Do you want to stay somewhere beautiful on your next vacation without worrying about expenses? The travel industry makes it seem like quality vacation housing is an expensive luxury, but with access to the right information you can stay in gorgeous, centrally located, private homes on vacation for free, very cheap, or even get paid! House-sitting is an incredible travel tool that can be used to enjoy top-notch accommodation while saving money to extend travel on a shoestring budget.

House-Sitting: Luxury Vacation Accommodation for Free/Cheap

House-sitting happens when someone going out of town arranges for a person (in this case, you the traveler) to provide care for their home while they are away. They may need a house-sitter to take care of pets, water plants, take in mail, pick up the newspaper, and generally make the house look lived in so it doesn’t attract any unwanted attention. You can help someone have peace of mind that their home is safe while they travel, while you get to enjoy all of the comforts of home on vacation for free, cheap, or profit. There are resources for house-sitting all around the world, so as long as you can pass a criminal background check and have a couple of references, you and your loved ones can stay at incredible homes in idyllic locations without breaking your budget.

Photo Credit: Jaclyn Snow. House in Gothenburg, Sweden, October 2015.

Below is a list of my favorite international house-sitting websites to peruse at your leisure. Although house-sitting is free and it’s free to browse the listings on these websites, many of them require an annual membership fee to apply for positions. Considering how much money you will save on accommodation in the course of that year, it may well be worth it. Furthermore, the websites that charge membership fees screen both homeowners and house-sitters to ensure safe and successful experiences for everyone.

My Top 6 International House-Sitting Websites:

🏡 Trusted Housesitters is probably the most popular house-sitting site which features homes in 140 countries around the world! The downside is that it is also the most expensive at $119 for a one year membership. You can browse for free, but you need a membership to contact people looking for house-sitters. The best discount they offer is the referral bonus, which saves 20% to bring the year membership down to $95.20. If you don’t have a friend with a membership, use this referral link provided by Suzy Smith and her partner Samuel, who are currently house-sitting at a farm in a small village in New Zealand nearby Auckland (see a picture of the property below). “The land is nearly 900 acres, so there is a lot to explore, including three waterfalls to find somewhere! The accommodation costs that we would have spent (even though we spend most of our time freedom camping) is well worth the cost to sign up on Trusted Housesitters! House-sitting allows you to become part of a community rather than looking in from the outside. We have met some lovely people and made great friends… we have a great quality of life and get to experience some things that we could never do while traveling normally.” Follow Suzy and Samuel’s adventures on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

🏡 Nomador currently has listings in 96 countries, with a large majority in France. The website has a clean format with plenty of filters to specify your preferences, and an array of many unbelievably gorgeous homes around the world where you can vacation. Membership for the website is $89 a year, but you can start with a free trial which allows you to send three applications- this free trial is an opportunity to make your first house-sitting experience 100% free.

🏡 Mind My House has listings in 45 countries, and membership is only $20 per year! The website also offers users a lot of support for all of your questions regarding house-sitting.

🏡 HouseCarers is popular in about twenty countries. It is free to browse the listings, but you need a membership to apply for positions. A thirteen-month membership costs $50.

🏡 House Sit Match is most popular in the U.K. and Australia, and it is also used around some European countries. A standard membership (which allows 150 words and 2 pictures in your advert) costs £35, and a premium membership (800 words and 7 pictures) costs £75 annually.

🏡 Luxury Housesitting is available in 38 countries, and membership costs only $25 a year. It’s free to browse and I highly suggest you do, there are some incredible listings available. Interestingly, this website has some of the nicest homes for the lowest membership prices.

Photo Credit: Suzy Smith. This is her current house-sit in New Zealand. See more of her photos on Instagram!

Many house-sitting sites are specific to regions, which are advantageous to search if you know exactly where you want to go. Local regional house-sitting websites are more likely to be totally free or offer to pay house-sitters. For example, I house-sat for a couple of nice apartments in San Francisco a few summers ago through Sittercity’s overnight pet care service, and I earned an average of $40 a night to stay at beautiful, central San Francisco homes in return for providing basic pet care. Find Region Specific house-sitting Sites and so much more about house-sitting positions from Thrifty Nomads.

I had another wonderful house-sitting experience during Christmas time in Munich in 2015. Most hostels were completely sold out for the holidays, and I was lucky at the last minute to be offered a position house-sitting by Tierpark Hellabrunn (the Munich zoo) through a group on Couchsurfing. When I asked whether I could invite a friend to stay with me, my host replied “the more the merrier!” I enjoyed four days leading up to Christmas in central Munich with traveler friends for absolutely free by house-sitting.

A few days later I spent Christmas in Vienna, where I attended a celebration at a beautiful loft that was house-sat by the host (permission was granted by the homeowners). Our host explained that for the last few years she has taken all of her vacations by house-sitting during the holidays, and she described her own fantastic experiences house-sitting.

Christmas celebration in Vienna, December 24, 2015, at a home that was being house-sat.

House-sitting is an easy and incredible way to find amazing accommodation for cheap or free all around the world. Take advantage of these opportunities to have the vacation of your dreams without having to spend years saving for it. Stay tuned next time for more ways to find free and cheap accommodation while traveling!