House Sitting, a fairly newer if not even known concept for Americans but a Big deal and quite normal for Australians where the concept seems to have originated based on activity and websites I’ve read.
Usually House Sitting is a NON paid, (although sometimes you can get paid) gig whereby you, the house sitter, stay in someone’s home whilst they are away on holiday. Usually, again exceptions to every rule, you stay for Free in exchange for taking care of their home and most the time, taking care of pets/animals. You can get house sits with no animals as well.
In Europe, many areas are remote and people need someone in the homes for security reasons and peace of mind to the homeowner for things like taking in the mail and communicating to the homeowners any emergency business matters in the mailings.
Ensuring the toilets are being flushed and kept going, making sure gardeners are coming on time if employed, or you become the gardener in exchange for free lodging! Sending emails or skype feedback to the owners as they travel and can be assured that all is well back home.
We joined a house sitting site, Trusted House Sitters, http://www.trustedhousesitters.com. We pay money to join and the homeowner pays money to join, to give somewhat of a security blanket of both parties being registered to the website with personal information and credit cards. (INTERESTED? in doing this yourself? email me and I can save you 20% on membership) In America it is more common to have to get a Police Report attached to the website. You have to go thru different processes in each State so consult the website for your area. In Europe, it seems people are much more trusting and the process of police reports aren’t needed as much. (don’t mind doing them but they are a bit of handwork to obtain)
Daily you receive updates of house sits available and you email the homeowners to the ones you qualify and want to do. The downside is there are ALOT more house sitters than home owners so you have to be a really good writer and have a good website online to convince homeowners you are the one to stay in their home! Be creative, highlight ALL your skills that help you be a good house sitter or pet sitter.
Then once they find interest in you, normally you talk via phone or skype/facetime to do a meet and greet. Then you both agree and boom you have free lodging from several days to months or even a year in some house sits!
We use the house sits as our itinerary telling us where to go next and finding places we would have Never gone to or thought to go to. You get to live like a local to really see if you like that area or not. Its a great way to test an area if you are thinking of moving. Or its just a great way to see a country/town thru the eyes of those that live there. Really get to Know a place versus just visiting.
However! (you knew there was a catch right?) However, if fancy hotel rooms, maid service and fresh sheets/towels each day is your idea of a holiday, then house sitting is Not for you! Housesitting and living like a local, is well, living like a local and/or a homeowner. Meaning, you have the house to keep clean, do dishes, cook at home, clean bathrooms, bring in the mail and sometimes even mow the lawn! If they have pets, then there is the responsibility of having to be gone no more than 4 hrs at a time to entertain and keep company the animals. Feeding them, loving them, cleaning cages, picking up poo-animal owner type of things. also communicating with the owners is an important part of the house sit as well. Either emailing or skyping to fill them in on the weekly goings on of the household. Being responsible is a Must. Plenty of time to have fun, but just like at home, responsibilities are a priority.
The owners expect you to be them or even better than them, at keeping the house clean and loving and tending to the animals. If you aren’t prepared to share your holiday fun with those duties and responsibilities, then its not a good match. We love it, have met great people, stayed in nice homes, and loved on cute fur babies. There’s been some tougher assignments, not all have been perfect, but all have offered something that was unique and great and staying for free in top Holiday Destinations is pretty awesome.