House Sitting: Build a Perfect House Sitter Profile

A couple of weeks ago, we did a post about saving money on accommodations through house sitting. We shared how the process works, the three best websites to join, and our experience of saving at least $7,000 over the past year on housing in Costa Rica. Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get to the details of how to land your first assignment. After all, the word has gotten out about the benefits of house sitting. It seems that everyone is jumping on board as a way to fund their travel adventures, and with all of the competition, you need to know how to stand out from the crowd. The key is to build a killer profile. Over the past year, we’ve had a chance to tinker with ours to see what works and what doesn’t. Below are our top 5 tips for building the perfect profile.

Discount Code: If you still need to sign up for a house sitting membership, check out the bottom of this post for an exclusive discount code to save 10%.

Creating a Housesitting Profile

 

Tip 1: Show that you’re trustworthy and responsible but sprinkle in some personality

Getting a house sitting job is much like getting any job. Homeowners want someone taking care of their home who is responsible, experienced, and has common sense to deal with problems that may arise. But they also want to like you as a person if they’re going to have you living in their precious house, so make sure your personality really shines through. Your job in writing your profile is to get all of this across as concisely as possible, as homeowners will probably spend less a minute on your page.

How do you do that? Start by providing any relevant experience. If you’ve house sat before, references from homeowners obviously carry a lot of weight. But even if you haven’t done a formal house sit, you can get creative with what counts as experience. If you’ve watched a friend’s house and dog for a week, say that. If you’ve owned a home, say that. After all, if you’ve had your own home, you know what can go wrong and the necessary steps to take to fix it. That’s what you’ll be doing when you house sit so it’s definitely relevant. Even skills like gardening or handyman work can be helpful, especially since people are looking for someone that could say, unclog a toilet without having to call an expensive plumber.

 

Trusted Housesitters Profile
Screenshot of our profile on Trusted Housesitters. Click to enlarge.

 

References: If you’re using one of the sites that allow you to include references in your profile like Trusted Housesitters, make sure to have at least a few. When you’re just starting out, you can request them from employers, professors, or anyone else who can review your character and work ethic. When we first started, we each asked our supervisors at our old jobs and a neighbor from our condo association to write one.

Worried that you don’t have any references from homeowners? Don’t be. If you build a great profile, at some point, someone will take a chance on you. We ended up getting our first house sit because the original sitter backed out last minute and the homeowners needed someone right away. Unlike other candidates, we were available right then because we were already moving to Costa Rica.

What’s most interesting though is that we didn’t even get that house sit through one of the house sitting websites. We placed an ad in the local e-newsletter in the area of Costa Rica we wanted to live, linking to our Trusted Housesitters profile to lend more credibility. The homeowners didn’t even usually read that newsletter, but for some reason, they opened it one day and were already members of Trusted Housesitters so the process was seamless. The message is get creative. Advertise in anything that a homeowner might read: local newsletters, community boards, online forums, etc. You never know who you might be reaching.

 

Tip 2: Craft a solid headline and have a few profile photos

Your headline and photo are your first impression. When the homeowner is scrolling through the hundreds of people available in their area, your profile and photo has to make them stop and click.

Headline: The headline should summarize what you want to get across in your entire profile. It’s your theme. For ours, we use the big keyword “experienced.” Before we had done any house sits, we used “responsible” instead of “experienced.” We’re only looking for long-term house sits now so we include that as well in order to prevent being contacted about short-term gigs. If you’re only interested in house sitting in one particular area, the headline would be a good place to state so.

For those of you planning to house sit as a way to live abroad, if you’re already in-country, say it in the headline. We think it puts homeowners at ease to know that we’re already here, making us less likely to back out at the last minute. Plus, homeowners love meeting in advance if possible so that they can get comfortable with you, and you with their house/pets.

Photos: Your photos should be professional but it’s good to have some more fun ones to get your personality across. If you love traveling, include a photo from one of your favorite trips, or if you love boating, include one of you out enjoying the water.

If you want to land jobs with pets, also be sure to include photos of you caring for your favorite furry friends.

 

Tip 3: Select individual cities/towns on your profile page

This is a big one that a lot of people don’t know about. Some of the house sitting websites allow you to list specific cities/towns you’re available in. Mind My House and House Carers both have this feature, and we’ve been told that we were practically the only people available in a specific town in Costa Rica. And this wasn’t a teeny tiny town; this was Nosara, a well known tourism destination. Being one of a handful of available sitters significantly increases your chances of landing a job.

So don’t just list entire countries in your profile. Get out the map and list every major town you’re interested in. We learned this little tidbit after reading the fine print on House Carers about how results were filtered when a homeowner does a search.

Be sure you understand how each of the sites work. Spend some time in the Support/FAQs section of each website to maximize your ranking in the site’s search engine.

 

Screen Shot Locations on Housesitting Profile
Screen shot of how locations are listed on House Carers

 

Tip 4: Take advantage of the Google factor

Homeowners can’t see your last name from your profile, but some of the house sitting websites allow you to link to external sites. Give them more reason to pick you by linking to your online business, LinkedIn profile, or other professional site with which you’re associated. Some homeowners have come right out and told us that they checked out our book or Two Weeks in Costa Rica page, and then Googled us to see what else they could dig up. Since we have our whole story on the web, they immediately felt like they knew us better.

 

Tip 5: Sign up for alerts for your desired location

Some homeowners don’t want to deal with getting an influx of responses to an ad, so they won’t post an ad at all but will hand pick potential house sitters and contact them directly. This is where it helps to have a solid profile with lots of house sitting experience. When you’re just starting out though, you’re much more likely to have to respond to an ad to get a job.

Your goal is to be among the first to respond. Most of the websites allow you to sign up for e-mail alerts when a homeowner lists an ad in one of your preferred locations. You get the notification shortly after it’s posted, before it’s posted on the website, giving you an advantage. We’ve read stats about how being among the first to respond significantly increases your odds and have found this true in our experience as well.

 

If you follow these tips when building your profile, you’re sure to land a house sit. It might take some time, but just like any other job, the hardest part is getting the first one. After we got our first assignment last year, we were able to line up more for all but three months of the year.

Trusted Housesitters Discount Code

We are very excited to have teamed up with Trusted Housesitters to get our readers a special discount on house sitting memberships. If you want to sign up for a Trusted Housesitters membership or need to renew your existing membership, follow these instructions to save 10%.

Visit Trusted Housesitters using the following link (https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/trusted-housesitters) and enter the code COSTARICA at check-out. You’ll save 10% on any membership plan you choose, including renewals!

If you purchase a membership using the link above, we’ll receive a small commission. This costs you nothing extra and actually gets you the 10% discount. We recommend signing up for Trusted Housesitters, along with Mind My House and House Carers, if you’re serious about getting a house sit in Costa Rica and would make this recommendation even if we weren’t affiliates.

Have a lingering question that we didn’t answer? Ask it below!

Post by: Matthew Houde and Jennifer Turnbull-Houde

 

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26 Comments

    1. Thanks Julie. We’re getting out of the business soon so now we can share our secrets 😉 Seriously though, there are a ton of house sits in Costa Rica. We could keep traveling around indefinitely if we wanted to. Starting to get over the moving every couple months though. Are you getting ready to set up that profile??

  1. Hey guys. Merry Christmas! ! So envious of your life . thanks for all the tips. Did you gain Costa Rican residency yet?? And have your traveled to both Nicaragua and Panama for you passport stamps??

    1. Hi Lisa! We don’t have residency yet. We want to be 100% sure we’re going to stay before going through the process because it’s a bit of work and takes a while. We have traveled to Nicaragua and Panama for visa renewals- spent a bunch of time in Panama last year and are actually going to write a book about it. We stayed with some indigenous communities, went to the islands of Bocas del Toro, and Panama City too. We spent less time in Nicaragua but loved the few days we spent in San Juan del Sur. Both countries are lovely and very different from Costa Rica.

      1. Hola Jenn and Matt, thank you for this amazing information. We are a family of three with a small dog and we decided to live abroad for a year. Do you know if having a dog with us will make more difficult to get a housitting job? Also how Nicaragua is different from Costa Rica…?
        Gracias!

        1. Hi Veronica, We recently answered a question about house sitting with a dog in another one of our house sitting posts. Check out our response to Becky in House Sitting: How to Live in Costa Rica for $2,000 a Year. Nicaragua is like Costa Rica in some ways but very different in others. The climate and environment is similar since it’s just to the north, but the culture is very different, government is different, it is less developed, less touristy, and it’s a lot cheaper to live there. Different places so lots more differences too. Hope that helps give you some idea.

  2. When I was younger I used to housesit, petsit, and teen-sit for quite a few people, but moved away and lost touch, is a reference from work supervisors okay? Thank you for the advice.

    1. Hi Renee, Anything you can get that speaks to your character and work ethic, and how responsible you are, will be helpful. It’s hard to get references when you’re first starting out but something from your work supervisor would be great. We also got references from our neighbors. If you’re on any committees, boards, or are involved in any organizations in your community, something from someone there would work too.

  3. Hey, you two! Just a quick update. While I am not housesitting overseas quite yet, I am having some luck here in the area I am currently living. I mentioned it to a few work friends and bada bing bada boom two jobs to pet sit, future references. Also, a co-worker has invited me to speak with her husband about how to give shots and such to animals that may not like someone besides their family to give them their meds. Things are happening quickly. Thanks for the advice and happy traveling! 🙂

  4. Great article, so useful as I’m currently in the process of researching and setting up a profile on TrustedHouseSitters. It seems as though you really need to get the headline right to be noticed initially so I’m trying to get that right. We’ve never housesat through the site before but have a lot of experience sitting elsewhere so hopefully the references will help.

    1. Yes, Jonno, the headline is really important so it’s worth spending some time on. Your references will definitely help. Trusted Housesitters is a good one to be on – we got a few of our sits in Costa Rica through it so homeowners are using it. Best of luck!

  5. Yes I want to know more please. I am retired and want to leave Ohio. I lived in Hawaii for almost 10 years and long to go “Tropical”

    1. Hi Gary, House sitting is a great way to try out a place to see if it’s somewhere you’d like to live without committing so it would be a good way to see if Costa Rica is a fit for you. If you came for a month or two on a house sit, you’d have a chance to experience the culture, figure out cost of living, see what housing is like, etc. We have a post on House Sitting in Costa Rica that may be helpful and you can also learn more about what living here is like in our Life in Costa Rica section. Best of luck with your plans!

  6. We’re considering housesitting as a way to explore more of the country and determine where we want to live long term. We have a 1 year old baby, though. Would that make us less attractive to potential clients?

    1. Honestly, I do think having a baby could make you less desirable from the perspective of some homeowners. One homeowner we house sat for, for example, only wanted couples because they thought a couple would do the job best. That said, we do know of families who house sit so it isn’t everyone. Families are desirable to some people because they’re not likely to party and be more responsible. Just be upfront about it so you eliminate those that won’t be interested and highlight all the other good qualities you will bring to the house sit.

  7. Hi there.. thanks for the great info!
    Question? What are the odds of the home owner canceling the house sit? Especially if international flights have already been booked, this could cause inconvenience and more so, budget issues for the house sitters trip.
    Can this be avoided?
    Thanks, Nyoka

    1. It’s possible but not too likely, we would think, and has never happened to us. You should always make sure a homeowner seems serious about their travel plans and has firm plans before buying your own tickets. You could also get travel insurance, which would protect your investment, and is always a good idea for international travel. Here’s a link to get a travel insurance quote.

  8. Hello, thanks a lot for all your info.
    We are retiring soon and I have a boat load of questions because we are seriously considering doing this (moving/house sitting) and the “fears” as you mentioned early in your Blog, are beginning to set in with us too.
    #1, Are you sitting free of charge? I did not see where you covered payment. Are you expected to just house sit free of charge in exchange for free housing as payment?
    #2, Your personal belongings. Have you reduced your belongings to a computer and a couple of suit cases to house sit? Did you have things in storage?
    #3, You finished your Blog at the 3 year update. Now that you are citizens, what further knowledge about your move have you gained as of 2018?
    Bob & Scarlett,
    Nashville TN

    1. Hi Scarlett, (1) Yes, most house sitters do it for free in exchange for free housing. Some people are paid but it is rare.
      (2) We don’t house sit anymore as in moving from one place to the next often. We did this for about 2 years, and for the last 3 years, we’ve been long-term caretaking at a property so we stay here year-round. When we were house sitting, we had 8 suitcases that had everything and we toted those around with us. We sold all our stuff in the US other than those belongings but a lot of people do keep some things in storage. Our Packing for Your Move to CR post has some good info on what to bring and what not to bring.
      (3) We have a 4 Year Update that you can read here. We’ll come out with a 5 year very soon. Some extra advice: buy a newer car if you can afford it because it’s a pain going to the mechanic all the time, as it’s hard finding a good one and they are often far from home; wait to get residency until you are absolutely sure you want to stay. Many people apply and then leave even before their application has been approved.
      Best of luck with your plans. House sitting was great for us and could be for you too!

  9. Hola Matt & Jenn,So very nice of you to share it makes me feel bad because we have been to more than 35 countries and have not shared much because i am very slow on the computer but reading your info makes me want to.we are just a retired couple who have raised a large family of 8 wonderful children and home schooled them in Minnesota now we have an empty ness as our last is 22 years old and out on his own,so we travel every winter for 3 to 4 months because of the cold it gets to me , I have tried housesitting before but never got any response and now because of your sharing and very good tips on profile i am willing to try again as we would like to visit Costa Rica for four months starting dec. 1st 2019 any feedback will be highly appreciated thanks Jerry & Barbara

    1. Hi Jerry and Barbara, It sounds like you have done a lot of traveling! One piece of advice about house sitting is that starting in December could make it tough to find something since this is the beginning of high season/dry season when many homeowners like to be in Costa Rica using their house, or renting their house out if they’re not here. It’s not impossible to find a house sit, but definitely more difficult. If you’re flexible and willing to do a few shorter jobs, you will have better luck.

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