How much money can you save by house sitting?
Wondering about the financial side of house sitting? In this post, we’ll address common questions about costs and savings in this unique lifestyle.
Some of the most common questions we are asked concern money.
- Who pays for what?
- Where do you stay between sits?
- How much can you save by travelling as a house sitter?
House sitting arrangements can vary widely, so we always check if we have any concerns about how costs are managed. This post is not exhaustive but will give you some idea of the usual arrangements.
The money you save will depend on your individual circumstances. We have estimated that we could travel for six months as house sitters for the average cost of a four-week holiday.
Is house sitting a paid job?
Most house sitters are not paid. The financial advantage to house sitters is the free accommodation. However, some house sitters are paid. These arrangements can suit sitters who do not travel and are resident in the same town or city as the hosts, or whose hosts want to be able to rely on getting the same sitter every time. Competition from free house sitters is very strong so these circumstances are unusual.
We choose not to be paid because we like the exchange nature of the house sitting arrangement. We believe once money is paid for services it creates an employer/employee relationship, which does not reflect the community-spirited nature of the house sitting experience. It also raises numerous complex issues around contracts, insurance and health and safety, which may be challenging to negotiate.
Without doubt, the single most costly item in most travel budgets is accommodation. Take the following example. The average cost of a hotel room in London in 2023 is about AUD$325. (NB: We’re not talking high end here.) A one-week holiday in London would cost about AUD$2000.
The accommodation cost of one week in London house sitting? Nothing. What could you do with that extra cash in your pocket?
Another common question we are asked is what we do between sits. Sometimes there is a gap between the end of one sit and the start of another. We usually stay at an AirBNB or other paid accommodation. As we have become more experienced house sitters we have found that we have very few gaps. Some of the reasons for this are:
- We find it easier to coordinate sits to avoid gaps
- Hosts often invite us to stay a day or two before or after the sit
- Hosts will organise their holiday around our availability
Sometimes we’ll take a holiday after a few months of sits. We might want to visit a unique area on our way to somewhere else and we’ll take the time off to do that before heading to our next sit. For example, after sits in France and the Netherlands we took a few days’ holiday in Brugge, Belgium.
Another way you’ll save money is the cost of food. When you are staying in a host’s home, you have access to a full kitchen, and you can store groceries. This is not possible when you’re staying in a hotel room and you have to eat at restaurants and cafes for most meals.
Using London as an example again, an inexpensive meal in a London restaurant in 2023 costs about AUD$26.50. Multiply this by two or three (breakfast, lunch and dinner), add a few snacks, and it starts to get expensive (conservatively about AUD$80 a day).
Compare this to the average London weekly grocery bill for two people of about AUD$190. It’s easy to see that the daily spend on food for a hotel-style holiday in London for two people is way above an entire week’s groceries when you are house sitting.
If you want to estimate the cost of your living expenses anywhere in the world check out this site: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/
Most house sitters pay their own travel expenses to and from a sit. Many hosts are happy to leave their vehicle with the sitter if the sitter doesn’t have their own car. This allows sitters to take pets to the vet, if required, and explore the area more easily. Sitters should always check the host’s vehicle is fully insured in these circumstances.
Incidentally, this is another way that house sitters can save money while travelling. The cost of fuel for a loaned vehicle is way below car rental costs. It is always a good idea to ask hosts whether a car is available.
Pet food, utilities, sitters’ food
Most sitters buy their own food. Most hosts freely provide access to the food in their cupboards. We consider it good etiquette to replace anything used. Usually, we prepare a meal for our hosts for the day they arrive home, especially if they have travelled a significant distance.
Pet food and utilities such as electricity, gas, and water are usually paid by the host. If the assignment is long-term of a year or more, sitters may wish to negotiate sharing of expenses.