If you’ve read our other posts on this topic, you know what we think about house sitting. We think it’s awesome! House sitting has allowed us to travel the country on a budget and experience Costa Rica like a local. Since moving in July 2013, we’ve been lucky enough to have eight house sits, some just a short month and others a lengthy four months. Not only have we saved a ton of money by traveling this way, but we’ve learned so much about Costa Rica, which has been great for our books and this website. Recently, we even landed a long-term caretaking position that will keep us in our favorite area of the country for at least a year.
So how did we do it? Over the last year and a half, we’ve really gotten to know how house sitting works. This post will share our tips for how to get started house sitting in Costa Rica. We guide you through why house sitting is popular in Costa Rica, the best ways to advertise, and when to get started. We’ll also let you in on some Costa Rica-specific info that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Discount Code: Check out the bottom of this post for an exclusive discount code to save 10% on a house sitting membership.
The Need for House Sitting in Costa Rica
House sitting is extremely popular in Costa Rica. This is because homeowners want someone looking after their home (and possibly pets) while they’re away. Break-ins can be a problem here when houses are left vacant, so by just having someone around to be a presence, the homeowner is increasing their security. This doesn’t mean that as a house sitter you are a security guard, but just that you are around, living like you normally would.
You can find house sits in Costa Rica year round, but they are most plentiful during the rainy season (May through November). Many expats use this time when it is a bit rainy (but still warm and beautiful) to spend time with family and friends back home. Some even leave for months at a time. We’ve house sat on two occasions for a couple who leaves Costa Rica every September for three months to see their grandchildren and family in the US.
For more general information about house sitting and our experience, check out this post House Sitting: How We Lived a Year in Costa Rica for Under $2,000.
Where to Advertise
House Sitting Websites
The most effective way to start is to join the house sitting websites. There are several to choose from, but the ones with the most opportunities in Costa Rica are Trusted Housesitters, Mind My House, and House Carers. A lot of professional house sitters (yes, that is a real thing) say that Trusted Housesitters is the best of the three, but we think it’s good to diversify. We’ve gotten house sits through all of them and it seems different homeowners are using different sites.
Memberships to the sites work on annual fees. Trusted Housesitters is $96 a year, Mind My House is $20 a year, and House Carers is $50 a year. So if you’re going to do Trusted Housesitters, it isn’t that much more to put yourself on all three. Keep in mind that once you land your first job, your membership fees more than pay for themselves in saved housing expenses.
Once you join the sites, you’ll make a profile with information about who you are (including photos), why you want to house sit, and what your credentials are. The profile is probably the most important piece of getting a house sit because it allows the homeowner to get to you know and decide if you’re the right person for them, so spend some time on it. For detailed tips on designing a profile, check out our separate post House Sitting: Build the Perfect House Sitter Profile.
Other Places to Advertise
If there is a community newsletter in an area you’d like to house sit, put up an ad. We landed our first job through a very casual online newsletter in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone. The homeowner said he didn’t usually read it, but for some reason picked it up one day and found us. We connected, directing him to our House Carers profile where he was also a member, and the rest is history. Local magazines and online bulletin boards are all great places to advertise too, and don’t overlook online forums. We’ve seen people get house sits by starting threads on forums like ARCR (Association of Residents in Costa Rica). Another great resource is a Facebook group called House Sitting World. This group is primarily focused on providing support to homeowners and house sitters but we’ve seen a few gigs pop up last minute.
Tip: Watch out for opportunities labeled as house sits that are actually jobs deserving of compensation. Some people think it’s appropriate to ask house sitters to do a lot of work for them in exchange for free housing. We’ve seen taking care of farm animals, overseeing construction workers, and managing a rental property included in listings before. Most house sits involve just living in the house, keeping it clean and tidy, caring for pets, and sometimes paying bills for the homeowner while they’re away. It is, of course, fine if you’re willing to go beyond that, just be sure you know what you’re getting into.
Finally, the best form of advertising is word of mouth. If you are known in the community as being a responsible house sitter, people will seek you out. We know of a couple who landed a long-term house sit on a gorgeous property with ocean views and an infinity pool. They got it through networking and because they’re well respected in the community. We also got our most recent house sit because of word of mouth. An acquaintance mentioned us in passing to the homeowner, knowing she needed new caretakers, and the homeowner actually knew the people who we were house sitting for before, who were very happy with our care. Word gets around about your reputation, and if people trust you, you’re going to be very marketable.
When to Get Started
Ideally, you should sign up for the house sitting sites and get your ads up at least three months before you want to start. Some homeowners start looking several months in advance so you maximize your chances of finding something the earlier you put yourself out there. Some of the house sitting sites also rank how you appear in search results by when you signed up for a membership so starting early is good for exposure too.
If you don’t get your ad up before arriving in Costa Rica, just be sure to get all the documentation you need for your listing from your home country. We waited to do our Trusted Housesitters membership until we moved to Costa Rica, making it much more difficult to get our police check. Some homeowners in Costa Rica won’t consider you without this (especially if you’re new) so it’s definitely a good idea. Other things you may want to arrange before moving are references from employers, neighbors, etc.
Costa Rica–Specific Tips
Put the Homeowner at Ease by Showing Your Knowledge
The more you can do to put a homeowner at ease in your profile, the better your chances are at landing a house sit. For example, if you’re familiar with the lay of the land in Costa Rica, make sure that shines through. Homeowners get people from all around the world applying for their listing—they might even get 100 applicants. 90 of them might be more qualified than you in terms of experience, but if you have knowledge and skills particular to Costa Rica that they don’t have, they’re more likely to pick you.
One big thing that tends to come up in Costa Rica is the need for having a car. We’ve heard that in most other countries, homeowners are often willing to allow house sitters use of their car. This has not been our experience, and because much of Costa Rica is remote, you really need a car to get around. If you’re already living in Costa Rica and do have a car, make sure to say so in your ad. If you don’t have one, let them know when applying how you plan to get around. Some house sitters choose to rent a car, while others even buy one then resell it before they leave.
If you’re actually living in Costa Rica as opposed to just traveling through, definitely mention that too. A lot of homeowners have had house sitters cancel on them right before a house sit. If you’re already in-country, you’re much less likely to do that.
If you’re familiar with typical repair problems in Costa Rica, that can also go a long way with cautious homeowners. We’ve dealt with water problems (broken pumps, leaky pipes, running out of water), leaky roofs, termite problems, electricity failures, Internet problems, all things that are typical to Costa Rica, and state so in our listing. It puts the homeowners at ease to know that if the same problem were to happen again, we would have a good idea of how to handle it.
If you speak Spanish, even just a little, mention that too. Most homeowners have a gardener who comes to chop back the ever-growing jungle every week or so and some also have cleaning people. If there were to be a problem on the property, you would have to coordinate with local contractors and repairmen too, who probably only speak Spanish. Show the homeowner that you’ll be able to communicate effectively with people who come onto the property.
Broaden Your Search as Much as Possible
Our final words of advice are to be open to house sits all around the country. If you’re flexible with your location, you’re much more likely to land a gig. We know that we wouldn’t have been able to line up almost back-to-back house sits for a year and a half if we hadn’t been willing to travel almost anywhere and accept last-minute positions. It may sound daunting to not know where you’re going to live in a month or two, but keep an open mind. If you’re planning on moving to Costa Rica, exploring the country by house sitting is one of the best ways to figure out where you want to settle. We fell in love with places we never expected and didn’t care for others we thought would be perfect. Eventually you may end up just like us, finding a long-term house sit in the very area you want to settle after exploring the whole country.
Trusted Housesitters Discount Code
We are very excited to have teamed up with Trusted Housesitters, one of the sites with the most house sits in Costa Rica, to get our readers a special discount on house sitting memberships.
To save 10% on your membership, just 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 the two other house sitting sites, if you’re serious about getting a house sit in Costa Rica and would make this recommendation even if we weren’t affiliates.
Are you thinking about house sitting in Costa Rica? Let us know your questions below.