If you are the adventurous type, house sitting provides a unique way to travel the world. It’s a great way to save money on accommodations, especially if you have extended travel plans. Here is everything you need to know before you consider house sitting in foreign locales.
What is House Sitting?
House sitting is precisely what it sounds like. A person who is looking for free accommodations can make arrangements with homeowners in need of a caretaker. In exchange for free room and board, the house sitter is responsible to look after the property and any pets on site. Sometimes the arrangement lasts a few weeks while others are more long-term.
This is usually facilitated though a house sitting website which requires a membership fee and background check. Once verified, you can peruse property listings around the world. If you are flexible with your schedule, house sitting provides an insider’s perspective of the life and culture of your destination.
Some housing assignments will also require pet care. If you have never taken care of animals before, don’t fret! You can volunteer at a local shelter or sign up for animal first aid course. This can boost your credentials and improve your chances of getting your preferred locations.
Mostly, the pet care involves your average household pets…cats, dogs, fish. Sometimes there are more exotic animals like reptiles or birds. Be certain to discuss the specific needs before agreeing to any assignments. The community is based on reviews, so one bad experience could make you a less desirable choice in the future.
Domestic and Foreign Locales
Most people who are interested in house sitting usually want international properties. It is a great way to cut the cost of your trip abroad or extend your travel. However, you don’t have to go halfway around the world to find a prime vacation destination. There are plenty of places closer to home. Often times these are second homes, vacation, or rental properties that need someone to be physically present. There are dozens of house sitting sites to search, so you are sure to find something that matches your skills.
Things to Consider Before House Sitting
Before you make any agreements, make sure that you read your contract thoroughly. Don’t accept any postings if you don’t believe you can fulfill the requirements. There are tons of different options out there, so consider the following things before you sign up for house sitting in foreign locales.
House sitting is not a great option for a weekend getaway. Most homeowners are looking for someone to look after their property for a few weeks or even a few months. Some may even want seasonal caretakers or someone to live on site whenever they are out of the country.
Although your accommodations will be provided, you still need to cover the costs to get there. In addition to airfare, you will also need to find local transportation to get you to the property. Sometimes these are in very remote locations and require you to charter local services. Additionally, you should also budget for food and entertainment for the duration of your house sitting assignment.
If you choose an international property, there will be some paperwork involved. If you don’t have a passport, then that is the first document you will need to get. Furthermore, some countries have visa requirements for entry and limitations on tourists’ lengths of stay. Read up on what documentation you will need to avoid any complications with immigration officials.
Traveling abroad always comes with risks, so it is important to stay in contact with friends and family. Most homes provide WiFi, but you can also look into local data plans or SIM cards to keep you connected. This will also help if you need to contact the homeowner in case of an emergency at the property.
5. Research Your Destination
This last point is probably the most important. Many locations appear idyllic on paper, but sometimes appearances are deceiving. Do some research about the surrounding areas and see what local amenities you have. It is also smart to be aware of any safety concerns in the area. You want to be well-prepared for any situation.
House sitting can be a very rewarding experience, but unexpected surprises can turn the perfect vacation into the perfect nightmare. Do your research, weigh your options, and ask questions before signing anything. Before you know it, you could be planning that exotic vacation that never seemed possible.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.