House Sitting in the UK – An Affordable and Unique Way to Travel

House Sitting in the UK has become more and more popular in recent years as an affordable and authentic way to travel. It’s a win-win situation – home owners have peace of mind whilst they are away, knowing their home and pets (if they have them) are being looked after, whilst travellers receive free (or very cheap) accommodation and a unique place to stay. The properties vary enormously – from apartments in London or Manchester to rural retreats in the Cotswolds, farmhouses in remote locations in the beautiful Scottish countryside to seaside cottages in coastal villages and towns.

Accommodation for travellers in the UK can be very expensive, as is putting pets into kennels, so by connecting home and pet owners with reliable and trustworthy sitters, both parties can save a substantial amount of money. You could end up staying in places you never would have dreamed of and have a truly authentic experience in the UK, mixing with the local community and immersing yourself in British culture.

Or for all my fellow Brits who want to house sit, you can try out different parts of the country to see if you’d fancy living there, free yourself from a costly mortgage or find yourself a unique retreat to truly escape (and of course, there are plenty of opportunities in other countries).

House Sitting in the UK

So How Does House Sitting Work?

The house sitter agrees to stay in the owner’s property for a set amount of time. Opportunities can vary from a long weekend to an extended period of perhaps 2-3 months or longer. The house sitter is usually required to be in the property most of the time, although this may be negotiable. The idea is that the property appears occupied, deterring potential burglaries, vandals etc and is cared for as usual. This could include watering plants, keeping everything clean, taking telephone messages and anything else the homeowner may request that you both agree on.

There will often be one or more pets to look after as well which could include cats and dogs, fish, reptiles, rabbits and guinea pigs, hamsters, chickens, goats or horses. All sorts of people house sit – singles, young couples, professionals, families, artists, retired couples – there really is no stereotypical house sitter.

What’s the Cost?

In the vast majority of cases, it is free to stay in the house itself in exchange for the added security you will be providing and caring for any pets that reside there. Typically, the only cost involved is a joining fee to become a member of one of the house sitting websites.

The costs vary from around $25  to around $150 – the top end of the price range may seem a lot to those travelling on a budget but actually with unlimited stays, the price is extremely fair. With accommodation being so expensive in the UK, this annual fee would be the equivalent of a maximum of 2 nights in an average hotel. Over a week this works out to be around $15 a night – about the same as a budget hostel! Obviously the more house sitting you do throughout the year, the less your costs will be.

Other than the membership fee, there are usually no other costs to pay. If the opportunity is a longer term one you may be expected to pay towards utility bills but this is all negotiable with the homeowner.

How Do I Become a House Sitter?

There are a number of good house-sitting sites that match house sitters with home owners, but in my opinion the best are as follows:

Trusted House Sitters – this is the biggest and best known of the house sitting sites. Their website is easy to navigate, hundreds of new properties are added each month and it has received multiple awards and accolades. It’s a $119 annual membership fee but in my opinion well worth it for the amount, quality and variety of opportunities available in the UK and elsewhere.

Mind My House – Another well laid out and easy to use site which is geared towards the UK and Europe. A more limited choice of opportunities but with membership only $20 for the year it’s one of the cheapest out there.

House Carers – mainly for the US and Australia but there are a few British house sits that come up. A good site – easy to navigate and probably second best after Trusted House Sitters in terms of number of opportunities. $50 annual membership fee.

UK Specific Sites

House Sitters UK and Mind a Home are UK specific sites. They’re not quite so user-friendly as the bigger sites and with less options but with annual membership being only $25-$35, they are definitely worth a look.



 

How Do I Get A Great Assignment?

Make Your Profile Stand Out From The CrowdThis is what home owners will see first so make sure it is well-written, up to date and most of all enthusiastic! It’s a good idea to include:

  • Past experience – Have you house sat previously? Do you own your own home or have done in the past? Demonstrating you know how to care for a home is important.
  • Your love of animals – Do you have pets or have had in the past? If not, have you looked after pets before? The majority of house sits include looking after pets in one way or another so make sure you profess your love for all things feathery, furry and scaly!
  • Good references – Make sure your references are credible and reliable and will get back to the homeowner. These could be past homeowners you have sat for, or if you are just starting out, a former boss, family friend or old neighbour. Anyone who can back up your character and prove your trustworthiness is a good bet.
  • Any special skills – these could include your ability with tools, green fingers, love of ironing etc! Anything that you think would benefit the homeowner whilst they are away.

Be On The Ball – Although there are many opportunities, the most attractive ones will always go quickly. Make sure you look daily if you can, or sign up for email alerts to make sure you don’t miss out. Be the first to make contact with the homeowner!

Be Flexible – The more flexible you can be in terms of dates, location and what you are looking for, the more opportunities will be available to you.

Ask Questions – Don’t be afraid to ask about anything you’re unsure of or need to know, for example: How much (if any) will you be expected to contribute towards bills? Will there be Wifi? Can you leave the house overnight? Will there be a car available to use? What should you do if a pet becomes ill? It’s better to know as much as possible before you arrive to save any unwelcome surprises.

House Sitting in the UK

What Makes A Good House Sitter?

The number one thing is to treat the property with complete respect. You are in someone else’s home and it should be left exactly as you found it – or better! Pets should always be a priority, and any instructions left for them to be followed exactly. Keep the house secure whenever you leave it and make sure you don’t change any settings – heating, alarms, TV etc. Replace anything you use, for example milk, toilet rolls or other essentials.

Also, be prepared for sticky situations – these are unlikely but they can happen. You should have the owner’s emergency contact details to hand.

In Summary

I am always surprised how few people have heard of house sitting, hence my writing an article about it to encourage people to try it! It’s such a great way to see different parts of the UK that you might not find otherwise and you get to truly live like a local. As a UK resident, it can free you from having a costly mortgage or paying expensive rent – and you will never get bored of your view! Aside from the money saving aspect, you get an experience you might never have had otherwise.

 

NB. This page has affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products I have recommended, I may receive a small commission. This doesn’t affect the price you pay and helps keep my site running 🙂 For more information please see full details here 🙂

 

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House Sitting in the UK

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60 Replies to “House Sitting in the UK – An Affordable and Unique Way to Travel”

  1. What a wonderful idea. I have heard of it but didn’t realise how much of a reality it is. You have provided so much great information on the subject and the different options open to people.

    Thank you for sharing the websites where we can register and giving helpful tips on how to make our profiles stand out.

  2. I have been hearing about this more and more lately, people house sitting. People are able to turn this into a vacation. I know this is a trend in the United States where we live, as well. I agree it’s a win-win. For the folks who are leaving their home, it gives them peace of mind that someone is there to watch over the house. For the house sitter, you get to stay somewhere with all of the amenities you need. It sounds like there are a wide variety of properties, so you can choose whatever suits you. You may be able to stay in a very high end home, or be in the heart of the city. This is also great if you have pets, as finding care for your pets is often very expensive. Very interesting article, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

    1. I totally agree, I definitely think it’s going to grow – not just because of the money saving aspect but I think people are looking for more authentic ways to travel.

  3. I’ve known a few people who have house-sit in the past and it is a really great way to travel the world, and enjoy a change of scenery. I wish I could’ve done something like this in my younger years, as I believe it provides the perfect opportunity to experience life, meet different and new people and discover and visit places you never would have if it were a matter of money.

  4. Hi Louise
    This reminds me of that movie “The Holiday” with Cameron Diaz and Kate Whisler. I didn’t think that you can actual do this in real life never heard about it. What a concept! I love to travel and this is something that I’m going to seriously look into thanks for sharing this article I am definitely going to check out those websites you mentioned. I also bookmarked your site in my favourites. The only thing is I’m not sure if I would feel comfortable in someone else’s home. I’ll have to read more reviews on this. How long does it usually take for a home owner to approve you? Is there lots of pictures and information regarding the home it self? I have a lot more questions but I will refer back to your site and ask more questions once I look into it further. Again thanks for the post.

    1. Hi Franca,

      Yes, I can totally see why you say that! I suggest you read a lot more of the information on the house sitter websites – they’re pretty comprehensive with FAQs and testimonials etc.

      Home owners are usually pretty quick to get back to you and they will send you a lot more information once you are approved.

      I’m glad you found my post helpful 🙂

      Louise

  5. Hey Louise!

    My wife and I joined Trusted House Sitters one year ago, but we haven’t had the opportunity to house sit yet. But we’re really looking forward to find some days off and do it.

    I didn’t know there were other sites which offer this same service. Nice to have more options to this amazing way of saving while traveling!

    I guess the only dowsize is having to be very flexible with dates, and when you depend on having to catch a plane to get to the location, that narrows down your options a little…

    It’s just one con, but there are a lot of pros anyway.

    Thanks for the review! 😉

    1. Hi!

      Yes, that is true – you have to plan a little in advance to get the location and house sit that you are after. I think Trusted Housesitters is the best one as it seems to have the most choice.

      I hope you get to house sit soon – please let me know if and when you do, I’d love to hear about your experience 🙂

      Louise

  6. I love the information. It makes me want to go out and consider house sitting right away. Do you have any experience with it? If so what did you like? What didn’t you like? Were you just a sitter or did you have someone stay at your place also? Anything we need to watch out for as bad signs?

    1. Hi Marcey,

      I have done it a few times with a friend and thought it was a brilliant idea – I’m going to do a lot more of it over the next year hopefully! My friend has been doing it a few years and absolutely loves it. As far as I know, she’s never had a bad experience, in fact, a lot of house sitters become friends with the owners 🙂

      I really like the fact that you have everything you need in the house and you get to stay somewhere unique. Everyone (house owners and sitters) is vetted by the site which should minimise any potentially bad experiences.

      I’ve never had someone stay so I can’t speak on behalf of the owners but there are lots of testimonials on all the sites should you wish to find out more 🙂

      Louise

  7. Great info about housesitting. I’ve never done that before but it is interesting to me. We currently travel during the winter for 3 months and rent apartments in places and that has worked well. I have wondered about the possibility of housesitting, but it seems like alot of housesitters have lots of experience, so I didn’t know how well it would work for a brand new sitter in terms of getting house sit assignments.

    1. Hi Mary,

      It’s true that some are seasoned house sitters but everyone has to start somewhere. As long as you can demonstrate your enthusiasm and responsibility you are halfway there 🙂

  8. House sitting is truly an amazing tool!
    We have a bunny and use house sitting all the time when we want to go on holiday! It’s great because we feel good leaving her with someone we picked and people house sitting our place get to experience a new place as well!

  9. I’ll be honest, I knew very little about house-sitting before reading this article. It’s very interesting! You’ve really got me thinking here..will definitely look into this further as its something I’d love to do. I agree – it’s win win!

  10. I have heard of house-sitting before but never thought of actually giving it a go. I mean it does make a lot of sense to do it and I would love to save money whilst travelling alongside helping others. This post is well detailed and certainly, helps other people thinking of going down this path of travel to take the leap.

  11. This is a great article about house sitting in my home country, thanks.
    I live in Greece and have had house sitters to look after my two cats when I am away – but I would love to actually ‘sit’ myself, and in my own country too.

  12. I have not tried housesitting yet, but it does sound like a great way to travel and save money and it seems to be getting more and more popular. I would love to try it in the Cotswolds!

  13. THIS IDEA! It is awesome that this is a possibility when doing travel plans. Not only does it provide for cheaper accommodations but it also let you really experience living in an English village, own, city, etc.

  14. Such great information! I live in the US, and I’ve been intrigued by the idea of house-sitting as a way to minimize lodging costs while I travel, but been unsure where I’d even start. Thanks for the info.

  15. Wow I wish I knew about this before! I jut left for two months long holidays so I could totally have someone to stay in my room. I think it’s an amazing idea to help people see the world for less money! So smart! Thanks for sharing it!

  16. I love this idea! I love having my own personal space when traveling so that I have somewhere to wind down. However, that sometimes isn’t the most affordable option. Thanks for all the great information!

  17. I love this idea. It is genius and can be done legitimately to make money too! Thank you for the resources. My daughter wants to travel and this is a fantastic option for her to check out.

  18. Before I started my family I used to house sit for people in my neighbourhood, I had never considered doing it whilst travelling! It would save you SO much money and it would be especially good if you were a lone traveller. Might be something to consider once the kids are off doing their own thing.

    1. It’s certainly a great way to see the country Sondra! Please let me know if you’d like any more information, I’d be happy to help!

  19. I have heard so much about house sitting and just can’t get behind it! We travel a lot and our dog sitter is the bulk of our travel expenses, so it would be nice to leave him at home. This gives me hope that maybe we can find someone we trust to house sit while we travel!

  20. This is somethink I would definitely like to experience! It’s a great way to travel. Plus, I love caring all the animals of the world – even snakes – I love them!

  21. Housesitting isn’t that big in South Africa but for a South African abroad it would make great sense especially considering our poor currency😂 I’m definitely going to consider it when we travel!

  22. I love the idea of house sitting, its so great for both parties. I know people travelling through Europe doing extended sits and it looks amazing. Definitely something I’d be interested in trying out!

  23. This is a great article, and it’s definitely encouraged me to give it a go! It’s certainly the cheapest way to stay in the UK too – some of our hotel prices are crazy!

  24. Thanks for the great rundown on House Sitting. This is probably a stupid question, but I’m does signing up to those house sitting sites mean that you also have to offer your house to be looked after? I’d love to stay at someone’s house and look after their pets etc while travelling. I don’t have pets because I rent but also because I’d feel guilty leaving them at home while I go away. So being able to play with and care for someone else’s while I’m on holiday would be awesome!

    1. Hi Katherine,

      No, the great thing is that regardless of whether you have your own place that needs a house sitter or not, you can sign up – on most of the websites it’s a flat fee for everybody. Writing a good profile for yourself is the most important thing – once that’s done then you can start to get some amazing assignments!

      Louise

  25. What?!? How have I never heard of this before?? I love it! I’ve been wanting to get back to the UK for a long time now, but price is always a factor. Going to look into this and see if I qualify… What an awesome way to experience the UK!

    1. It certainly is Mary Beth – in fact you can do it all over the world but it’s particularly useful in the more expensive countries! 🙂

  26. This is interesting. My only question, will you be able to enjoy the city where the house located? Because if you have to stay in the house all the time, it’s a no-no then.

    1. Hi Umiko. It totally depends on the house sit as each one is unique. Some will request you to be there the majority of the time, others are a lot more flexible. Louise

  27. I’ve read about house sitting countless of times but never really fully understood how it works, tbh. Glad to have read about it. Your list is very comprehensible, especially on how it works, the usual arrangements and where to find them. Will definitely look into this option for future long term travels! 🙂

  28. Yes, it is surprising how few people know about house sitting. I’ve been doing it for 2 years now in the U.S. and love it. A fun way to explore different parts of the country while living like a local. Great resources here.

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