We all know that being a digital nomad can be difficult. The hours spent pouring over a keyboard in search of viable opportunities can seem endless. Many of us have our dream industry, company, or business that we want to make our primary travel funds from. Succeeding as a nomad sometimes means we have to explore our options for supplemental income while we work towards that ultimate goal. One of the best ways we can accomplish this is by house sitting!
Looking after someone’s home is a fantastic opportunity for digital nomads to save money on accommodation, especially in the USA. There are oodles of house sitting forums that are usually country-specific and require a paid membership. It’s also a great way to experience new places that you have an interest in potentially relocating to, and gives you the chance to live like a local. Moreover, the privacy and space you’ll have to get your digital work done is unmatched. Having a few references from family, friends, or previous house sitting jobs will go a long way!
The best sites for house sitting opportunities in the USA are going to be TrustedHousesitters ($129 USD per year), House Sitters America ($30 USD per year), and HouseSitter.com (various plans available). These platforms are rated highly because of their safety and verification protocols, popularity with hosts, and communication abilities. They will all offer you a wide range of options across the states and allow you to narrow down criteria to best suit your needs.
What to Look For
The needs of a DN’s house-sitting gig will vary based on their online workload, but the most important thing you’ll want to verify with the homeowner is WIFI. Send them a speed test link to verify upload and download capabilities. Next, travelers should discuss the location of the property. Quick access to public transportation, food, and activities will all help determine if this is the right gig for you. Once you’ve got this established, payment and responsibilities should be handled.
Don’t be afraid to firmly establish your daily rate, or to change it if more duties are required. It will also be very helpful to discuss when and how you will be paid. Your host’s schedule and yours might not perfectly align with arrival and departing times. Nomads can opt to be paid half at the start and half upon completion, all in advance, or all upon owners return. Payments are typically made via online transactions (Paypal), gift cards, or cash.
Some homeowners will look at this as a work exchange for accommodation and are looking for someone to sit without pay. Forums like HippoHelp, HelpX, and Worldpackers, are geared more towards work exchange. They can be useful when sending out first inquiries and will allow you to search all over the world. Working for a host in exchange for food, accommodation, and various other amenities is arguably a steal. This is a fantastic way to save money on one of your biggest expenses while traveling, and often provides you with a built-in support system/friends to help guide you and share cultures with.
If you’re an animal lover with reliable transportation then pet sitting can be a great opportunity! Dog sitting/walking/boarding apps like Wag and Rover are extremely popular in urban areas across the USA. You can choose what walks you do and don’t want to take with ease and freedom.
After establishing your preferred notification settings, offers will start rolling in with information on proximity to your location, pay, and walk (or board/sitting) length. The apps are pretty easy to navigate and pay is rather competitive. For example, on Wag you can make up to $15 on a 30-minute walk (not including tips). Do keep in mind that walk openings are quite competitive in some areas with more saturated markets. Some walks are snatched up in as little as 10 seconds. It’s also highly recommended to have 3 to 4 people that can vouch for your animal experience and skills because it’s a highly sought after gig and companies will call for references.
Caring for a host’s animals will likely be an added responsibility to most housesits. Carefully think about what level of care you are capable of handling when determining whether or not to accept a pet-sitting offer. You may be daydreaming of exploring a new city or national park on your adventure. But, the reality of daily feeding, watering, walks, attention, and possibly medications for pets are a time-consuming routine that homeowners are expecting you to maintain.
It’ll be important to discuss the health, behavior, and daily needs of each animal. Many hosts will typically want regular updates in the form of email, pictures, or video calls while you are in their home. Hosts may also request to be notified of specific mail being delivered to them. Additionally, unexpected emergencies may arise while they are away. Information like their pet’s allergies, veterinary contacts, and a trusted contact in case of emergency will be important.
As you prepare to disembark from your temporary home, remember to leave it as you found it. Small gestures like running and emptying the dishwasher, emptying all trash, and washing/drying bed linens will go a long way. If you’re leaving before the owner arrives home, lock up and remember to securely return any keys. Send the host a quick message when you depart so they are aware of how long their home will be unattended for.
Working your way into a stable income as a digital nomad can take time and juggling. House and pet sitting provide some breathing room for anyone interested in exploring new horizons without emptying their pockets. Adventuring this way will also expand your nomad connections and work experience for the future. Tell us about your dream house sitting destination in the comments below!