We are housesitting in San Francisco. The way this works is that we got connected with a family who went to visit family on the East Coast and needed somebody (us) to look after their cat, dog, home and plants during their absence. In exchange for our reliable housesitting duties we stay here free of charge. It is a fair exchange of our time for accommodation. We added up the time that we spend caring for the pets and if you paid somebody the hours that we put in then that person could pay rent on a pretty decent place to live.
So while I regularly see the headline ‘how to travel for free & housesitting” in the same sentence on the internet it is not really ‘free’. It requires commitment and time that often can clash with other activities that you might prefer to engage in. For me for example it generally means that I can not go out and explore the city as freely as I naturally would because the dog needs attention every few hours (which is after all what we are here for pet-happiness). It isn’t our call to change the way the owner might take care of their pets nor to neglect the pets to prioritise our schedules and activities.
So I really would not say this is free. The priority is the job that the house-sitter(s) accept and that can clash with ideas and plans for the week. Accepting the care of somebody else’s pets is much like childminding. It really is responsibility and to us it is really important that we live up the promises we made and expectations placed on us.
How do you get a house-sitting job? There are more ways than signing up with http://www.trustedhousesitters.com – we haven’t signed with them and found our opportunities through other channels. Get creative if housesitting is for you (and have excellent character references and perfect manners, too)…