Long Term House Sitting Cairns, Queensland: Secrets to Success

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house sitting cairns
Cairns is a great tropical house sitting location in Northern Queensland. Photo by Thomas Chen/Unsplash

Long term house sitting Cairns-wide is a chance to travel cheaply, pamper pets and see some of North Queensland’s most beautiful sights. After 2 years of housesitting, here are my secrets to success.

What Is House Sitting?

House sitting is a trust-based transaction between a homeowner and a housesitter, who cares for the home and pets while the owner is away, in exchange for free rent and utilities*.

*A minority are paid, but mostly for short periods, or when the house sit requires additional pet health care or property maintenance.

Homeowners save money on boarding for their pets, while increasing security in their homes by having someone there. You save money on accommodation while travelling or saving, all while receiving endless pet snuggles and sniffs. House sits can be short-term (a few days) or long-term (up to a year or more).

Why House Sitting Cairns?

Cairns is the gateway to Tropical North Queensland, with easy access to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree and Cape Tribulation and Mission Beach. Cairns has a tropical climate, similar to Darwin, with hot and humid summers and milder, dryer winters. It’s a common starting point for East Coast road trips, with house sitting hotspots along the Queensland coast in the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Yet, on Aussie House Sitters, there were only 20 Cairns house sits listed in the proceeding 7 days before this post, compared to 108 in Brisbane. So here are a few secret tips and tricks to Cairns house sitting success.

(c) Kate Zarb - Oh, Nomad! [ohnomad.com]
Do you want to the secrets to travelling and living for free with adorable animals? Image © Kate Zarb / ohnomad.com

House Sitting Cairns Secrets

Queensland (QLD) and Cairns Public Holidays

Many people plan their holidays around public holidays, adding any accrued leave from their jobs to the dates on which their workplace is closed. Or, they leave at this time to spend time with friends and family during ‘the holidays’ – especially Christmas and Easter. If you want to secure a long-term house sit in Cairns, being available during these times means that you will have greater choice than at other times of the year.

Australia/Queensland Public HolidaysDate/s
New Year’s DayJanuary 1*
Australia DayJanuary 26
Easter (Good Friday, Easter Saturday/Sunday/Monday)Early-Mid April
ANZAC DayApril 25
Labour Day1st Monday in May
Cairns Annual Show (Cairns only)2nd Friday in July
King’s Birthday1st Monday in October
Christmas (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day)December 24-26#
*If New Year’s Day falls on a weekend, the public holiday may be on January 3.
#The Holidays Act 1983 provides for an extra public holiday to be added when Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day falls on a weekend.

When planning your trip, it is also worth considering that Tropical North Queensland has an average annual rainfall of almost 2 metres. The majority of Cairns’ rainfall occurs during summer between January and March, during the ‘wet season’. Many locals leave for drier climates and tourist numbers significantly reduce during this time, so if you are happy to visit during the rain, you’ll have the maximum number of non-holiday opportunities.

House Sitting Cairns Locations

Cairns suburbs like Freshwater, Trinity Beach and Redlynch may be popular, but applications for long-term house sits in these areas can quickly add up and lead to your application falling to the bottom of the pile. If you are willing to move a bit further out in the centre (to areas like Palm Cove and Yorkey’s Knob), you’ll have a better chance. Other house sitting locations in Northern Queensland include Port Douglas, Innisfail and Normanton.

House Sitting Port Douglas

≈60km north of Cairns, Port Douglas is a laid-back town with a small number of house sitting opportunities. Visit nearby Four Mile Beach, Low Isles and Mossman Gorge.

House Sitting Townsville

≈350km south of Cairns, Townsville is a great house sitting alternative for those heading south. Visit nearby Magnetic Island (Yunbenun), Hinchinbrook Island or the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA).

Meet With Homeowners

While Northern Queenslanders are generally a relaxed bunch – homeowners like to get to know the house sitters that will take care of their home – especially long term. For the house sits over a month, as soon as I’ve spoken to the homeowner over the phone, I try and organise a ‘meet and greet’. If I’m in another city, I let them know the dates that I will be near them and schedule an approximate date to meet.

I believe that this shows commitment to the house sit and this gesture will make you stand out from other applicants. It’s a great opportunity to be introduced to the pets and to get a ‘feel’ for the house, it’s the location and what will be required from you during your stay.

If you meet with difficult or disrespectful homeowners, I’d rather know this before I spend months in their homes! Yet, you often meet with people in person only to find that you quickly bond and agree to the house sit.

Finally, if you want to maximise your chances of getting that long-term house sit in Cairns, here are some tips:

  • Use the ‘Alert’ feature on Aussie House Sitters to be notified via email when house sits of 2-4 weeks/1 month or more are listed and apply as soon as you can – Go to ‘My Account” > ‘Useful Tools’ > ‘My Alerts’ > ‘New Alert’;
  • Apply for a QLD Police Certificate ($42AUD) to reassure homeowners of your suitability;
  • Provide a link to your social media accounts and/or full name in your application, so homeowners can ‘Google’ you;
  • Keep it all about them – ask questions about where they are going, how they like things done around the house and their preferences. Read their ad, listen carefully and take notes of these for later. Clarify anything unclear about their expectations.

In a trust-based exchange like house sitting, the more that you show yourself to be a considerate and trustworthy house sitter, the more success you’ll have. Once you have a few good references (in addition to being available on public holidays, meeting with owners quickly and being flexible in your choice of location), you’ll be long-term house sitting Cairns-wide before you know it.

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