A review of trustedhousesitters.com – from a sitter’s perspective

As the holidays approach and people are scrambling to solidify travel plans to see family, an important priority for many people is finding someone to care for their home or pets while away. Then there are people like Dallas and me, who are always trying to figure out where we’re going to sleep for the next few weeks (or months) and how we’re going to afford it. Websites like trustedhousesitters.com offer a solution for both types of people. Dallas and I joined trustedhousesitters.com on November 1st this year.  We have membership privileges for one year before we have to decide whether to renew or let lapse.  I have formulated a rough sketch of an opinion so far, from the perspective of a house-sitter who has yet to connect with the right homeowner.

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trustedhousesitters.com

First, you have to pay for a membership in order to contact homeowners, and it’s a bit pricey.  This could be why most of the members are older, retired professionals.  For homeowners, this filters through all the potential sitters and is MUCH better than posting an ad on craigslist.  Homeowners can feel more secure knowing that their sitter will not be partying or doing drugs in their home while they’re away.  However, as a younger house-sitter with no steady income or pension, it is a bit of an investment for me.  That said, the costs are well worth it if it hooks us up with the right home.  In most cases, the membership would pay for itself in just one sit, saving us on the costs of hotels or hostels.

Also, as a younger house sitter amongst a member base of “mature, responsible, house sitters with extensive references and resumes”, I feel at a slight disadvantage when it comes to getting chosen to be the house sitter.  We need to use our age to set us apart advantageously.  While many of the members advertise that they are fit, I wonder how many of them would run daily with the dogs in urban areas that have leash laws.

Most house-sitters are not expecting to be paid.  This is a great benefit for homeowners, for obvious reasons.  However, most people who can afford a membership can also afford to pay their sitter a little bit to reward them for doing a good job.  If there is no payment at all, there may be less incentive for the house sitter to make extra efforts to keep the house clean or the garden alive.  I assume that most of the members on here would go that extra mile just for the positive feedback to use a reference, but it is nice as a house-sitter to receive a little bit of compensation, not only to offset the cost of travel or the time involved in caring for pets, but as a token of appreciation for a job well done.  This would still be much cheaper and less hassle than boarding pets at a kennel or hiring someone through a pet-sitting service, and it would provide homeowners some extra peace of mind.  I don’t mind not being paid, but when everyone is offering their services for free, it diminishes the perceived value of all sitters. 

In search results, your sitter profile is not going to show up if you say that you charge “Sometimes” unless a homeowner indicates “I don’t mind” in the search query, so if you want homeowners to be able to find you, it might be beneficial to indicate that you don’t charge at all. I don’t like this, for the reasons mentioned above. Sometimes a free place to stay is more than enough and I would not feel right charging a homeowner, but when the house-sitting job comes with responsibilities like feeding and exercising animals, keeping house plants and gardens healthy, and helping to run a farm or bed-and-breakfast, I would expect a little bit of compensation. 

The reference feature allows house sitters to request references from other members or externally, and references are posted on sitters’ profiles. There’s also a feature to have a police report available, to prove that you have no criminal record. Homeowners can search for sitters based on references and police report availability. The references offer sitters great motivation to do a good job so they can earn more positive references to help them in finding future house-sitting opportunities.

The site is an excellent resource for both homeowners and house sitters.  It connects people who would never have found each other and opens people’s minds up to opportunities outside of their immediate vicinity.  Members are much more reliable and trustworthy than your average craigslist user, or at least the sketchy people are weeded out from the start. I have already started recommending the website to friends who may be interested in house-sitting as a way to vacation inexpensively.

Recommendations for the site:

Reach out to younger people and try to diversify the membership base. Maybe offer a Groupon or not charge a house-sitter for their membership until they have secured their first house-sitting gig through the website. OR, in addition to the membership option, allow people to join for free and pay per house-sitting gig that they obtain (members would not have to pay this fee). Also, try to attract people from other countries. Right now, the majority of homeowners are in the UK, US, Australia and western Europe. It would be nice to see an even wider range of locations, including South America and Asia.

Improve search result feedback. Allow people to sort search results in order of proximity, or other options. Your profile won’t have any priority if someone in your area searches for a house-sitter. Let the profiles of house sitters who indicate that they charge “sometimes” appear in search results for either paying or non-paying homeowners.

So far, I love the website and am excited for its potential in helping Dallas and me find places to stay while we are traveling. When we do find a house-sitting gig through here (and according to the site, 75% of members with complete profiles do), I will be sure to blog about it!

For those of you who made it through to the end of this lengthy review, Trustedhousesitters is offering a 25% discount on memberships when you enter the discount code, “nomadiccycling”!

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About Sarah

Sarah grew up in Cranston - just south of Providence, Rhode Island - and developed a love for travel, music, and outdoor sports at an early age. She had started bicycling long distances at age 12, as a participant of the MS150 bike tours to raise money for the MS Society. She didn't use her bike regularly until she built her own while studying in Montreal and found it an excellent way to get around the city. After graduating from McGill and moving back to Providence, Sarah started working at Brown University's office of Environmental Health & Safety as the Biological Safety Specialist. She was living 4 miles away at the time, and for the first few weeks was driving to work. She made the switch from driving to bicycling when she realized that she could get to work faster, avoid parking tickets, and integrate a few miles of training into her day. Bicycling was better for the environment and better for her own health and mood. She found that she had more energy and felt much happier once she started biking to work. When her car broke down several months later, she never bothered replacing it. After 4 years of working in Biosafety (and on her master's in Environmental Studies), Sarah left her job to pursue her passion. She has been working various jobs in the bicycle industry since June of 2011, including pedicab driver, bicycle tour guide, bike mechanic and traveling bicycle advocate. In between seasonal jobs, she has done a few long-distance bike tours, which is the main reason for this blog. Her dream is to eventually ride around the world and sail across the oceans.

Posted on 7 November 2013, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Great! Thank you! I’ll try!

  2. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for this great post.
    Did you and Dallas had a chance to sit a house through Trusted House Sitters?
    Are there a lot of owners looking for sitters on that site?

    I’m thinking of becoming a house sitter, and was wondering about the trust we can put in Trusted House Sitters.

    Thanks

    Steve (France)

  3. trusted housesitters is a ripoff ! i’ve registered twice over the years and have NEVER been contacted by ANYONE. i have amazing references and am well traveled, etc…it’s expensive and not worth it !!

  4. Thx for this article, I’m considering becoming a member but still debating as I’m also quite young and has no experience yet.
    Cheers

  5. Pfffff, what a promotional article… and terrible ‘Gravity’ ads at the bottom. I’ve heard Google will de-rank websites with these ads.

  6. This is not a review, this an advertisement. Especially with your discount code you’re making some money with this ‘review’.

  7. After sifting through all the spam comments, I noticed the few legitimate ones have been on this article. I feel I should update the article with a review after we let our membership lapse because we did not find any gigs through trustedhousesitters.com. Also, I have not made any money from discount codes I provided to the site. That was simply a code given to me by the site for our readers to receive a discount. I’m not sure it is even valid anymore. Your comment has given me the idea that maybe I should write a disclaimer on top of any reviews where I do receive any sort of compensation, although I would try not to let that cloud my opinion. So far the only company that has given us any commission (more than a year ago) is Skora, which are on our sponsors page. We would be ecstatic to find a way to earn money through our site, but I need to overhaul the website for that to happen.

  8. How do I get rid of the Gravity ads? I can’t see them from my side…

  9. I have not gotten any asignments for 4 months and I paid for a year ahead. I have excellent external references and I was brought up with animals. I feel that if you’r not from the UK, US or english native your chances are zero of getting any assignments and also the majority of the housesits are in rural areas in France where you would need a car to get around and also retired couples who prefer people in their same age to house/petsit. So for me who’s not an english native and in my 40’s it’s impossible and I’m really frustrated and never thought it would be this hard to care for peoples homes/animals!!
    I will NOT renew my membership again, and I would NOT recommend this site to others due to the fact that it’s discriminating towards other nationalities and ages!

  10. I would also agree that this site is a scam for house sitters. I targeted London, their most popular market, and received no assignments. They will mislead you in order to make you commit to paying for the service in advance, and refuse to refund you when you realize how skewed the market is.

    The number of people seeking a house sitter, and the number of people looking to house sit, are woefully mismatched. Even if you are extremely qualified, you stand little-to-no chance of acquiring a sit. I think this is a really unethical company, especially because they make you pay up front and refuse to give refunds, and you don’t know the terrible market you’re getting into because of their manipulative statements and advertising. Stay away. It’s not even worth trying.

  11. Just letting you know that the discount code no longer works.
    I was going to sign up to this site but read all the comments below. Not sure if I still should. I am in Australia but will be travelling to Europe and thought I could use it there.

  12. I am interested in trying this. I have a very minor record from 30 years ago. My husband is clear. We are late 50’s. Is this going to be a concern? Would it a waste of effort to join? Do you have submit a records check?

  13. Trustedhousesitters may be good for homeowners, but definitely not for sitters. I think the site is taking advantage of house sitters. I also have never been contacted, owners haven’t returned messages and it is an absolute waste of $100.

    They said they would give me an extra year, but now they are back stepping and reneging on their promise. If this is the outcome, I’ll go to the Better Business Bureau.

    They are much better ways of finding a house sitting/pet sitting gig than TrustedHS. They do not respect housesitters.

  14. Definitely not worth joining from a sitters point of view for reasons mentioned above. There is FAR to much competition for the gigs, including lots of retired vets and such. My sister joined around the same time I did because they needed a sitter for their dog. Shortly after she posted their needs she phoned and said my chances of finding a sit were very slim indeed based on their experience from the other side. They had dozens of applications almost immediately and had to cut them off; there were just too many. And the two sitters they found (for different times) had EXTENSIVE qualifications. One couple had a ranch with farm animals and pets and the other a lot of house and pet sitting experience. I did try a few times for a housesit but had no response. I have had my own pets and several experiences pet/house sitting with excellent references but that is not enough. The owners of this site have made a ton of money from people like us who believe their hype.

  15. Hi Sarah,

    I have been debating joining the site but reading these replies to you it has confirmed to me that I won’t for the moment. I agree with you that perhaps doing it unpaid is fine for retired couples who are just looking for a free holiday but actually there is a lot of responsibility and effort involved, not to mention the cost of travel. I know some people would argue that you’ll be saving money on your own bills at home but, for the many of us single people who rent with all bills included, we’re not saving a penny!

    I’ve actually recently started a blog and I’m getting pet-sitting jobs just from word of mouth at the moment and yes, I am charging if they’re not close family or friends. So far people seem happy to pay £20 a day or £30 for an overnight which is around the same price as boarding kennels in the UK but, with a house-sitter, their pets get less stressed, a lot more attention and the house gets looked after at the same time. So I’ll keep doing it this way for the moment. Perhaps in future if I decide to do a bit of traveling abroad whilst house-sitting so I’ll be forced to join one of the sites but not right now.

  16. Die hard never give up kind of girl and in three years never a housesit, and I too have lots of experience, I’m mature, well-traveled, and a very very high government security clearance. Does anyone know another site that we can join, because the whole idea is great, but as I say with such a wide range of applications I have made no one has ever contacted me. Sad because I’m retiring this year and trustedhousesitters sounded like my golden ticket. I too will pass registering again. I won’t recommend you join.

  17. Hi everyone,

    I bought I would add my experience with TrustedHouseSitters as I am not able to get any joy from dealing with them to resolve an issue.

    I joined up as a sitter about 18 mths ago and gathered a few personal references including one that was an informal house pet sit for a friend of a friend for 10 days.

    My first sit was a local one near my home, two little dogs, very cute, all good. Received a 5 star review.

    2nd sit was locked in for Easter in the country about 2 hrs from here. The owner was a single man late 40’s with two pugs. He told me how clingy and needy they were maybe as he worked in the city and was out of the house extremely early and back very late.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the sit even though the house was so Spartan, especially the kitchen that I had to buy a baking tray to cook my dinner in. His whole kitchen contained salt, pepper, coffee, chees and milk he left me. Oh and dried pasta and garlic. That’s all he had, no pantry at all, very few utensils. No frills. Except a complicated stereo that I had difficulty working as he didn’t leave instructions. My husband moved a cable to get it going and didn’t put it back from whence it came………big mistake. This deranged person proceeded to post a very nasty review about the stereo, made up that I left gravy, tomato sauce and other such stuff that I don’t eat and didn’t have there.

    He said that there wa evidence of a foreign dog having been in his bath and left white hairs insinuating I took my dog up there and plonked him in the bath!!!! I do have a small white dog that stayed at home with my son. My small white dog has a wool coat and doesn’t malt but I guess he saw the photo of it and tried to paint a picture of me that is totally off the wall. Ere were more crazy accusations. He was too much of a coward to speak to me in person, a few texts then wham the next day, revenge.

    Unfortunately as a sitter there was little I could do about it other than write a response.
    The damage was already done. The sit I had lined up next cancelled after I told her that I had received an untrue, nasty reference. I felt obliged to draw her attention to it and read the response but too late.

    I did do another short sit for one cat and was lined up to return later in the year to sit for 10 days with the cat and their 12 year old diabetic dog. It was after the expiry of my membership but I was encouraged by TrustedHouseSitters to renew, do more sits and hope that good references cancel out the bad one. Doesn’t work like at unfortunately.

    The dog was very difficult, stressful for me and the dog as he became very aggressive before each injection. I had to call the vet for advise and Ye said hey could do as they were well acqua it’s wi the dog and had had several sitters around there for the same reason. They said they strangely never saw the same sitter twice! The owner did not contact me for 6 days to see how it was going. I texted him a photo after 6 days and he responded but he would have just stayed out of contact I am sure.

    I bought fresh milk and fruit for their return as hey left me fresh milk and fruit. I did not receive even a text to thank me.
    I asked for a reference to be posted which seemed to annoy him. Eventually I texted him again and he said he had done it. I could only see the old review for the cat but with the new dates.
    I contacted Truested house sitters wh told me I could only have the one from him. I have been in contact with them trying to get through to them at a 3 day sit with a cat s nowhere near as big, involved one skilful than a 10 day sit with a cat and an insulin dependent diabetic dog.
    They just come out with all sorts of excuse about how the site works, the updated dashboard
    blah blah blah, no understand or care for the anger and frustration I now feel.
    I would not have paid the $135 for second year and subjected myself to a difficult sit with no gratitude for no money and no review.

    It is outrageous. The site is much more geared to the house owners who sees the sitter as a patsy who will look after their house and animals, sometimes leaving sir own much nicer, more comfortable home to do so.

    Not impressed Trusted house sitters. I asked for a refund and you can imagine how that went.

    Disgruntled.

  18. I found this organization in a search on Google.com and it the link I was given to me to site that did not tell me the cost at the beginning. I filled out all the information dutifully and completely only to find a price of $119, waiting for me at the end. That is a tactic of a shifty company in my book. I needed someone to sit for my cats for 4 days and didn’t really need a housesitter. But since the site came up in my search for a pet istter I checked it out. Needless to say, I was very disappointed. Put your prices up front people!!!

  19. This was very helpful!! And not to long – the more info the better. I am so thinking about doing this and really needed some input. 😊

  20. I can only agree with previous posts – the sheer number of sitters makes it impossible to actually land any of the gigs. I’ve applied to dozens so far, and never got one yet. And I am part of that older professional crowd… Not giving up quite yet, but if this trend continues for the rest of the year, I will not renew the membership.

    The other thing that I find truly annoying is that you cannot customize the email alerts that you receive. When you sign up, you clearly state which countries you are available for. But the email send you listings all over the world anyway.

  21. Margaret Jollow

    Many thanks to all the folks who posted comments and helped me to make up my mind. I was on the point of joining Trustedhousesitters but will certainly not waste my money now. I am a retired professional, well traveled and have cared for many cats and dogs. Apparently this means nothing.
    The idea of an organization like this is excellent. Pity it’s not to be trusted.

  22. Alexandra Ford

    Their customer service is awful and no one gets back to you ever. They just happen to have a good programmer that created the site, and they are basically printing money for themselves, upping the price all the time without helping people. Over $100 for no customer service!! There are better alternatives out there!

  23. Yikes! Does anyone have anything positive to say about trustedhousesitters? I was just getting ready to pay the fee to join!
    Please let me know.

  24. Good question! Apparently none of the people who commented here have been happy with them…

  25. Well I certainly have plenty of good to say about TH. Have been a member with Trusted for over 2 years and, as a long-term traveler, it has been the single biggest genius addition to my travel routine. The first year I joined I was traveling through Malaysia, and ended up spending about 7 months housesitting some amazing digs, out of the 12. Then came Indonesia, and now I’m in Australia, where I have just finished my 4th housesit, in about 7 months’ travel. I have noticed a big difference in Australia, what I consider a more ‘developed’ country. Competition is fierce, there are thousands out there, in all major cities…yet if you step away from major capitals then it becomes much much easier to stand out from the crowd. I appreciate the service doesn’t work for everyone, but for a digital nomad like me, who can travel to another country specifically to housesit, it’s just perfect. In less developed countries with strong expat communities (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, anywhere in South America and Africa) your chances are much higher, as you have Westerners looking for fellow Westerners to care for their homes and pets. This service primarily suits travellers who appreciate having a home and pets for a while, and not so much those who want to steer somewhat close to home, but save on accomodation costs. I’ve loved every sit and every pet I’ve come across, and appreciated the comforts and luxuries (I do a lot of camping) and would never in a million years dream of charging home owners. gardening, excercising dogs and cleaning are all part and parcel of housesitting. So please, don’t call TH a scam (to the reader who did) just because it hasn’t worked for you, personally. As a side note, I am part of a couple, in our mid-40s. I do think homeowners prefer couples to singles (my first homeowner said they tend to stay home with the pets more) and, understandably, the more mature the better. Don’t be deterred. If you travel the world and want an added bonus along the way, go for it, be patient and be savvy. Not greedy or fussy. get a few sits under your belt, the references will come, and more jobs will open up. I am a testament to that.
    PS. I found your blog whilst googling discount codes for my renewal ahah :)))

  26. Thanks for the positive review, Laura! This gives me hope that it could work for the right people!

  27. Parker Grunkemeyer

    Homeowner here… We have 3 large dogs and have used the site for almost 10 sits these past 2 years in London. I can definitely see how the site is skewed to the homeowners, but I also think people need to, as the prior poster brought up, think of the particular area when considering likelihood of finding a sit and expectation of payment. We are looking for free sitters (though we usually do leave about £50 for pet incidentals) generally because we feel the exchange of a place to stay in central London (where hotels average at least £200/night) exceeds the value of the pet sitting services (prior to the site we paid £50/day). Yes, this saves us a ton of money for longer trips, but it also saves you, the sitter, a ton of money!

  28. Vicki Faulkner

    Housesitters don’t count any more on this site……my experience as a 6 year very successful member.

    I feel very sorry for young & older people thinking of starting housesitting.
    I was probably one of the exp sitters given priority in applications.on TH.
    My profile was listed in the top 10 sitters…..with 39 reviews & numerous housesit references I’d asked outside homeowners to add.
    Housesitting has become extremely competitive…..it’s not always as ideal as it seems.

    6 years ago when I joined TrustedHousesitters it was a quite different site to what it’s become in the last 2 years.
    I had no reason to distrust them until an incident last year & then the totally unjust situation which has just occurred.
    I arrived from a 28 hour trans continent trip to a isolated housesit in a still developing country.
    My baggage also didn’t arrive with me so I was left n the clothes I had & my laptop.
    On arrival at the property which was small, basic, but more importantly had 3 totally unsocialised fearful dogs.that lived in the house.
    As can be imagined they didn’t like a stranger in their territory.
    I’d been given the impression the homeowner was staying the first night.
    He left within 2 hours of my arrival!

    I am very experienced with dogs so it was do able for me, but being tired from a long flight & with the airline constantly ringing telling me to print/scan various documents before a bag search could be instigated.I had a dilemma.
    The homeowner was totally aware of my situation.
    There was no printer/scanner at this isolated property, & no shops/transport for many kms.plus an impending 3 day public holiday when the country basically shut down.

    I rang the homeowner in the city who offered no help & I then told him I would need to leave in the morning to print/scan the documents.
    He said he would return & to be ready to leave…no problem there as I had nothing.
    I left in the taxi he arrived back in at 11pm unsure where I would spend the night.

    This homeowner who’d only been a member for a year then subsequently filed a complaint to TrustedHousesitters
    I was never given details of what he said & I wasn’t asked for my side.
    I’ve been permanently removed from the site.
    My annual membership had been deducted 5 days earlier & I’ve been told this iisn’t being refunded plus copies of my reviews & references are also not my property apparently.
    I certainly eared them.

    This after 6 years membership,& obviously being one of the first housesitters on the site with many glowing reviews & probably contributing to establishing the “Trust’ factor that the marketing is now making so much money out of.

    I put my trust in them, but in reality they seem to be an untrustworthy site…….geared towards homeowners & not housesitters.
    In fact there used to be an option to choose if you charged as a sitter………not now.
    The only people allowed to profit are TrustedHousesitters.
    Money oriented not people
    There is just preworded script given as replies…almost robotic like.

    There are other sites out there, I would encourage people to look into.
    I was also listed on them.

    ……

  29. Hey Sarah, I’m confused as to why you’ve written this review, titled from a sitter’s perspective, when you’ve never actually used the site as a housesitter? it’s a bit misleading and I think something can only really be reviewed once you’ve used the service.

    A lot of the comments here are negative and I see other people being put off from house sitting by the comments, so I wanted to add the experience of my partner and I as experienced house sitters using TrustedHousesitters for 2 years, for more than 15 house sits.

    To all those who think they cannot house sit because they are too young – we started house sitting at ages 24 and 28 and have been house sitting successfully since then. Yes, at first the listings requesting “mature, retired” house sitters did bother me, but I just ignore them now. There are plenty of people happy to have younger and responsible sitters. In fact, several of the homeowners we have sat for said that they were happier with us than with older couples. There are tons of advantages that younger sitters have. Also, it’s getting more and more popular with younger pet owners, who like having someone from their same background and age.

    I realize this review is four years old now, so I wanted to tell other people viewing this article that a lot of these problems have been updated in the current THS website (you can search for sitters by location, etc). While the site isn’t perfect by any means (I do agree that they tend to favor homeowners), it is still a fantastic resource for house sitting when using the correct strategy.

    I can’t believe some of the comments here (not you the writer, but other people trying to housesit), saying that they signed up and expected people to contact them. That’s not how it works. Housesitters apply to housesits they are available for. It’s like applying to any job, or like applying for a work exchange situation (that’s what it technically is).

    So many people above are saying that it’s “impossible” to get sits which is simply not true. I can’t help but wonder where these commenters attempted to housesit? Starting off trying to house sit in NYC when you have references might be, but there are many homeowners who are unable to find people to watch their pets in lesser-known locations. Start there, build references, and the you’ll be able to get sits in more competitive locations. This is what we did, and now we do house sits in London, NYC, Berlin, Florence, Madrid, etc. It just takes the right attitude and strategy.

    Anyway, this comment is turning into a blog post itself, so I’ll stop here! I just really wanted to stress that it is possible to use TrustedHousesitters and it can be a fantastic resource. But like anything, it takes some initial work and effort (setting up a good profile, contacting people with thoughtful messages, etc).

    If anyone here is interested, we wrote an extensive review recently based on our experiences using THS for the past 2 years for 15+ sits, with exactly what to do and what not to do. I won’t link it here, but if you search “Alternative Travelers TrustedHousesitters” it will come up. We have lots of posts geared towards helping housesitters and homeowners succeed. =)

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