Six months ago Steve and I started our first house sitting in Australia job with Aussie House Sitters, to save to get married and to buy our own home. This means, for the last six months we have lived rent free and travelled to some of the most beautiful parts of Australia.
You read it right! You too could travel around Australia accommodation free!! See it like this… if you’re looking to go away for the weekend or on holiday in Australia, you could pet sit in the area to save on costs!
Whilst we’ve received a lot of emails asking about how to get started with pet sitting in Sydney as well as pet sitting in Australia, we’re here to tell you all about it.
And if you’re thinking about using Aussie House Sitters to find someone to look after your pet and you’re a bit dubious about it all, read on to find out everything you’ll ever need to know about it.
Disclaimer – there are a couple of affiliate links in this post to help support the running of this blog. If you decide to click on the links and use them, it doesn’t cost you anything extra and we’ll earn a tiny commission.
Table of Contents
Firstly, Sign Up To Aussie House Sitters
There are so many house sitting and pet sitting sites to choose from and whilst we signed up to a few of them, the only consistently good site we secured ALL of our pet sits was on Aussie House Sitters.
When you use global pet sitting sites, I think the competition tends to be a lot harder. I know I’ve seen at least 50 people apply on other sites so we’ve not bothered to apply. To be honest, we signed up to another pet sitting site when we went on our travels back in 2018 and heard nothing back from any pet owners so we gave up on it until we joined Aussie House Sitters.
Whilst we have been turned down by some house sits, we’ve managed to book ourselves up back-to-back for the last six months. We do get requests from people looking for house sitters on Aussie House Sitters and even from our Instagram page since we’ve been documenting the experience.
You do need to pay a fee to sign up, but to be honest, it’s hardly anything when you think about the amount of money you can save on rent or on putting your pets into kennels.
WANT TO EXPERIENCE PET SITTING IN AUSTRALIA? Click here to sign up to Aussie House Sitters Right Now >
House sitting vs pet sitting in Australia
There are people who are genuinely just looking for someone to look after their home whilst they go on holidays. This is like the golden ticket as there’s not usually much required other than garden maintenance.
On the flip side we’ve seen people looking for someone to look after their farm with horses, sheep and cows. It all just depends on what your limits are.
On our last Australian house sitting job, we looked after two dogs, a pet crab and a swimming pool. It was pretty random looking after a crab but the pool required a lot of maintenance. Steve spent at least an hour everyday cleaning it.
Also, please bear in mind that house sitting or pet sitting is an exchange for free accommodation in return for looking after someone’s pets and home. You do not get paid for it on Aussie House Sitters.
What type of people are pet owners looking for?
Because we’re a British-Australian couple, we found that all of the pet owners preferred couples. But, we have been turned down before in favour for single men or women and for families too. I think it just depends on the connection the pet owner has with you.
The main thing people are going to want is someone who is trust worthy and will genuinely look after their home and their animals with love.
How can you save money pet sitting?
If you’re new to this blog and you’re wondering how we save money pet sitting, both Steve and I work online. Whilst Steve works remotely for a web hosting business, I run Londoner In Sydney full time. This means we can live anywhere in Australia.
If you’re wondering about what you actually have to pay for whilst pet sitting or house sitting, you’re going to need to pay for all of your food and normal outgoings.
What you tend to get included in the pet sit is accommodation and house bills (some house sits might ask you to pay for house bills if you’re staying there a long time) and any outgoings for the pets like pet food or vet bills.
So if you’re thinking about becoming a pet sitter or a house sitter for your next holiday or weekend away or for longer stints like we have, then you’re basically saving money on accommodation / rent and bills. You’ll have to pay for everything else you would do normally.
If you’re pet sitting for a long time, then you might be able to look for a casual job in the area. You’ll need to let the owners know before you take it on though. A lot of pet owners like people to actually be around their animals a lot of the time and not leave them all day, every day.
How long in advance should you look for a pet sit?
Just to warn you, securing pet sits can take a while. I found it to be almost similar to looking for a new house to rent. Everyday I would check Aussie House Sitters to try and find somewhere that would be suitable for us and emailed off places.
Because we work online, we didn’t want to be moving around too much so we wanted long term pet sits.
House sits range anywhere from one night to months. We saw one that was advertised for 12 months in a regional town but we secured pet sits which were at least six weeks each which was a good amount of time.
We’ve done pet sits in the town of Old Bar near Taree, Warriewood in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and up in Agnes Water in Queensland. We were also supposed to do a pet sit in Mudgee, NSW but we had to unfortunately cancel as we were stuck in the bushfires in Old Bar – and yes we had to save the dog! But that’s a whole other story you can read about here.
How to create the best profile on Aussie House Sitters
Upload pictures with animals
Make sure you upload pictures of yourself with anyone else you’re pet sitting with. It would be even better if you upload pictures of yourself with animals.
When I looked at other pet sitters’ profiles, they all had a similar look in their eye, like you can tell they are animal people. People tend to look very content when they are around an animal. Hopefully this will be totally natural for you as you need to be a pet lover to get into pet sitting.
Add a video of yourself with a pet to your profile
Video content does extremely well on pet sitting sites because the owners want to see what you’re really like around animals. As soon as we scored our first pet sit, we filmed a video with the dog we were looking after to explain why we were pet sitting.
This actually worked really well for our current pet sit as the owners were very concerned with making sure they were leaving their dog in the right hands.
You can watch our profile video below!
What to write on your profile
The best thing you can do is to write a profile stating why you are pet sitting and to tell the pet owners what kind of person you are. For example on our profile, I started off by introducing ourselves, and told them that we are two online remote working professionals.
I instantly explained that we could send over police checks, an important part of house sitting which you need to provide. I also spoke about our background, how we met and why we love animals.
I highlighted the fact that we both work from home which we’ve found all of the pet owners really valued, knowing that their pets wouldn’t be left alone.
We also told them of the various places we’ve lived around the world, and about other pet sits we’ve done that aren’t reviewed on Aussie House Sitters. And we even mentioned how we’ve travelled a lot and stayed in various Airbnb’s around the world, highlighting the fact that we are comfortable staying in someone else’s home.
Most of all, we highlighted the fact that we are completely trust worthy and kind people.
Not long after we posted our profile, we landed our first house sit.
Include Police Checks
As I mentioned above, make sure you apply for a police check in Australia because most pet owners will ask to see it. It can take up to 10 days to receive back from the police and it does cost as well. You can apply for your Australian police check here.
WANT TO EXPERIENCE PET SITTING IN AUSTRALIA? Click here to sign up to Aussie House Sitters Right Now >
What if you haven’t done a pet sit before?
If you’ve not done pet sitting before, you need to think outside of the box. Did you grow up with animals? Have you walked someone else’s pet before? Mention any interaction you’ve had with animals before and get your friends or family to write a reference you can send over.
Try and do some pet sitting in your area for a day or two over the weekend so you can build up your experience, especially if you’re coming over to Australia on holidays and you’re looking for somewhere to stay.
Like I said, we mentioned about staying in Airbnb’s around the world just so the owner’s would know that we are completely comfortable with staying in someone else’s home.
What to do if someone is interested
If the dates, area and pets align and you’ve heard back from a pet owner, ask them to send you more photos of their property. We found a lot of people to just upload an image of their animal and nothing else.
It’s super important that you stay somewhere which you’ll feel comfortable with. You don’t want to turn up to your pet sit and feel like you can’t do it because the house isn’t clean.
Also check the area and temperature for the time of the pet sit. We’re currently in Agnes Water and although my weather app suggested the temp was the same in Sydney, it’s not. The heat has been very hot here so we had to invest in a couple of fans to cope with it.
You’ll then either need to skype the pet owner or better yet go and visit their home. We went and visited a couple of the homes before we all agreed to them and I’m glad we did as we didn’t get any surprises.
Obviously we couldn’t see the house in Agnes Water as it was a 16 hour drive from our then pet sit. But they showed us around the house on Skype and we really liked them so we knew it would be OK.
What to do in the run up to the house sit
When you’ve agreed to a pet sit, do not cancel it. We had to cancel one because we were stranded in the bush fires and couldn’t actually get to the next sit in time. Obviously this is a completely rare situation but do not cancel on your pet sit at all.
Most pet owners are new to the whole pet sitting experience. They are really anxious and nervous as they are technically allowing strangers into their home for a long period of time and they’re worried about the safety of their pets.
It’s your responsibility to ensure them that everything will be fine, you won’t steal anything and you’ll certainly look after their pets the best you can.
Make sure you ask the pet owners a lot of questions and write everything down because you don’t want to disrupt their holiday by emailing them with random questions.
All of the owners have written out a little manual for us which had all the info they thought we needed to know before we stayed in their home which is a fantastic resource for us.
Some of the questions you might like to ask include the following:
What food does the pet eat and at what times? Pet owners vary massively with the food they give their animals. They should either have food ready for the entire sit, or they will give you money to buy it. This is something you really shouldn’t have to pay for yourself.
What times do you walk the dog and where? Lead or no lead?
How does the dog interact with other animals?
Where does the dog sleep?
Can you give me the address and phone number of the nearest vets?
If something happens to the pet, will you cover the cost? On our first pet sit, the dog had caught a tick which is really dangerous so we rushed him to the vets. The owner had no problems in paying for his treatment.
Does the pet have any health problems? Check their body for any lumps and bumps to ask them about before they leave. I say this more in the fear of ticks so you’ll know if a random lump turns up during the pet sit.
Are there any valuables in the house we shouldn’t touch in the fear of breaking? It might sound stupid but honestly, you’ll need to know because these things can happen.
Then keep in contact with the pet owner before you arrive and drop them a Whatsapp every few weeks before the pet sit just to confirm you’re still going ahead.
With our pet sits, we tend to move in as the owners are leaving. But with our current pet sit, we moved in the night before they left. Although it can be a bit awkward because the pet owners are still understandably a bit cautious, it’s actually a really good idea. You’ll be able to learn more about the area, how their pets interact with them and others and anything else you need to know.
What to bring for your house sit
Steve and I notoriously NEVER travel light. Even on our travels around the world, we would always have the fear when he had to put his backpack on the scales at the airport because he was always over by a good 10kilos. I said he… that’s Steve, not me!
So we literally bring a car full of stuff with us on our pet sits. Might sound a bit much but it’s got everything we need to live in other people’s homes.
The main thing I’ve learnt is it’s always nice to have our own bed sheets to use. There’s something really comforting about this. We also bring our own kitchen utensils like frying pans, wooden spoons, our Vitamix and our own kettle. And we bring our bikes with us which have been a god send for our current pet sit in Agnes Water which has bike paths everywhere. For us, it brings a sense of feeling like we’re in our own home whilst pet sitting.
Also, make sure you take photos of the place you stay in because you might want to move a few things around, especially if you’re in there for a while. Then when it comes to leaving, you can put it all back together as you found it when you moved in.
How to look after the pet
We’ve also got some tips for what to actually do when you move into your house sit or pet sit in Australia.
Make sure you’ve agreed to an easy way to keep in touch with the pet owner whilst they are away. Whatsapp is the easiest app to use but our current pet owner prefers to use Messenger. Just make sure they are comfortable and know how to use the app properly before they leave.
We always keep in touch with the home owner by sending them videos of their pets every week whilst they are away. This gives them the sense that everything is OK, because we would want the same if we were in their position.
When you move in, the pets will probably freak out a little bit and wonder what’s going on. They usually get a bit depressed for a couple of hours or a couple of days. But we’ve found that they adapt very quickly and before we know it, they follow us around everywhere.
Try not to leave the house for a couple of days when you arrive, just so you have time for the pet to get used to you.
We always try to stick to the animals’ daily routine as much as possible. For example our current dog goes for his walk at 5am. Whilst that was a bit early for me to begin with, I’ve kept with that time and it’s done a lot for me mentally which has been awesome – especially seeing the sun rise everyday!
Interestingly, the dogs have all been different with us to what their owners told us. For example, we were told a dog wouldn’t walk up their stairs and would bark so the family would carry him up. He did it once when we arrived, then he happily walked up for the next six weeks.
We had another dog we were told wasn’t affectionate at all who then just wanted pats and hugs all the time. The main thing we’ve noticed is how different everyone treats their pets and how each pet had had a completely different personality.
What are the downsides to pet sitting?
I’m not gonna lie, there are some downsides to pet sitting and house sitting.
Not being able to go for weekends away during the pet sit
When we worked for corporate companies we used to go exploring on the weekend in Sydney and have weekends away (which we’ve written all about in this blog). When we’re pet sitting, we can’t really go anywhere because we’re looking after someone else’s home and pets.
Sometimes we’ve wanted to go exploring up the coast or catch a flight to somewhere but we’ve had to put all of that on hold whilst we are pet sitting. We don’t ever leave the pets for any longer than 4 hours so we’ve made sure we’ve stayed in places where there’s either some great things to do in the area or it’s just a stunning area whereby we haven’t felt the need to even want to leave. Just make sure you’re 100% happy to commit to the whole pet sit knowing you can’t do some things you would have done before having a pet to look after.
Having to pack and unpack
Having to pack up our stuff and unpack becomes really exhausting, but that’s our own fault. Obviously if we brought less stuff with us, it would be much easier.
Having to clean the house at the end like it’s an inspection coming up
I always have to take a good few days out of work to clean the house sit like it’s the end of the rental. I like to make sure every house is really clean so it’s nice for the owners to come back to after their holiday. It does take a lot of time which can be quite exhausting to do every 6 weeks or so.
Having to leave just as we’ve got settled
Because we work online, it can take a while to get comfortable with our working routine in someone else’s home. We’ve found just as we’re getting settled into life in the house and the area, we then have to pack up and leave. This can be a bit heart breaking as it’s easy to forget that we don’t actually live there, especially when we’ve got ourselves into a great routine in a beautiful part of Australia.
Saying goodbye to the pet
When you spend a while with someone else’s pet, it’s difficult not to get attached to them. This makes it really hard to leave but we’ve always felt like they would be so happy to see their family when they get home again. It is hard but we’ve found the best way to deal with it is knowing that when we have our own pets, we’ll be able to become the best parents to them, thanks to this experience.
Not knowing where we’ll be staying next
It can be a bit daunting not knowing where we’ll be staying in a month’s time but that’s also something that’s kinda great about pet sitting as well. Because we’ve travelled a lot around the world, we never made plans and just decided on what country to visit next as and when we wanted. It feels the same a bit with pet sitting but it’s only like this if you’re not organised. We booked up six months worth of petting sitting back in September and now it’s March so it’s always good to keep one step ahead.
Best reasons to pet sit
To be honest, it’s an amazing experience we think everyone should try pet sitting. Here’s some of the highlights to pet sitting and house sitting in Australia.
You get to explore new parts of Australia
It’s a fantastic opportunity to explore some of the best parts of Australia whilst pet sitting. If you’re looking to travel around Australia for free, then you’ll get a proper Australian experience by pet sitting in more remote areas. Even after living in Australia for nearly 10 years, I’ve had people constantly ask me why I’m in the towns we’ve been staying in because they don’t hear my strong British accent all that often.
Free rent and bills in Australia
An obvious point is you get to live rent free in Australia which is a huge bonus. The amount of money we’ve been able to save has been a life saver for us to build our future.
Stay in amazing places during some of the most expensive places in the year
You can score some amazing places to stay in Australia. We had our own swimming pool in Sydney’s Northern Beaches which was amazing and it was during Christmas and New Year.
A lot of people are looking for pet sitters during the Christmas holidays so you could potentially stay right in the heart of Sydney for free during this time. Unfortunately if you’re looking after a pet, you will have to miss out on the Sydney New Years Eve fireworks because animals are terrified of them.
Awesome tips from staying in other people’s homes
We’ve got some great tips from staying in someone else’s home. For example, we stayed in one home and they had excellent kitchen appliances like a dishwasher and washing machine that we noted it down for when we move into our future home.
We also found it interesting to learn about what kind of home we want to live in the future. After spending years living in small apartments in Sydney, we’re ready to live a bit further out so we can live in an actual house.
You become really sociable
A fantastic thing about pet sitting is you’ll become really sociable. Everyone wants to stop and chat you about the dog which is lovely. At our current pet sit, we have a good chin wag with all of the other dog owners on the beach every morning.
It becomes addictive
It’s a good and bad thing, but pet sitting becomes so addictive. We had planned to be finished with pet sitting by Christmas yet we continue to do it because we love it so much.
Every time I look on Aussie House Sitters, I’m finding a new pet sit that we always say, ‘shall we just do one more?‘ It’s hard to stop pet sitting when we get to travel, see more of Australia and live rent free.
Great way to learn all about having a pet for the future
The main thing we’ve learnt about pet sitting is about what it’s going to be like to have our own pets in the future. We’ve been incredibly grateful to have this experience that we feel completely prepared for when we have our own pets.
We also wouldn’t hesitate to use Aussie House Sitters when we do have our own pets because as pet sitters, we know what to expect now.
If you’re a pet owner reading this just to understand what pet sitting is like, I can tell you not to have any doubt in knowing it’s the right thing to do for your pets. I know animals prefer to be in their own homes than to go into a dog kennel for weeks or months on end.
We’ll continue to use Aussie House Sitters as our only pet sitting and house sitting site in Australia because we’ve had such a good experience with them and have found all of our pet sits through them.
WANT TO EXPERIENCE PET SITTING IN AUSTRALIA? Click here to sign up to Aussie House Sitters Right Now >
Don’t forget to watch our video!
Everything you need to know about Aussie House Sitters
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