The concept of house sitting has been around for a long time but in recent years it has experienced real growth in popularity. This is largely due to the introduction of an ‘international’ element as cost-conscious travelers have realized a way to reduce their expenses dramatically by offering to look after other people’s homes while those homeowners are themselves away.
For the homeowner, having a housesitter stay in their home is an economical way of protecting their home (and pets) while they are away.
There are a number of ways in which both homeowners and housesitters can go about finding each other but I want to talk to you about just one right now and it’s called housecarers.com.
As a house and pet sitter with over ten years of experience, as well as being a current member of housecarers.com I feel uniquely qualified to tell you about this excellent house sitting website.
What is Housecarers.com?
Housecarers.com is an online platform, operating worldwide, that matches would-be absent homeowners with housesitters who are prepared to look after the owners home (and possibly pets) for free during the owner’s absence.
Who is it For?
If you are a housesitter; anyone who is seeking free accommodation in a private home for a limited period of time in exchange for looking after the home and any pets left there during the owner’s absence.
If you are a homeowner; anyone who is planning to be away from their home for a period of time and who doesn’t want to leave their house empty and/or needs someone to look after their pet(s).
One of the best things about house sitting is that age is not a factor. In particular, retirees are in high demand. Read more about this in Colette’s article, House Sitting in Retirement – An Exciting Opportunity.
Housecarers.com at a Glance
Owner: Ian White
What’s included: Housesitters have online access to details of homeowners currently seeking people to look after their homes and pets while they are away from their home. Homeowner members can post details of available housesits and can search a registry of housesitters who are available in their area.
Price: $50.00 per annum (payable by the house sitter, the house owner registers for free)
Rating (out of 10): 9.3
What Does a House Sitter Do?
Essentially, and as a minimum, a housesitter agrees to live in the homeowners home while the owner is away. Anything beyond that is for the housesitter and homeowner to agree beforehand but there are certain obligations on the house sitter which are going to apply in every single case including:
- Keep the home secure
- Keep the home clean
- Collect the mail and either store it or redirect it to the homeowner
Other common obligations include:
- Clean the pool
- Make essential repairs (or arrange for them to be done)
- Mow the lawn(s)
- Plant care
- Notify the homeowner immediately of any issues arising with the home
While home security is an important consideration for most homeowners, it is estimated that pets are the primary reason for around 80% of all house sitting arrangements. So if there is a pet involved there are going to be additional obligations including:
- Veterinary visits
Housecarers.com Review – Features and Benefits
Housecarers.com was originally launched in 2000 and was the very first worldwide house sitting membership website. The owner, Ian White, is based in Australia.
The website itself is well designed and easy to navigate:
From the Home Page, you can search either for available housesits or available housesitters. But first, you need to join up.
Join as a House Sitter
Joining as a housesitter is simple and fast:
As a housesitter, you have the option to try the program out for free. As a free member, you can browse available house sitting opportunities and will receive email alerts as new situations arise. Your profile will be displayed on the website and interested homeowners can send you a message. However, you cannot contact any homeowner nor are you able to upload your photograph, references, police clearance, etc. If a homeowner has sent a message to you, you can see it but not respond. The free membership is just an opportunity to explore the program and decide if it is going to be a good fit for you.
If you elect to take the paid membership, either as you first sign up or later, you make your payment and right away become entitled to the full benefits of paid membership. These are as follows:
Right after you become a paid member you will want to upload some photographs and more information about yourself. References (if you have some) will be a big help, particularly as you get started, as will a police clearance, although neither is required as a condition of membership or as a prerequisite to arranging a house sit.
Don’t underestimate the power of a personal video. Even if you have no prior experience, personal videos are really easy to do and upload to TouTube. You likely already have everything you need to do this already installed on your computer, including a camera and microphone.
As a paid member you gain access to your member dashboard:
Everything you could possibly need to do is done from this page, including apply for house sits, upload photos and references to your profile, set your preferences (preferred locations, pets you are prepared to look after, etc.) and make changes to your profile.
The dashboard has clearly been very carefully thought out and designed and is extremely easy to use.
Join as a Home Owner
Joining as an owner is just as simple and fast:
Just insert your information, hit enter, and you are done. After you have signed up you will be given the opportunity to add more information about your home and pet, including uploading photographs.
When both homeowner and house sitter have signed up they can start looking for each other.
Find a House to Sit
As a member, you can, if you wish, just sit back and wait either to be contacted by a homeowner who has seen your profile or for the regular emails you will receive notifying you of newly posted opportunities. However, you are likely going to be more proactive and regularly search the housecarers.com database for current offerings.
To search for available housesits on housecarers.com Click on “Browse Houses to Sit” and enter the date you are available from. Next, select your area, which can be as broad as you like (USA, Europe, Asia) or you can narrow it down to a country, state or City. Next, indicate approximately how long you are available, click “Enter” and the results will be displayed including photographs, a description of the home, location, and details of any pets involved. Make your choice and click on “Contact [username of homeowner]”. All subsequent communication is done via housecarers.com unless both parties want, and agree, to have direct contact.
Be aware that the entire concept of house/pet sitting was, until very recently, virtually unknown outside of Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the U.S.A. As a result, the majority of the housesits that are posted are in those regions. One exception to that general rule are countries where there is a large expat population so you will find housesits in, for example, Mexico and Central America. This is not, of course, limited to housecarers.com but applies to all house sitting agencies.
Also, at any given time there are going to be more housesitters seeking housesits than homeowners seeking housesitters which means you are likely to encounter competition, particularly at the beginning and in the more popular areas. You can give yourself a significant edge on the competition by creating an excellent profile and closely following the excellent advice offered on the website. You can minimize the competition by looking, at least in the beginning, in less popular areas. After completing a few housesits, and with a few good reviews posted to your profile, you will soon find homeowners actively seeking you out.
Find a House Sitter
To search for a house sitter click on “Find a House Sitter” and enter your location, the period for which you need a sitter and whether pet care is involved. When you click “Search” several things will happen. First, you will see information on all house sitters who are currently seeking a situation based on the search criteria you entered. If you see someone who might be suitable, click on “Contact [Usernam of house sitter]” and begin the communication process. Second, your information will be added to the housecarers.com database and will show up on any subsequent search for houses to sit. Third, an email with details of your available housesit will be sent to all registered housesitters whose availability, pet preferences and length of stay preferences match yours.
The Legal Stuff
The details of every housesitting arrangement should be recorded in a written contract. This is for the protection of both the homeowner and the housesitter. This may seem like a hassle but, believe me, you would be very ill-advised, whether you are a homeowner or a housesitter, to proceed without one.
The more important areas that a contract will cover include the following:
- The length of the housesit and the housesitters obligation to remain in the home for the duration
- Who will be responsible for what in terms of the care and maintenance of the home
- Who is responsible for payment of such things as utilities, pool maintenance, yard maintenance, etc.
- If a pet is involved, what is expected in terms of feeding, walking/exercise, veterinary visits, etc.
- Emergency procedures
There is always the option to use lawyers each time but this would likely be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming, particularly where shorter housesits are involved. Because they have most at stake (their home and the welfare of their pet) it usually falls on the homeowner to come up with a document although experienced housesitters should also have something that can be used, particularly when working with an inexperienced homeowner.
Housecarers.com provides a sample contract that can be easily adapted to any given circumstances. It is only available in Microsoft Word so if you have a Mac you will need Word for Mac to use this contract. I have gone through the contract and (as a former lawyer) I can confirm it covers all the necessary points.
Guides/Information for Homeowners and House Sitters
Housecarers.com provides a “House Sitting Guide” in the form of a FAQ that is intended for both homeowners and house sitters. On the same page are links to FAQ’s on a series of more specialized topics. Between them, these cover almost any question you could possibly have about housesitting or housecarers.com.
Because the website is so comprehensive and user-friendly, you likely will not need additional support too often, if at all. If you do need additional help then the response is fast and effective. On the two occasions that I have contacted support, the first time I got an answer inside an hour and the second time I heard back early the following morning (remember they are based in Australia and do not purport to offer 24 hour support). On both occasions, my query was answered by the owner, Ian White.
Housecarers.com Pros and Cons
The oldest operating worldwide housesitting website, they have a lot of experience and it shows
- Very large selection of available housesits
- Inexpensive, one of the cheapest worldwide membership sites out there
- No charge to register as a homeowner
- Free (try out) membership available to housesitters
- The website has a clean, modern feel and is very user-friendly
- The member dashboard is comprehensive and well organized
- Comprehensive security and privacy protection for both homeowners and housesitters
- Excellent and responsive support
- Relatively few housesits available outside Australia, New Zealand, Europe and USA
- Housesitters will encounter a lot of competition, particularly in the beginning
Housecarers.com has nineteen years experience in matching homeowners and house sitters, a very large database of available housesits and housesitters and an excellent system for protecting the security and privacy of all its members. Add to this the fact that the user-friendly website makes it super easy to facilitate homeowner and housesitter getting together and you have a clear recipe for success. The icing on the cake is that it also offers one of the cheapest membership rates of any comparable service. Whether you are a homeowner looking for a housesitter or a housesitter looking for a housesit, you cannot, in my opinion, do better than housecarers.com.
Ready to give it a try? Remember, homeowners join for free and house sitters can also register and check out the website for free. So, what have you got to lose?
Note to house sitters: you can still start with the free membership and the 10% discount will apply when you switch to full membership (provided you initially register via the above link).
Have you already given house sitting a try? If so I would love to hear from you with your experience.
I hope you have found this review of housecarers.com helpful. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments box below and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.
The greatest years of your life are still ahead!
Housecarers.com$50.00 for House Sitters Free for Home Owners
- Large selection of available house sits
- Modern, clean interface that is very user friendly
- Comprehensive security and privacy protection for both homeowners and house sitters
- Free to home owners and free try out option for house sitters
- Relatively few house sits available outside Australia, New Zealand, Europe and USA
- House sitters will encounter a lot of competition, particularly in the beginning