The HouseSit Diva has shared a few excerpts (Introduction and Chapter Two) from her book How to Become a Housesitter:  Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva.


OK, OK, I ADMIT IT: I sleep around. Usually with animals.

(Being able to say that with a straight face is one of the reasons I continue housesitting.)

If you’ve ever dreamt of “living like a local” rather than being pegged as a tourist…

If you’d like to test what living in a community is like before committing to a permanent move…

If you want to save thousands of dollars on accommodations in some of the world’s most glorious hotspots…

If you want to visit your grand kids or parents without being underfoot…

Or if you simply like sleeping around…

This book is for you! Gleaned from my real-world experiences during eight years of full time housesitting and pampering dozens of dogs, cats, bunnies and fish, this book contains advice and“insider tips” to help you leap into the world of housesitting with confidence and grace.

Whether you want to housesit full time as a lifestyle, or occasionally during your vacations, this book will help you avoid the pitfalls so many new housesitters (and seasoned ones, too) fall into.

You might wonder why I’m sharing my personal tips for securing great housesits. I believe traveling is transformative – not only for the traveler, but for all the people she or he meets along the way.. Now more than ever, we need to open our hearts and homes to each other. Housesitting is one way to expand traveling opportunities, so I want to shout it out to the world!

If you are a homeowner with pets who has felt unable to travel because you refuse to kennel your “fur-kids,” this book shows you how to find the most caring, conscientious housesitters. Two chapters at the end speak directly to homeowners! Personally, I wouldn’t have strangers live in my home unless they’ve read this book.

I include discount codes for some of the more popular housesitting platforms (so the book pays for itself immediately!) and a quiz (“Is Housesitting Right For Me?”) so you can determine your own particular joys or challenges of housesitting.

To find where in the world I am now, visit meat Email me directly at

Happy Housesitting!

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Chapter 2


I DIDN’T WAKE UP one morning and declare, “I’m going to become a housesitter today!” It’s a lifestyle that evolved following a career setback: After30 years as a political activist/consultant, I’d run for office myself andgotten my butt kicked. I’d decided to take a sabbatical to write a book about my experiences in the Middle East working with refugees. (That book is still in progress…Check for updates.)

To finance full time writing, I rented out my own home to vacationers and, thus,needed to live elsewhere for free. Initially, I lived in writers’ colonies where I’d been awarded residencies, but I gravitated to housesitting, which provided greater opportunities and was far less competitive. (At times, when my home is unrented, I’ve found housesitters, so I’ve experienced both sides of the housesitting coin.)

Since I couldn’t live at my home, my first housesits were interspersed with writing residencies and visits with friends and family. My first year of full time “nomading” – 2009 – I drove across the U.S. four and a half times, slept in 58 beds and packed and unpacked 64 times.So, I’ve been sleeping around for a while.

2010 found me in Ajijic, Mexico, a large expat community south of Guadalajara. I fell into a dream sit: Six months every year spoiling ChaCha, a rambunctious Pit/Lab rescue puppy who lives in a four-story home built into the side of a hill. Every level of this vacation home has panoramic views of the serene Lake Chapala. The homeowners treat me like family, and I’m blessed to have a “home base” when they are stateside.

Since2009, I’ve house sat in multiple homes in Mexico, the U.S., Europe, Asia and now have regular sits in London, Cardiff, Berlin and Hanoi. I’ve cared for bunnies from Copenhagen to Ya’an, China, a “village” of 1.5 million people where I met no other non-Asians during my entire 10-day sit. I’ve cuddled a 19-year-oldChihuahua in Kuala Lumpur and coaxed two feral cats in Osaka, Japan. For two months,I spoiled Merlin the mouser while enjoying London during the summer Olympics.

This year, I’ll be caring for kitties in Amsterdam, Gibraltar, Senegal and Malawi.

Housesitting has turned out to be right for me.  But, is it right for you?

The benefits of housesitting include the obvious cost savings in accommodations and dining (because you have a full kitchen at your fingertips), and the thrill of experiencing a destination as a local does.

But housesitting is not a free ride.  Typically, you pay your own transportation,visa expenses and insurance. Most homeowners request that you arrive at least a day before their departure to orient you to the pets’ and home’s routines. If the homeowners do not have room to accommodate you on that first night, you might need to arrange and pay for your first night in a hotel.

There are a few other factors to housesittingthat you might find challenging, such as adjusting your schedule to the homeowners’, or living in their space on top of their belongings.  Or you might find it stifling to be responsible for caring for someone else’s home and pets and maintaining the rules, routines and schedules.

Some house sits include a household staff that is already in place:  perhaps a housekeeper who might clean weekly, semi-weekly or daily, a gardener (or gardeners) who come weekly or semi-weekly, and/or a pool maintenance worker.. It is the responsibility of the housesitter to“oversee” these workers in order to maintain the household’s continuity.  That can be a lovely luxury or a bothersome burden – depending on your perspective.

So, is house sitting a great opportunity for you?  Here’s a quiz to find out! (Quiz can be found inside the book!)

About the Author

KELLY HAYES-RAITT ADMITS that she sleeps around (usually with pets!) to finance the book she’s writing about her experiences working in the Middle East with refugees.

Ten years ago, after a 30-year career as a political activist promoting social and environmental justice, Kelly ran for public office and got her butt kicked.
She decided to take a sabbatical from politics and visited the Middle East several times. She ended up working with refugees.

To finance her writing, she rents out her own home and lives elsewhere by housesitting. She’s been housesitting fulltime since 2009 in the U.S., Mexico, the U.K., Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Gibraltar, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Senegal, Malawi and Mozambique. She’s visited more than 60 countries, including pre- and post-U.S. invasion Iraq and has co-led delegations in Syria and India.