House-sitting is such a brilliant idea, a true win-win situation! An exchange of services – home and pet care for free accommodation = awesome! Actually, there are many benefits for both the homeowner and the house sitter.
- The homeowner - gets to leave their house and pets in capable hands. The pets are much happier because they can stay in their familiar surrounds and someone is there to keep them company while their owners are away. Everything for the house is taken care of and the place is kept secure. House-sitting is such a great solution for people who have many pets or plants and who may feel as if going away for a length of time is not possible.
- The house-sitter - gets to enjoy free accommodation and the company of some furry friends during their travels. It is also nice to enjoy a more local experience rather than staying in the tourist areas or hotel accommodation all the time.
But…is this brilliant idea possible for families?
Does anyone actually want to invite a family with young kids into their home?
What if you have a lot of kids?!
Hmm, interesting questions...
I used to think that the answer was no. We were super excited in the beginning of our travels as we applied to house-sits all over Europe…and then we were rejected over and again. But after all, we are a family of 7! Five kids would scare anyone off…right? Even me, I feel scared off sometimes…lol.
But now that we have been traveling for over 4 years as a family, house-sitting has become a wonderful part of our lives.
The answer is YES! House-sitting is possible even when you have kids. It is possible even for a loud, large imperfect family of 7!
Here are our best tips to help you enjoy house-sitting as you travel the world.
1. Create a fabulous bio.
- Have plenty of great pictures that are clear, and which show you and your kids looking happy, clean and enjoying animals. If possible, include a friendly intro video.
- Describe in detail why you and your family would be a good fit for house-sitting. Are you clean? Organized? Wonderful with animals? What is your experience in home and pet care?
- Have a selection of really good references. Ideally try to have references from people with a position in the community who can attest to your reliability in home care and also your character - such as an ecclesiastical leader or your landlord
- Include any links that may help to show who you are, we always provide a link to our website and YouTube channel, but you could perhaps include links to your Instagram handle or your blog if you have one.
2. Be among the first 5 applicants.
The early bird gets the worm. First come, first served. You snooze, you loose…
I like to set up an alert on my phone or through my email of any new house-sits in areas that I am considering. If there are already 18 – 25 applicants, it’s pretty unlikely that the homeowner will have the time or energy to give your application serious consideration.
3. Apply for the right job.
- Apply to house-sitting positions where you would be a good fit for them. So far, all of our house-sitting jobs have been in homes of people with kids. If I see a home of a working couple with no kids, white furniture, and 5 dogs that need to be walked 3 times a day…um…nope. It would be terrible all round and we would almost certainly be rejected anyway. And miserable. I really don’t want to walk 5 dogs three times a day!
- Search and find a place that feels right. Our kids love looking after friendly dogs and cats, and we are experienced at looking after a property, so we search for homes where we feel confident that we would be the right people for the job. We have not yet house-sat for a family of 7, all the families we have house-sat for have been smaller, with 2 or three kids, but in my application I explain that although we are a large family, we travel with our own extra mattresses and blankets, that way the owners don’t need to worry about finding a bed for everyone.
- Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Let them know if your kids are good at looking after other people’s things, let them know what you plan to do to ensure the care of their home. We always let the owners know that we like to place any special or breakable items up and out of reach from our little kids. Particularly special Lego sets…my 4 year old son likes to dismantle and scatter any Lego he can get his hands on…
4. What can you do for them?
- Be detailed in your application about why you think you are a good fit for the position. Talk more about what you can do for them than why you want that particular house-sit. Don’t drone on and on about how fabulous the area is and how expensive accommodation can be.
- Talk about why looking after their home and pets will be a wonderful experience. Mention their pets by name and talk about your eagerness to help them out. On one application I noticed that the position had mentioned the possibility of needing to shovel the driveway if it snowed, in my application I wrote that we were willing to do that job ( I volunteered my teenage son) and any other extra jobs that were needed during the winter time. When we had our Skype interview the owners said they were really happy that we had written our willingness to help out with those extra things. In this way, having a large family is an advantage instead of an inconvenience!
We have also been willing to learn on the job in caring for new kinds of pets. Once we looked after a bearded dragon, we had no previous experience with this animal, but we just let them know that one of our teenagers loved all things reptile and that we were happy to learn and follow their instructions.
5. Treat it like a job.
- Have excellent communication before and during the house-sit. Ask them how often they would like updates.
- Clean the house top to bottom before you leave. We designate our last day as a cleaning day and we make sure that everything is looking wonderful.
6. Leave some love.
- Leave a lovely bunch of flowers and a hand written note.
- Stock the fridge.
- Make dinner or some muffins and have it ready for them in case they arrive home late and are hungry.
- Chocolate. Chocolate is always a good idea!
Basically, help them feel thrilled to come home and happy that they chose you to house-sit for them.
7. It’s all about the reviews!
Do anything to get that first house-sit, even if it is just near your hometown. Once you have one house-sit under your belt with a positive review, it will be much easier to secure more in the future. When my friend was just starting up, she and I went away on a girl’s weekend to a town an hour away. We stayed in a lovely home, watched movies and snuggled the cutest little puppy all weekend. She got a 5 star review!
**This post may contains affiliate links. We receive a small commission if you purchase through our links… which will likely support our ice-cream obsession…gotta keep up priorities, right?
The BEST house-sitting websites;
- Trusted House-sitters is our favourite! It is one of the top international house-sitting websites and the one in which we have had the most success. It contains the widest choice of house-sits around the world, but it is particularly strong in the USA, UK, Australia and Europe.
The mobile app works great, and I love that I can select tailored alerts to help me jump on any fabulous house-sits that I am looking for in a particular area. We have found it to be thoroughly worth the money for ease of use, available choice, and general professionalism.
Click here to check them out! - Trusted House-sitters.
Our house-sitting journey started out a bit rocky and at first I thought that it just wasn’t for us. We arrived for our first house-sit in the UAE and every single person in our family (except for me) fell prey to a horrific flu. We were staying in the home with the family for a few days before they left to take a holiday to the Czech Republic and my family were dropping like flies as I frantically tried to quarantine the sickies to our room and smother the house-hold in essential oils. I tried to cure them by feeding them bone soup...only to discover that the bones I was boiling up were the dog's bones - Click here for the full story! (A hilarious and embarrassing video involving camels...)
The family we house-sat for were so kind and gracious about everything, and to this day I love them with my whole heart for their generosity. Not only about the initial sickness, but also the baby turkeys who were killed by their incompetent turkey-mum during their absence, and most especially the subsequent scabies plague that we had unwittingly carried over from Malaysia. They helped us find a doctor and procure treatment and laughed with us about all the craziness. I will be indebted to them forever!
Our next house-sit was in the most incredible location – right in the garden district of New Orleans USA. It all went fairly well until my two year old son dumped a whole can of fish food into the fish tank the day before the family arrived home. I had a very intense and very stressful crash course into ‘how to clean and refill a fish tank without killing too many fish’…. Yeah, I would not recommend fish and toddlers as a great mix when house-sitting.
One unexpected joy has been the friends we have made through our house-sitting experiences. For our first house-sit on Trusted house-sitters, we house sat for a lovely family in DC over Christmas. We never got to meet in person, but they left us the cutest notes and Christmas treats and we left them flowers and presents. It really was a mutually joyful and grateful experience. Each time we house-sit we make new connections and new human and furry (and occasionally scaly) friends!
We also love that our kids get to have some experience with pet responsibility and care. As full-time travellers that is something that we greatly miss. We spent three months house-sitting on a mini farm in North Carolina USA and our kids got to brush the dog, feed the pets and collect the eggs. We divided the responsibilities and it was great experience for our kids!
We have come to love house-sitting and we look forward to many future family adventures around the world. House-sitting IS possible for families, even families with little kids! Even large families! Just watch the fish tank...and don't boil up any unmarked bones.