My first house sitting gig was in a beach house at Gerroa, NSW
To be honest, I’ve only been a house sitter for a short time and mostly in Australia. In fact, I have only done it twice now as Covid-19 got in the way of my plans. So in comparison to some who have been house sitting for many years and house sat in many places, I am only a newbie. But what I have discovered is for minimal effort of feeding pets, watering plants and just generally looking after someone’s place I get a maximum reward of free accommodation. With free accommodation it has meant I had money to spend elsewhere like on activities and exploring the area I am living. Plus house and pet sitting has allowed me to immerse myself in my new local surrounds and discover areas of Australia I might not have visited if I wasn’t house sitting. So here is my take on why I became a house sitter and why I think you should house and pet sit your way around Australia.
What is House and Pet Sitting?
House and pet sitting is where you live in someone else’s home and look after it while they are away. As well as looking after the house you may need to look after pets, plants and do small jobs like take the garage bin out on bin night. You could find yourself house sitting for a weekend, a week, a month or longer. For the homeowner, they get peace of mind that their home, pets and plants are being well cared for. And you get free accommodation and use of the house or certain areas of it. That’s a win-win I say!
PS: Sometimes you may be paid to house and pet sit. I highly suggest if you are being paid to get the terms and the amount down in writing so there are no disagreements at the end of the house sit.
How to Become a House and Pet Sitter in Australia
There are a couple of ways to become a house and pet sitter. The first is through word of mouth of friends, family and acquaintances. This is how I got my first house sitting gig through a friend. It gave me the taste for it.
The second way, and I think the easiest way to start house sitting is to sign up with a house sitting agency on their website. Websites such as Aussie House Sitters have house sitting opportunities all around Australia. Basically you create a profile account. This is more like an advertisement of yourself and/or your partner. The aim of it is for home owners to see your profile and think yes, I would like that person or persons to house sit my home. And you would also refer people to your profile when you are applying for house sitting gigs. So once you register, pay a yearly membership fee you will be able to contact homeowners and organise a house and pet sit.
I think it more advantageous finding house and pet sits through a specialist house and pet sitting website because your membership includes insurance to cover property damage, theft, and public liability protection. It gives peace of mind if little accidents occur. You would need to purchase insurance yourself if you are doing housesitting privately. This isn’t impossible, but it’s one less thing you have to worry about. There are a number of house and pet sitting agencies around the world, one specifically for Australia is Aussie House Sitters.
How To Contact a Potential Home Owner
Once you have registered with a housesitting agency you will have access to a list of home owners seeking a house and pet sitter. If you see a house sit of interest I suggest you apply for it as early as possible because they can go quickly. Also, some house sits can get a couple of hundred applications which is why you need a profile account telling owners about yourself and your experience. When contacting the home owner you should include in your message information about who you are and why you should be the one to sit for them. Hopefully they will get back to you within a few days to discuss the house sitting further. You should try to arrange a call to discuss and finalise the details with the home owner.
Things to Know about the House Sit
If you are successful in being the one chosen to house sit expect to receive a welcome guide. This should include everything you need for a successful house and pet sit, or maybe you discussed those details during the call. You should receive the address and security information to enter the property as you don’t want to set any alarms off when you enter. Also, emergency contact details. Any instructions for the house maintenance including water plants. And a list of possible jobs and what days to do them such as putting the rubbish bins out on a particular night.
If there are pets to look after you will want to know how to care for them. The owner should leave food or money for you to buy food for the pets. You will want to know the pets routine such as do they go for a walk at a particular time each day. Other things that I like to find out are how to use the TV remotes and what is the Wi-Fi password.
Can you make money while house sitting?
You don’t get paid to house and pet sit, you get a free place to stay. So with your accommodation costs covered, it is up to you how you spend your time – well to a certain degree. As long as you complete all the tasks you need to do the rest of your time is yours. So if you want to make some money by getting some work or working remotely that is totally up to you.
Is house sitting safe?
I think house sitting is safe. It is just like staying in an AirBnB or short term holiday rental. While I cannot make any guarantees about the character of the homeowner I do suggest you find places to house sit through the house sitting websites like Aussie House Sitters because the owner, just like you, has to pay to join the website and offer their home. And these agencies ensure the owners are reputable, just like you. However, I must admit I did find the first couple of nights in my house sit a little scary as I wasn’t use to the noises of the night. But once I got use to the noises and ensured the house was locked up I felt more at ease.
A typical House and Pet Sitting day
Daily walks with the dog.
A typical day house and pet sitting will vary from day to day and house sit to house sit. To give you an example of a typical day, I will tell you about a typical day on my first house and pet sit. I woke up at a convenient time, well actually being licked on the face by a hungry dog. Feed the dog. Make coffee. Make breakfast. Take dog for a walk along the beach. Home and do some work or sightseeing. Late afternoon I take dog for another walk. It’s not bin night so I don’t need to put the bins out. Check the letter box to see if any post. Dinner. Share couch with my fury friend while watching TV. Bed.
So there you have it, my take on house and pet sitting in Australia. House sitting is a great way to save costs as you travel around Australia. This is because we always need somewhere to stay each night and paying for accommodation is one of the biggest expenses a traveller has. So getting free accommodation in return for minimal effort of just being there and looking after pets is great. As many of the house sits are not in the centre of major towns – though it could be – you will be able to immerse yourself in the local area and what it has to offer.
READ MORE: 10 Types of Accommodation in Australia
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She is the creator of Live Work and Play in Australia. She loves coffee, chocolate and parmas and currently calls Melbourne home. Read More.