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Passionate experience junkie. Lover of the arts and architecture. Want to see and share the world, one village at a time.

Don’t Ignore This One Action if You Want to House Sit

It’s unanimous. Every house sitter agrees. There is one vital action you must take when applying for house sitting assignments.

So if you slack on having the greatest profile photo, or in getting that third letter of recommendation, okay, but you can’t ignore this one action. Without it, you will not be house sitting.

house sitting travel

This was our first house sitting assignment near Copenhagen.

Here it is:

Get your introduction letter to a homeowner within a few hours of their post going live.

So here’s how the procedure happens:

  1. Mrs. Homeowner needs a house sitter, writes up a nice post explaining where they live, how long they’ll be gone, and what they expect in a house sitter. She posts it on one of the house sitting match-up sites, such as HouseCarers.com or TrustedHouseSitters.com.
  2. As a house sitter, you receive daily email alerts letting you know all the new posts. You see Mrs. Homeowner’s post and it sounds good.
  3. You must warm up your fingers and set them to work on the keyboard immediately writing a professional letter of introduction to Mrs. Homeowner. Not after walking the dog or having another cup of coffee. Not after you get back from yoga class. Not after reading about another assignment. Write the letter immediately.

Here’s why:

  1. After posting a need for house sitters a homeowner starts receiving letters of introduction right away. They are anxious to find a good candidate so start reading.
  2. There are boatloads of qualified and wonderful house sitters out there. After reading 10 or 15 letters, the homeowner already has several people to choose from.
  3. Some homeowners stop right there are don’t even read any more letters. (I’m sure it has happened to you that you never hear back from homeowners, and indeed find out they never opened your letter.)
  4. By the end of the first day of posting the need for house sitters, many homeowners have already narrowed their field to a short list of three candidates.

What this all means is that you must jump on the new posts right away in order to get your introduction letter in front of the homeowner immediately.

James Cave from TrustedHouseSitters.com takes this action very seriously. To that end, the website has implemented options for house sitters in active search mode. To gain a competitive edge you can sign up for real-time alerts which send them to your email the moment the post goes live. Normally, email alerts arrive in your email at the same time each day. All listings from the previous 24 hours are listed.

Additionally, when you are a member of TrustedHouseSitters and logged in at the site, you see a more current list of new assignments. The trick there is to remember to log in!

Nora Dunn, aka The Professional Hobo, a veteran house sitter had this to say,

“If you’re extra eager and know where you want to go, then visit the site and search daily. There’s often a delay between when a listing is posted on the site and when the email alerts go out, allowing you to get in with your application before the masses who are only monitoring their emails.”

Put yourself in the homeowner’s shoes. If your email inbox is filled with introductory letters, how would you approach them? Chances are you’d start with the one that came in first and move up the list. If the letters are from experienced and qualified house sitters, is there a need to slog through a hundred or more? Probably not.

Colleen and Rick Ray from OurAdventuresHouseSitting.com have house sat their way across several continents. The recently won a tony assignment in Hawaii, an extremely competitive location for applying for house sits. Coleen answered my recent question about her method of applying this way:

“It is so timely that you e-mailed with that particular question because we’ve just had (again) an experience that underscores the need to apply as soon as possible after a sit is posted.  We applied immediately (same day) for a house sit in Hawaii and by the next morning the ad had been pulled because the homeowner had over 100 applicants in the first day.  I can’t say how many people were actually considered but I am under the impression that they went through most of them (especially because this is their first time using a house sitter and they are being very cautious to do it properly).  The field was narrowed to three which were interviewed, references checked, etc.  We are very happy to tell you that we were selected!  But I’m sure that would not have been the case if we hadn’t responded so quickly.  It’s a cliché but with house sitting the early bird does get the worm.”

I’ll leave you with words from Chris and Brian Forster, first-time house sitters who just returned from their first assignment in Australia. I asked if she found it important to respond quickly to house sitting posts.

“Josie – hmmm – would not this be common sense to do this? Folks that don’t get their application off immediately can’t be too serious!”


Here are more articles with tips for successful house sitting.

I wish you safe and happy travels always and all ways,


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17 Responses to “Don’t Ignore This One Action if You Want to House Sit”

  1. Hi Josie!

    I’ve been recommending Josie’s amazingly detailed e-book for, oh, a year or so now I’d guess. I’d done a fair bit of housesitting before I found it & even so, learned lots of great tips & ideas that were new to me.

    I think she’s right about the speedier you are the better your chances, though I think that’s a shame. People have lives & jobs & just STUFF going on, & just CAN’T always reply immediately, even if they ARE super interested (I must respectfully disagree with the Forsters 🙂 )

    So if I may, I’d like to offer readers some tips on writing compelling profiles which are also useful for writing those first intro/reply letters as well – they aren’t all that different from cover letters (though more informal for sure) … on my blog, check out: Writing a Compelling Housesitter Profile http://resumeconfidence.com/?p=1625

    Happy Housesitting everyone! I just got back from a GREAT one – the owner included illustrated instructions for everything from how to use the alarm system to how to tuck the dogs in to their beds at night (he’s an artist) — super cool! You meet the most interesting people! 🙂


    October 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm Reply
    • Hey Shannon,

      Thanks for your take on this issue. You’re right about everyone having the stuff of life that can get in the way of applying for house sits immediately. I have certainly had those days, and have chosen to pass up an assignment simply because I didn’t have time to sit down and write that letter.
      I’m glad you have gotten assignments despite having that stuff that gets in the way!
      And as always than you for your kind words about my book. I appreciate you!

      October 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm Reply
  2. A wealth of info here, Josie. Walking us through the fine details of the process is a good idea. A homeowner faced with 100 applications is in an unenviable position. The early bird does get the house…
    Heather recently posted..Airbus calls for bigger airline seatsMy Profile

    October 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm Reply
    • Hey Thanks Heather. Yes, that is the moral of the story: The early bird gets the house!
      Thanks for you kind words.

      October 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm Reply
  3. Hi Josie,
    Interesting reading. I apply like I am actually applying for paid employment, it is a $$ saving exercise anyway.
    I apply for sits a year and more ahead, they are out there. I am booked until late February 2015, I was booked for that last sit 3 months ago. So all in all I have known where I will be 12 to 18 months ahead.
    For those few weeks or days in between my owners contact me and ask when I am available, then they book their cruise, holiday around that time. Many owners are retired so do not have to organise time off from work etc.
    Retired owners also tend to travel away from their winter, so if I see a sit listed in a planned country and I am already sitting this year I still introduce myself and offer my services for the same time the next year. Amazingly I get more replies to my ‘not available for this sit but…’ then my sits I had hoped to get??? We then build a relationship and many have also invited me to stay with them in their home in between sits. They love my lifestyle and having gotto know each other have formed a trust and respect for each other.
    My owners also ask me to stay a few days before and also after just to enjoy each other’s company, remember some owners are widows and love company. Even older couples ask me to spend time with them if I need a place to hang my hat in between sits. What a pity most of my sits are back to back!
    One older couple, she has motor neurone, has invited my daughter and her two boys (both on the autism spectrum) to stay with me December/January 2015 and the use of their car too. Love my owners and their pets.
    I am in Melbourne Victoria Australia at present and will fly to Edmonton Alberta Canada next year February and am actively seeking sits up to January 2016. From Canada to Panama! Then Europe and the UK again for their Spring and Summer. Then back to Australia to my regular owners who travel at the same time as they are all teachers until January 2017.
    Francien with Asha and Toby in beautiful but chilly Mont Albert 13 klms east of the Melbourne CBD.

    July 13, 2014 at 8:29 pm Reply
    • Hi Francien,
      Wow, this is a wonderful comment — filled with great information and tips for anyone interested in a house sitting lifestyle! Thank you so much! You illustrate perfectly why house sitting works. It is people dealing with people and negotiation is the name of the game. We can work out any type of scenario in which both parties win, and in the process become friends for life.

      Beautiful stuff, my dear!
      Wishing you safe and happy travels,

      July 14, 2014 at 7:19 am Reply
  4. Thank you Josie for replying. As you can tell I am really loving my life.
    Channel 9 an national Australian television channel, will be interviewing myself and friends who I am also going to be sitting for for 6 weeks to put across the owners point of view why they decided upon a sitter for their pets. It will be shown before 9am on the Today show. I have already been interviewed by A Current Affair as well as the Today Tonight both national in 2012 and 2013. Two weeks ago I was on the front page plus page 9 in a local newspaper which was read by a 3AW producer of talk back radio who messaged me via Facebook 😉 so they could call me and chat about what I do and why. So then the call from the morning show Today was ringing me too!!
    Great as we, my daughter Felicity and I, created a website (professionally built) as so many owners were asking me to sit for them but cloning isn’t in my repertoire. So that was one reason for the birth of http://www.homesittersworldwide.com which launched on 1st June this year. So all this media attention proves to me that karma is alive and well.
    Life is awesome and mine is amazingly so. In 7 days I will turn 63 and I feel and look younger than I did at 55 honest.
    Where are you sitting in this wonderful world at this time and what pets are you spoiling.
    Have a wonderful day or night,
    Francien, with Asha and Toby who are both snoozing.

    July 14, 2014 at 8:36 am Reply
    • Simply wonderful and astounding Francien! Yeah, what a life. Good on ya, my friend, and glad we connected.


      July 15, 2014 at 7:23 am Reply
  5. Hi Josie,
    I was contacted by RetireEarlyLife a few weeks ago to write a piece to inspire their members, and after I contacted them earlier today I found it wasn’t received. So I re-sent the piece earlier today and this was the reply. When it has been published! PUBLISHED!! I will send it too you. Very exciting, it will be 51 years since my last piece was published, I was 12.

    ‘Hi Francien,

    I liked your piece and with a bit of editing I will be placing it on our site in the next couple of days. I will be sending you a link so you may promote it as you see fit. It will be placed in our queue for promotion along with the other pieces we have pending.

    What an amazing story! And I’m so happy for you that this has worked out so well. I hope it gives our readers inspiration to solve their own possible housing problems and get going and travel.

    Let’s keep in touch.’


    Cheers Francien, Asha and Toby in Mont Albert Victoria Australia

    August 12, 2014 at 9:04 am Reply
  6. Terrific article, Josie. As newbies, we found the recommendations particularly helpful. We leave for our first sit in ten days: the tropical island of Fiji! Excited!
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted..Taking the LeapMy Profile

    August 25, 2014 at 12:51 pm Reply
    • Congratulations Betsy, on embarking on your first house sitting assignment! I’m so excited for you. And to Fiji — my gosh, this has to be the most romantic and exotic place to spend time living like a local.
      I’m so glad I could give you a bit of knowledge to help you along. Please let me know how your assignment goes.
      Wishing you safe and happy travels,

      August 25, 2014 at 9:38 pm Reply
  7. Hi. I have been house sitting for over two years now. I have had the privilege to both work and house sit in my local area of the Illawarra, South Coast NSW Aust.

    The majority of my house sits have come by recommendations from previous home owners. I have many repeat sits and therefore my bookings are currently through to 2016.

    I think the important aspects of gaining a house sit client is to be very open and approachable. Be honest and clear on what you can and can not provide.

    Always leave the property cleaner than you found it. Have regular contact with the owners during their vacation. Post pics of their pets to them if able.

    Get and always provide a recent police check. Get and provide references. If you get declined for a house sit follow up with a thank you email for their consideration as they may contact you if their chosen house sitter falls through.

    Happy house sitting

    December 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm Reply
    • Hi Leeanne,
      Super great tips — thanks for offering them here. I love how you Australian folks accept house sitting as the norm! I’d like to see that level of trust here in the U.S.
      Happy house sitting, my friend!

      December 11, 2014 at 8:16 am Reply
  8. Hey Josie, enjoyed the the post. Totally agree that it is the most important and in our 4 years we have found having a personal website was the other big game changer for us. Most of our owners said they felt they knew us after visiting our website, and had already made up there minds to use us before even replying or contacting us. Cheers Gavin & Jill

    May 3, 2015 at 11:04 pm Reply
    • Hi Jill and Gavin,
      More and more I realize house sitting success is about the chemistry between homeowner and house sitter. You make a good point that having a website moves a homeowner faster towards choosing you! Thanks for adding your views!

      May 4, 2015 at 7:09 am Reply
  9. Thanks, Josie, for the advice–particularly the link to “Don’t Ignore This One Action.” I work 50 hours a week, write a travel blog, and travel almost every break I get. I MUST stop waiting for the perfect time or pitch and just write the letter because, yes, the lines are getting longer.

    May 23, 2016 at 9:03 am Reply
    • Hi Cindy and Welcome!
      Your website name says it all — AMoveToMorocco.com! You’ve got big dreams, so let’s get started!
      Always here to help . . .

      May 23, 2016 at 7:08 pm Reply

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