How Do I Find a FREE House Sitter to Come to Africa or Asia to Care for My Pets? 16 Tips!

3 Apr, 2024

How Do I Find a FREE House Sitter to Come to Africa or Asia to Care for My Pets? 16 Tips!

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“I sleep around.  Usually with animals,” Kelly Hayes-Raitt jokes about her 15 years as an international free house sitter. She has pampered pets in 5 African countries: Senegal, Malawi, Mozambique (twice!), Réunion, and Tanzania. She’s also house sat throughout Asia: China, Vietnam (twice!), Malaysia (in 3 locations), Japan, and South Korea. She shares her insider tips for securing a great house sitter to come and care for your pets and home.

16 Tips for to Find A Free House Sitter

Treat time! “Me first, me first!” Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt (Arusha, Tanzania)

By Kelly Hayes-Raitt

I’m house sitting this month at a special property on a wildlife reserve near Arusha, Tanzania, pampering 4 fabulous pooches and trouble-shooting on the busy estate as best I can. While the homeowner’s staff is quite professional and self-sufficient, my homeowner appreciated having someone on-site overnight to care for her new miniature Dachshund puppy and handle any glitches with her vacation rental guests.

That’s where I came in! I’ve been house sitting for 15 years throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Recently, many of my homeowner’s neighbors have asked how they can get a free house sitter, too. Here you go!

What Is House Sitting?

House sitting is a fair exchange of pet care for no-cost accommodations. (I hate to say it’s “free” accommodations for the sitter. Although no money exchanges hands, the sitter takes on a huge responsibility.)

Sitters travel to your home at their own expense, stay in your home for no cost, and care for your pets, staff, guests, plants, home, garden, mail…whatever you need to keep your home running while you are away. There is no charge, so, in that sense, they are free house sitters.

Again, no money exchanges hands. That would require the house sitter to get a work visa rather than a tourist visa (although this has been challenged by some Immigration officials in other countries).

Why Would a Free House Sitter Come All the Way to My Home to Care for It?

find a free house sitter to care for your pets
“You came all the way to China to spoil me???” Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt (Ya’an, China)

The opportunity to explore a new place. The love of pets. The chance to have all the comforts of a home rather than a hotel.

Free house sitters are adventurous folk!

Personally, I like the idea of giving pet owners a chance to travel worry-free. And I like to travel “slowly,” savoring new places and living more like a local than a tourist. Free house sitting allows me guilt-free time to hunker in with the pets on some days to get work done rather than being a constant culture vulture.

How Do I Find Such an Angel?

In order to find a free house sitter, join one of the 50 or so online platforms that allow home owners to post a profile explaining their home, location, and pet needs. Meanwhile, non-paid house sitters pay to join the platforms and post profiles outlining their experience, references, and why they want to house sit.

Of the handful of international house sitting sites, I like the best. It was created 10 years ago by a woman born in Africa who now lives in the UK. Lamia Walker is very hands-on and provides enthusiastic and personal customer service. It’s also one of the most affordable platforms and offers frequent discounts.

“Someone will come pamper ME for free???” Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt (Arusha, Tanzania)

Furthermore, HouseSitMatch’s free house sitters are vetted and police-verified. To learn about discounts, join the email list for free.

Full disclosure: I edit HouseSitMatch’s blog – but only because I love the site! I used to write for another house sitting platform, but they now make it more difficult to find a free house sitter because they limit the number of applicants a home owner can receive at a time – which makes the homeowner spend a lot more time culling through inadequate applicants. And it appears they steer sitting options to their newest, least experienced members.

I get no referral fees or perks for recommending HouseSitMatch. I just love them!

My Tips to Find a Free House Sitter

1. Give lots of notice. Lots. As far in advance as possible.

Even if you aren’t certain of your exact travel dates, join one of the platforms and create your profile. Note your approximate dates. Just as it may take you several weeks to plan your overseas trip, your house sitter will need time to prepare, buy plane tickets, research vaccinations, get a visa – perhaps even find a free house sitter for her own pets!

“Aaaaahhhhhhh.” Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt (Penang, Malaysia)

So, don’t wait until the last minute to post. This is really my most important tip!

You also don’t want to rush this process. After you post, interested house sitters will apply through the web site indicating their experience and qualifications. You will want to have time to conduct a video interview with the candidates you like best.

Honestly, the more notice you give, the more likely you are to find a free house sitter. Last-minute listings are much, much harder to fill, especially for exotic locations like Africa and Asia.

2. Be thorough in your online profile.

Africa and Asia are special places! But not many Europeans, Brits, or Americans are familiar with the details and responsibilities of living there. The more information you provide, the more likely you’ll get appropriate free house sitting applicants.

In your profile include:

√ Many photos of your home (including the bedroom and bathroom that your sitters will use), garden, pets.

√ Description of your pets and their needs (walks, meals, medications).

√ Explanation of the area you live in, including practical information such as how the sitters can buy groceries.

√ Any downsides to living in your home, such as frequent power outages, noise, or creepy-crawlies. Better to be upfront in order to weed out inappropriate free house sitting applicants!

Check out my recent blog to house sitters who might be interested in African house sits.

3. Once you find a free house sitter, stay in touch with her/him.

You’ll want to schedule a video chat with prospective house sitters so you can meet them and ask questions. They will likely have many questions (and, if they don’t, that might be a red flag!).

Once you and your favorite free house sitters have agreed to the house sit, stay in frequent contact. You will want to give updates on your travel plans as soon as possible, so your sitters can maximize their flight possibilities, apply for a visa, etc.

Experienced house sitting friends of mine once canceled a great sit because the homeowner didn’t respond to their emails or texts after several weeks. Communication is vital!

One of the 2 dogs, and 1 of the 6 cats I spoiled during one house sit. My lap wasn’t big enough! Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt (Le Tampon, Réunion)

Once you agree to engage a house sitter, s/he becomes part of your overall travel plans and deserves as much of your attention as any other part of your trip.

I send my homeowners a thorough agreement that lists everything I need to know about the pets, home, neighbors, support people, etc. It’s 7 pages of written instructions that I can refer to during the house sit.

You might offer to host your sitter for a few days before your departure to help with a smooth transition.

4. Give any travel advice on airlines, etc.

Help your sitters with some of their logistical research. My homeowner in Tanzania kindly sent me a text listing the airlines that fly directly into JRO. (She also responded to my question about which airport to fly into – as it wasn’t clear from my own research!)

My homeowner in Réunion, a French island east of Madagascar, gave me an invaluable tip about a budget airline that flew from Paris directly to her island. Since Paris wasn’t (initially) in my itinerary, I would not have found that airline!

5. Recognize that your free house sitter is traveling a long way at a significant expense.

Expecting someone to travel from Europe or America to Africa or Asia for a weekend house sit isn’t likely to get you a great free house sitter. However, you never know! Sometimes, I’ve traveled a long way and strung together several nearby house sits.

You are less likely to get a great sitter for free if you require them to stay at home with your pets most of the day. I’ve turned down unpaid sits where the pets couldn’t be left alone for more than 3 or 4 hours.

6. Pick up your sitters at the airport.

It’s just really kind – and somewhat practical – to provide a trusted driver who knows where you live to pick up your jet-lagged, exhausted sitter and to provide a return at the end of the sit.

7. Provide contact info for a driver, the veterinarian, a nearby hospital, and an emergency dentist.

I ask for this info on my 7-page agreement form.

8. Give your sitter a chance to rest before explaining all the intricacies of the house, etc.

“My ball! My ball! My ball!” Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt (Hanoi, Vietnam)

You know how you feel stepping off a long flight? Your sitter feels the same – even more so, since s/he might be experiencing a bit of culture shock, as well! Give her/him some down time before adding in more information.

9. Explain contingencies for water, electricity, WiFi outages.

Yep, I quickly learned the moodiness of Tanesco in Tanzania. But when the WiFi went down in the neighborhood, I really appreciated my homeowner’s quick and long-distance trouble-shooting that told me the problem was regional…and how to deal with it.

Does anything need to be unplugged during a power outage to avoid a power surge when the electricity is restored? How should your house sitter deal with temperamental water pumps? How does the WiFi get reset after an outage?

10. Provide landline or an extra mobile phone with a local number.

While not essential, I appreciate an alternative communication option if I can’t use my mobile because of signal or WiFi outages.

11. Introduce your sitter to neighbors and friends.

Not only does this give your sitter a somewhat built-in social group, it provides on-the-ground, immediate support. When the 3 larger dogs I recently cared for got into a vicious fight my first morning alone, I really appreciated the quick and knowledgeable response from my homeowner’s business partner. He had a perspective on the dogs’ behavior that was a huge help.

And since I didn’t have a car and was pretty isolated, I really appreciated neighbors who included me in their grocery shopping excursions. In fact, one couple included me in several social outings — including a day trip “safari” in Arusha National Park. Once you find your free house sitter, introduce her/him around!

12. Be clear about staff’s role, hours, pay, tips, etc.

find a free house sitter
Double-cheek kisses! Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt (Arusha, Tanzania)

Chances are, your house sitter might never have interacted with full-time staff. Before house sitting in Africa and Asia, the most I’d experienced was scheduling a weekly house cleaner or gardener.

Work out ahead of time how the staff will be paid and, if possible, keep the house sitter out of the transaction.

Be clear with your house sitter about each staff member’s responsibilities, English language skills, and hours/days of work.

13. Offer to exchange some dollars, euros, or pounds for some local currency.

My homeowner in Tanzania offered this, and I really appreciated that it was one less thing I had to do immediately while I got my bearings. She exchanged my euros for Tanzanian Schillings and that started me off before I found a suitable ATM.

14. Fill the fridge!

Many of my home owners have provided this kindness as a way to express their gratitude for my house sitting.

Here in Tanzania, I’m a bit more isolated than usual and kilometers away from a grocery store. My homeowner not only filled the fridge and freezer, but offered to have a driver take me grocery shopping weekly. This made a huge difference!

15. Provide tips for practical things.

“Don’t go…” Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt (Maputo, Mozambique)

Let your sitters know how and where to grocery shop, exchange money, use public transportation, etc. You might offer, as my homeowner did, to pay for a driver to help get your sitter into town.

16. Provide tips for local things to do.

One of the benefits of housesitting, for me, is the insider tips I receive on interesting things to do.

Before she left, my Arusha homeowner took me to the local expat watering hole for wildebeest viewing. She also connected me to the regional What’s App group. Through the group, I’ve learned about some interesting community things to do, as well as picked up great advice. This small gesture has been so helpful!

It’s really exotic and expensive for a house sitter to choose to come to Africa or Asia. But, with enough notice, many sitters will be thrilled for the adventure!

House sitting is a great exchange of services which will enable many – both pet owners and house sitters alike – to travel further afield.


love petsittingKelly Hayes-Raitt LOVES talking house sitting. Feel free to reach her on this site for more tips in order to find a free house sitter. She’s the author of How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the Housesit Diva, available on Kindle or soft cover.


Find housesitters

If you join one of the best housesitting websites like HouseSitMatch as a Pet Homeowner you can post an advert as soon as you know the dates you’ll be away and try to find a free good pet housesitter for this assignment. Or by using alternative networks you may also be able to find a good professional pet housesitter.

Whether you join a network or find a good pet house sitter it is basically a great investment. This investment allows you to be productive without risking your pet’s safety, and keeps pets safe at home.

Further reading about pet sitters and house sitters

At Housesit we like to share useful blogs and practical advice about petsitters, housesitting and pet sitting. We hope you find this small selection of our blogs on house sitters useful.

Housesitters keep pets safe at home and save money

What a housesitter does – Top 10 responsibilities

The Affordable Alternative to Dog Kennels

What is Housesitting?



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Kelly Hayes-Raitt

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