OKIENOMADS

Housesitting 101

What is Housesitting?

Thousands of people around the world have purchased homes and at some point they find that they don’t want to live in their home but they aren’t quite ready to sell it and either aren’t able to rent it or don’t want to rent it. Some are retirees that spend six months of the year visiting warmer climates in an RV and the rest of their time is at their “home”. Most folks would rather have someone living in their home than board it up. Others have a home on the market to be sold and know that it has a much better chance of selling if someone is actively living in it and keeping up with the house.

Off grid Mexico estate
Our housesitting gig in early 2019: Off-Grid Ranch in Baja, Mexico

How Do I Find Housesitting Gigs?

Build Your Housesitting Portfolio

If you are serious about housesitting, the first step should be to build your portfolio of references from people that you have housesitted for in the past. Most strangers on the street aren’t going to let someone they don’t know into their home for any period of time. However, if you had a list of credible references, your chances of being selected to house sit increase tremendously.

Offer to housesit for family or close friends when they go on vacation. Do an excellent job, let them know that you would love to housesit for them again, and ask if you can use them as a reference for future housesitting gigs. Now you can maintain a “resume” of your housesitting experience and use it as a bargaining chip with potential clients.

Create an Online Presence

The next step is likely the most important, creating an online presence. This can be different depending on the part of the world you wish to housesit in, but at minimum you should create a profile on a housesitting websites such as Trusted House Sitters and/or Luxury House Sitting.

Similar to filling out a job application, create a profile that is inviting and appealing to the particular type of assignment that you are interested in. Your profile photo should be high-quality, up to date, and accurate to your appearance as well as inviting. Don’t use a mug-shot as your profile photo on a housesitting website. Have someone proofread your profile for grammatical errors and try to be as professional as possible.

Remember that in a digital age, your online footprint means as much as your reputation did in 1950’s small town America. As soon as a potential client sees your name as an interested house-sitter, they will likely scour your social media and web presence to help determine if you are a credible applicant. The obvious solution to this predicament is to maintain social media as a decent human being and don’t post hateful, rude, racist, or overly political content. A less obvious way to avoid missing out on houses because of your meme addiction is to set your social media accounts to private.

Insider Tip Perform a “web audit” of yourself every 6 months or so to insure that you have a spotless web identity. If you do find something negative or defamatory, make steps to have it removed. 

Provide a Quality Service

Like any industry, it doesn’t matter if you land the biggest client of your life if you can’t deliver a high-quality product. Once you get a housesitting gig, no matter the size, do the best job possible. Oftentimes going above and beyond your responsibilities as a house-sitter can yield glowing reviews online and excellent recommendations when someone calls. Similar to the rest of life, being excellent at what you do will net rewards continually over time.

Standard Duties of a House-sitter

The duties required in your housesitting agreement (yes, you need to sign a housesitting agreement) can vary depending on the geographic location of the house, the style of property (ranch, condo, apartment, etc.) and the reason that the owner requires a house-sitter. If the owner needs a house-sitter to make the home look inhabited, it’s probably best if you know how many hours per day you should be around the house.

In our 2019 housesitting agreement we signed on to live at an off-grid ranch in the remote mountains of Baja Norte, Mexico. We were interested in this assignment because it’s in Baja and because we are extremely interested in living off-grid someday and this was a perfect way to try that lifestyle without a huge commitment. Our duties at the ranch included the following:

  • Cleaning the main house and income property and preparing the income property with linens, supplies and a warm welcome if someone were staying.
  • Tending to the flower beds, gardens, and fruit trees on the property.
  • Feeding the dog, Pepita!
  • Monitoring the off-grid systems like satellite internet, solar power, and water.

Your responsibilities at a house might be very different and may include things like walking a dog or washing windows or dusting furniture. There is no right or wrong set of responsibilities as long as you are getting as much value out of the arrangement as the home owner. If you are staying in a 10’ x 10’ room with no windows and the owner of the house has you painting the exterior, reflooring the living room, and building on a garage, you have made a mistake. Remember that the home owner is seeking a housesitter for reason. 


A House-sitter signs a Housesitting Agreement

A written document agreed upon between the owner or manager of the home and the house-sitter is vital to a mutually beneficial arrangement. This document should be signed and dated by both parties and outline the term of the arrangement, responsibilities of the house-sitter, any compensation involved, and how to handle expenses paid out of pocket by the house-sitter. 
Final Tips for Housesitting
To sum up our experiences looking for housesitting jobs and apply for many, the golden rule applies as much to housesitting as it does to the rest of our lives. Treat other people’s homes how you would want someone to treat your home and be the applicant that you would hire if you were looking for a housesitter. Happy hunting and let us know if any of our tips helped you land a gig!

A written document agreed upon between the owner or manager of the home and the house-sitter is vital to a mutually beneficial arrangement. This document should be signed and dated by both parties and outline the term of the arrangement, responsibilities of the house-sitter, any compensation involved, and how to handle expenses paid out of pocket by the house-sitter. 

Final Tips for Housesitting

To sum up our experiences looking for housesitting jobs and apply for many, the golden rule applies as much to housesitting as it does to the rest of our lives. Treat other people’s homes how you would want someone to treat your home and be the applicant that you would hire if you were looking for a housesitter. Happy hunting and let us know if any of our tips helped you land a gig!

As always, thank you for reading along on our travels and adventures. Hopefully you were entertained, enlightened, or otherwise felt like the last few minutes reading this post was a worthwhile investment of your time. If you enjoyed our content, there are a few ways that you can help promote what we do and keep us on the road a little longer:

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