If you want to know how to become a house sitter in the UK (or elsewhere) I’ll explain in this post how I got started. Having done 65 house sits since December 2017 you’ll need to grab a cuppa because it’s a long one stuffed with all the info you need to get started as a successful house and pet sitter.
So you want to know how to become a housesitter? Well, it’s a simple as signing up to a website and voila, you’re a house sitter. However, if you want to get booked regularly there are a few other things to consider.
Become a member of a house sitting site
There are a number of different house sitting websites out there. Some UK based and some US ones. There are probably some European or Canadian ones too although I haven’t gone looking for them. To be honest, I just joined one site and have stuck with it from the beginning. Someone else mentioned the site I used and when I checked it out I liked the look of it.
The interface was professional and easy to use and there seemed to be a good number of sits listed in a variety of places. I did have a quick look around at other sites but they felt a bit unprofessional and clunky and didn’t appear to have such a good number of available sits. That was three years ago so things may have changed. But I’ve been happy with my choice and it’s served me well.
House or Pet Sitting Site?
Consider the type of sits you want to do. Some house sitting sites are more for just house sitters. The site I use only has a few listing without pets and the main focus is being there to look after the animals. (Usually, cats and dogs but some listings are for birds, reptiles, rabbits, chickens etc. I’ve also seen horses come up a number of times and less often sheep, goats and llamas!)
This is an affiliate link for the site, TrustedHousesitters.com that I use. If you decide to sign up that link will give you 25% off. I think I get a couple of months free too but I won lifetime membership already so it’s no difference to me.
How it works is that you sign up as either a house sitter, a homeowner or both. Once you are a member you can list your property, if applicable, or browse the available sits.
Choosing one house-sitting site or several
After I joined TH I didn’t even consider getting a membership with a second or third site until my friend suggested it as a possibility. I think it could work at the beginning if you’re looking to do regular sits as obviously it would give you access to more sits. But it also involves paying to join them all.
The cost of joining a house sitting site varies. I think Trusted Housesitters is about the most expensive but for me it’s worth it. For the cost of one night in London accommodation, I got somewhere to stay for many, many nights. I think last year I had an average of 5 nights a month that I had to pay for accommodation, the rest of the time I was on sits.
Benefits of joining a house sitting site
Of course, the obvious benefit of being a member of a housesitting site is access to listings. But the site I’m a member of (and this isn’t a sponsored post, I’m just grateful for the opportunities I’ve had through it!) has additional support like customer service, a 24/7 vet advice line and I’m insured through them for my sits.
I’ve only used the vet advice line once but the insurance gives me peace of mind. I’ve never had any disasters but it makes me feel better knowing it’s there.
Create a great house sitter profile
Everything with house sitting is done on trust so the more you can do to show people you’re trustworthy the higher chance you have of being booked for sits.
Get verified as a new house sitter
I started off with a character reference from a friend and then had some online checks. My phone number and Facebook were verified initially and then I had some official documents verified online. I would recommend getting the highest level of vetting done that your chosen site offers because it helps reassure homeowners. It’s especially important when you’re getting started and have no reviews to show.
Show how much you care about pets
Although there is an emphasis on keeping the home secure while the owners are away the biggest concern most of them have is knowing that their pets are being cared for.
People want to know that you genuinely care about animals and have an interest in the type of pet they have. If you own or have owned, a pet(s) share that information. Demonstrate that you’re an animal lover and why. Show pictures of your pets on your profile.
Definitely talk about anything else that’s relevant. For example, before I joined trusted housesitters I’d only owned cats as an adult and rabbits and guinea pigs as a child. A lot of sits listed are for homes with dogs and I wanted to show I had some experience with them too. So on my profile, I talked about the volunteer dog walking I’d done for a charity that matches walkers with dog owners who are too ill or otherwise physically unable to walk their pets.
Post an intro video on your house sitter profile
You might be like a lot of people who squirm a bit at the thought of creating an intro video for your house sitting profile. I was a bit like that too but making one was one of the biggest things that helped me get sits at the beginning.
Seeing someone on video is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get a feel for them and a sense of who they are. It is a fast way to build trust and that’s what’s needed when you’re up against a lot of other sitters.
Take a deep breath, choose to get over yourself and record a short video on your phone! Keep in mind that people haven’t got hours to sit and watch something and they also don’t need your whole life story! Three minutes is probably plenty of time to explain why you’ve decided to join as a house sitter, a brief overview of your experience with pets/animals and the kind of sits you’d love to experience.
When I first started pet sitting so many people told me it was the video that had clinched it. And when they met me they felt like they already know me and said I was just like my pictures and video. Again, it helps people feel more comfortable about leaving their home and pet with a stranger.
Ask for reviews
I think after each sit, homeowners on our site get an automated email asking them to write a review. Obviously people are busy so they don’t always do it but these are really important for you when you’re first starting out so ask the owners to do this for you.
After a while, my official verifications and experience with my own pets were not the most influential aspect of my profile. The reviews from people I sat for spoke volumes and addressed common questions and concerns other sitters had. As my 5-star reviews built up they were more valuable than anything else of my profile.
Applying for sits
Consider what’s appropriate for your time commitment
There are lots of different types of sits/pets listed and what the owners want and expect can vary. It’s important that, despite your eagerness to get a sit and some reviews under your belt, you apply with integrity.
By that, I mean making sure that you can deliver what the home and pet owners want. I was working (very) full-time during a lot of my sits and was out of the house for a number of hours each day. For many cat owners, that was exactly the same situation that the cat was used to. However, where the owners worked from home the cats were used to having a lot more company during the day. Owners often wanted their cat to have the same level of company while they went on holiday. Similarly, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to look after dogs who needed let out every few hours.
Things to consider:
What do you have suitable experience for
When applying for sits you need to mindful of staying within your experience level. Some sits are completely laid back. I’ve looked after cats that spent a lot of time out and about outside, had one meal a day and didn’t use a litter tray. Super easy just to give them cuddles when I see them. Anyone who loves cats can do that. But if a cat needed an injection or other medication, would you feel confident with that?
And with dogs, for example, I can certainly deliver the same amount of love and care as a cat. But I’m not experienced in complicated dog training techniques so wouldn’t apply for anything that required that. Same if there are several dogs that had to be looked after at once or some breed of huge dog or something similar that would need some previous experience. I can give dogs cuddles, walks and food but if they need anything more specialised I’m not the gal for the job.
In the same vein, if horses are listed and you want to apply then you need to read carefully. I adore horses and would gladly look after them again. When I was at the farm I mentioned, the horses just needed hay, water and feed (oh, and the manure cleared from the field!). It was a straight-forward – if physically demanding – routine and I felt comfortable with it.
Other owners need someone who is much more experienced with horses to pick out their feet and do various other things that they wouldn’t want an amateur “having a go” at.
Be realistic and honest and work within the realms that you’re capable of.
What can you commit to?
Carrying on with that sentiments, if the listing mentions that the dogs are used to an early morning walk at 5am can you commit to that or do you prefer not to do anything energetic until after 9am?
Those cute kittens that you were desperate to sit are high energy, into everything and need quite a bit of attention each day to keep them occupied. Can you manage that if you’re working from home and need to be in a lot of serious video calls?
Consider what the sit will actually be like and decide whether it’s something you can actually commit to before applying.
Securing your first sit
In London there are a lot of applicants for each sit, sometimes up to 50 people. My first sit was in Nottingham where I had been living for the past decade. There were much fewer applicants and even though I was a first-timer, I clinched the sit because the owners like that I was local and knew the area.
The pretty cottages, the grand houses and anything in London is always popular. You’ve got a much higher chance of being accepted in the beginning if you go somewhere with less competition. Look for sits that could help you just get started and some reviews under your belt.
Putting it into practice
Ok, that was a long old post. In short, this is how you become a housesitter.
- Sign up to a house sitting site – here use my link to get 25% off
- Fill out your profile in full, including an intro video and experience with pets and animals
- Get verified
- Apply for sits that you are competent to do
- Be polite and keep applying you won’t be successful with all of them
My experience with house sitting
House sitting has been a wonderful experience for me over the past three years. It’s absolutely cemented my belief in human kindness. I’ve adored the affection from the pets I’ve cared for and they certainly kept me entertained for many an hour!
I’m continuing to house and pet sit for as long as I’m enjoying it and absolutely encourage you to give it a go if you feel excited about it too. Keep in mind it can take a bit of time to build up your reviews but keep applying and keep going.
Want to do more to get booked again and again? Have a read of this post of how I get chosen for house sits over and over again, even when I’m up against 50 other people.