Housesitting is a sharing economy service that falls in the category of work-for-lodging, but it’s a unique segment because usually housesitters don’t have to do much work. At least not much more than they would do at home. Housesitting is a good alternative to home exchange as a way to find free lodging and experience a place living like a local, or if you are lucky, living in luxury.
Housesitting usually includes pet sitting, and if you don’t want to care for pets you might have a hard time finding gigs. But if you are good with animals, housesitting is a great way to find free lodging in some very nice homes. There are people travel the world housesitting for all of their lodging needs, and I’ve met some folks who gave up their homes to become permanent housesitters. It really is possible.
The trick with housesitting is finding someone to trust you with their home. Unlike home exchange, you aren’t offering them your home in return, so they really need to believe they can trust you. Fortunately there are now a bunch of websites that facilitate housesitters connecting with people who have houses that need sitting. And these sites help you build trust by collecting reviews of your previous gigs.
Nomadwallet published a good overview of how to find house sitting jobs. And there are experienced house sitters who have written whole books on the subject. This article in the New York Times is a good description of the experience. I’ve never done it, and I think my animal allergies make me a poor candidate for housesitter. Because of that I plan to publish some interviews with other folks I’ve met who are active housesitters. Stay tuned!
I have included all of the housesitting websites I could find (24 so far) in my peer to peer lodging spreadsheet, so if you are wondering which websites to sign up for, check that out. Just filter on “housesitting” in the description column. You can look at features like cost, geographic focus, and year founded to select the ones most relevant to you.