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Here are secrets learned during 2 years of house sitting, so you too can do long-term house sitting Canberra and ACT-wide (or further afield). Live for free, surrounded by pets, and travel on a budget.
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 Canberra?
Canberra is known as Australia’s political capital, but there is more to the city than Parliament House. The National Museum of Australia, National Botanic Gardens and Namadgi National Park to the south are all must-sees. It has a “dry, continental climate experiencing warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters”, so is perfect for those wanting something different from the tropical humidity of places like Darwin and The Sunshine Coast.
Yet, on Aussie House Sitters, there were only 17 house sits listed in the proceeding 7 days before this post (compared to 90 in Sydney and 114 in Melbourne), so in order to secure that long sit, you’ll need a few tricks from an experienced sitter… but shhh, don’t tell anyone!
House Sitting Canberra Secrets
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Canberra 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 Canberra, being available during these times means that you are much more likely to ‘lock something in’ and will have greater choice than at other times of the year. 36.2 per cent of Canberrans are public sector employees, so this is even more applicable than in other cities in the country.
|Australia/ACT Public Holidays||Date/s|
|New Year’s Day||January 1*|
|Australia Day||January 26|
|Canberra Day||2nd Monday in March|
|Easter (Good Friday, Easter Saturday/Sunday/Monday)||Early-Mid April|
|ANZAC Day||April 25|
|Labour Day||1st Monday in May|
|Reconciliation Day||1st Monday after or on 27 May|
|King’s Birthday||1st Monday in October|
|Christmas (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day)||December 24-26#|
#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.
Also, as Australia’s parliament is a significant employer, keep in mind that the annual sitting dates (when politicians are in the city) are divided into two sessions – the Budget Session (from February to early July) and the Spring Session (from September to December). So, remember the ‘sitting dates’ for your own sitting dates.
House Sitting Canberra Locations
Canberra suburbs like Barton, Belconnen and Kingston 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 city, you’ll find that you’ll have more options. Outside the city, also consider the towns of Williamsdale, Naas, Uriarra, Tharwa and Hall for maximum opportunities.
Meet With Homeowners
Homeowners like to get to know the house sitters that will take care of their home – especially long term. For 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, 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 more often meet with people in person only to find that you quickly bond and agree to the house sit.
Finally, to maximise your chances of getting that long-term house to sit in Canberra, 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 National Police Check ($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 Canberra-wide before you know it.
See my Mega-Guide to Australia for Digital Nomads.
See my Complete Guide to 50+ Digital Nomad Visas for Australians.
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Kate is a teacher, writer and CEOh of ohnomad.com and teachenglishonline.com.au. After travelling for years, she became a digital nomad/house sitter in 2019. Offline, she’s patting every dog at the park. Online: Twitter/LinkedIn.