Last Updated: May 10, 2023
You’re probably reading this and saying to yourself, this can’t be true. How can you live somewhere exotic like Costa Rica and pay just a couple thousand dollars a year for housing? Well folks, it is true. And we didn’t do workaway or volunteering. We just lived our normal lives but in other people’s houses. The concept is called house sitting. If you’re trying to figure out how to move abroad without going broke, or simply want free housing when you travel, keep reading because house sitting might be just what you’re looking for.
Discount: Check out the bottom of this post for an exclusive discount code to save 20% on a house sitting membership.
What is House Sitting?
We were already planning to move to Costa Rica when we first learned about house sitting through another couple we followed.
Dalene and Pete Heck had been traveling all around the world and not paying a dime for housing. The idea sounded intriguing so we dug deeper and found that house sitting is indeed a real thing. There are entire websites dedicated to it, with thousands of homeowners and house sitters using them every day.
Just like Facebook or Instagram, the way it works is you start by building a profile. Your profile tells a little bit about you, why you’re interested in house sitting, if you have any experience, and where you’d be willing to house sit (details on how to build a killer profile here).
Homeowners who need someone to look after their house will place ads on one of the house sitting websites describing the property, its location, if there are any pets to care for, and other responsibilities. You can browse these listings, then respond to an ad and start the conversation. Some emails and maybe a Zoom call later, they hopefully decide you’re a match and you get to live in their house rent free. Voila! Depending on the house sit, sometimes you have to pay utilities but that’s it.
It’s a simple transaction that makes sense for both parties.
In Costa Rica, for example, a lot of people go visit family or friends for months at a time during the rainy season and need someone to watch over their home to prevent break-ins, which sometimes happens if properties are left vacant. Under normal circumstances, they’d have to pay a caretaker, but with house sitting, they can have someone come live in the house and maintain it just like they would at no cost. For the house sitter, they get to live rent-free in exchange for taking care of the home and pets if there are any. Some house sits even come with use of a car.
When we first moved to Costa Rica in 2013, we did five house sits that took us all around Costa Rica. We lived in a beach cottage on the Caribbean coast, a huge house in the jungle near Dominical, a charming home with views of Lake Arenal, and even a place just steps from the beach in Nosara. We took care of some great pets too, something that we really enjoyed.
The house sits went smoothly for the most part. We had great luck with homeowners and didn’t encounter any major problems other than not having water a couple of times—but that’s a story for another day. With the exception of one house sit gone awry, the homeowners were all good at communicating when we had issues and so grateful for our help.
House Sitting Websites
When picking a website to join, the most important consideration is making sure people are actually using the site. This is one time where it’s good to go with what’s most popular.
The three biggest sites are Trusted Housesitters ($103/year), Mind My House ($29/year), and House Carers ($50/year).
They’re all set up similarly and different homeowners use them, so it’s a good idea to sign up for more than one so that you’re reaching a broader audience. We’ve gotten house sits with all of them, but the most leads came through Trusted Housesitters.
Trusted Housesitters is the most expensive of course but it also has more features like the ability to add a video to your profile and showing references on your profile page. We often directed people who found us on another site to our Trusted Housesitters profile because it had all of our references in one place, presented in a professional manner.
Once you join, you can start applying and dreaming up your next (almost) free getaway.
Whether it’s just for vacation or to live abroad, house sitting is a great way to travel. For us, it was been invaluable in helping figure out where we wanted to live in Costa Rica. When you stay somewhere for just a week or two, it’s hard to get a sense of what it’s really like, but slow traveling through house sitting, staying in one place for months at a time, really helped us narrow our search.
Regardless of why you want to house sit, it’s a great way to save money. Even doing the math conservatively, we figure that we saved at least $7,000 in housing over a year. In between house sits, we had to rent for a month or two and we paid utilities for a couple sits, but that still added up to less than $2,000 for the year—not bad for housing in paradise.
Trusted Housesitters Discount
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 20% on your membership, just visit Trusted Housesitters using the following link: https://trustedhousesitters.pxf.io/c/4051906/1683980/18144. You will automatically save 20% on an annual membership plan. No promo code is needed.
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 20% 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.
Have a question about house sitting? Ask us below!
Looking for more information about planning a long-term visit to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:
Planning a Long-Term Visit to Costa Rica: Covers essential topics like visas, best areas to live, transportation, and more.
Costa Rica’s Digital Nomad Visa: Learn about this new visa that allows you to stay in Costa Rica for one year.
FAQs About Moving To Costa Rica: Answers basic questions about moving to and living in Costa Rica.