House sitting

House Sitting: An Unconventional Way to Travel – Its Upsides and Downsides

Is house sitting for you?


House sitting
Image by mairinha from Pixabay
Aspect Upsides Downsides
Cost Significantly reduces travel expenses Initial investment on house sitting platforms
Accommodation Comfort and homeliness, diverse styles of homes Responsibility for property maintenance, unforeseen circumstances
Cultural Immersion Opportunity to live like a local and build meaningful relationships Potential language barriers and cultural adaptation required
Pets Companionship and routine Commitment required for pet care, potential for difficult pets
Flexibility Varied lengths and types of assignments, chance to explore off-beat locations Potential for homeowners to change plans, restricts spontaneous travel


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of house sitting?

House sitting offers several benefits such as cost savings, comfort and homeliness, cultural immersion, pet companionship, and the flexibility to explore diverse locations.

What are the challenges of house sitting?

The challenges include an initial investment, responsibility for property maintenance, potential language barriers, commitment to pet care, and potential changes in homeowners’ plans.

Is house sitting a good way to travel?

Yes, house sitting can be an excellent way to travel for those who are adaptable, responsible, and eager to immerse themselves in local cultures. However, it’s not for everyone and should be considered carefully.

As the travel landscape continually evolves, there is a trend steadily gaining traction — house sitting. As a seasoned traveller and house sitter for the past two decades, I’ve garnered first-hand experience of its unique benefits and challenges.

For those who are eager to begin their house sitting journey, platforms like Worldwide House Sitters and Pet Sitters Directory have been securely matching homeowners with house sitters since 2000, offering a reliable starting point.

The Upsides of House Sitting

The first notable upside of house sitting is the cost savings. Traditional accommodation, even budget options, can significantly dent your travel budget. House sitting, however, offers a free place to stay in exchange for your services. This, coupled with the ability to prepare meals at home, can dramatically reduce travel expenses. My three-week stint in a picturesque Italian villa was testament to these savings, with costs I’d typically incur slashed into a fraction.

Moreover, house sitting can often afford us with a level of comfort and homeliness that traditional hotels or hostels simply cannot compete with. With access to full kitchens, living spaces, and sometimes even amenities like swimming pools or home gyms, a house sit can make one’s travel experience more enjoyable and relaxed.

Besides, it’s not only about the cost, house sitting is environmentally friendly too. By utilising a property that would otherwise be vacant, it reduces the need for additional resources to accommodate tourists, a small but significant step towards sustainable travel.

House sitting is more than just an economical choice; it’s an opportunity to truly immerse oneself in the local way of life. Living in a local’s home provides insights into the community and culture that tourists often miss. During a house sit in Tokyo, I became an integral part of the neighbourhood, experiencing firsthand the harmony, discipline, and etiquette deeply ingrained in Japanese society.

Further, the chance to blend in and become a ‘local’ rather than a tourist is an exciting proposition. You get to learn local customs, try authentic cuisines and have a much richer and rewarding cultural experience. Walking through local markets in Beijing, learning how to make paella in a Spanish villa, or picking up the local dialect in Yorkshire – it’s these moments that make house sitting a unique adventure.

Additionally, long-term house sitting arrangements give you time to build meaningful relationships with people in the community, making your travel experience even more enriching. They could serve as the best guides to hidden treasures that aren’t on any tourist maps.

For animal lovers, house sitting offers the bonus of pet companionship. From energetic Labradors to placid Persian cats, I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with a variety of pets. These furry companions have often made my house sits feel more homely and enjoyable.

There’s also the added benefit of the routine that pets provide. This can be particularly useful for digital nomads or remote workers, providing structure to your day. An early morning walk or a late-night cuddle session can bring a lot of joy and comfort to those far from home.

Moreover, for those missing their own pets back home, this can be a perfect solution. It allows you to enjoy the companionship of pets without the long-term commitment that comes with pet ownership.

For pet owners as well, services such as offer a win-win situation. The platform allows homeowners to avoid boarding fees and the stress pets often face in these unfamiliar environments by matching them with a responsible house and pet sitter.

House sitting also offers variety and flexibility. It opens the door to a diverse range of options, from short weekend stints to long-term arrangements. Once, I spent a winter nestled in a cosy chalet in the Swiss Alps, something I could never have afforded otherwise.

The chance to live in diverse styles of homes is another exciting aspect. Be it a chic city apartment in New York or a traditional Balinese house in Ubud, each house sit can offer a unique living experience. This can add a whole new dimension to your travels, making it more interesting and enriching.

Another point to consider is the flexibility that comes with house sitting. Unlike hotel reservations, many house sitting assignments come with a degree of flexibility in terms of dates, length of stay, and responsibilities. This can be particularly beneficial for those with a flexible schedule or those looking to escape the harsh winters of their home country.

The opportunity to explore off-beat locations is an additional perk. In the quieter corners of the world, devoid of tourist hordes, I’ve discovered some hidden gems. A farmhouse in the rolling vineyards of South France, far from the hustle of popular tourist spots, gifted me an unforgettable, tranquil experience.

In my experience, these less touristy destinations often offer the most authentic experiences. House sitting in these areas gives you the chance to escape the crowds, explore unspoiled landscapes, and connect with the local way of life on a deeper level.

In such off-beat locations, there is also the possibility of coming across rare flora and fauna. During one of my house sits in the Australian outback, I was fortunate to witness a breathtaking variety of wildlife right from the porch.

One notable resource to utilize, especially for those new to house sitting, is This platform enables travellers to live rent-free across the globe, significantly reducing the usual accommodation expenses.

The Downsides of House Sitting

However, house sitting isn’t without its challenges. The initial investment includes a subscription fee for house sitting platforms and time spent on creating an attractive profile and applying for sits. The competition can be tough, and there’s no guarantee of immediate success. But, with persistence and a good track record, securing house sits becomes more accessible.

One has to remember that not all house sits are made equal. Some may not live up to your expectations, or the homeowners may not be entirely clear about their expectations from you. Communication is key here. Discussing all details before accepting a house sit can save you a lot of trouble.

Moreover, house sitting often requires one to be extremely adaptable. Different countries and homes come with their own set of rules and customs. What is considered polite in one place might be rude in another. It’s crucial to do your homework and understand the norms of the place you are going to be living in.

House sitting can sometimes feel isolating, especially for solo travellers or those in remote locations. During a sit in rural Australia, the absence of bustling cafes and social activities I was used to made me feel lonely at times. To counter this, I started exploring local events, participating in community activities, and making an effort to connect with the locals.

This brings me to another point – language barriers. In non-English speaking countries, communication can sometimes be a challenge. However, with modern technology at our fingertips and a bit of effort, this is a hurdle that can be overcome.

As with all travel, homesickness can be an issue. Long-term house sitting, in particular, can sometimes make you miss your own home, your friends, and your regular routine. It’s essential to find ways to connect with your roots and keep these feelings at bay.

House sitting comes with significant responsibilities, particularly when pets are involved. From walking dogs in harsh weather to handling a sick pet, it requires dedication and commitment. Moreover, house sitting also restricts spontaneous travel plans due to these responsibilities.

There might be instances where you have to deal with difficult pets. It’s not always going to be easy, and pets can have their own unique challenges. However, it’s important to be patient, understanding, and communicate any issues promptly with the homeowner.

Moreover, a sudden change in plans by homeowners can throw your travel plans off balance. Cancellations, although rare, can happen. It’s always wise to have a plan B in place in case things do not go as planned.

Lastly, house sitting can sometimes spring unforeseen circumstances, from a broken pipe to a runaway cat. It’s crucial to be prepared for emergencies and have relevant contacts at your disposal.

With house sitting comes the responsibility of taking care of the property. Homeowners entrust you with their homes, and any damage or negligence on your part can result in consequences, both financially and in terms of your reputation as a house sitter. Handling such situations with utmost care and accountability is crucial.

Living in someone else’s home also means respecting their space and privacy. This is not always easy and can sometimes feel a bit odd. It’s important to remember that you’re a guest and to conduct yourself accordingly, ensuring you maintain the home in the condition it was entrusted to you.

Finally, even with all its rewards and rich experiences, house sitting does require a certain level of maturity, independence, and responsibility that may not suit everyone. It’s a commitment that involves much more than just living in a new place — it’s about caring for someone else’s home, and sometimes, their beloved pets, as if they were your own.

Conclusion: Is House Sitting for You?

House sitting offers an extraordinary way to travel, enabling you to discover new places, cultures, and people, all while saving on accommodation costs. However, it’s important to weigh the responsibilities and challenges it presents against the many benefits it offers. For me, the perks of house sitting have always outweighed the challenges. Each sit has been a new adventure, filled with unique experiences and lessons learned.

House sitting is not for the faint-hearted, nor for those seeking a purely leisurely getaway. It requires commitment, adaptability, and a sense of responsibility. But for those willing to embrace these challenges, it provides an enriching travel experience like no other. For me, it has transformed my travels into a kaleidoscope of memories — unique homes, beautiful pets, warm neighbourhoods, and unforgettable experiences.

To anyone considering this unconventional mode of travel, I’d say – step out of your comfort zone, embrace the uncertainties, and dive into the world of house sitting. You never know — it could end up being the most rewarding adventure you’ve ever undertaken.

Whether you’re a digital nomad seeking a change of scenery, a retiree looking for a slow-paced exploration, or an animal lover seeking furry companionship, house sitting could be your ticket to a unique travel experience. However, like any other travel form, it’s not one-size-fits-all, and it’s important to consider whether it fits your lifestyle, preferences, and travel aspirations.

As with any journey, there will be bumps along the way, and house sitting is no exception. But in the end, the sights seen, the people met, the pets loved, and the lives lived — however temporarily — in corners of the world you’d never imagined, are what truly makes this journey worthwhile.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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