Recently, we were part of an awesome marketing video with TrustedHousesitters. Ever since we’ve had a lot of people reach out to us to ask one question: “How do I get my first house sit?”
Since there is only so much we can fit into a reply on Instagram, we’re writing out all of our best tips here. Because we love sharing about house sitting and are excited to be a resource for others who want to get started.
(Interested in more house sitting stories and insights? Check out Brooke’s book:, Home Flexible: Stories from Life as a Nomadic Traveling House Sitter. Available in print and ebook.)
What is TrustedHousesitters and How Does it Work?
If you already know all about TrustedHousesitters, feel free to skip ahead. This section is for anyone who just stumbled upon traveling by pet sitting and wants to learn more.
TrustedHousesitters is an online platform that connects pets and home owners with pet lovers who want to travel to new places while caring for pets. There is no money exchanged and is a service trade. As a pet sitter, you get a free place to stay. The homeowner gets free pet and home care while they are away.
The only payment involved is your TrustedHousesitters membership fee. Both the pet owner and pet sitter must both have and pay an annual membership fee for an account. You also have an option for a combined membership if you have a pet of your own and also want to pet sit. There is not a free account option for Trusted House sitters.
However, since it is an annual membership, you get access to submit as many applications as you’d like during that time. And home owners get unlimited pet care listings – so return pet sits are definitely a high chance!
A lot of people may see this as just a way to get free accommodation, but they won’t do well. You really have to be responsible and do well as a pet sitter to get the five-star reviews you need to keep booking sits.
It is also worth noting that house sitting is becoming more and more popular, so amazing sits can be competitive. We’d recommend downloading the TrustedHousesitters app and setting up alerts for the places you want to sit. Then, apply as soon as possible when something you’d be a good fit for comes up. We’ve been fairly satisfied with the app experience so far!
Membership also includes some insurance coverage, helpful resources, and a vet advice line. TrustedHousesitters has added some different membership options over the years as well.
We still have just the basic membership which currently includes only unlimited sit applications and a free background check for US$129 per year.
The Standard Sitter membership looks to be the best choice right now though. As of March 2023, the standard sitter membership is US$169 per year. It includes:
- Unlimited access to apply to house sits worldwide. (Note house sits now close after they reach a certain number of applicants so the homeowners have time to review).
- Free background check.
- Accident (property damage, etc.) and third-party liability protection, and dedicated member support.
- Free video calls and online chat with vets when pet sitting.
- Instant alerts for saved locations in the pet sitting search.
The Premium Sitter membership is almost $100 more and also includes global airport lounge passes and cancellation insurance.
Learn more about pricing and inclusions on the TrustedHousesitters website.
How to Get Your First House Sit with TrustedHousesitters
Plan to spend a few hours setting up your profile initially, then a few hours searching for sit, and another hour or more to send your application message and have an online interview.
1. Complete Your Entire Profile (& Update Regularly)
It goes without saying that you are going to need to sign up for a TrustedHousesitters membership. But then what? This is the part a lot of people struggle with – the dreaded profile! Womp. Womp.
If you’ve seen any rom-com about online dating, you know writing about yourself is a challenge. I actually worked at a dating service as my first real job and had to help people write bios. I can tell you … some people are REALLY, painfully bad at writing about themselves.
Some give no information, others way too much, then there are the ones who just can’t put together a coherent paragraph. If this is you, that is okay! But, please get a friend to help you!
The profile is an important part of your first impression with home owners and it needs to be well-written. Be sure to keep it to the need-to-know information. But also make it genuine and post good photos that show who you are!
A few things to get you started: Tell why you are interested in housesitting and about your previous experience with animals, homes, gardens, etc. Also, share what your work situation is, since a lot of people wonder how often you will be home and how available you will be.
Put yourself in the shoes of the home and pet owners and the collar (ha!) of the pet. What would they want to know about you?
As you do more sits, be sure to update your profile with any new skills you’ve learned that may help a pet owner decide if you are a good fit.
2. Do the Full Background Check
It now free to get the background checks done through Trusted Housesitters. It really makes a difference to homeowners and at no extra cost homeowners will prtty much expect it.
We’ve been told multiple times that we were picked because the other applicants didn’t do this easy step!
3. Ask for References
When you first get started, it can be intimidating to think there are people like us who have 20+ five-star reviews competing with you for a sit. But we all started somewhere. Just because we have more reviews doesn’t mean we are the best fit for the sit.
However, we all know reviews are important. Luckily, you can have references emailed in. So, do this! Get a few people you’ve house or pet sat for, worked with, babysat for, shared an apartment/flat with, etc. to share why you are a good fit for house sitting. Most people are happy to do this, all you have to do is ask!
4. Just Dive In
We started applying with just one reference from a friend we had cat sat for and had our first house sit locked in within a week. We also locked in a competitive Hawaii sit (50+ applicants) with that one reference!
A lot of people start in their local area, which does make the stress of trying something new much more manageable. But, also don’t be afraid to really just go for it!
Apply to the awesome sit on the other side of the world if you can afford to get there, can handle the responsibilities, and the dates work. (Read our tips for a few things to consider before taking an international house sit). You never know what may show up in your search results and tempt you!
Just remember this isn’t a free vacation. Please, DO NOT apply to housesits unless you can handle the needs of the pets and other responsibilities. Not only is it unfair to misrepresent yourself, it won’t end with a very good review from the homeowner – which will negatively affect future applications! You want this to be a positive experience for everyone – especially the furry family members!
Always read over the entire listing before applying and make sure you are a good fit. If you are trying to fill a certain time gap, it may be smart to apply to a few different sits during that time. If you get one, be sure to let the others you’ve applied to know you are no longer available.
5. Write an Awesome Application
Wondering what to write when you apply to a sit? Here are some of our tips for making your application and introductory message stand out:
- Read the entire listing fist and be sure to address any concerns they have. For example, if they mention they want a non-smoker or someone who can hike with their dog, be sure to mention you fit that requirement.
- Mention the pets by name. I feel like this really proves you’ve read through the listing. And obviously, be sure to address the owner by name as well!
- Briefly introduce yourself and explain why you think you’d be a good fit. As pet lovers, this isn’t too difficult, but just be sure to put some effort into it! For us, this is something like: “We think we would be a great fit for your house sit because we are very clean and responsible, love taking long walks (so, could definitely keep Fido happy), and would be very excited to get to see your part of the world.”
- Invite them to pick a time to chat with you more via phone or video chat. This just keeps the conversation going, and the chances of getting a sit after you’ve talked off-line are much better! Getting to see you in person will give the pet owners peace of mind and it is the best way to do your own vibe check!
6. Have a Great Video Interview or Phone Call
Before locking in a sit, you’ll want to hop on a video or phone call to “meet” the homeowners and make sure you are all a good fit. Video interviews or phone calls are really a key peice, so don’t skip it.
This is a two-way interview, so make sure you ask plenty of questions if there is anything of concern. (Note: Be sure to be checking if the homeowners you apply to sit for have good reviews, too!)
We always ask about the pet’s routine and if they have any medical needs or other special considerations that haven’t already been disclosed. Depending on the location, we’ll ask if they have recommendations for getting to their home and how early they would like us to get there.
Usually, we can tell if we got a sit before we get off the call. Often, the homeowner will say they will be accepting our application right away. Following-up with a thank you note after an interview is always a nice touch.
What to Do Once You are Chosen for a Pet Sit?
Before beginning a pet sit, make sure that the homeowners fill out the welcome guide with all of the important information you may need about their home and pets. Read over it and clarify anything well before you arrive. There should be an emergency contact, vet info, overview of routine, etc.
Knowing as much as you can about the pets can help you identify any strange behavior that would need vet attention. Get any necessarry information for the house also – including breaker box, water shut off, and first aid box locations.
You should also confirm your arrival and departure dates and times to make sure those will work for them. Remember you are responsible for paying for your travel, so avoid fees by confirming before you book.
Upon arrival, ask for a tour if one is not offered. It’s also helpful to be present for meal time and walks, etc. to see what the pets usua routine looks like. Before they leave, ask how often they’d like updates and be sure to send notes in those intervals. This is a good time to get their phone number if you don’t already have it!
If you want additional support, there is a large global community of traveling pet sitters. Join one of the various Facebook groups, post in the TrustedHousesitters forum, and connect via social media. For the most part, everyone is happy to help!
While they are gone, keep up with everything you agreed to but don’t forget to have a great time in this new place. Enjoy spending quality time with the pets, take the opportunity to connect with locals, and get out to explore!
Once the sit is complete, be sure to leave feedback and request a review if they don’t give you one in a few days. Having great reviews will really help to get future pet sits with your Trusted House Sitters account.
Final Thoughts for First-Time House and Pet Sitters
We remember how nervous and excited we were to send our first house sitting application. It can be frustrating if you get a bunch of “no” replies or no responses at all. Or maybe you apply to a ton and take the first yes then regret it when a ‘better’ one gets back to you. It is all part of the learning curve. Just try to be thoughtful of what you apply to and be realistic.
I know it is all too easy to get your hopes up that you’ll get that dream sit in a location you’ve always wanted to visit with a well-behaved pet and gorgeous house. But be sure to keep your expectations in check since that won’t always happen – especially if traveling full-time.
If you are just house sitting part-time, by all means, hold out for the dream sits and apply to them often until you get them! However, if you are planning to full-time it like us, you’ll end up taking a lot of sits in places you’ve never dreamed of. But, funny enough, those have been some of our favorites!
Did we still not answer your burning house sitting questions? Keep reaching out and we’ll keep cranking out articles to help you learn everything you need to about house sitting! 🙂