Travel The World On The Cheap:

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Housesitting! This is Genius!

Yes, you could enjoy a new area, do a little hiking and have a free place to live. All in exchange for keeping the place tidy and caring for the animals.

This is a stellar idea! Please enjoy dreaming, and apply to be a housesitter in some area you would like to get to know better. And hike!

See you on the trails!

So you want to travel the world but lack the funds? You’re keen to take the kids on the road but need space for them to roam?

If you can be flexible on location and duration, house-sitting can be a passport to long-term budget travel, offering free accommodation and the chance to live like a local in a foreign country. All you’ll have to do in return is mow the lawn, water the plants or look after the family pet.

A brief survey of house-sitting websites shows that age and experience trump youth and beauty when it comes to securing a gig. Likewise, some homeowners’ reluctance to let little people touch their belongings or terrorize their furry friends may make it a little more difficult for families with young children, but anyone can get a look in with great references and a bit of experience.


Dr Doolittle types will be in their element as many house-sits involve looking after animals, from the family dog to virtual menageries of horses, chickens and goats. Some owners, especially those in rural areas, want people with maintenance skills, while others might simply need their house occupied, their plants watered and their mail sorted.

Whatever the minutiae, you’ll be expected to live in the house full­-time, keep it clean and tidy, and regularly contact the owners to let them know how their pal Buster/prized rose bush is doing, so jetting off for long weekends is difficult.

Where Do I Sign Up?

You could go it alone by advertising on free sites such as Craigslist or Gumtree or by searching expat websites and Facebook groups, but the easiest way is to sign up to an official agency (or several) for a small annual fee.

Market leader is relatively expensive with a minimum outlay of US$7.49 a month, but comes highly recommended and has a wide variety of jobs on offer. has an annual fee of US$50 . Another popular site is, which charges US$20 a year. Dedicated country sites include, and

Beating the competition

Writing a stellar profile is key. There are many more applicants than available properties so you’ll need to make yourself seem desirable. If you have experience as a homeowner, say so. Similarly, if you have special skills such as dog grooming, shepherding, or landscape gardening, now’s the time to brag about them. Clear photos – or even short videos – are important, particularly if they show you with animals, or practising the aforementioned handy skills. For an even more personal touch you could point homeowners in the direction of your blog, Facebook page or websit. References are crucial. If you have no house-sitting experience these can be from a landlord, estate agent, friend or employer. A police check is also appreciated.

Before you commit

Get as much information as possible. Talk to the owners via phone or even better, via Skype, to go through everything that’s expected of you, the facilities provided, (high speed internet if you need to work, for example), what you’ll need to pay for (bills, household maintenance, pet food, etc), whether there’s transport available, and if you can have guests stay.

thanks to Nana Luckham and Lonely Planet: Read more:
image of beach house by Fuse/ Getty
image of cabin in the woods (SamselCabin4.jpg) from
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