The Pros And Cons Of Housesitting As A MEans To Travel

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We hear it all the time; ‘You should try housesitting! It’s a great way to travel and save money.” We know, and we’ve tried it, and what many people won’t tell you are the downsides to housesitting.

Sure, it’s a great way to save on accommodation, and you can stay in some really beautiful houses, but there are some pros and cons to housesitting as a means to travel, which we’re going to outline for you in this guide.

Carolina Beach vacation rentals
House sitting by Carolina Beach

Some of our friends have experienced being the boss of Irish castles or lived in mansions on a Thai island for free. You can see why we were tempted to try it!

We’ve housesat plenty of times before for our friends, so the idea of housesitting while traveling the world seemed like a dream come true.

Well, it was a dream…almost…

The Pros of House-Sitting

As it turned out, housesitting didn’t work well for us, but that was largely due to our circumstances (more on that later). As ever the optimists, we’ll first discuss some of the positive aspects of housesitting as a means to travel below, before getting into the negatives…

Save on Accommodation Costs

lady sitting on chair in room

If you want to travel to expensive countries, such as Scandinavia in Europe, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, or the USA, then it’s a great way to see destinations you might not have been able to afford if you were traveling normally.

It’s a great way to travel and see more of the world without breaking the bank.

There Are Long-Term House Sits

If you want to travel for a long time but you don’t have the funds to do so, then it can be a great way to see the world for a long period of time.

Get To See The Local Culture Up Close

If you’re flexible enough, you could wake up in a new place, or new city, with each of your housesitting gigs.

One of the best parts of travel is getting to know the local area and see parts of the culture the typical tourist won’t see.

As guests, your house sitter host may introduce you to some of their friends, or give you tips for places to visit that are a bit more off-the-beaten-path.

Great for Animal Lovers

cat sitting on lady's lap on chair

House sitting may sometimes require you to pet sit, which is great if you’re an animal lover and you adore looking after pets.

You do need some experience with this, as most of the time the animals need comfort and love.

If you get a good house sit gig with a lovable animal, it could be amazing.

Or it could be a disaster…more on that later.

Perfect for Digital Nomads

If you travel full time and don’t have a set amount of time in each place, then house sitting may be great for you.

As digital nomads, most of the time all you need is a desk and strong internet, in a quiet environment.

A house is the perfect space for that. It’s literally like working from home, only it’s an international house and the home isn’t yours…

You have all the facilities from home

More often than not, when you’re renting vacation rentals, they will have a kitchen but it won’t be stocked with oil, salt and pepper, or even basic appliances like a microwave.

Because it’s someone’s house, you can be sure there will be everything you need to make homecooked meals like you would at home.

House sitting allows you to immediately feel at home, though the first house-sit may feel strange and like imposter syndrome at first, you do get used to this “ahh and relax” feeling.

The Cons of House-Sitting

The actual housesitting strategy, where you pay a monthly fee to join a housesitting membership site and apply for housesitting jobs, hasn’t worked in our favor. Trusted Housesitters is one of the best platforms. We used it to find a pet sitter for our house on our European summer trip.

That’s not to say it’s not fantastic, before people start jumping out and saying we’re ruining the housesitting reputation, hear us out.

House sitting can be a brilliant strategy to travel around the world on a budget and save on one of your biggest travel costs.

But, it hasn’t worked for us (yet) and here’s why…

You Have To Organize Your Travel Route Around Housesitting

living and dining area of house with glass windows and high ceilings

Possibly the biggest reason housesitting hasn’t worked for us, especially during our 18-month road trip around Australia, was because we were trying to find a place that fit into our pre-determined travel plans and time frame.

This makes it an extremely difficult strategy to make work. I think you need to be flexible and go where the housesitting deals are.

So when we were heading to Melbourne for three weeks, it was so challenging to find something that fit that exact time frame and place. Trying to find one in even smaller cities was almost impossible.

We considered applying for a housesit for six months on the Gold Coast. Again, we couldn’t find one to fit those dates and where we wanted. And with Kalyra going to school, we certainly didn’t want to be moving every month or so.

We Do Last-Minute Travel

Now, on the flip side of having a definite travel route planned, is the fact that we often travel last-minute.

We may have the journey mapped out, but the routes to get to the end can change very quickly. This never left us with enough time to grab a good housesitting deal because we’re always switching things up last minute.

Most housesitters will want someone confirmed at least a month or more in advance. There are occasionally last-minute options, but those are usually unattainable as you have to be in the right place at the right time.

We Travel with kids

craig and kalyra sitting on couch playing guitar

Housesitting appears to be way more attractive to home owners if you are single or a couple.

Unfortunately they don’t look too favorably upon young children, and I can understand why. You are looking after their home, and we all know kids are not exactly mindful of where they put their sticky hands.

That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of houses available for families, they’re just much harder to find.

We’re Too Fussy

We travel for the freedom and adventure. A chance to explore when we want, eat out, sleep in, and take weekend getaways.

Many of the housesitting opportunities we looked at came with too many obligations. We don’t want to mind tons of pets, I tend to kill any plant that comes within three feet of me so gardening scares me a little.

Although, Kalyra and Savannah did a stellar job of watering Mike and Ang’s plants when we house-sat for them in Perth.

Since we had so many restrictions due to the above, once we narrowed down our options we’d be left with one house that fit our criteria, and then we had to try and get that house in a competitive market. Which brings us to…

It’s A Competitive Market

I think the secret to housesitting is out, so the market is flooded with people taking advantage of this strategy for getting free accommodation.

For us, finding the right housesitting opportunity is like searching for a needle in a haystack because of all the parameters I’ve mentioned already. So when an opportunity comes up, it’s often snatched up before we even get a chance to say hello.

Applying over and over again for housesits makes me feel like I’m out trying to find a job. I currently don’t have the time or energy for it, and I’m just not that invested.

Expensive Membership Prices

I find housesitting memberships to be expensive. Now, if housesitting works for you and you get some free accommodation, then of course the membership fee is nothing.

But, if it’s not working for you, and you spend most of the time trying to find something that works and then giving up, then it’s another cost to carry.

I was tired of paying the membership subscription for a few different sites and not getting anything out of it. It feels too much like playing the pokies – a total gamble. To me, I was wasting my money, not to mention my time, chasing down places to stay.

On some housesitting sites, you can search for places without being a member, which was useful. But, you have to become a member to apply.

I’d like to see one of these come up with a more innovative approach so that people only pay once they receive their first yes, or something like that?

Trusted Housesitters is one of the best platforms. We used it to find a pet sitter for our house on our European summer trip.

Too Time-Consuming

It just took too much of our time to investigate housesitting options. It was far easier to book a hotel, hostels, or apartment for wherever we wanted to stay.

If time is on your side, then absolutely follow this strategy to get some amazing free accommodation stays. We’re time-starved so just could not put in the time to researching for properties, applying for them and then waiting to hear back.

It was just easier for us to cough up the money to rent an apartment, VRBO, or camp. Once we realized housesitting wasn’t working for us, we decided to buy our camper trailer and have a home on wheels instead.

Time is essential to us and since I’ve been travelling nomadically for almost 17 years, I’m getting a little fussier and don’t want to sacrifice certain things. That’s why I’d prefer to do things that suit better like apartment rental, camping, or housesitting for friends.

But, having said all of that, now we are no longer on our epic road trip around Australia, we have more flexibility to travel to where the housesitting deals are, rather than trying to make them fit our square hole. So we might just look more into it.

Pet Care

cat sitting on cat tree inside house
Our precious Ivy

Looking after a pet is a common duty for a housesitter, and in my opinion, is a bit of a risk on the homeowners part. Would you really trust new people you’ve never met before to look after your fur babies?

Well, while it’s free pet care for them, it’s a bit of a chore for the pet sitter. Cats are easy, but dogs need walking, feeding, and lots of love. Most of the time dogs aren’t too happy that their pet owners have disappeared and may end up barking or whining continuously.

It can be stressful for the house sitter. Not to mention if they get sick and you’re responsible for taking them to a vet.

Some animals have medications, need specific assignments or certain needs. For the non-pet owner, this can be anything but relaxing, and you may be wondering why they don’t just put their pets in the kennels or cattery.

It can be more hassle than it’s worth, so those thinking of pet sitting do need to communicate with the host about the animals needs before accepting the house sit.

You’ll also find those with pets will want you to prove you know how to look after a pet, and have done a number of sits before to show testimonials. If it’s your first house sit, don’t expect to look after animals.

While being a housesitter did not really work for us, hosting a house sitter did! We had many applications via our Trusted Housesitters account, so we could be selective in finding the perfect housesitter to love and look after our cats. She was absolutely fantastic, taking care of them and our house, and updating us daily on how they were going. It meant we could have a stress free dream European trip.

You Need To Collect The Mail

Now this isn’t usually such a big problem, unless parcels need to be delivered and it’s your job to pick them up…

The Verdict: Is Housesitting For You?

Well, I think you can determine that for our lifestyle, housesitting doesn’t work for us, but that’s not to say it’s not for you.

It totally depends on individual travel styles, expectations, likes, dislikes, and flexibility.

Hundreds of travelers are saving thousands of dollars through housesitting and there are some real advantages, so you’d be mad not to try make it work.

If you can, grab that flexibility and run with it. You might just end up staying in an English manor for free!

More Housesitting Resources:

If you’re thinking housesitting is something you want to try, then you may want to check out this book.

Our blogging friends, Dalene and Pete from Hecktic Travels have also written an excellent housesitting guide – How to become a housesitter and see the world.

how to be a housesitter

Pete and Dalene have been traveling the world for years following the housesitting strategy so know what they are talking about.

They’ve had 14 house-sits in 9 countries, and saved over $50,000 in the cost of accommodations as a result.

That’s pretty awesome. Who says you need thousands of dollars to travel?

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Why we DON"T do house-sitting. And why YOU maybe should.

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