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 live-in home security while away.

A win-win arrangement, the value exchange model of house and pet sitting is the free exchange of services between people who co-operate for mutual benefit.

Home owners go away with peace of mind knowing they have live-in house sitters caring for home, property and pets in their absence.

House sitters “earn” free accommodation, either for a short while or a long time, in exchange for carrying out the agreed house sitting jobs.

Why do people house sit for FREE?

There are many reasons why people ‘sit’ for free. These are some of the more mainstream:-

  • to “earn” a free holiday-either in their own country, or on the other side of the world
  • Digital nomads ‘sit’ to have a place to call home for a while.
  • People ‘sit’ in their home town to dodge paying rent, get out of debt, or save money.
  • In cities such as London, Auckland, Sydney 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.
Why house sitting isn’t entirely free

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


Me with one of my regular fur kids Circa: 2019

House and pet sitters set aside time to carry out the house sitting jobs agreed on before the sit commenced.

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

The vast majority of house sits involve a pet or two, in which case dedicated care time needs to be put aside to interact with the companion animals in residence.

The time involved to carry out duties varies, a lot. An example is that some pets cannot be left home alone for long, whereas others, can be left all day.

Cats needs’ are usually simple. Generally regarded as low maintenance, in the case of inside cats, as well as feeding and play time, litter trays need to be cleaned.

Dogs require more dedicated care time.  Most need to be walked once, perhaps twice a day. All pets thrive on stimulation and TLC.

In every case, both parties agree the arrangement is a fair exchange of value.

What do house sitters do?

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

pet-sitterTo care for a cat and some 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.

House sitting jobs are sometimes negotiated.  For instance, the home owner’s preferred house sitter may not want to use a ride-on mower, so the home owner pays a contractor to do that job.

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

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.  

house-and-pet-sittingThe 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.

The 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, 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?

House and pet sitting – a booming trend  

Up until February 2020 when covid-19 brought the world to a standstill, house sitting as a free service was booming, as more and more home owners world-wide opened their doors to travelling house sitters. house-minding

Once covid is under control and the world gets on the move again, the demand for free sitters will be high, as house bound home owners take off in droves.

Not only will homes, properties, (plants, lawns, pools, hedges, edges) need to be maintained, the proud owners of newly acquired so-called ‘pandemic pets’ will need house and pet sitters to provide loving care while they’re not there.

How do house sitting websites work?

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 that show the other’s 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 go into more detail to determine if they’re a good ‘fit’.

All good house sitting websites work beautifully connecting house sitters with home owners – around the corner, or on the other side of the world.

⇒We explain how-to tell a good house sitting website from the others.

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 an international site range from $20 for MindMyHouse, and $279 for Trusted House Sitters.  The fee for house sitters to join a country specific site range from $50 to $84 per annum.

For people who want to travel the world, one house sit at a time, an international 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 with a lot of opportunities in that country is better value than an international 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.

⇒We explain how-to apply for house sitting jobs with confidence.

Home owners and renters

Most country specific 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.

⇒We explain how-to find house sitters for home & pets.

Save Money. Lots of it!

paid-pet-sittersWhichever way you look at it, considering how much money both parties save, the cost to join a website is negligible.

Experienced house sitters know the annual fee paid to join a good house sitting website is recouped with just one night’s paid accommodation.

House sitting during a pandemic

An important consideration during a pandemic is to connect with people in your bubble.

The Location search filters on country specific websites are more detailed than on international platforms. This makes it possible to drill down to very specific areas and confidently connect with people, where and when you want them.

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 occupied.  That 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.

A 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.  House and pet sitting makes it possible to stay longer, experience life in London or cosmopolitan Paris, relax beachside in Australia or be spoilt for choice of adventure in Queenstown, New Zealand.

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.

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.

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

Originally a printed publication mailed to subscribers, the value exchange model of house sitting proved popular with Aussie home owners, and so in 1998 they launched the world’s first house sitting website.

Now 2021,  The House Sitters are going strong connecting Aussie home owners with house sitters.

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 reputable house sitting website, doors open to a whole new world of opportunity and adventure.

Why Compare House Sitting® Websites?

Est 2015 Compare House Sitting® is the only resource dedicated to monitoring and analysing house sitting websites.

Compare-house-sitting-founder-robyn-schulzWe do this by maintaining a watching brief on all prominent house and pet sitting websites.

Are they doing a good job? Do they deliver on their promise?  From this rigorous research we know which give the ¹best results, those that don’t deliver at all, and everything in between.

Our Mission is to help others avoid time-wasting trial and error and gain a huge shortcut to the learning curve.

Read more About Compare House sitting Websites.

COPYRIGHT © Robyn Lea Schulz® 2015-2021 All Rights Reserved

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