Sabbatical housesitting – 7 Top Tips

23 Apr, 2024

Sabbatical housesitting – 7 Top Tips

Spread the love

People come to housesitting at different times of life. Sabbatical housesitting becomes an opportunity many people consider at a mid point or later in their career. Read on to learn more about housesitting while on sabbatical and the sabbatical homes you could stay in.

Sabbatical Housesitting and How to Get Started

middle aged back packers waking on sun dappled street
Taking a year out as a sabbatical is a great way to travel. Sabbatical housesitting makes it affordable

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata

What is Sabbatical Housesitting?

Sabbatical housesitting is a way to extend resources when you travel on sabbatical by housesitting. It involves and requires exchanges housesitting and caretaking between a house sitter and a homeowner host.

Sabbatical housesitting might be composed of a long term house sitting or a series of short term house and pet sitting assignments.

What is a Sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a is a rest or break from work “an extended period of time intentionally spent on something that’s not your routine job. Many people take a sabbatical later in their career to prepare for the change in pace and lifestyle ahead of their retirement.

1. Become a Sabbatical House Sitter

sabbatical housesitting Elizabeth cuddles one of her pet charges
Elizabeth is a retired lecturer and started housesitting on sabbatical

Photo by Lamia Walker

If you fancy a preparatory break in your career to try something new and perhaps add travel to your options consider becoming a housesitter.

2. Exchange a love for pets and experience in home care for free accommodation

small brown and white dog looking at the camera
Sabbatical housesitting assignments usually require you to care for the owner’s pets in their own home

Photo by Natalie Scott

If you love animals and are happy exchanging your time and experience in home and pet care for free accommodation, join a reputable housesitting network. Check their Trustpilot rating before joining the network. Then build the best profile you can with photos of you and references and make sure you do the checks required on the site.

Scan your options for desirable destinations and apply for a housesit where you know you could do a good job and enjoy the location and experience.

3. Starting housesitting locally first

To get some experience housesitting try a local assignment first, where the pets are a number and type you feel comfortable caring for. Make sure you do a good job understanding the brief and earn a good review or reference.

At the end of the sit make sure you make a list of things you learned from the experience and get ready to try somewhere new for your next assignment.

4. Try a House Sit Abroad

house sitter Alecia house sitting in Paris snapped in front of the Eiffel Tower
House Sitter Alecia took a sabbatical year and travelled to France to housesit near Paris

Once you have grown in confidence and feel you can venture further afield consider housesitting abroad. As a house sitter abroad you need to check how up to date your passport is, and what visas and travel documents you might need to go to another country.

5. Check Your Travel Documents Well-ahead of Your Travel

At HouseSitMatch we have a page dedicated to information about the Visas you might need if you want to travel out of your own country.

  • Passport end date – Check your passport end date. Most countries now require that you have at least six months before your passport expiry date. So check and renew well ahead of your trip if necessary.
  • Visa – Some countries require you to pay for a tourist travel and entry visa.
  • Travel / Medical Insurance – Some countries insist you have travel insurance before you travel. Please check before booking your housesit.

6. Try Living Like a Local to Discover a new Lifestyle

Shopping in a local market while house sitting over fifty
Shopping in local markets helps realise the authentic travel experience

Photo by Lamia Walker

One of the joys and greater benefits of housesitting is the opportunity to live a new lifestyle while you housesit. You are literally living in someone else’s footprint, and experiencing the things they have in their life.

They might shop in local markets rather than supermarkets, they might live near the sea and so your location offers you beach walks and stunning views. Your sabbatical housesitting assignment could open up  many new experiences simply because of your new location while house and pet sitting.

7. Respect the Homeowner’s Wishes as Stated in their House Sitting Brief

More than likely, and just as we recommend on HouseSitMatch, your homeowner host will have written a house sitting brief so you know what is required regarding daily and weekly duties while you stay in their home. There will be routine duties like pet care, exercising dogs, feeding and grooming routines.

On your sabbatical housesitting assignment there might also be reference to collecting the post, or garden watering and caring for internal house plants. Make sure you understand the document and all that it entails. Ask questions if you are unsure.

Remember to leave the home as clean as you found it, if not cleaner. You have been a guest in their home, remember you agreed to a fair exchange, free home and lodging in exchange for pet and home care.

cat sitter
John is an pet and housesitter who started housesitting on a sabbatical for long term travel

Photo by Bev Belury

TOP TIPS – Nice Gestures to Close Your Sabbatical Housesitting

At the end of your housesitting assignment we like to recommend that you tidy up and do a little shopping to ensure you have replaced any foodstuffs you used during your stay.

Plus if you have a chance it means a great deal to the homeowner to return to a clean home, with a kitchen ready for use and some basic foods in the fridge and cupboards.

Personally, I always try to make a simple meal, leave some tea, bread and milk to ensure they have something at home if they arrive late at night after a long journey. Believe me, your hosts will really appreciate these nice gestures.

Your Sabbatical Year Prepares You for a New Life

Whether you choose sabbatical housesitting or another experience during your sabbatical time off, consider what you really want to get out of this precious time. A sabbatical year can be liberating and enriching and offer the opportunity for travel somewhere new and exciting, or familiar and reassuring.


Further reading on housesitting, housesit travel and housesitters

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

Grey Gap year – Housesitting over 50

Happy housesits in Europe with Michelle and Eddie

What a housesitter does – Top 10 responsibilities

Top 10 tips for cat sitting

Top dogsitting tips for beginners

The Affordable Alternative to Dog Kennels


Spread the love


Founder and Director of HouseSitMatch - I'm a hands-on Admin on the site. Please ask any questions and as soon as I can I'll happily answer and assist where I can.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.