  Search filters on house sitting websites place no limit on how many times house sitters can change their Location preferences. This enables free sitters to search for sits in their local region, or on the other side of the world.
  3. Free house sitters always live-in.  Paid pet sitters sometimes live-in.

    Paid house and pet sitters are typically engaged to pop-in to care for pets while the home owner is away.  Plus do other jobs as agreed e.g. bring in the post, water plants, open & close blinds so the home looks lived in.  Sometimes people want their paid sitter to live-in for a short while. Read more

    Free house and pet sitters always live-in because that is the way the value-exchange model of house sitting works. Sitters “earn” free accommodation in exchange for caring for home, property, pets, plants (and any other jobs agreed) in the absence of the home owner – a win-win arrangement, in anyone’s language.
  4. Paid pet sitters need insurance.  Free sitters do not.

    Platforms that connect paid sitters with home owners earn money by deducting from bookings, usually around 20%. As Independent Contractors members are covered by the platform’s Public Liability Insurance. Paid pet sitters who work independently of a platform (e.g. Facebook, their own website) need to take out their own insurance to safeguard against claims for liability. Read more

    Insurance companies regard free house sitters as “invited guests.” As such, free house sitters are covered by the home owners’ Home & Contents Insurance Policy.  This insures house sitters against accidental damage during their stay. It does not necessarily cover their personal possessions.  If this is a concern to house sitters (it seldom is), the house sitter/s need to take out their own insurance cover.  Home & Contents policies usually include Public Liability Insurance. This protects home owners against claims for accident or injury.

    NB:  As they say, “the devil’s in the detail.” Insurance cover can vary insurer to insurer, country to country.  Before leaving home home owners are well advised to contact their insurer to determine if anything is required of them e.g. perhaps they need to supply the name & address of their selected house and pet sitter/s?

⇒Click to learn how-to find Free sitters for home and pets.

Why connect through a house sitting website?

Sometimes people consider connecting through Facebook groups instead of taking time to register on house sitting website. We recommend meeting through the secure, online environment of a house sitting platform rather than meeting in the public domain. There are many reasons for this, not the least being that good house sitting websites shield personal contact details and exact location until both parties are ready to go the-next-step, and connect.  Another important reason is because both parties are accountable to the platform.  You can read other reasons, here

How do house sitting websites work?

Good house sitting websites work beautifully connecting house sitters with home owners. Similar to dating sites, house sitting websites act only to provide a safe space for home owners and house sitters to find one another. 


Registered members on both sides of the house sitting fence read profiles and online reviews of other members. Combined, these reveal a house sitting history.

To protect personal privacy, members connect and communicate incognito through the site’s internal messaging system, which shields the exact location and identity of the individual.

Home owners join a house sitting website and list their house sitting assignment – Dates, Location, details of their Home and Pets, and specifics of the house sitting jobs.

House sitters join a house sitting website, write up their Profile, and include pics with pets.  The Profile displays when, where and why the single, couple or family want to ‘sit’, plus details any house and pet sitting experience.

House sitters find and apply for house sitting jobs by browsing listings on a house sitting website. Once connected, both parties communicate to determine whether they’re a good ‘fit’.

Does it cost to join a house sitting website?
House and pet sitters

House sitters pay to join and connect with home owners.

The annual fee for house sitters to join a global site range from $20 for MindMyHouse, and $279 for Trusted House Sitters.  The fee for house sitters to join a country dedicated platform range from $A50 for The House Sitters to USD79 for House Sit Mexico.

For people who want to travel the world one house sit at a time, a global house sitting website might be the best choice.

country-specific-house-sitting-websitesBut for people who choose to sit in a specific country, a country dedicated site that lists lots of opportunities in that country, is better value than a global site that offers house sitting jobs in all corners of the world.

Countries that have their own dedicated house sitting website are New Zealand, UK, USA, Canada, Mexico  and the world’s favourite house sitting destination, Australia.

Home owners and renters

Most country dedicated house sitting websites allow home owners to register and connect for FREE.

house-sitting-websites-freeThese include Kiwi House Sitters, House Sitters Canada, House Sitters UK, House Sitters America, and each of the four best sites for house sitting Australia.

Two of five international house sitting websites House Carers and MindMyHouse, allow home owners to join and connect with house sitters for free.

The remaining three international house sitting sites, Trusted House Sitters, House Sit Match and Nomador, charge home owners between $109 and $279 per annum to connect.

Both parties $ave Money.

One of the main reasons why people participate in the free model of house and pet sitting is because both parties save money, often lots of it!

By engaging house sitters, home owners avoid expensive pet boarding fees or the cost for someone to visit each day to feed, and perhaps walk, the pets in residence.

Not only is thereHouse-and-pet-sitting no need to pay a dog walker (or the lawn mower man, or the pool guy, as the case may be), with sitters in residence home owners and renters have peace of mind knowing they have live-in home security while away.  Priceless!

On the other side of the house sitting fence are house and pet sitters. In exchange for doing agreed tasks, as well as “earning” free accommodation, sitters sidestep the expense of utilities, internet and streaming services.  And as house sitters have use of a kitchen they can prepare meals at home, avoiding the expense of eating out.

Even if only a short sit over a long weekend, both parties save money.   Consider the savings in the case of long sits!

House and pet sitting is booming world-wide 

Never before, in the history of the world of house sitting, has the demand for house sitters been so high.

World-wide home owners previously grounded by a pandemic, are packing up and leaving home in droves, either returning to the road or taking to the skies.

Because of the increase in pet ownership over recent years, many home owners are now the proud pawrents of what are affectionately called “pandemic pets”.  Therefore, more people than previously need to find care for pets while away.

As a result, the number of house sitting assignments listed on house sitting websites is at an all time high, as people make plans to travel up to one year in advance.

Fortunately, on the other side of the house sitting fence is a larger pool of location independent people willing and able to provide free live-in care for home, property and pets. Many are mobile workers no longer confined to an office.  Many more are young-at-heart retirees who have retired from work, but not from life.

What are the benefits of house and pet sitting?
House Sitting benefits for Home Owners.

Home ownerspet-sitters go away knowing their home is less vulnerable to burglaries, and property and possessions will be defended against damage by storms, fire or flood with trusted house sitters in residence.

For people who leave home for extended periods, having trusted house sitters in residence means their home is deemed occupiedThat way, the Vacancy Clause in their insurance policy does not kick in, and Home and Contents Insurance remains valid.

The length of time before a property is deemed “unoccupied” varies from one insurance company to the next, country to country. In regions where temperatures can be extreme for long periods, the length of time a home can remain unoccupied before the Vacancy Clause takes effect can be a mere 7 days. In more temperate climates the period of time before a property is deemed “unoccupied” ranges from 30 days to 90 days.

With pet ownership on the increase, an increasingly important aspect of house sitting is care of companion animals. Instead of being sent away to a pet ‘motel’, pets remain at home with their familiar routine maintained.

House Sitting Benefits for House Sitters

house-sitting-jobsOn the other side of the fence are the House Sitters – singles, couples and families who register on house sitting websites to search for house sitting jobs.

The opportunity to “earn” free accommodation in exchange for caring for other people’s homes, property and pets is not a chore but a fabulous opportunity!

City dwellers get to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, families “earn” themselves a free holiday, digital nomads find a place to call home, grey nomads able to take a break from the rigors of the road are just a few of the benefits of house and pet sitting.

During the day house sitters get to explore a new area, then at night return to all the comforts of home – a fully equipped kitchen, laundry, bedrooms, home entertainment, WiFi.

House sitting as a free service is good for the body, soul and wallet.

While both parties save money, on offer is much more than a simple economic equation.

It’s a beautiful thing when people enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement based on Trust, not Money. We learn to be more accepting. We develop a deeper sense of trust. Adapting to new people and places makes us more flexible, often at a time of life when we’re developing tendencies to become set in our ways. Plus doing something for others makes us feel good.

More Interaction. Less Isolation.


One key to a healthy mind is staying engaged with others.

house-and-pet-sittersA dog is a conversation waiting to happen.  People, especially other people with dogs, will stop and talk with you when they see you out walking.  Visiting a dog park lets you socialise with other owners while your dog socialises with their dogs.

Need a Break or Change of Pace?

House and pet sitting is a fantastic way to shake things up a little bit – break the routine and enjoy the newness of discovering previously unexplored areas of your hometown.

Visit expensive cities and tourist towns.

In most major cities and tourist towns, accommodation and food is so expensive you need to limit your stay to a few days.  But house sitting makes it possible stay for much longerexperience life in London or cosmopolitan Paris, live it up in San Francisco, relax beachside in Australia or be spoilt for choice of adventure in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The History of House Sitting

Before the advent of the internet, house and pet sitting was typically an informal arrangement between people who knew one another.

house-and-pet-sittersIn 1993 two young Aussie graduates identified the opportunity for people to “earn” free accommodation by providing absent home owners with live-in house and pet sitters.

Originally a printed publication mailed to subscribers, Aussie home owners took to house sitting like a dog to a bone.

And so in 1998 they launched The House Sitters, the world’s first house sitting website.

Since then, house sitting as a free service has moved from a niche proposition to become more and more mainstream, as people in all corners of the world discover that by registering with a good house sitting website, doors open to a whole new world of opportunity and adventure.

COPYRIGHT © Robyn Lea Schulz® 2015-2022 All Rights Reserved

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