Design Your Life
5 Tips for House Sitting Abroad
By Amirah Cook
When I first read about house sitting, I thought it was too good to be true. Can a person really visit hundreds of places, both domestic and abroad, without paying a dime for accommodations? Yes. I have house sat throughout Europe. I’ve enjoyed month long stays in England, and I was invited to a house on a Greek island. I am currently writing this article from a house sitting assignment in Majorca, Spain.
Whether you are a novice traveler or living abroad, house sitting has great opportunities for everyone.
Five Tips For House Sitting Abroad
- There are several agencies dedicated to connecting home owners with potential house sitters. Trusted House Sitters is the most popular website with the largest selection of house sitting opportunities. You will need to buy a membership to be able to see and apply for house sitting opportunities around the world. Most come with an annual fee, while others offer cheaper and shorter membership options.
- House sitting opportunities range in timeframe and location. You can house sit for a weekend, a month or even a year. I have seen opportunities to house sit in the French countryside for a year while the owners decided whether to sell. There are also shorter and more urban options, such as a week long house sit in London, where you have easy access to the Tube and other public transportation.
- Each house sit is unique with different perks and drawbacks. Some opportunities include a stipend, come with a car or lead to lifelong friendships. My husband and I house sat for a couple in England for two months. We had such a blast, we spent an extra week with them after their return. We later house sat for them again for another two-month period. I have heard not-so-great stories from other travelers about less-than-stellar accommodation and overbearing home owners. But, I have only had great experiences.
- Some house sits include looking after animals and the home. From cats to horses, people with pets often need someone to feed and love their furry family members while they’re away. I initially steered away from animals other than dogs, but I would advise you to consider cat sitting. Cats are low maintenance, and Europeans tend to allow their cats outside. So, there’s not a litter box.
- Most importantly, getting a house sitting assignment and being a great house sitter depends on you. You must be open minded and willing to leave your comfort zone. When you create a profile, make it personal, and be honest. Don’t say you can care for horses when you’ve only seen them at the zoo. Only agree to house sit if you feel comfortable with the owner as well as their expectations. Make sure to ask questions, see pictures and have a video call before booking your flight. Above all, use common sense and intuition. You may be surprised at the beautiful locations and (free) fabulous accommodation you will find through house sitting.
Amirah was born in Germany and raised in the Midwest. After graduating from Howard University, with a degree in accounting, she set out to live in sunny Los Angeles. It took two years in Corporate America to realize that maximizing someone else's profits was not her dream. She quit her career, sold everything and began 'Honeymooning Indefinitely' with her husband in September 2013. They've been to over a dozen countries, currently gallivanting throughout Europe.