House sitting is when a person is leaving their home for a period of time and they entrust their home and usually pets to ‘house sitters’. The home owners can travel knowing their home and pets are happy, safe and well looked after and the sitters get to stay in the home free of charge (usually!), it’s a mutually beneficial agreement.
There is a lot written about house and pet sitting across the internet, it is not a new phenomenon by a long shot, however, with the help of the internet it has become more prominent. Assignments are more readily advertised through various websites making it easy for anyone to start a new adventure. Furthermore, many digital nomads utilise house and pet sitting to explore the world and save money whilst earning online. It’s a wonderful way to discover unique locations whilst making new furry friends along the way.
Matt and I are by no means house sitting experts, we started properly house sitting (other than for friends and family) when we first arrived in Canada. It seemed like a fantastic way to save money whilst travelling on our two year working holiday visas. As we did not want to settle in one area for our entire stay it fitted out plans perfectly and we have been able to secure sits across the entire country, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.
House sitting has been a fun experience for us, but it may not be for everyone. You must expect the unexpected. It’s not always an easy ride, things can go wrong; pets get ill, things get broken, and you are responsible. So, I’ve compiled a list of our personal pros and cons to help you decided if it’s for you!
Pro: You get to stay in beautiful locations
House sits are available across the world in many stunning places. We started our journey in Calgary just 45 mins from the jaw dropping Rocky Mountains and got to see views such as this:
Who could say no? We got to visit these beautiful mountains several times during our four month stay.
Con: It may not always be the location you wanted
Availability of locations varies and it’s not always guaranteed that your dream destination is always going to be obtainable. Throw in variables such as dates, length of stay and visa requirements and it can get a little confusing. However, it’s nothing a little planning and research can’t solve.
For example, we would never have chosen to go to Slave Lake in northern Alberta but the dates suited us so we took the opportunity to visit a different location.
Pro: You get to make new furry friends
This is my favourite part, even though I’m allergic to most furry little creatures! Whilst some pets take a little longer to adapt to their new human parents, after a good walk, some treats and a few pats on the head they tend to come around. On the longer sits in particular, you become quite attached as you’ve more time to bond. Nothing beats being greeted by a wagging tail or soft purr!
(ok…this is my parents dog Billy, but I pet sit for them regularly when I am in the UK so couldn’t resist sharing a few snaps of my favourite pup dog!)
Con: confined by pet schedule
Pets like to keep to their routines. This can be anything, for example early morning get -ups, long/multiple daily walks or sharing a bed. We enjoy cat sitting as they can be more flexible than dogs. They tend to be ok being left a bit longer as they don’t need to be let out for the bathroom. Each animal is unique so make sure to check with home owners before agreeing to anything.
Pro: usually you stay for free
Matt and I only tend to apply for sits which do not require paying for bills, we feel that looking after pets in exchange for board is a fair deal. We always talk with home owners about this beforehand so there is no confusion. Occasionally, home-only assignments are listed and often these are the ones asking for bill money. To me, this is too near to renting, particularly with some of the amounts I’ve seen asked for!
Pro: enjoy the comforts of home
Things such as a sofa, fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities can be a joy after spending time on the road. But its also the little touches such as books on shelves, photo frames and plants that make it feel far homelier than the average hotel room.
Con: you are likely to be in your location during the ‘off season’
Heading south for the winter months is incredibly popular so chances are the home owners are jetting off because of the weather and seasonal closures. For example, whilst we are currently less than twenty minutes from Peggy’s Cove, one of Nova Scotia’s top attractions, it is often too cold to go exploring. The town itself is all shut up and won’t wake up until after we’ve left the area. However, we have been able to go a few times and capture the beautiful lighthouse.
Pro: healthy lifestyle
Having a kitchen means eating out less and therefore being healthier. You can venture out to local markets to get fresh produce to prepare at home. In addition, walking the dog for at least twenty minutes a day is great for your fitness.
Its easy to start your adventure, you can sign up to any of the below websites for a small charge and get housesitting.
These sites are not country specific. If you have a place in mind its worth checking if there is a platform for this country. For example, we’ve used www.housesitterscanada.com
My best advice is to do your research thoroughly by asking lots of questions to make sure you are a good match. By doing so you can have an enjoyable experience, visit new places and make good friends.
Have you ever done house and pet sitting? What did you enjoy or dislike about the adventure?
Thanks for joining me again for A-Z Travels next week is going to be J for Joffre Lakes, a stunning provincial park in British Columbia. Happy Travels 🙂