It’s a win, win, win situation. Pets love staying in their own environment, owners enjoy a considerable saving against pet boarding costs and their homes are kept secure and sitters enjoy rent free accommodation.

I fell into house-sitting by chance when returning to Sydney after several months overseas a friend offered me her home in exchange for caring for her much loved dog while she was on holiday.

Word spread and one opportunity led to another and before I knew it, it had become a way of life, literally.  As I work from home courtesy of laptops and smart phones I can work from anywhere and for the last 3 years or more that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.  I generally only accept bookings for 4 weeks or more so that it doesn’t become too disruptive.  I now have it down to a fine art with my personal belongings in storage with a wardrobe box for each season so that I can just re-pack for my next destination and season.

I’ve been lucky enough to house-site extensively around Australia, USA, Canada, Mexico and Europe. I haven’t paid rent or mortgage in over 3 years and have lived in some splendid homes in locations normally beyond my reach.

I’ve enjoyed the company of some wonderful pets from a dear little very ancient cat with just one snaggle tooth who needed to be hand fed to Pugs and Jack Russells so full of life, fun and naughtiness – who could resist.

Not only that but an extended house-sit in a gorgeous little village in Mexico became the impetus for a new business venture.  The bewitching little village of Ajijic just 45 minutes outside of Guadalajara and situated on a beautiful lake became the first destination for Big Yellow Suitcase’s small group tour.

home-02   I fell in love with the place and the people and wanted to share it. This has now grown into a company, Big Yellow Suitcase, that designs and hosts small groups to some of the most beautiful destinations in the world and provides unique one-off experiences for travellers looking to go beyond sightseeing. So, who knows where house-sitting could lead you.

Initially I tried several of the websites offering house-sitting services.  Now most of my bookings are repeat or I rely on to fill in any gaps.  It’s a professionally run site and I’ve always had a great experience with the owners and pets featured on the site.


Each day I receive by email at least 50 new listings from this one site.  When I first started  most of the listings were from Australia and the UK. Now they are coming from all corners of the world.

Not all house-sitting requests include the care of pets as an increasing number of people prefer not to leave their homes unattended during a protracted absence.   If you’d like to spend a winter in Europe, Canada or N. America there are plenty of opportunities from home-owners who de-camp to warmer climes for several months and look for singles or couples to keep the home fires burning in their absence.

Some sitters charge for their services.  Personally I choose not to as I’m happy for the free accommodation and the chance to discover a new suburb, State or country.

What I most appreciate is the trust home-owners place in me and the opportunity provided to keep travelling and exploring from the comfort of a place where I am invited to feel at home.

Wendy Hand

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